Atlas Lens Co. 1.5x Mercury Full Frame Anamorphic Lenses

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Atlas Lens Co. has officially announced its new 1.5x Mercury full-frame front anamorphic lenses.

New Mercury Series offers full frame coverage, 1.5x compression ratio with improved bokeh, significant reduction in physical size and weight, more dynamic geometric optical personality, and warmer vintage tones than Atlas Orion Series . They also offer the same modern mechanical conveniences filmmakers have come to expect.

Atlas Mercury Lifestyle03

The lenses will cover a 36.7mm x 25.54mm imaging area as well as 16:9 / 3:2 / 4:3 sensors, with easy delivery to 2:1 / 2.25:1 / 2 .66:1 / 2.4:1.

Atlas Mercury Series 3 4 view 36 42 72

The Mercury series all feature a T2.2 or T2.3 aperture and the series will include the following focal lengths:

  • 36mm T2.2
  • 42mm T2.2
  • 54mm
  • 72mm T2.3
  • 95mm

At launch, only 36mm, 42mm and 72mm will be available. Another telephoto focal length will be added in 2023. I don’t have the T stop for the 54mm and 95mm.

Above you can see some short videos where the new lenses have been used.

I did a 20-minute interview with Atlas Lens Co. Founders Dan Kanes, CEO, and Forrest Schultz, President and Principal Designer, about their new Mercury series which you can listen to above. This interview provides fascinating insight into why they chose to go with 1.5x instead of 1.8x or 2x, and the complexities of lens design.

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Main characteristics

  • Full-frame sensor coverage with 1.5x anamorphic coefficient
  • Opening of T2.2 – T2.3 for Mercury series
  • 78° horizontal field of view
  • 2.0ft / 0.56m close focus
  • Exceptional optical performance with a vintage geometric personality
  • Flares of golden streaks, pleasing barrel distortion, near-zero chromatic aberration
  • Lightweight and compact: half the size and weight of most professional anamorphic lenses
  • Arri PL mount for use on professional cinema cameras and mirrorless cameras via pl adapter
  • Standardized gears and diameters with a front diameter of 95 mm
  • Focal Lengths: Initially offering 42mm, 36mm and 72mm. 54mm, 95mm and additional telephoto focal length will be announced in 2023
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Atlas Lens Co. really wanted to push the boundaries of the Mercury series in optical and product design, balancing vintage character with modern sensor performance. The image produced by Mercury offers classic anamorphic barrel distortion, smooth bokeh transitions and pleasing separation of foreground and background objects.

Why 1.5x?

Atlas Mercury 02 black

Some readers may wonder why 1.5x? Well, I contacted Atlas Lens Co. to ask why they chose to make the new Mercury lenses with 1.5x compression and not 1.8x or 2x. Here is what they told me:

The main reason for the 1.5x is that it provides two main things:

(1) It easily supports multiple aspects of delivery

(2) It retains many of the classic 2x anamorphic characteristics (oblong oval bokeh, barrel distortion, shallow depth of field) while allowing us to design a lens that is half the size and weight of most professional anamorphic lenses.

A 1.5x compression design allows manufacturers to balance anamorphic characters as well as image resolution. 1.5x compression can produce a 2.39:1 widescreen cinematic look when combined with 4:3 sensors. When paired with 16:9 sensors, far less data (than the 2X anamorphic lens) needs to be cropped to create the desired 2.39:1 ratio.

In many ways, the decision to go for a 1.5x anamorphic makes a lot more sense than going for a 2x. 1.5x is more versatile and allows the lens to be used on more cameras. Making a 1.5x anamorphic is also much easier than making a 1.8x or 2x anamorphic.

It’s interesting how many anamorphic lenses are now coming out with 1.5x and 1.8x compression and not a traditional 2x.

Size weight

The Mercury Full Frame 1.5x anamorphic lenses are reasonably light and compact and you can see the individual weight and dimensions of each lens below.

LESTER LENGTH
36mm T2.2 2.7 lbs / 1.2 kg 4.9″ / 12.6cm
42mm T2.2 2.3 lbs / 1.1 kg 4.4″ / 11.2cm
54mm To be determined To be determined
72mm T2.3 3.6 lbs / 1.6 kg 6.3″ / 16.2cm
95mm To be determined To be determined

Minimum focus distance

MINIMUM FOCUS
36mm T2.2 1.5ft / 46cm
42mm T2.2 2.0ft / 56cm
54mm To be determined
72mm T2.3 3.0 ft / 91 cm
95mm To be determined

Above you can see what the minimum focusing distance is for the different lenses in the series.

Other Features

Atlas Mercury 36 42 72 Series Side View

The lenses were designed to be versatile and easy to use. They feature a robust and reliable mechanical design and they all come standard with an Arri PL mount. This allows them to be used on professional cinema cameras as well as any consumer mirrorless camera via a PL adapter.

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The Mercury series features a 14-blade iris and all elements are glass (no plastic is used). The lens body is coated with scratch-resistant anodized aluminum.

All lenses in the series feature unified focus and iris position and standard 0.8 pitch gearing. They also all share a 95mm outer diameter, allowing native use with various matte boxes and filters.

The introduction of the Mercury Series is a welcome addition to Atlas Lens Co’s anamorphic cinema lens family. Orion Series 2x anamorphic lenses were first introduced in 2017 and their Orion 21mm still holds the title widest front anamorphic cinema lens in the world.

Pricing & Availability

Atlas Mercury Lifestyle01

The Atlas Lens Co. Mercury Full Frame 1.5x Anamorphic lenses will retail for US$5995. There is also a 3-lens set including the 36mm, 42mm and 72mm which will be available for $17,985.

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Reduced pre-order prices will be available for early adopters at $4,995 for one lens and $14,595 for a 3-lens set. Pre-order deposits open at $995 for a single lens and $2,495 for a set of 3 lenses through December 31, 2022. There will be incremental increases in pre-order deposits through September 2023, which will signal the end of the Mercury pre-order window. For more information on pre-orders, prices, deposits and
command windows, please visit https://atlaslensco.com/mercury-series/ or contact [email protected]

Atlas Mercury 72mm

The Mercury Series will also be available for in-person demonstrations at IBC 2022 in Amsterdam (stand 12.C44) September 9-12, 2022, or
by appointment at Atlas Lens Co. headquarters in Glendale, CA. For questions about pre-ordering the Mercury Series or to book a live demo, you can contact [email protected]

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Competition?

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Direct competition comes from P+S TECHNIK TECHNOVISION 1.5X prime numbers. These are available in the following focal lengths:

  • 40mm T2.2
  • 50mm T2.2
  • 75mm T2.2
  • 100mm T2.5
  • 135mm T2.5
  • 150mm T2.5
  • 200mm T3.2

These lenses cover the full frame (36 x 24mm), and all lenses except the 40mm will also be in the 65/70 scope format. The TECHNOVISION 1.5X series also consists of the AproXima primes and two zooms.

The Atlas Lens Co. Mercury series has the advantage of being smaller, lighter and more affordable, but P+S TECHNIK offers many more focal lengths and two zooms.

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