Hello again everyone! For those who don’t know last week was the final days of the Chinese New Year, an important festival that commences at the turn of the Chinese lunisolar calendar. Texas Lunar Festival celebrates the Chinese New year and provides entertainment from musicians playing traditional Chinese instruments, children’s plays, singers, raffle contests, and space for vendors from all over the city. The event took place at Discovery Green Conservancy, a twelve acre park in downtown Houston. This presented a great opportunity to show how the SLR Magic Anamorphot 2x renders objects, out of focus areas, close focus and panorama shots all while filming the people, public art, and the ongoing construction projects.
A FEW TIPS FOR MICRO FOUR THIRDS USERS:
SLR Magic recommends 35mm or longer focal length prime lenses on m43 (Micro Four Thirds) sensors at T4, but depending on the taking lens T2.8 might also work just fine.
A FEW TIPS FOR FULL FRAME USERS:
The SLR Magic recommends using 70mm and longer focal length prime lenses on full frame sensors at T4 and slower.
Shooting full frame lenses at T4 translates roughly to about f/5.6 in my tests with the Sony/Zeiss FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA. At f/4 the footage is acceptable, but one might experience slight coma, loss in sharpness or detail. Anything less than 70mm will result in some vignetting. Why SLR Magic recommends focal lengths using prime lenses is to get the Anamorphot 2x as close to the camera’s sensor for optimum results. Great lenses I’ve had great success with in the past are the Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 25mm f/1.4 and the Lumix 20mm f1/7. Andrew Reid also mounted a Canon 40mm f/2.8 pancake on his GH4 to further illustrate this point. At the time of this writing I only own:
Sony FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA
Sony FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA
Canon FD/FL 50mm f/1.4
Canon FD 50mm f/3.5 Macro
Canon FD 28mm f/2
In the case with my FD 50mm f/3.5 Macro this is what the vignette looks like:
And the same setup in APS-C crop mode (lowered contrast and de-squeezing done in post):
No Atomos Shogun in that list so I’m limited to shooting in 16:9 1080p and alternating shooting with the FE 55mm f/1.8 between APS-C crop mode and full frame mode. For those of you brand new to Anamorphic ratios I’ll briefly touch on this subject. My Sony A7s only shoots in 16:9 in 1080p. Adding any 2x anamorphic lens changes that 16:9 ratio to 3.55:1. The conversions are quite simple. Its 3.55 pixels horizontally for every 1 pixel vertically. So 3.55 multiplied by 1080 = 3834 pixels. Now 3834 is a odd number so anyone can round up to 3840 or, as I like to do, round down to 3800. My “Texas Lunar Festival” video is 3800 by 1080.
What if 2x is too wide? No problem. Still shoot your 50mm (or whatever lens wider than 70mm you may currently own) on the A7s in full frame mode, de-squeeze your footage, then crop out the vignette. What you should end up with is closer to the fairly standard 1.5x (2.66:1) cinematic ratio:
Hopefully Sony will have future updates allowing users to select beyond 16:9 to 4:3 or maybe even 1:1 video capture to skip having to crop out the vignette. Andrew Chan explains more about vignetting, coma, and artifacts that will show up if both the taking lens and adapter are not in proper focus in this brief tutorial:
All of the following images and video are straight out of the camera, and not “de-squeezed”. Working with this 2x adapter is nowhere as easy to do “run and gun” shots like the SLR Magic 1.33x-50. The focal planes are very sensitive so this is best used with narrative footage, still life and pre-planned shoots. So a tripod is required. If a tripod is not tenable, a monopod or stable surface is still needed to get objects in proper focus without the footage looking like a drunk person shot it. If you didn’t watch Andrew Chan’s tutorial, then I’ll let all of you know it’s important to first focus the taking lens then the anamorphic adapter. Otherwise, the adapter could produce horizontal bokeh and other aberrations. Below is an example of how focusing on one scene with a tripod looks like, first focusing the taking lens only:
Then after adjusting the ISO, exposure and the NORMAL/NEAR focus ring on the adapter:
Here is a small cut from that setup:
So until someone creates a dual focus adapter, or one stops the taking lens down to f/16 there is no way to quickly focus on one object, or pull focus from an object far away to an object close by with one hand.
This lens has slight distortion to create a dramatic effect on the footage. Some have told me they don’t quite like it and find it distracting, others say they really like it. Personally, the distortion was difficult to get used to in the beginning. After shooting for over a week now and comparing it to older footage…the older footage simply looks bland and clinical! This adapter certainly produces a lot of character and drama.
Even in 1080p the detail is significantly better than the old anamorphic projectors I used to own. All of the footage in this latest video was shot at f/4 or f/5.6 except for this one scene shot at f/2.8 with the +1.8 diopter:
Thats all for now. I am working on two more projects using the Anamorphot 2x that might fall through depending on acquiring permission to film on private property. Hopefully I’ll have some more content for all of you soon.