I took SLR Magic’s 2x Anamorphot-CINE lenses set for a spin with the GH5. Here are my personal impressions of working with them.
Disclaimer: This is not a full review. It is my first time working with anamorphic lenses and therefore please take this information from my perspective: A young filmmaker who’s cutting his teeth on a new way of creating images that he hasn’t worked with before. SLR Magic’s pricing of these anamorphic lenses put them in reach of filmmakers with a smaller budget, like me.
The cinematic look has personally always fascinated me.
For that reason, I often try to create this look (as many others out there) with modest means, even though I might not be able to afford a high-end cinema camera, like the Arri Alexa or beautiful cinema primes.
However, the SLR Magic 2x Anamorphot-CINE Lens Set are the first anamorphic lenses that I have ever used, I can tell you my experience, what I learned and discovered.
Anamorphic Test Footage Video
The video above is shot on the GH5 in the 4:3 Anamorphic Mode and the SLR Magic 2x Anamorphot-CINE Lens Set, in 6K/25p. We uploaded it in 4K on YouTube for practical reasons.
35mm T2.4 (MFT Mount)
50mm T2.8 (MFT Mount)
70mm T4 (MFT Mount)
(Links to B&H and CVP below this post for pricing and availability!)
These lenses were specifically made with an MFT mount for GH5 users to utilize the camera’s unique anamorphic 4:3 shooting mode that can use its full 6K resolution.
Getting used to shooting anamorphic
Hopefully after watching this video you get an impression of how the lens set performs. Filling the frame and creating a beautiful composition in the anamorphic wide screen format is for sure something new and took me a bit of time of getting used to.
The GH5 has an in-camera anamorphic de-squeeze mode that enables you to see the actual 2.66:1 aspect ratio picture on set. This function is a major help in judging and feeling the created frame – enabling me as a cameraman to react quickly and efficiently, without being forced to bloat your setup with an additional external monitor to perform that very function.
The characteristic anamorphic lens flares and the oval bokeh might be two of the main reasons to use this type of lens. In the test video I focused on these two elements and tried to create compositions that emphasize these qualities. This is what creates a distinct high-quality look that is usually associated with cinema.
I am a big fan of lens flares, especially anamorphic ones. I already tried creating anamorphic flares by DIY Methods, which worked for the project, but for sure wasn’t ideal. So now for the first time in my life, I had real anamorphic lens flares in my video, which is awesome. To me they render nicely and give a high quality feeling, and all three SLR Magic anamorphic lenses seem to perform similarly in this regard.
As you can see on the shot showing the cars on the highway, the bokeh is nice and oval and gives the image a cinematic touch. I love how the bokeh and the lens flares combine with the movement of the camera slider and the cars in this shot.
It was initially challenging to achieve a nice oval bokeh and took some trial and error. I needed time to create a picture with a nice bokeh, by finding the right distance between camera, subject in focus and background. I don’t know if other anamorphic lenses perform differently or if finding this sweet spot is a bit of a challenge in general. I can imagine this will get easier when using anamorphic lenses over a longer period of time.
Handling and quality, challenges
Having worked with other cinema primes and zoom lenses it wasn’t to much of a step up weight and handling wise. Although the lenses are generally quite big, they come in a nice case for safe transportation, which makes them much easier to carry around. Most of the time I worked alone, and it worked fine like this.
There are other much more expensive anamorphic lenses on the market which are certainly sharper and better in quality, but to me the SLR Magic 2x Anamorphot-CINE Lens Set performs well enough in terms of sharpness and quality considering their very good price.
On the 35mm lens I noticed some distortion at the edges. However we haven’t done a lab test or comparison to other lenses, so it’s hard to put that in context.
I found that using a lens support and follow focus is essential for shooting with these lenses. Pulling focus just using your own hand is practically impossible. The focus range on the lens is very long.
Even by using a follow focus, it was not possible for me to pull focus from very near to far in one smooth motion as the focus rotation on the lenses is quite wide. I haven’t tried the lenses with a wireless follow focus system – which most probably is the best way to use them. This might also be necessary to really judge the lens breathing on these lenses.
One rather strange thing I noticed was a polarizing color effect, when changing focus with a Tiffen VariND filter attached. I am not sure why this happened, but the combination of the Tiffen VariND and the SLR Magic Anamorphic lenses wasn’t ideal – next time we’ll use the ND filters they supplied for the test (I unfortunately didn’t have them with me).
Also something to keep in mind using a filter on the lens (especially the 35mm) is to adjust the sensor stabilization of the GH5, so you don’t see the filter in your frame while moving the camera.
Having the stabilized sensor set correctly though is a great benefit and really makes shooting handheld much easier.
Working with the SLR Magic 2x Anamorphot-CINE Lens Set for a few days was a great experience and a lot of fun.
The overall look you can achieve by using this lens set is excellent and something new to me while working in film. I can recommend to test these lenses for yourself in a project to see how they perform, and I’m almost completely sure that the results would be interesting and the images quite pleasing – but of course it’s dependent on what the particular shoot requires.
The SLR Magic 2x Anamorphot-CINE Lens Set opens the door of a real anamorphic shooting experience to a much bigger audience, and I believe this set gives us the opportunity to tell cinematic stories (on a budget) in a new and exciting way.
Thanks to all the people involved in this project. Especially to the cinema5D team for giving me the opportunity to work with such great gear and thanks to Judith Dornetshuber and Christian Stephen for the nice BTS photography.
Are you planning to get into shooting anamorphic? Or do you already have experience in it? Let us know in the comments below!