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Andy Zou

Is there a "normal," go-to, or if-i-had-only-one focal length for anamorphic?

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I am playing around with anamorphic adapters, and obviously am limited by what sort of taking lenses I can use. I wanted to use a Zeiss 35mm but found it vignetted very slightly, so I moved up to a 50mm. This is on a GH4 with a Speedbooster, so fairly fairly close to simulating a Super35 sensor. Also shooting 4:3.


For Super 35, ~35mm-ish seems like a standard for a "normal" fov on spherical and 50mm seems a bit tight, better for close-ups (imo). But since the 2X anamorphic stretches the horizontal focal length, I am a little unsure of what should be a go-to focal length for anamorphic. I myself usually compose based on the vertical size of the frame, which doesn't change, but obviously I wouldn't want so much more negative horizontal space so I'd probably move backwards to compensate.


I don't have many other great primes that will take the anamorphic adapter, so I am trying to avoid too much trial and error by seeing what others think.

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A usual 2x anamorphic set would be 35, 40, 50, 75, 100. 35mm would be very wide. 50mm is moderately wide, I think most would consider that their normal lens. 75mm is about where you start seeing the classic anamorphic bokeh and would be good for isolating single characters.

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You have twice the view horizontally so a 40mm anamorphic (which Wes Anderson used for the bulk of his shots in his anamorphic movies) is like a 20mm spherical lens horizontally and thus is considered a wide-angle lens.


The first CinemaScope lens used for all of "The Robe" was a 50mm.


So I'd say that the 50mm anamorphic is the most practical focal length if you could only choose one. Faces might look a bit distorted if you get too tight though. But keep in mind that I'm talking about the field of view when it is on a 35mm movie camera, roughly a 22mm x 18mm area.


Most of Woody Allen's "Manhattan" was shot on a 100mm anamorphic as a frame of reference. I think a lot of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" was shot on a 40mm anamorphic.


A 75mm anamorphic feels the most "normal" in terms of view and lack of distortion but it might not get you the wide shots you need.

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Why do so many 2x anamorphic lens kits lack the 60mm anamorphic? It's approximately equivalent to the 32mm or 35mm on Super 35 which I know cinematographers such as Roger Deakins consider to me the "normal" range.

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Most anamorphic sets in general are not as extensive as spherical sets, it's partly just an economic reason, there isn't a big enough anamorphic market to justify sets with lots of "in-between" focal lengths. Most anamorphic sets have a 50mm and a 75mm and then a 100mm, in other words, one focal length halfway between two lenses that are half or double the view, so there is less of a priority to build even more subsets.


But you are right that a 60mm is useful -- I used to carry the 60mm C-Series anamorphic when I shot with the Primos and E-Series. It was a rare beast that wasn't always available but I found it useful for doing close-ups when they had to be on a Steadicam.

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