Buy or Rent Anamorphic Lenses? What should I do?

An age-old question for users of gear: should I buy, or should I rent?

With anamorphic lenses, the question has always been up for debate. Anamorphics have traditionally been very expensive to produce and manufacture. Cheaper lenses did not render acceptable enough quality. Anamorphic optics are difficult to get right, and require precision skill and expensive investment. With the added elements, chromatic fringing and aberrations are often introduced. Sometimes these can fall under the realm of “vintage”-looking, but in today’s era of pixel-peeping and clinical mass-produced glass, the acceptability threshold is higher than ever.

In addition, anamorphic lenses are traditionally heavier than their aspherical counterpart. And in production, more weight means more money for stabilization. Plus, crews need the ability to desqueeze the image in the video village or monitor.

These requirements leave many anamorphic lenses out of the reach of independent shooters and smaller budget productions. Cooke Lenses are beautiful glass, but at $30,000 per lens they’re an investment for the rental house. So, rent, right?

It isn’t that simple.

Imagine that you had a canvas that never changed shape. It was always 16 feet wide, and 9 feet tall and this is what you’ve been painting on your whole entire life.

Now someone offers you the option to shoot on a canvas 32 feet wide and 9 feet tall. Your mind’s framing  eye now has to decide how to fill all of this extra space! How do you space your subjects within a frame? How does the background dominate? What about your depth?

This is what anamorphic lenses offer. They expand your sensor size and offer a twice-as-large canvas to paint your characters and your narrative. But it will take time to learn how you can fill this new canvas.

This is where purchasing is a better option for those who have never shot anamorphic before. We have researched and tested many different anamorphic lenses. Our lenses were adapted from one of the world’s best optics manufacturers in Germany, and stripped down and accessorized to be used with lightweight DSLR rigs.

So if you have experience with anamorphic lenses and are shooting narrative work, definitely rent the best glass you can. This will always be the case. But if you’re still learning, we would recommend that you buy a few of the right anamorphics to cut your teeth on. Take them out, and get the hang of how they adapt to your different lenses, how to focus, how they adapt to your shooting style, how to work with them in post, what other gear you might need, and how you can maximize their qualities. Because manufacturing quality anamorphic glass is so difficult, they hold their value extremely well.

Take a days weeks to learn anamorphic focusing, and go out and shoot some run and gun solo footage. We recommend against shooting anamorphic for the first time on a critical project, as it will likely be an exercise in frustration. Anamorphic shooting is a skill. It doesn’t take long to master, but once you do, it will be well worth it and become a valuable asset to your toolbox as a cinematographer.

Contact us on our eBay store if you have any questions!

Interested in shooting anamorphic? We have many ready-to-shoot packages available on our eBay store.Explore Now

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.