The new SIRUI 50mm anamorphic lens is promising to revolutionize a territory that, up until now, was out of reach for many. For $700 this lens sounds too good to be true, so I took it for a short spin and I’m happy to share my thoughts with you guys.
Earlier this year during IBC, we had the chance to talk to Sonny from SIRUI who was kind enough to share with us some details about their upcoming 50mm f/1.8 1.33x anamorphic lens, and while the idea of developing such lens was great, I was a bit skeptical in what the end product would look like or better said, how well it would perform optically-wise. Fast forward to the present time, and I have this lens on my desk. Now, before proceeding to talk about the lens, let me take a quick step back.
Filming With Anamorphic Lenses
Project-related, I’m a bit tired of filming and delivering in 16×9, but all in all, this standard aspect ratio is great for many TV productions. Now, if you are like me and many others who are looking for a more “cinematic picture aesthetic” in their productions, then obviously the way to go is to imitate what we see on the big silver screen. An aspect ratio that is a bit narrower and wider at the same time and on top, it aims to create a picture that has different characteristics, one that can distinguish it from what we get when filming with spherical lenses – I’m talking about signature looks like bokeh, lens flairs, and such.
Up until now, as independent filmmakers, our options were a bit limited or costly:
- True anamorphic lenses cost a fortune and while renting is always a valid option, for some popular camera mounts those were not available.
- Anamorphic lens adapters are fine but have their own limitations like alignment, sharpness and minimum recommended f stop to work with.
- “Cropping the top and bottom of the image”. While this option will retain a certain desired look, it is not the preferred one for the following reasons: By cropping the image or adding black bars, we simply throw away some picture information. On top of that, most of the associated anamorphic lens characteristics won’t be presented.
SIRUI 50mm f/1.8 1.33x Anamorphic Lens
Here comes SIRUI doing the undoable (up until now). Offering us, the filmmakers community, a true fast anamorphic lens that costs a fraction of what we had to pay until now ($700 to be exact), and to even “sweeten the deal”, managing to offer that lens in 3 popular mounts: FUJIFILM X, Sony E and Micro 4/3.
Here is some additional information about the new lens:
- Lens structure: 11 elements in 8 groups
- Aperture blades: 10
- Suitable for: APS-C format camera
- Minimum distance 0.85m
- No electronic contacts (Manual focus only)
- Rotating angle of focus ring: 143.6 degrees
- Front filter: 67mm
- Weight: Approximately 580g /1.23lbs
- This is a 1.33x anamorphic lens suitable to work best with 16×9 image sensors giving a 2.40:1 aspect ratio picture
In the Field
I’ve been running with the new lens for a few hours and I have to admit that all in all, I LOVE what I see! For the above video, I used my trusted FUJIFILM X-T3, (4K, 25p, F-Log, 400 Mbps, All Intra, ISO 640 up to 6400). If you don’t recall, the FUJIFILM X-T3 was our camera of the year 2018 and it’s still doing (Very) well against the more recent competition. If I have to summarise, it is a very capable and flexible camera, especial for the price! In regards to the above footage, I chose to keep it simple by running to a few of the Viennese Christmas markets without triggering too much attention.
The lens feels robust and well constructed! Focus breathing is kept to a minimum and when it comes to image, it is very sharp (maybe even too sharp at times, but this can be dealt with putting the right filter in front of the lens). If you take a closer look at the above resolution chart stills extracted from the timeline, you will see how little sharpness the lens loses when completely open at f1.8 agains being on f2.8 and f4.0. Another thing to note is flares, as those are very much associated with anamorphic lenses. To my taste, flares in this lens are very well maintained. Nothing shouts “anamorphic”, but on the other hand, it is absolutely there in a settled way. Last but not least, this is an f1.8 lens, meaning, use it on a modern camera and you will never feel restricted when filming in lowlight situations.
This is not really a weakness, but personally I would have preferred having a lens with a wider field of view. I hope that SIRUI will consider not waiting too much and jump on manufacturing one.
What’s should be taken into consideration, is the minimum focus distance (0.85m). This might be proved to be a limitation in some shooting scenarios.
I’m extremely cautious when it comes to using the word “game-changing”, but somehow, I do feel very comfortable using this term in connection to this lens. Never before such a quality anamorphic lens in such price point was ever offered (but please, correct me if I’m wrong). SIRUI demonstrated “out of the box” thinking and I can only hope that this lens is the first in a family of anamorphic lenses to come, with different focal lengths and additional mounts – I would love to see an L-Mount option to accommodate our Panasonic S1, SIGMA fp and Leica SL2. Good job SIRUI. Keep inventing!
What do you think about the new anamorphic lens? Does it ignite your imagination? Share with us your thoughts in the comment section below.