To use anamorphic lenses on DSLR and cinema cameras, you must mount them to the front of a prime lens. It is the most common question we receive, and it is easy to accomplish. For an easy comparison, see our anamoprhic lens comparison chart.
Our own custom clamp comes with either 72mm, 58mm, or 52mm filter threads, prevents light leak, and does not use screws that damage the lens. If your SLR lens has a different thread size, you’ll need the appropriate step ring which can be found on eBay or most camera shops. To determine what clamp size you’ll need, simply measure the rear diameter of your anamorphic lens. Our 72mm clamp can accept up anamorphics up to 70mm in diameter. You will want to select the clamp size that fits most snugly to avoid light leaks (although this can provide a very neat look if desired).
There are a few ways to mount a clamp to your SLR lens. Essentially, you want to screw it into the front filter threads of your SLR lines then center the anamorphic lens within the clamp. If you are using a screw clamp, tighten each of the the fasteners by hand. If the lens doesn’t align properly (vertically) you can simply unscrew one of those fasteners and leave the others tightened. This allows you to rotate the lens to the correct vertical position and then quickly tighten back in place. This ensures that you will have a properly aligned image.
Another way to mount it is to set the clamp down on a flat surface and then set the lens down centered in the clamp. Begin to tighten the screw fasteners a little at a time until the anamorphic lens is centered and gripped tightly. With the lens still mounted in the clamp it can be screwed onto the front of your SLR.
To vertically align the lens so that the images aren’t crooked, it is best to look at the lens from the front and make sure the concave glass is vertically aligned to your camera. Pointing your camera to something with a cross pattern on it will also tell if the lens is misaligned or skewed.
Another method is to shine a bright light source such as an LED pen light into the front of the lens and get a good flare. If the flare levels horizontally from left to right, you are aligned and good to go.
You’ll need to make sure your anamorphic lens is compatible with your SLR lens as well as your camera sensor size. Not all anamorphic lenses are the same but typically you’ll need to use focal length of approximately 85mm or tighter for full frame cameras like the Canon 5D or Sony A7S, and 60mm or tighter for any other APS-C sized sensor. Of course, if your camera has even more of a crop factor like the GH4, Black Magic, or Red cameras, you can use wider focal length SLR lens. Use our 2x anamorphic lens calculator to determine what will work for your camera setup.
Some lenses like the Isco Micro anamorphic lens perform well with full frame cameras.
We also recommend using prime lenses over zoom lenses. Prime lenses have faster apertures and tend to have smaller front elements which allows them to easily shoot with most anamorphic lens attachments.
Remember that using 100m millimeter SLR lens with our 2x anamorphic lenses will yield a 50-millimeter field of view. Using tighter lenses is perfectly acceptable from a cinematography standpoint as most of the lenses we recommend are the smaller front Nikon and canon FD lenses or old Russian or Japanese micro-4/2 mount lenses.
All of these prime lenses can be mounted to almost any camera using simple mount converter rings. These types of lenses are sharp, fun, and well built; much more affordable than newer primes. We recommend Helios 58mm lenses for crop cameras and the Jupiter 85 millimeter f/2 lenses for the full frame cameras. Shooting with these lens setups can give your images cinematic edge and is definitely an effective way to help your cinematography and photography stand apart from the crowd.
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