Anamorphic Lens User Guide
If you’re interested in significantly increasing your flaring on your anamorphic lens, this tutorial will show you how to safely and quickly remove the lens coatings that prevent some of the more signature elements of anamorphic lenses from appearing in your footage. Anamorphic lenses were almost always multi-coated, many of the vintage optics like the higher-quality Schneiders and Iscos have multiple layers of coating on the lens.
You can see the coatings most prominently in reflections. These coatings minimize flaring and it was ideal for people who are using these lenses with their original purpose, as in cinema projection, flaring was undesirable.
But as filmmakers that’s an aesthetic choice as we might want anamorphic flaring, so it might be helpful for some people to know how to remove this coating so that you can maximize the light bouncing around between the elements as opposed to a more sterile look.
All you need to do this is some Cape Cod metal polish. Cape Cod is for polishing metal and jewelry but it does a great job of removing coatings from anamorphic lenses without damaging the optics itself. Cape Code is inexpensive, and it never dries out. If it dries up you can just add some water to the cloth and you can just use it again and again.
It’s also great if you have little hairline scratches in your optics and they bother you. Usually small coating scratches don’t affect the image, unless they are deep enough to effect flaring or contrast. Removing the coating will remove what looks like scratches in the lens and will make your lens look new.
One thing to keep in mind is that unless we take this lens apart, we’re only going be able to remove the outside coatings of these optics. There are actually four elements in these Schneider anamorphic lenses: two of them fused together in the rear and two fused together up front. The coating could be removed on both sides of them if we disassembled the lens but just for the purposes of this tutorial we are only going to remove one side of the lens.
All you have to do is take the Cape Cod polish and start with one of the optics. Just use some elbow grease and clean off the polish periodically just to see the progress you are making. It is important to keep at this for about 10-15 minutes for each optic as you have to have an even removal of the coating.
Sometimes you’ll see that you’re just removing in one spot on the lens so continue to give good solid buffing and eventually you will start to see the coating be removed. If your fingers get tired, you can use a tool such as the butt end of a screwdriver.
Have a dry microfiber cloth to periodically remove the polish and see the progress that you’re making. By now, you should see that the polish is slowly being removed and the anamorphic lens itself will become more reflective.
One thing that you’ll notice as you are removing the coating is that you’ll start to see some very microscopic scratches that appear to be on the anamorphic – but in fact it is just the coating. Once you complete the job, all of the micro scratches will go away and aren’t actually in the optic itself as the Cape Cod polish is nowhere near hard enough to affect the glass.
Once closer to removal, you will start to see that the anamorphic lens is really starting to lose the original
coating that was on it. This will greatly help improve your anamorphic flares and produce a stronger anamorphic aesthetic. Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t look like it’s coming off as with enough elbow grease any anamorphic lens coating gets there.
You will likely still see some of the color coating reflections but likely that is from the inner lens coating, so again, if you want to go up and open your anamorphic lens you will be able to remove this coating and increase your anamorphic flares even more. Usually there are screws at the base, just make sure that if you do do that you have to get alignment perfectly when you replace the element otherwise you will have astigmatism in the optics between the rear and the front element and you will never achieve focus.
Once you are complete and satisfied with the removal, give the anamorphic lens a cleaning with alcohol to make sure that it’s it’s 100% clean and done! Hopefully this tutorial helped and makes a big difference in the way that your anamorphic lenses improve their flaring.