Yep. We did it again. Last year the folks at ShareGrid, Old Fast Glass, a brilliant, talented crew, and myself came together to test a wide variety of vintage lenses to give the cinematography world a sort of sampling, flight, if you will, of the various vintage lenses and what sort of characteristics you can expect with when using them. It’s been shared thousands of times and utilized in who knows how many pre-production meetings to determine the visual aesthetics as it pertains to lenses for a specific project.
So what’s next… ANAMORPHIC! The subject that baffles so many with a shroud of mystery. Optics designed to provide a wider field of view when bound by a specific format, fashioned by unsung geniuses from around the world – some a shining beacon of optical engineering superiority, and others a trophy of intentional flaw for the sake of introducing artifacts and characteristics that, to the average viewer, carries a subconscious nostalgia, lending honesty and legitimacy. But most importantly… They’re beautiful!
The test took place in Burbank over the course of three days with about a dozen crew and, as I recall, about two dozen guests and lens enthusiasts who all shared a common goal; to ogle some optical goodness. I’ll leave the theory of the test and the technical details to the main post which you can and should find over on ShareGrid. I’ve said it in several interviews already, but it bears repeating… Over the past fifteen years, I’ve participated in many, many lens tests ranging from a manufacturer’s super secret prototype test all the way up to ASC hosted “Lens Days”, and everything in-between. I can honestly and proudly say, as a sponsor of the Ultimate Anamorphic Lens Test, that it was one of the most comprehensive, consistent, organized lens tests I’ve participated in.
The test included 42 individual lenses with over 500 individual tests with the likes of Angenieux, ARRI / Zeiss Master Anamorphics, Atlas Lens Co., Cooke Anamorphics, Cineovision, Hawk V-Lites, Elite Anamorphics, Iscorama, Kowa Cine Prominar, Lomo Round Front, Panavision Auto Panatars, P+S Technik, Todd AO
Generally I don’t agree with individual online lens tests since there’s no consistency and there are FAR too many factors to consider such as post processing, export settings, upload settings, compression, screen resolution, monitor calibration, etc, etc. But the beauty of the ShareGrid tests is that we tested ALL of the Anamorphic lenses in the same go, in the same environment, same camera, same processing, and with the clever 4×4 in-browser comparison tool, you can view up to four tests simultaneously for proper side-by-side comparison.
I certainly know which lenses I enjoyed the most. Head on over to the original post on ShareGrid and enjoy some super lens geekery. Once you’ve spent the entire day comparing lenses, come back here and let us know which anamorphic lens is your favorite!