VMI Invests in More Anamorphic Lenses

Anamorphic is definitely here to stay.

Feature Films have always had a preference for shooting in the super-widescreen format (usual 2.39:1) with associated oval bokehs, different aspect ratio and a recognisable alternative image perception.  Its relative rarity of a production format brought about an association with high production values.

Until the availability of 4:3 sensors made possible by the release of the Alexa 4:3 and then Alexa Mini plus other camera formats, this was not really possible with digital capture until relatively recently, whereas it has always been possible by shooting on film.

Of late however, full frame camera formats such as Alexa LF, RED VistaVision and Sony Venice, makes acquiring in S-35 anamorphic very easy, since the larger Full Frame sensors incorporate a full-frame sensor height, which made shooting anamorphic such a compromise when using S35 sensors.   

This innovation has made the anamorphic look available to all and even introduced some new formats, such as Full Frame anamorphic (not yet available from VMI).

This has undoubtedly been responsible for the increase in recent popularity of vintage and also modern anamorphics in TV production and more and more drama is now being shot on Netflix and ITV in a new 18:9 anamorphic format.  We call this 18:9 anamorphic (which is actually a 2:1 format), to differentiate it from 2x anamorphic, since 2x anamorphic refers to the degree of image squeeze inherent in using anamorphic lenses, irrespective of image format. 

There are many anamorphic formats in use today but Netflix has popularised shooting in a square 1:1 format and then applying a 2x squeeze to make an 18:9 format, so this is why the height of the sensor becomes so crucial, as a shorter vertical sensor height actually truncates the width of the lenses, thus limiting the angle of shot.

VMI has recognised this and taken delivery of even more sets of anamorphic lenses for hire in 2018, so can now offer anamorphic prime sets in the following flavours:

  • Cooke anamorphic/i – 25-135mm anamorphic prime lenses by Cooke.
  • Cooke ‘Special Flare’ anamorphic/i – These are the same Cook/i anamorphics with new coating to encourage the blue flare, synonymous with traditional anamorphic lenses.  So in reality, the traditional look with brand new lenses.
  • KOWA anamorphic – traditional vintage KOWA anamorphic prime lenses, recently rehoused by P+S Technic with brand new mechanics, which give a vintage look but handle like modern lenses.  These also generate the traditional blue flare. 40-100 in the standard set plus 30mm aspheron.
  • KOWA Evolution anamorphic – modern remakes of vintage KOWA anamorphic prime lenses by P+S Technic.  The vintage look with even consistency and brand new mechanics to give a vintage look but handle like modern lenses.  Like the KOWAs, these also generate the traditional blue flare. 40-100 in the standard set plus 32mm and 135mm being supplied in September/December 2018 when P+S Technic release these new focal lengths.
  • Angenieux Optimo anamorphic zooms – modern compact anamorphic zooms by Angenieux.  Very clean and suitabily lightweight for handheld operation.
  • We have multiple full sets of Atlas anamorphic lenses arriving in 2019 – these are great new compact anamorphic lenses which offer great consistency and portability, without breaking the budget.

Also read VMI’s useful information articles:

Capturing 2:1 Anamorphic with Alexa LF and S-35 lenses

Filmmaker’s Guide to Sensor Sizes and Lens Formats

VMI Guide to Film Lenses

2016 Anamorphic Prime Lens Chart

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