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1.79x Squeeze Anamorphic


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I've recently started numerous anamorphic lens projects based on the idea that 1.79x squeeze is the ideal ratio when dealing with a 4:3 sensor .  It's often stated that 2x squeeze on 4:3 gives you the DCI standard 2.39:1 scope ratio, but of course this isn't quite true.  If you really want a perfect mapping of 4:3 to 2.39:1 without having to crop the sides, then the correct math  is:  2.39/(4/3) = 1.7925, which I'll round off to 1.79.  So, for the ARRI Alexa, RED Dragon and Panasonic GH4 used in 4:3 mode it seems to me that 1.79x is ideal.  Also, if you consider the Alexa in its Open Gate format (1.55:1) you get 1.55 * 1.79 = 2.77:1, which is almost exactly equal to the classic Ultra Panavision 70 (2.76:1 aspect ratio).

You might be concerned that 1.79x wouldn't give enough anamorphic artifacts, but based on my experience so far it seems that the artifacts are very similar to 2x, and in addition there are significant advantages in size, weight, cost, and image quality.  Some time ago I built a 1.80x prototype that used very traditional rear-group focusing with counter-rotating astigmatizer aberration compensation, and found that it compared very favorably to a similar-spec 2x 140mm Hawk V-Lite:

56b27130c8d4a_Hawk_VLite_Compared_to_18x 

So, my question is, since I'm about to start spending money like crazy developing this stuff, am I crazy to be going in this direction?

 

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I think that's a great squeeze ratio, but 4:3 recording cameras are rather rare, so you will probably targeting pro market. Regarding 2x vs 1.8x, it's the same.

How is the breathing? I think the hawks breath like hell, but the cheapo SLR magic rangefinder module has 0 breathing.

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Breathing will depend on the product.  I am developing two different attachments with variable diopter front focusing, and these will breathe similarly to the SLR magic and Iscorama.  BTW, this isn't zero because the focal length always decreases as you focus closer a - + diopter arrangement.  See this demo, for example:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_tZK5Nm3Gx4   For rear-focus integrated prime lenses the breathing will be much less.  

AFAIK, the Hawk lenses also use variable diopter front-focusing, so the appearance of breathing will depend on the focal length, the total change in magnification, and to a lesser extent the aperture.  You can certainly tell that the Hawk suffered lots of breathing in the comparison I showed above, since the magnification and bokeh are smaller even though it was shot from the same camera location and supposedly has a longer focal length than my prototype.

I think that's a great squeeze ratio, but 4:3 recording cameras are rather rare, so you will probably targeting pro market. Regarding 2x vs 1.8x, it's the same.

You may be right about 4:3, although the GH4 is pretty widespread these days, and hopefully will be joined by other modest-cost 4:3 cameras in the near future.  There's also the possibility of shooting with any 16x9 4k camera and cropping the excess, since anamorphic seems to be as much about its look as about its efficient use of sensor space.  For 16x9 you would supposedly want a 1.34x squeeze, but that just doesn't offer much anamorphic appeal.

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What's the price point you're targeting? Is it a screw on adapter with 72/77mm threads?

I'm working on two attachments, plus a series of integrated primes.  The smaller of the attachments would have 72mm rear threads, and I want to price it so that independent film makers and videographers can afford it.  I'm not far enough along on the other products to have a good feel for pricing yet, but its my intention to compete with the best products out there (e.g., Hawk, Cooke, Panavision, etc.) at a very compelling price.

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oh, never tried the slrm rangefinder, but they were marketing as the solution to remove breathing on photografic lenses...

With 4k getting mainstream, cropping isn't that big of a deal anyway. 

Personally, when I look at all the current cheap and not so cheap solutions, what I think would be cool is a compact, well built, integrated solution. A complete lens you can put into your backpack and use as a normal lens instead of this gigantic piece of almost empty housing hanging in front of a tiny taking lens being held together by a screwmounted clamp.

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I'm working on two attachments, plus a series of integrated primes.  The smaller of the attachments would have 72mm rear threads, and I want to price it so that independent film makers and videographers can afford it.  I'm not far enough along on the other products to have a good feel for pricing yet, but its my intention to compete with the best products out there (e.g., Hawk, Cooke, Panavision, etc.) at a very compelling price.

I think there'd be a pretty big market if it works better than the current competition and is about the price of an Iscorama or not way too much more. That Kowas are going for $50k/set is telling, so maybe there's room for a higher priced adapter, too. If you could improve close focus over the Iscoramas that would be a pretty big deal, 6' is really prohibitive and large diopters are expensive. The current batch of "affordable" adapters also don't go adequately wide. Blue Panavision-style flares without the need for a streak filter would be nice. A more elegant alignment mechanism would be useful.

How's the distortion? The Cooke anamorphics apparently have a weird second order distortion at close focus distances that makes vfx difficult and also just looks bad, but the Arriscope lenses look bad because of the lack of distortion so traditional anamorphic distortion is a big draw for me, not a bad thing at all. 

There seems to be a trend toward higher resolutions and larger sensors. Even the Amira and Dragon are a bit larger than S35 and sharp enough for a 1.8:1 anamorphic to provide good 2k/1080p. 

The sample image is really compelling.

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i think this looks great and am always encouraging of new anamorphic solutions. my only concern right off the bat is monitoring this. Many manufacturers (SmallHD, Convergent Design, etc) have settings for monitoring 1.33x, 1.5x and 2.0x, but no way to dial in a non-standard squeeze factor like this.

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I agree.  Integrated primes (and zooms) are more difficult to develop and manufacture, but its definitely a solution that I ultimately want to provide.

I think there'd be a pretty big market if it works better than the current competition and is about the price of an Iscorama or not way too much more. That Kowas are going for $50k/set is telling, so maybe there's room for a higher priced adapter, too. If you could improve close focus over the Iscoramas that would be a pretty big deal, 6' is really prohibitive and large diopters are expensive. The current batch of "affordable" adapters also don't go adequately wide. Blue Panavision-style flares without the need for a streak filter would be nice. A more elegant alignment mechanism would be useful.

How's the distortion? The Cooke anamorphics apparently have a weird second order distortion at close focus distances that makes vfx difficult and also just looks bad, but the Arriscope lenses look bad because of the lack of distortion so traditional anamorphic distortion is a big draw for me, not a bad thing at all. 

There seems to be a trend toward higher resolutions and larger sensors. Even the Amira and Dragon are a bit larger than S35 and sharp enough for a 1.8:1 anamorphic to provide good 2k/1080p. 

The sample image is really compelling.

My plan is to do a compact "normal" attachment, a larger wide attachment, and then a series of integrated lenses.  The attachments will definitely focus much closer than the Iscoramas.  Distortion will be very traditional anamorphic style - definitely not the oddball simultaneous combination of barrel and pincushion shown by the Cookes, although probably slightly less than 2x Panavision lenses due to the difference in squeeze ratio.  

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i think this looks great and am always encouraging of new anamorphic solutions. my only concern right off the bat is monitoring this. Many manufacturers (SmallHD, Convergent Design, etc) have settings for monitoring 1.33x, 1.5x and 2.0x, but no way to dial in a non-standard squeeze factor like this.

Monitoring is definitely on my mind.  Nothing is easy.

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Given that you can buy cages for most cameras, why not just shoot in portrait mode with a 2x anamorphic lens and crop? Get a monitor with image flip and desqueeze and you're all set. 1080p becomes 2k and UHD becomes 4k.

Better still; use the old Jedi mind trick on someone at Blackmagic to enable anamorphic crops on all their cameras. If Magic Lantern can do it I don't see why camera companies can't.

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Brian, just out of curiosity, do you have anything to do with Caldwell Photographic?

As for the anamorphic, go for it, man! I think you have pretty good points setting the squeeze at 1.8, since most anamorphic modes are indeed 4:3 (the Ursa is 6:5, though).

Forget about my first question, I just noticed your name on the metabones white paper. ;)

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Monitoring is definitely on my mind.  Nothing is easy.

i went a couple rounds with SmallHD, trying to get them to add custom scaling back to their monitors (the DP6 had it) but alas, they never did. Convergent Design has the best implementation for 2x and 1.5x because they will also push in for a center crop of a 2.39:1 aspect ratio. makes the most of the monitor's real estate. I'm sure they'd be pretty open to accommodating a 1.8x setting in one of their updates. They're good at listening to their customer's needs.

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Brian, just out of curiosity, do you have anything to do with Caldwell Photographic?

As for the anamorphic, go for it, man! I think you have pretty good points setting the squeeze at 1.8, since most anamorphic modes are indeed 4:3 (the Ursa is 6:5, though).

Forget about my first question, I just noticed your name on the metabones white paper. ;)

Thanks for your feedback on the squeeze ratio - I was definitely interested in what you would think.

I own Caldwell Photographic, and I design all the Speed Booster optics.

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I've got 2 1.5x Iscoramas. I shoot with an 1856x1114 crop on the 5D Mk3 with Magic Lantern which ends up as 2k 2.39:1 with a slight crop in resolve. Magic lantern and the smallHD 501 both have 1.5x desqueeze so all good. With a 55mm lens I get about the equivalent of a 35mm wide.

So Brian how wide can you go with this adapter?

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i went a couple rounds with SmallHD, trying to get them to add custom scaling back to their monitors (the DP6 had it) but alas, they never did. Convergent Design has the best implementation for 2x and 1.5x because they will also push in for a center crop of a 2.39:1 aspect ratio. makes the most of the monitor's real estate. I'm sure they'd be pretty open to accommodating a 1.8x setting in one of their updates. They're good at listening to their customer's needs.

Thanks for this - its really useful information!  Out of curiosity, do you know anything about the Cineroid viewfinders?

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Thanks for this - its really useful information!  Out of curiosity, do you know anything about the Cineroid viewfinders?

no sorry.

Sample image looks very promising indeed...  My only criticism is the hexagonal bokeh that is shown..  If integrating with a dedicated prime, this would need to have as "circular" bokeh as possible..

 

Anamorphic loses a lot of its look to me when it becomes hexagonal, which I do not find as appealing..

Look forward to more updates!

that only comes from shooting wide open (or near wide open). anamorphic lenses stopped down will show bokeh that's been shaped by the blades.

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Sample image looks very promising indeed...  My only criticism is the hexagonal bokeh that is shown..  If integrating with a dedicated prime, this would need to have as "circular" bokeh as possible..

 

Anamorphic loses a lot of its look to me when it becomes hexagonal, which I do not find as appealing..

Look forward to more updates!

Thanks for your comments.  I agree regarding the bokeh shape.  In the case of my test shot the bokeh is actually nine-sided, which is created by the iris shape in the Nikon 135mm f/2 AiS Nikkor that I used as a spherical backer lens.  Upcoming integrated primes will use a very circular iris to yield nice smooth elliptical bokeh.

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FWIW, my Small-HD AC7 can do 100% custom scaling. Mind you, when you push it, the unused areas of the screen get some crazy digital garbage, but I've desqueezed my Kowa at 2X and cropped it to 2.76:1. Setting up for a non-standard squeeze is just as easy, just some basic maths. Not every monitor an do this, of course, but it is possible.

 

I'd say go for it one way or another. For whatever it's worth, in a year or two I'm hoping to step up to a better anamorphic solution, something between $2-3K. If you've proved one thing with the SpeedBoosters, it's that you don't f*ck around when it comes to designing optics. I have a Kowa with a Rangefinder, and the single-focus has already made a night and day difference, and has reassured me that anamorphic really can be useable in 4K and on professional projects with the right lens setup. 

I just this week used anamorphic on a paid shoot for the first time, and while it went well, there are a few things that could still use improvement.

1. Field of View. I'm getting about a 35mm FOV horizontally, and that on APSC/S35. While this is decent, it's right at the sweet spot for portraits and just a touch shy of feeling wide. It's so close I can almost see it, but something just under 30mm would produce truly stunning landscapes and establishing shots. What's more, this is just out of reach with projection adapters. Break the "FOV Barrier", I think there's a real gap in the market there.

2. Flares. There was a long phase with the anamorphic hobbyists where it was all the rage to hate on flares, and there's still a negative stigma around it. Good or bad, flares with the current options for lower budget anamorphics are a big hot mess. Some of the projection anas have ok flares, but the new SLR Magic offerings just look strange. What's more, the single focus adapters can't seem to make up their minds. The Rangefinder is tack sharp, but for some reason it has pseudo-vintage blue coatings which put strange blue haze spots in the image. Whatever you do with flares, be decisive. Either nail a vintage look with rich thick flares, or clean it up 100% with modern coatings and keep it all about the bokeh.

3. Lens size. Of course, any anamorphic worth it's price tag will be no pancake lens, but stack a UV filter on a Rangefinder on a step ring on a front clamp on a Kowa on a rear clamp on another step ring on a pancake lens on a lens mount adapter, and you've got a portrait prime lens longer and heavier than a 24-70. I would hope that an integrated anamorphic could be made a bit smaller and more compact than this, especially with the help of modern optics.

4. Lens support. This is a HUGE deal if you go the "front adapter" route. Seriously. I'm considering getting my Rangefinder modded to have a rod lens support, because it's just needed. Let's face it, all the projection anas are a decent size and weight once rigged on front of a lens. There are ALWAYS a lot of parts to get it all hooked up end-to-end. Mine shifts around when I turn the Rangefinder focus ring, causing alignment wobble. Include a way to easily bolt the focus adapter to some rails, so that torque applied while focusing doesn't affect the rest of the setup behind it. Alternatively, this is my prime reason for wanting to move to an all-in-one-housing lens. All the various parts and pieces provide no end of possible failure points. 

My ideal anamorphic would be a 30mm S-35 in the neighborhood of 2X squeeze (anything significantly less and why freaking bother? Shoot spherical.) Alternatively, 40/45-ish full frame. I'm serious when I say that anything beyond f/4 would be welcome but not required. Because of the way anamorphic renders out of focus areas, I've consistently found that f/4 is not only adequately shallow... It is also sharp and manageable. You want to see the smear, not obliterate it in completely out of focus mush. Around the $2-2.5K mark would be my sweet spot, with of course a 50mm and something longer like 75/85mm also available eventually to fill out a 3 lens set. 

Again, I'd be most enticed by a wide in the standalone lens department, because anyone these days can grab a projection ana and shoot >50mm stuff. Being able to tell clients that "yes, I have a full three lens set that is reliable and we can shoot anamorphic" is an entirely different ballgame and the wide is what makes a new set better than (for example) a set of LOMOs, along with modern sharpness and usability/reliability. I think wide FOV is a defining characteristic of cinema anamorphic, every bit as much as bokeh, flares or lens distortion, and that's why the projection anas always feel like they just fall short a little.

I would leave the single focus adapters to SLR Magic and Rectilux, unless you can beat SLR Magic in quality for the price point. It's a very capable adapter for anyone in the market for a solution to their projection lens woes. Anyone hell-bent on using a projection ana on a high quality level will shell out for the Rectilux. There's a huge hole in the "real anamorphic" prime lens market, basically anywhere below Hawk (and obviously way below Panovision). Go for that sweet spot, kinda like the Xeen lenses. More serious than plain Rokinons, but not quite bank-breaking like CP.2s. Catch the top end of the hobbyist market, and the everyday working stiff profesionals who until you came along hadn't even considered anamorphic.

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