Since we get so many questions from filmmakers interested in shooting anamorphic, we present the Anamorphic Conversation series- a curation of conversations regarding specific cameras or setups. Names are redacted for privacy.
Greetings! I have a Black Magic Ursa Mini 4K and have been interested in shooting with anamorphic lenses for a while now. I have several Nikkor prime lenses. What lens would you recommend for me? Cheers!
Thanks for the message!
Black Magic cameras generally pair well with most anamorphic lenses and prime combinations. The smaller sensor size opens up wider usability with a variety of lenses. As anamorphic lenses double your field of view, you basically can divide your focal length by 2 and get your new anamorphic focal length. So a 100mm lens becomes 50mm, 85mm becomes 42.5mm, and so on.
One of the most interesting features of the Black Magic Ursa Mini is it’s ability to shoot in both 6:5 and 4:3 modes, instead of standard 16:9. This means that when you desqueeze your anamorphic footage– footage shot at 6:5 becomes 2.4:1 aspect ratio, and footage shot at 4:3 becomes 2.66:1 aspect ratio. This gives you all of the benefits of 2x anamorphic (compressed bokeh, barrel distortion, wider field of view) but still allows for a comfortable aspect ratio in post. 3072×2560 footage desqueezes to a whopping 6144×2560 canvas.
While this might sound like a lot of math to calculate for each of your Leica lenses, if you’d like to play around with how this affects the image, check out our anamorphic calculator here and be sure to put in your camera, lenses, and sensor aspect ratio.
For the Black Magic, I’d highly recommend the Isco Micro. It is compact and very high quality. Many anamorphic lenses are softer, and not useable until you stop down to at least f/4 or higher. The Isco Micro can resolve 4.6k images with ease- I’ve used it on 6k cameras myself without any issues.
If you have any other questions, please let me know!
I’m currently looking for lenses that will work on the ursa mini 4.6k. Is there anything you can recommend?
Hi, thanks for reaching out!
The Ursa Mini is a great camera for anamorphic. The 2x desqueeze and 4:3 mode are extremely valuable options. The additional field of view of anamorphic also helps the higher crop factor of Black Magic cameras
I would recommend one of two setups for the Ursa Mini
If you want the absolute best quality lens, the Isco Micro is the clear choice. It is very sharp, and small, with modern flaring. You can use it as a dual focus lens, and you can add single focus capability later
If you want something more vintage looking, I’d recommend our single focus custom build. It isn’t as tack sharp as the Isco (but it is still definitely usable with 4k and shooting with apertures of f/1.4. It is a more vintage look with soft bloomy flares.
If you have any specific questions about either of these please let me know!
Hello! I am extremely interested in shooting on anamorphics with my black Magic Ursa Mini 4.6k. I am somewhat new to using anamorphics with an ef mount camera. Would you have any suggestions on getting started, meaning certain lenses/set ups for this kind of camera? I would like to use vintage glass. Thank you so much!
Hey, thanks for reaching out!
The Ursa is a great camera to shoot anamorphic with. I don’t own one but I’ve used one and it really works well. Am hoping to do an article on it soon when I can get my hands on one for an extended period of time.
Vintage glass will work great for anamorphic. I’d highly recommend the Helios lenses- old Russian Zeiss primes with 9 blade apertures.
Make sure to get them in m42 mount versions as that can easily be converted to EF mount with a simple adapter
As far as anamorphic lenses go, I’d suggest one of the following for the Ursa.
This custom single focus lens (most anamorphic lenses must be focused with two lenses, I built this one to single focus so you can rack focus) is a good choice for a vintage look with flaring. It is pretty lightweight and compact. All you need will be a clamp and you’ll be good to go.
This Isco single focus build is a bit more modern and clinical. Great sharpness, super compact and light setup. It doesn’t flare as much as the custom single focus. It has beautiful bokeh and really resolves images nicely with lots of contrast. I would compare it to modern Zeiss glass.
Thanks so much for all of this.
Just a few more questions:
Who would be the best buyer for the Helios and the Jupiter ?
What’s the best m42 to ef adapter?
Do I need the focus gear to get up and running or can I purchase that later?
Is there a return policy?
Do you have any footage shot with this particular set up (the Helios and your custom lens)?
Thanks so so much!
Sure- in fact the main video on the listing was shot with that exact combo.
You could purchase the focus gear later, only need it if you’re looking to use a follow focus
I have a 14 day return on my eBay store
Jupiter 9, I’d go with this one
Helios 33- sorry about that- I mixed this one up. The Helios 33 in it’s stock state actually needs to be modded to be mounted with modern cameras- there used to be a guy who did this but I don’t think they’re around any more. An alternative would be the Mir1B
Most m42 adapters are good, it’s a very simple mount. I’d go with this here
That video looks great. My only concern is that the shots look too vintage, blurry and distorted than what I am looking for. Some of the subjects in the video look crooked almost. It could certainly be my ignorance with anamorphics.
Do you have any more footage? Can I get a much less distorted/blurry/vintage look with it?
That would be poor alignment on my part- if the lens is not aligned properly– vertically, the image will skew and distort. I shot that one before I had my new clamp.
Here’s a new one with the same lens
Basically shooting with longer lenses will help push in on the inner part of the lens for best quality. If you’d like something sharper the Isco lenses are definitely better corner sharpness
You could go with single focus here, or dual focus on the Micro, depending on budget and preference. The red lenses are a bit better quality- 5 elements instead of 4, better corner sharpness and transmission
Awesome. So just to recap, this is what I need:
Am I missing anything?
Yes, that’s everything!
More anamorphic stuff
If you’re looking to test out exactly what lenses will work for your DSLRs, head on over to our anamorphic lens calculator to test. Select your sensor size, your aspect ratio, and you will be informed and ready to shoot! Our anamorphic lens comparison chart allows you to determine the size and weight of the anamorphic lenses in our store.
If you are interested adding anamorphic flares to your toolbox, please visit our anamorphic lens store for demos and examples. We have spent several years collecting, modifying, and testing anamorphic lenses to weed through the junk, make needed modifications, and assemble ready-to-shoot packages.
If you are interested in learning more on working with anamorphic lenses and DSLR, please check out our anamorphic tutorial blog for more anamorphic tips and tutorials!
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