Since the final image has to maintain a standard aspect ratio, pixels from the anamorphic image are interpolated to produce an equivalent spherical image. For example, an anamorphic image captured at 5K widescreen and finished in 4K widescreen is undersampled from just 3.2K pixels horizontally, but is oversampled vertically from 2.7K down to 1.7K pixels. However, the advent of the "Super 35" format lessened the difference between spherical and anamorphic lenses, because Super 35 provides more horizontal film area by not recording the audio next to each frame. Exporting and transcoding also requires aspect ratio adjustments using the framing panel. You can find more information about our use of cookies and how we protect your personal information in our, Note: Above frames are shown to scale for SMPTE 195-1993 at 2.39:1 ("2:40") widescreen. Spherical are more common and are the assumed lens type unless specified otherwise. Anamorphic lenses are specialty tools which affect how images get projected onto the camera sensor. With anamorphic, 100% of the frame area contributes to the final image. Anamorphic lenses typically aren't as sharp as equivalent spherical lenses, in part because these have additional glass elements in the optical path, but also because images are often produced using an ultra-wide angle of view. Many anamorphic lenses are just ordinary spherical lenses with additional glass elements that compress or "anamorphize" the output. Vignetting may appear as an oval, although this unique shape can be emulated in post-production. Two classes of lenses are typically used in production: spherical and anamorphic. With film, this difference could be as pronounced as going from a 2X to a 1X crop factor, depending on whether area was reserved for audio.

Anamorphic lenses have played various roles as capture has transitioned from film to digital. The added complexity and larger glass elements almost always mean that anamorphic lenses will be more expensive and heavier than standard spherical lenses. Lens flare and out of focus backgrounds ("bokeh") will appear elongated as opposed to circular (unless the lens has a specially-designed ovular iris). They were primarily created so that a wider range of aspect ratios could fit within a standard film frame, but since then, cinematographers have become accustomed to their unique look.


For example, the Full Format RED DRAGON resolution is 6144x3160, which has an aspect ratio of 1.94:1. Usable area is 184 mm, Note: Above examples depict the RED DRAGON, Selecting an Anamorphic Resolution Setting In-Camera, Selecting Anamorphic Viewing Within REDCINE-X. If the finishing resolution is close to the capture resolution, this means that horizontal detail will be less resolved than vertical detail. Rear-mounted anamorphic lenses often also reduce the maximum available aperture, and are much less common with wide angle lenses since they increase the effective focal length. With film, anamorphics were originally designed to utilize more film area with wide format imagery, which in turn increased resolution and reduced grain. For example, using a standard spherical lens to capture 2.40:1 imagery on 35 mm film only utilizes 50% of each frame's area. Anamorphic lenses are specialty tools which affect how images get projected onto the camera sensor. With digital, the difference is much subtler, and with RED® is equivalent to going from a 1.25X to a 1X crop factor: The unique design of anamorphic lenses also has implications. They were primarily created so that a wider range of aspect ratios could fit within a standard film frame, but since then, cinematographers have become accustomed to their unique look. Most of the characteristic look of anamorphic lenses is associated with the "front-mounted" type, where the aspect ratio compression is done by a front lens element.
"Rear-mounted" anamorphic lenses are usually much less identifiable, and are therefore typically used with film when utilizing more film area is a primary goal. The main reason to use anamorphic with digital is for its other effects. Anamorphic lenses typically serve a very different purpose with digital. This article discusses the key considerations with anamorphic lenses in the digital era. To produce 2.40:1 wide format imagery, one could crop the top and bottom of the frame using the "6K WS" setting, in which case 81% of the pixels would be preserved. The other route would be to use a 2X anamorphic lens, in which case the sides of the frame would need to be cropped, and only 61% of the pixels would be preserved. Although anamorphic and spherical lenses technically have the same depth of field, in practice you have to use a longer focal length with anamorphic in order to achieve the same angle of view. One could potentially utilize a less common 1.3X anamorphic lens and preserve 95% of the pixels, but the effect would likely be too subtle to justify any added cost or complexity.

However, the type of anamorphic lens can also be an important factor. Depth of field is also affected. For easier on-set visualization, a de-squeeze feature is enabled by default in the viewfinder and LCD preview screens when an anamorphic resolution is selected: Within REDCINE-X PRO®, images can be defined as anamorphic within the viewer window to avoid having them appear squished. Bokeh, flare and vignetting will appear similar to spherical lenses, but depth of field will still become shallower. All rights reserved. Anamorphic lenses were originally designed so that wide format imagery would fully utilize the film area of standard 35 mm frames. This signature anamorphic style has been an important creative tool with several recent digital and film productions. Otherwise wide format imagery would have left the top and bottom of the frame unused, and required cropping these out using masks in the projector: Anamorphic lenses therefore improved image quality by both enhancing vertical resolution and reducing the appearance of grain. However, digital sensors are typically better-suited to wide format cinema than standard 35 mm film. You can find more information about our use of cookies and how we protect your personal information in our privacy policy Therefore, at the same subject magnification, anamorphic lenses produce a shallower, more cinematic depth of field. Since spherical lenses are more common, the available combinations of focal length, T-stop, quality and cost are also more diverse. We have set cookies in your browser to help make this website better. We have set cookies in your browser to help make this website better. Anamorphics are still better at utilizing film area though, especially with 2.39:1 aspect ratios. Flare may also appear as bluish horizontal or vertical streaks which span the entire frame.


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