Viltrox EPIC Anamorphic Lenses – Review and Mini Documentary Filmed with Panasonic LUMIX S5 II

February 16th, 2023 Jump to Comment Section 15

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Filming with anamorphic lenses is continuing to gain ground among independent filmmakers. Never before have we had such a variety of lenses in different squeeze rations, build quality and price ranges. Now Viltrox is entering the market with three new lenses: 35mm, 50mm and 75mm. All lenses are full-frame with a 1.33x squeeze factor, a maximum aperture of T2 and much more. We took these lenses for a short spin and came back with a solid opinion. Curious to find out more? Please sit back and enjoy our Viltrox EPIC Anamorphic lenses review!

Let’s face it. Most of us are not filming big blockbuster films for Hollywood or Bollywood. Needless to say, that does not degrade our professionalism or dedication to what we do. The fact that many of us are “running solo” or in small teams makes us want to be even more focused and knowledgeable, as at times there is no additional staff to fill such supporting roles as there are on bigger sets. So next to storytelling, there is another thing that unites us all and this is the unlimited amount of effort to make our footage look different and unique. This has become even more of a topic since filming in general is so much more accessible now than it’s ever been before.

Viltrox EPIC Anamorphic Lenses
Viltrox EPIC Anamorphic Lenses. Credit: CineD

And this is where anamorphic lenses come to our “rescue”. I hope you agree with me, that it is easier to sell a visual illusion when filming with such lenses. And this is precisely where Viltrox EPIC fits nicely into this niche.

In the above mini-documentary, I tried to work mostly “normally” and not go out of my way to necessarily enforce an “anamorphic look” (OK, I have to admit, a few times I couldn’t help myself and had to place a single light source in front of the camera, but this was in order to see how those blue light streaks behave :) ).

EPIC anamorphic lenses on the Panasonic LUMIX S5 II
EPIC anamorphic lenses on the Panasonic LUMIX S5 II. Credit: CineD
C4K vs 6K 3:2 after de-squeezing the image in camera. Credit: CineD

Viltrox EPIC lenses on the LUMIX S5 II

In this review, I paired the EPIC Anamorphic lenses with the Panasonic LUMIX S5 II, as this camera offers an internal de-squeeze option for viewing the images correctly in your EVF or camera monitor. It also allows the usage of the camera’s IBIS in an optimal way by allowing you to select the correct anamorphic squeeze ratio in the camera menu (also, in case you missed it, please click here for our LUMIX S5 II review).

LUMIX S5 II anamorphic settings
LUMIX S5 II anamorphic settings. Credit: CineD

In this specific case, I could have chosen to record in 6K, 3×2 open gate mode for greater flexibility when framing my footage in the editing timeline, but since it is limited to 4:2:0 color sampling, I chose to record in C4K resolution and get more of robust footage, especially as I’m recording in V-log and would like to retain high image quality, even after color grading.

Panasonic LUMIX S5 II C4K settings
Panasonic LUMIX S5 II C4K settings. Credit: CineD

Viltrox EPIC – specifications

Back to the Viltrox EPIC Anamorphic lenses. Specifications-wise, all three lenses come in PL mount. In the future, we might see additional mounts, but for now, this is what Viltrox is offering. In any case, with so many lens adapters in the market, attaching these lenses to your favorite full-frame mirrorless camera should not be an issue. 

  • The overall lens size, front 95mm diameter, and the position of the focus and aperture rings are all consistent.
  • The horizontal field of view spherical for the 75mm lens is 56mm, for the 50mm: 37mm, and for the 35mm lens: 26mm.
Standard 0.8 gear pitch MOD
Standard 0.8 gear pitch MOD. Credit: CineD
  • The gear pitch is a standard 0.8 MOD.
  • The focus rotation is 290 degrees and the focus breathing effect is barely noticeable – Good job, Viltrox!
  • Build quality in general is nice. These three lenses feel very solid to work with.
Viltrox EPIC 35mm lens on minimum focus
Viltrox EPIC 35mm lens on minimum focus. Credit: CineD
Viltrox EPIC 35mm lens on maximum focus
Viltrox EPIC 35mm lens on maximum focus. Credit: CineD

Each lens weighs less than 2 kilos. Actually, the weight is almost identical for all three lenses and I’m indicating “almost” as the 35mm lens is 40 grams heavier than its’ 50 and 75mm siblings. 

From the timeline
From the timeline. Viltrox EPIC 35mm Anamorphic lens. Credit: CineD

The squeeze factor of the lenses is 1.33x, making it ideal for working on cameras with 16×9 sensors when wanting to achieve a 2.35:1 true widescreen effect. And when I say “true”, I mean that we can use the entire sensor information and don’t have to mask or crop the footage in post in order to get this cinematic aspect ratio. 

The minimum focus on the 35mm and 50mm lenses is 80cm and on the 75mm 110cm.  I wish this figure would have been a bit better, especially on the 35mm lens. 

By the way, like other lenses in its category, it is worth mentioning that the lens comes with focus reading scales that are imperial only. 

EPIC anamorphic lens appealing bokeh
EPIC Anamorphic lens appealing bokeh. Credit: CineD

Picture aesthetics

  • Flairs in general and especially the blue streaks, that are associated with the anamorphic lenses look, are distributed very nicely across the image.
Viltrox EPIC 50mm lens, T2.0
Viltrox EPIC 50mm lens, T2.0. Credit: CineD
Viltrox EPIC 50mm lens, T2.8
Viltrox EPIC 50mm lens, T2.8. Credit: CineD

The lens is sharp almost across the entire aperture settings but not overly sharp making the picture very pleasant to watch. One might find working on T2 a bit soft, so I recommend closing the aperture a bit to T2.8 for shaper images.  

  • The bokeh is soft and natural almost snuggling the main object in focus.
  • Chromatic aberration is well controlled.

By now, I guess you can tell that I like what I’m seeing. The image quality and overall picture aesthetics are very attractive to my eyes. 

Set of three lenses
Set of three lenses. Viltrox EPIC full frame Anamorphic lenses. Credit: CineD

Final thoughts

Each lens can be purchased separately for $2,800 or as a set of three with a discount of $500 for a total of $7,900

And this brings me to the question, who are these lenses actually for? Considering the squeeze ratio, they’re not aimed at rental houses, as far as I’m concerned. 

What about end users then? Well, the price for such a cinema lens is very aggressive but on the other hand, taking into consideration that it has a 1.33x anamorphic squeeze only, the question still remains: for this price, is this the anamorphic look you are after?

What I’m trying to say is, that it is a bit of a catch-22 with these lenses. The image quality is very appealing, and you can see that A LOT of thought went into designing them, but on the other hand, they are still costly and the squeeze ratio won’t satisfy many. 

So when it comes to getting these lenses, it can be a tough decision and this is why I can only recommend trying them out and seeing if they work for you before committing. 

For the future, I hope that Viltrox can consider designing a front anamorphic adapter to be attached to these lenses for an even greater squeeze. On top, personally, I’d be grateful if I could use screw-in filters on such lenses next to attaching a matte box. I understand the “cinema” approach, but in terms of usability, filters could have served better, especially for “running and gunning” and this generation of anamorphic lenses from Viltrox does not offer this option.

95mm front diameter for matte box
95mm front diameter for matt box. Credit: CineD

Equipment used in this review

Camera: Panasonic LUMIX S5 II
Lenses: Viltrox EPIC 35, 50, and 75mm anamorphic lenses

Music. Epidemic Sound

Guys, what do you think about 1.33x squeeze for anamorphic lenses? Is it sufficient for the look you are after? And if yes, are you considering getting the Vitrox EPIC Anamorphic lenses? Please share your thoughts with us in the comment section below


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