Account of VMI Anamorphic and Large Sensor Event in January

VMI hosted an Anamorphic and Large Sensor event in late January at the newly opened CVP Creative Space in Newman Street Fitzrovia, an elegant new showroom over four floors.

The three-day event was well attended by over 250 members of Camera department and interested industry professionals.

Fifteen cameras were set up in three demonstration rooms to highlight the differences between anamorphic and full frame capture  with direct comparisons of many popular and new to market lenses (and indeed some that are not yet available). Lenses from Cooke, Leica, Arri, Zeiss, Atlas and Kowa were featured across the three different sets on the Sony Venice, Arri Alexa LF and Mini, Canon C700FF and RED Gemini and Monstro.  We screened a brand new film shot specifically for the event and which was also  shown at the BSC Show . The demonstration film was able to exhibit a more direct comparison as all the factors influencing the image were unchanged apart from the lens and the aspect ratio. Please see the links below to view the individual lens elements.

The Anamorphic Room

The Anamorphic Room set on the first floor included a range of textures and contrasts and spotlights (to help generate flare) and a choice of anamorphic lenses which could be compared side by side. Where possible all focal lengths were 40mm.

Included in the exhibition was the new Sony Venice 6K camera fitted with Cooke/i anamorphic lens and also Alexa Mini with Cooke SF anamorphic lens.  The Cooke SF lenses are physically identical lenses to the regular Cooke/i anamorphics but include modified coatings to more easily generate flare and actually ping even when a point light source is outside its field of view.  These sets of lenses share the individual Cooke Look and are very popular because of the degree of anamorphic character they display.

A RED DSMC2 Helium 8K camera with ARRI Master Anamorphic lens was next in the parade to show ARRIs flagship anamorphic range with a cleaner look. It also served to demonstrate the compromise of using a 2x squeeze lens onto a traditionally sized 16:9 sensor.

The Alexa Mini camera with its 4:3 sized sensor is ideally suited for anamorphic acquisitionas its dimensions are based on film acquistion and so the final two cameras were also Alexa Minis to allow easy comparison between the different lenses.

The fourth camera was fitted with one of the new Atlas Orion anamorphic lenses, manufactured by a brand new lens manufacturer called Atlas. Whilst there are only three lenses in the range at present (40, 65, 100mm all T2), 3 more focal lengths are due to arrive in mid-2019 (32, 50 & 85mm, all T2). These lenses had a vintage but modern look with ability to flare easily especially at wider iris settings.

P+S Technic manufacture a modern remake of the popular KOWA vintage anamorphic lenses with optics designed to match the original KOWA design in their new KOWA Evolution 2x design. One of these anamorphic lenses fwas itted to an Alexa Mini was the final camera in the line-up to create a somewhat challenging but very popular vintage look

The Full Frame Room

The second floor was built around a gothic themed set with four Full Frame cameras and a ‘control’ Alexa Mini . These were the Sony Venice, ARRI LF, RED Monstro and Canon C700FF, all fitted with the latest Full Frame lenses for comparison, and all at 50mm focal length where possible.

On the first day, a Sony Venice was fitted with the new Full Frame Leica ‘Leitz’ lenses, which were shown for first time ever with the world’s only prototype 21mm and 100mm focal length. This set is scheduled to arrive at VMI in  2020, and will comprise twelve primes of all matched T1.8 and two zooms of matched T2.8  covering a Full Frame sensor.  Unlike the Leica Thalia lenses, they will have a constant maximum iris throughout their range.

Sadly, the only pre-production lenses in the world were reserved for VMI’s event for one day but created quite a stir and were replaced by a Cooke S7 FF lens for the remaining time on the Sony Venice camera.

Adjacent to this was a RED DSMC2-Monstro camera (Vistavision coverage) with a new Zeiss Supreme prime lens.  This is one of a brand new group of thirteen lenses produced by Zeiss which covers Full Frame and all of which are matched T1.5 (presently seven lenses available but will be complete by end 2020).

ARRI’s new LF camera was next and of course, fitted with an ARRI Signature Prime.  These are a new range of lenses manufactured by ARRI with a brand new LPL lens mount, designed to cover Full Frame and more – a format which ARRI call ‘Large Format’.  This range by the end of 2020 will be sixteen lenses of 12mm to 280mm and all with a fast matching T-stop of T1.8.

The new Canon C700FF camera was shown for the first time and is a cost-effective Full Frame camera  fitted with a Tokina Vista FF lens. VMI stock this camera which provides an alternative to ARRI LF, RED Montro and Sony Venice if budget is pressing factor.

Lastly, an ARRI Alexa Mini with Cooke S4i lens completed the parade allowing a S-35 image to be shown next to the Full Frame images of the other cameras for direct comparison of images and FoV created by the different sensor sizes.


The Cost-Effective Full Frame Room

Not every budget can afford Cooke SF and Zeiss Supreme Primes, so we were keen to show four other lens groups made by other manufacturers which also covered Full Frame and were available to hire in PL or EF mount but in a lower price bracket.

A Sony Venice, RED DSMC2-Gemini 5K and Sony A7S Mk II camera were on the top floor sharing 4 x sets of lenses.  The A7S Mk II was an interesting choice, as it offers full frame coverage (in 4K) but in a DSLR form factor and, when used with an external recorder, offers very high quality codecs.

The Canon CN-E FF prime lenses are very popular T1.5 lenses but the new release of the 20mm/T1.5 makes this set much more useful than presently, as the basic five-lens set will now comprise a 20, 25, 35, 50 & 85mm, all matching T1.5.  VMI stock these in EF mount and a PL mount version is now being produced by Duclos in the US, though we don’t yet stock this.  A 14mm/T3.5 and 135mm/T2.2 will be additional focal lengths available.

Next, the Tokina Vista FF PL lenses are a set of super fast T1.5 lenses which also cover FF and even Vistavision too. hence the Vista name. The set covers 18-85mm with a longer 135mm lens following in a short while. Available in PL mount from VMI.

The Celere FF PL prime set set comprises 5 lenses (18.5-85mm), all matched T1.5, which are available in PL mount from VMI.  These are popular and we describe them as ‘like Superspeeds but with a bit more character’ and they have been used on various dramas in place of Cooke/Zeiss/ARRI, including Friday Night Dinner.

The Sigma FF T1.5 PL Primes and Sigma FF T1.5 EF Primes are a new range of matched T1.5 lenses which by mid-2019 will include a range of eleven primes from 14mm to 135mm, all  matching T1.5 T stop and all covering full frame.  Although Sigma is a DSLR lens manufacturer with a humble historical reputation, they built a new factory spending millions of pounds in order to produce these new lenses.  The three sets of primes which VMI currently carries have been extremely well received and one visiting DP to the event was so impressed, that he suggested that they might be an acceptable complement to ARRI Master Primes.

The Screening Rooms and Special Film

Ian and the team shot a comparison film of 20 sets of anamorphic and Full Frame lenses under controlled conditions to include a tracking shot and flare test for the event.

The hour long film included all the lenses shown at the event and was designed to compare the lens characteristics directly as all other parameters of camera,codec,T Stop,shot, lighting and grade were a constant so the only fluctuation was in the charcter of the lenses.

The full film was shown at the CVP stand at the BSC show, and is available in individual lens clips via the link below.

VMI Lens Test Playlist

Click here to see all the VMI Lens Test clips

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