The SLR Magic Anamorphot 1.33x anamorphic 3-lens set with PL mount is the only anamorphic lens set that’s priced to be within reach of independent filmmakers and medium-budget commercials. All three lenses are designed to create 2.35:1 ultra-widescreen images on cameras with super 35-sized sensors. The 50mm and 70mm lenses also cover full frame.
The lenses are PL mount, and can easily be adapted to shoot on Sony E mount. They have a uniform 82mm front filter thread.
The kit includes SLR Magic Anamorphot-Cine 1.33x 35mm T2.4 PL, SLR Magic Anamorphot-Cine 1.33x 50mm T2.8 PL, SLR Magic Anamorphot-Cine 1.33x 70mm T4 PL, and a hard case.
Until now, budget anamorphic meant using an anamorphic adapter with a separate taking lens. Using a complete system prevents optical alignment problems and greatly simplifies focus. The SLR Magic specialized coating emphasizes the horizontal “blue streak” type flare from bright highlights.
These lenses are fully manual and have no electronic communication with the camera. You must adjust aperture and focus manually. You may want to consider renting a follow focus and rails system. The unique front-element focus rotates and extends while focusing, making matte boxes inadvisable for this kit.
The SLR Magic Anamorphot 2.0x-50 anamorphic lens adapter is a game-changer for cinematographers who want to get the cinemascope look without a six-figure lens budget. I spent some time shooting with the 2x Anamorphot (after working with various 2x vintage adapters) and have a lot of tips and tricks to share to get the most from any anamorphic adapter rig.
A frame from “Upstairs.” It was shot with a Sony FS7, a Zeiss 50mm ZE Planar T* lens with Metabones Speedbooster, the SLR Magic Anamorphot 2.0x-50, and Rangefinder.
This is the crazy rig I started using for the short film High Beam. It’s a Panasonic GH4, with an EF to MFT speedbooster, with a m42 to EF adapter, a vintage Helios 44-2 as the taking lens, a modified lens hood for mounting the Bell and Howell anamorphic adapter, which had the adjustable diopter cine modified. Then on the end, to get wide enough, I resorted to taping on a 0.7x wide angle adapter.
I started my anamorphic journey with a Bell and Howell 2x super 16mm projection lens. Getting the imperial threads of the lens adapter to fit onto the metric standards in use on my lenses and filters took a few deep dives on eBay. Figuring out how to mount and support the lens was a lot of trial and error, too. There are a lot of tips online, but with any modified projector lens, you’re going to need to figure out what works best yourself.
I learned one big lesson from shooting on the Bell and Howell: try not to change lenses. While I had lots of options, I ended up shooting almost exclusively on the vintage 58mm Helios 44-2. Since changing the taking lens meant changing the length of the crazy lens assembly, as well as using different stepping rings, lens changes were a 15-minute ordeal. I found it was easiest to switch between a “dumb” adapter for my telephoto shots, a speedbooster for my middle shots, and a speedbooster plus a wide angle adapter on the front for my widest shots. I found the the character of the vintage lens helped forgive some of the softness of the adapter.
Paired with a vintage lens, the Bell and Howell gives one-of-a-kind visuals, although it was bordering on impossible to use. Courtesy of High Beam. Click image to view in 4K
The rig was very inelegant, but did create some gorgeous images. The size of the Bell and Howell was suited to a Panasonic GH4, not s35 or full frame sensors. On MFT, it seemed a bit soft in 4K. Even with the modification to the variable diopter focus, focus was a challenge. It also looked so ridiculous that I couldn’t possibly suggest it for a “proper” shoot.
Looking for something that would be a better fit for the Sony A7s II, I picked up a Lomo 35 NAP2-3m. It’s a massive beast of a lens. While it does allow for relatively wide lenses even on a full frame camera, close focus is limited to a ridiculous 6 meters. The front element is so huge that no variable diopter would fit. Some anamorphic lensheads have done extreme modifications to the 35-NAP2-3M, but to do it right means building your own lens housing. Even with modifications, focus is difficult and requires the dual-focus method. After trying a few test shots, I quickly realized that the Lomo wasn’t a good option for me.
SLR Magic is the only company making modern “budget” anamorphic lenses and adapters. The Anamorphot 2.0x-50 is designed to work with the SLR Magic Rangefinder for single-focus operation. It has easy-to-use metric filter threads on the front and back. Everything about it makes it a lot easier to shoot with than any of the modified anamorphic projection lenses. I decided to work with the 2.0x model, since it gives a much more distinctly anamorphic look than the 1.33x.
SLR Magic definitely has some anamorphiles on staff. Everything in their Anamorphot line has a blue lens coating, which amplifies the blue-streak flares made famous by filmmakers like J.J. Abrams. The glass definitely has a unique character, like nothing I’ve seen from any other anamorphic lenses. The Anamorphot 2.0x-50 is relatively sharp when used with the right taking lens. I used it a lot around f/4 with Zeiss ZE series lenses. To get a tack-sharp image, you need to be sure that your taking lens and the adapter are at infinity, your adapter is mounted squarely, and of course your front focus element needs to be spot on as well. It takes some time and practice before that all happens naturally.
Lighting requires a different touch, as well. In general, highlights are to be avoided, except for the intentional lens flares and bokeh-ed points of light. High-contrast areas on a face, for example, can “bloom” and cause an out-of-focus look. In general, anamorphic shines most in low-key and night scenes. Getting the most from daytime exteriors usually means shooting low contrast, with a long lens and maximizing the oval bokeh effect.
After a few days of camera and lens tests, I’ve fine-tuned my ideal anamorphic adapter setup. I shoot on the Sony FS7, with an Atomos Shogun Flame to handle anamorphic de-squeeze and LUTs. A Zacuto Universal Baseplate provides a stable connection to rails (and gives the option to handhold the rig, if necessary). I use a Metabones adapter (not speedbooster). I found the speedbooster sometimes made focus even harder. I use Zeiss ZE lenses, or the Helios 44-2 for a more vintage look. The Anamorphot 2.0x-50 gets stepping rings to mount to the taking lens. I also use a Canon C-size tripod collar to help keep the adapter from rotating.
Playing with various lenses, I learned that the ideal taking lens has to have certain features. You need non-rotating front filter threads. Ideally, the lens maintains the same length when focusing. For full frame cameras, the front filter threads should be 62mm or smaller and the front element should be about 50mm or smaller. You can get away with slightly bigger numbers if you’re using full frame glass on a crop sensor.
Any comfort you have with lens lengths goes out the window with 2x anamorphic. Since a 50mm becomes a 50mm x 25mm lens, it can almost be wide and telephoto at the same time. Screengrab from Upstairs.
The Zeiss ZE 35mm f/1.4 on super 35, cropped to 2.35:1, was the absolute widest I could get, and required removing the Rangefinder. It still left me wanting a wider option when shooting interiors. It gives about the same horizontal field of view as a 28mm on s35. The 50mm f/1.4 and 85mm f/1.4 were both simple to use, and worked with the Rangefinder no problem. The 50mm was definitely the workhorse lens. Using an 85 seemed limited to large spaces and exteriors. I can see why the Helios 44 series is so popular among anamorphic adapter shooters. It’s an eminently useful length that’s long enough for bokeh effects and still wide enough to use indoors. On paper I was worried about not having a lens longer than 85mm, but in practice I never really felt I needed it.
Full manual is definitely the easiest way to go. Zoom lenses are tricky to use, since most of them change length while zooming. Primes are a much easier option. I experimented with a Canon 70-200, and it’s definitely not parfocal. In general, trying to focus past 135mm with an anamorphic adapter requires a zen-like patience, or a “good enough” attitude.
After shooting a few projects with various adapters, I really fell in love with the anamorphic look. It’s something I’ve wanted to take into my commercial work, but I didn’t feel an adapter was simple enough for high pressure work. I made the decision to add the three SLR Magic Anamorphot PL primes to my collection. I’ll post back here after I’ve shot a few projects with them.
What are your experiences shooting with anamorphic adapters? Let me know in the comments.
The SLR Magic Rangefinder Cine lens adapter gives you cine-style focus control of any lens. It’s a variable diopter that adjusts from 0 to +1, giving you focus from infinity to 1m, with a standard focus gear. It has 77mm rear threads and 82mm front threads.
The Rangefinder is naturally paired with the SLR Magic Anamorphot adapters, or any vintage anamorphic projector adapter that’s been converted for use with spherical taking lenses. It’s also useful for adding a focus gear and standard rotation to any lens, including Nikon lenses that otherwise focus “backwards.”
The SLR Magic Anamorphot 2.0x-50 anamorphic lens adapter converts your spherical taking lens into an anamorphic lens with 2x squeeze. Designed to bring the big-budget cinemascope film look to smaller productions, the adapter adds the coveted “anamorphic look.”
The 2x squeeze converts 4:3 video into 2.67:1, and 16:9 video into a 3.56:1 ratio. Typically, this will be cropped to the 2.39:1 cinemascope standard in editing.
Any lens adapter requires a bit of patience and skill to use effectively, especially anamorphic adapters. We advise a few test shoots before using the adapter on critical work. Pairing the Anamorphot 2x with various taking lenses will produce different results. Depending on your aperture, sensor size, lens length, and desired final aspect ratio, you may experience vignetting or corner softness. Focusing an anamorphic adapter is typically easiest with a variable diopter (a.k.a a single-focus system) like the SLR Magic Rangefinder. Without a single-focus system, the adapter and lens must be focused separately.
In general, we’ve had the best results when paired with taking lenses that have:
50 degree or narrower field of view (about 40mm on a full frame camera)
non-rotating filter threads
62mm or smaller front threads
50mm or smaller front element size
A fully manual focus option (not focus by wire)
If they zoom, a fixed length while zooming
Many shooters like the results from matching the anamorphot to vintage single-coated lenses like the Helios 44-2 and Jupiter 9. Check out our Anamorphic Adapter Crash Course on the blog to get started and be sure you have the accessories you’ll need. Definitely consider stepping rings, rails, lens supports, a Rangefinder, and follow focus. Spend some time to build and test your camera before shooting with it. Getting precise alignment is critical for an ideal image, and can take some practice.
The Anamorphot 2x-50 has a 62mm rear filter thread, you’ll need stepping rings to connect it to other sized lenses. The front thread is 77mm, the same as the rear threads on the SLR Magic Rangefinder. We include a lens collar/support with 1/4″-20 mounting hole for preventing unwanted rotation and reducing stress on the lens mount.
The Metabones PL to E Mount Adapter will connect any PL cinema lens to any Sony E mount camera. The adapter has no electronic contacts, and all lens features must be controlled manually. The adapter will work with full frame as well as Super 35mm lenses, but you should confirm that your lenses’ imaging circle will cover your camera’s sensor.
The SLR Magic Anamorphot 1.33x PL anamorphic lens set rental provides cinematographers with the anamorphic look for a reasonable budget. All three cinema lenses are designed to create 2.4:1 ultra-widescreen (a.k.a. cinemascope) images on cameras with 16:9 super 35-sized sensors. (more…)