It looks like Laowa might be on a mission to make anamorphic lenses more accessible to everyone if the new 20-second trailer is anything to go by.
Laowa makes some incredibly nice prime and cine lenses such as the Laowa Argus 35mm f/0.95 FFII and the Laowa 6mm T2.1 Zero-D Cine, but so far it has never ventured in the world of anamorphic. For years, anamorphic lenses were reserved for high-end filmmakers shooting big-budget movies, but these days some of the best anamorphic lenses won’t break the bank. The Sirui 24mm f/2.8 1.33x and the Sirui 50mm f/1.8 1.33x are two affordable anamorphic lenses that won’t set you back any more than a professional camera lens.
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But what are anamorphic lenses? Simply put, an anamorphic lens changes the dimensions of an image on one axis allowing for a wider field of view. Anytime you see a Hollywood blockbuster shot in ultra-wide, chances are it was shot with an anamorphic lens. If the bokeh is oval in shape and the sun is giving off horizontal blue highlights, you can bet money they used an anamorphic lens because those qualities are unique to it.
Anamorphic lenses maximize the use of a sensor by fitting more footage onto it, resulting in a wider 21:9 aspect ratio (16:9 is more standard). You will notice that most anamorphic lenses come with a decompression factor usually of 1.33x, 1.8x or 2x. Images from an anamorphic lens will be compressed. Therefore, during post-processing, you will need to stretch them for the image to display properly. Some of the best cinema cameras from manufacturers such as Red have built-in features that allow you to view the decompressed image as you shoot, but these are very expensive pieces of equipment and not entirely necessary.
Although Laowa has not released any information on the focal lengths, T Stops or price of its anamorphic lenses, it can be expected that they will be aimed more at the consumer market and hopefully the RRP in will take into account. This is however bad news for Sirui which currently has no major competitor and depending on the quality of Laowa lenses this could all change.
Since mirrorless cameras are now able to shoot such high quality video (both the Canon EOS R5 and Nikon Z9 can shoot amazing 8K images), the demand for “proper” cine lenses that don’t are cheap is becoming stronger. When exactly Laowa will make an official announcement we’re not sure, but we know we’re excited to get our hands on it.
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