Everything you need to know about anamorphic lenses

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Calling all creators — it’s time to give your footage a cinematic boost with our latest competition. 

Artlist has teamed up with the camera accessory legends over at Moment to bring you a prize pack that will truly help you capture the moment in your next video. You’ll have the chance to win a Moment Anamorphic Lens Adaptor, a Variable ND Filter, a Rugged Camera Sling, and a one-year subscription to Artlist Max Pro. 

Anamorphic lenses give footage a professional cinematic look and feel. So if you’re looking to take your videos to the next level —this is the competition for you. 

What is an anamorphic lens?

Anamorphic lenses were created by Henri Chrétien during World War One so that tanks could get a wider view of the battlefield. A regular spherical lens projects an image onto a camera’s film or sensor without adjusting its aspect ratio. An anamorphic lens does things a little differently — it squeezes the image horizontally, which allows more information to be recorded on the film or sensor than on a regular lens. This means you can maximize your filmstock. Then you can simply stretch your footage out in the post-production or projection stage. 

In the 1950s, 20th Century Fox capitalized on the potential of wide-screen movies, to be seen at the cinema rather than watching TV at home, by shooting with anamorphic lenses. All of a sudden, filmmakers were able to shoot with an aspect ratio of 2.39:1 using 35mm film, rather than the standard Academy ratio of 1.375:1. 

20th Century Fox called it Cinemascope, but it soon caught across the wider moviemaking community. This effect is what we associate with the cinematic look now: wide aspect ratio with a sharpness fall-off, streaking blue lens flare, oval bokeh, and greater depth of field.

Anamorphic lenses vs anamorphic lens adaptors

Anamorphic lenses provide an awesome cinematic look and feel, but are they worth the cost? They are typically quite expensive, and have a small maximum aperture, meaning you’ll need to think extra carefully about your lighting. 

If you’re looking to create a cinematic experience without the hassle we suggest using a lens adaptor like Moment’s 1.33 x Anamorphic Lens Adaptor. 

The 1.33× magnification factor,  also known as squeeze, will convert a 16:9 aspect ratio to 2.35:1. It’s compatible with both Prime and Zoom lenses. It also comes with a selection of step-down rings so you can also attach it to any size lens with threads sized 67mm, 72mm, 77mm, or 82mm. The Moment Anamorphic Lens allows you to create beautiful cinematic footage with maximum flexibility, using the lenses that you already have.

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What can I do with an anamorphic lens?

1. Shoot a wide angle with a sharpness that falls off toward the edges of the frame

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2. Recreate a typically cinematic style using an elongated lens flare with a blue tinge:

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3. Shoot with an oval-shaped bokeh:

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4. Create a shallow depth-of-field:

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5. Film with a more organic focus roll-off, meaning a softer transition between what is in and out of focus in your scene: 

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6. Get closer to your subject without the distortion that would happen with a wide-angle lens:

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7. Give a nostalgic feel to your footage:

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The ability to capture more of the scene in a single shot means that you don’t have to move so much, which is hugely practical, but it also gives your framing a different feel. If you’ve not used one before you might want to experiment to see what you can achieve with an anamorphic lens.

How to get the best out of an anamorphic lens

Being specialist gear, working with an anamorphic lens is a little different from working with a spherical lens. To get the best out of an anamorphic lens, it helps if you consider the following.

1. Lens flare

 The elongated lens flare produced by anamorphic lenses is a signature of the gear, but you do need to be careful how you use it. Too much or too harsh, and it can be distracting. In short: don’t go overboard with the lens flare. If you want to introduce lens flare into a scene, you can do this by shooting into the light. You can soften it by having the light source at the edges of the scene, or by shooting from the side. Keep it natural by transitioning flare in and out of your scene. It helps to have it peep out periodically from behind a building or object, or have it appear and disappear by using movement.

2. Subject placement

Anamorphic lenses favor keeping your subjects centered in the frame, because of the sharpness fall-off towards the edges of the frame. Think carefully about where you position your subjects in your frame to maintain sharpness and focus.

3. Panning

 Panning with an anamorphic lens can be distracting for the audience because it creates distortion and the image isn’t as clean and sharp at the edges of the frame.

4. Changing focus

 If you want to pull focus when using an anamorphic lens, you will probably need to do it more gently or more slowly than you would with a spherical lens. If you move too fast, you can distort the subject, which is distracting for the viewer.

How can I win a Moment anamorphic lens adapter?

Update: The competition is now closed. Keep an eye on Artist’s Instagram for more competitions coming soon.

So by now, you must be wondering how you can get your hands on your very own anamorphic lens adapter. We’ve made it super easy to enter, here’s how: 

    1. Following both Artlist and Moment on Instagram
    2. Look out for the posts announcing the competition
    3. Comment on the posts with how you would use an anamorphic lens
    4. Tag a friend

That’s it — we can’t wait to read all the creative ways that you would use an anamorphic lens. 

The winners will receive:

1st prize: A Moment Filmmaker’s set, which includes a 1.33× anamorphic lens adapter and a variable ND filter, a Rugged camera sling, and a one-year subscription to Artlist Max Pro.

2nd and 3rd prizes: will bag a $200 Moment gift card and a one-year subscription to Artlist Max.

What are you waiting for? Make sure you’re following Artlist and Moment, and get some inspiration for how you might use your Moment anamorphic lens adapter by looking through all the beautiful Artlist footage that makes use of them

Artlist x Moment Instagram giveaway terms and conditions

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