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Petter Englund

How to get weird with Hawk V-Lites?

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I'm currently in pre-production for a very low-budget feature for which we are playing with the idea of shooting with a single 45 or 55mm anamorphic lens.

I know the Hawk V-lites are pretty neat and out-of-the-box a very crisp anamorphic lens, with for example AC Zoran Veselic jokingly calling them "anamorphic Master Primes" because of their sharpness and crispness.

However, we like to get a bit weird with them for this project -- add some distortion and texture to really get that anamorphic look to stand out a bit more. And I know the Hawks are being played around with a lot, comparing the lens distortion from example "Hands of Stone" with a frame from "Moonlight" (which were both shot with V-Lites) is like night and day (see attachments below).

For you who have some experience shooting with these -- is the added lens distortion mainly done by shooting wide open (or close to) and really shallowing the DOF, or is it lens filters/shooting in the longer end that play the bigger part here?

Since we're on a very tight budget we won't have an excessive amount of time to test the V-Lites, so if you have any tips / tricks / ideas / previous experiences I would really appreciate it!



Thank you,





Hands of Stone




Hands of Stone









Edited by Petter Englund

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I found "Moonlight" to be very quite soft and blurry, nothing like a Master Anamorphic, but it was shot near wide-open. Stopped down a bit the Hawk V-Lites look nicer IMHO, as most anamorphics.


I haven't seen "Hands of Stone", but distortion or the lack of it shouldn't be related to the aperture of the lens. Sharpness, contrast, chromatic aberrations, focus, etc. are very affected by it.


I'd say all of the images that you're posting, except for the last one, which may be a 75mm, are 100mm focal lenghts. A much wider anamorphic such as a 40mm or a 50mm will show a lot more of geometrical distortions, regardless of the T/stop.

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Thank you for the reply! I appreciate it very much!


When I say we're looking to add some texture and distortion I am mainly referring to enhancing the anamorphic bokeh and the typical anamorphic optical imperfections, and not necessarily adding geometrical distortion. Since we are only going to be using a single focal length, there's not much we can do about the geometrical distortion once we have settled for 45 or 55 mm. I should've been clearer in that regard!


Okay -- so your guess comparing the images above is basically that the main difference from a lens perspective is the selected aperture?

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In situations where you're unable to test particular glass you're interested in, I've found it helpful to visit Sharegrid's Ultimate Cinema Lens Library at https://www.sharegrid.com/ultimate-lens-library.html. There is a ton of information both there and on their YouTube page regarding different sets of lenses, including Hawk V-Lites.


In response to your particular question- with regard to anamorphic lenses, their particular aberrations/flaws/irregularities are most often made more obvious by opening the lens all the way. After that, there is no real way of "enhancing" the optical imperfections of the lens- what you see is what you get. The V-Lites are known for being modern lenses while still offering classic anamorphic characteristics, so you may indeed find what you're looking for. It may also be worth looking into Kowa Prominars or Lomos, both have different characteristics that may interest you if you're into the distortion anamorphic lenses can offer.


Finally, I would add that if you are only going to use one lens for this project, it is important to keep in mind the close focus distance of the lens you choose. More often than not, anamorphic lenses have a pretty far close focus, making it hard to achieve close up shots on a wide lens without the use of diopters. It may be worth renting one or two for your shoot if you're trying to shoot close ups as well as wide shots.

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