The Letus Anamorphx Adapter – Part 1
This is part 1 of a 2-part post. The second post will be linked with sample videos and frame grabs of 1080-4K samples
What is an anamorphic lens? An anamorphic lens squeezes a widescreen image onto a non-widescreen aspect ratio. Why would you want to do this? It allows you to retain as much resolution as possible to achieve a cinematic widescreen aspect ratio, negating the need to crop the top and bottom of the frame. Basically it squeezes the image (vertically) and in post production or presentation, you de-squeeze (horizontally) to achieve a wider aspect ratio than origination. The traditional anamorphic aspect ratio is 2.40:1 (technically 2.39:1) and used to be achieved by shooting with very expensive anamorphic lenses. This was primarily done in 35mm standard motion picture film (academy). This was before 2 perf 35 stocks/movements were available in cameras.
Back in the day Panavision and other companies made attachments to the front of there lenses that would anamorphasize a spherical lens. This was the most traditional method used and to a degree became the standard method. Other companies down the line got creative (at a high price) and put the anamorphic elements inside the center of the lens and not p front. The point of this was to reduce flare.
Most anamorphic lenses inherently streak light across the horizontal axis due to the barrel shape that the glass has combined with its coating. Anamorphic glass as always had been an expensive proposition in rental and ownership. The costs are prohibitive for most and traditionally anamorphic lenses have been heavy and slow in transmission. Most rental houses do not own anamorphic glass as the costs are approx. 42K – 50K per lens (for Arri Master Anamorphics) and have a very long wait list (6-12 months).With the advent of widescreen digital most filmmakers sort of gave up on shooting anamorphic, as it was not practical or cost effective.
Unless you were a big time filmmaker you probably would never have the opportunity to see an anamorphic lens, never mind using one. However within the past two years things have changed. Filmmakers started to revisit the idea of 2:40:1 as the resolution of cameras increased but number of pixels wasted on the top and bottom of a 16:9 image (to make a 2.40:1 widescreen frame) did not. Everyone was throwing away resolution that could be retained by squeezing the image into the same area.
Companies like Arri decided to make a 4:3 version of the Alexa (M and Studio) which also added an anamorphic De-squeezing finder option. For 16:9 sensors you would use a 1.3X anamorphic lens instead of 2x, which is used on 4:3 sensors. I imagine some cameras will offer a 4:3 windowed mode, which will not help with resolution retention but will allow for a 1 to 1 match with 2x anamorphic glass.
Enter the Letus 35 Anamorphx adapter. Letus saw the trend towards the resurgence of Anamorphic shooting and decided to put out their own adapter that exceeds almost any other converter / adapter I have seen on the market (sub 20K $) Not only that but they also were smart to capitalize on the much sought after flare look that has become popular over the past two years. Mind you they took this to a different level by offering a low, medium and high flare version of the adapter. The price is very reasonable which makes it appealing to anyone who wants to shoot wide without paying crazy prices. You can buy the setup for a base price of $1,695 USD and can built it up with a matte-box, flags, filter tray, lens support and various lens adapters. This kit is clever in that they geared the near / far adjustment with a standard .8 pitch gear built in so you can use a follow focus or lens motor with it. The snap on filter tray option is very cleaver. Instead of trying to figure out a way to rear filter the system they simple put it in front of the lens, which gives you more options and quality control of your image. The filter tray snaps in and out very simply and has a Patent pending design. You can stack two filters if you buy two trays. I highly recommend the lens support and matte-box with tray options.
The Anamorphx works with almost any lens due to the large 138mm clamping back design. You can use 114mm fronts like CP.2s or Canon Cinema primes or keep it really simple and use Canon L Series glass to keep the costs down. There are adapter rings available on their site for all the standard front sizes like 114mm, 110mm, 95mm, 82mm and 77mm. I am sure you can use a step down ring if you need two (except on wide lenses).
I have tried the Anamorphx with the Canon 1Dc in 4K, S35 1080 and Full Frame 1080. All seemed to work fairly well considering this adapter is rated for 2K. In APS-H and APS-C modes the adapter fared well with even the 16-35mm Canon L and I was able to use almost the entire range of the lens (minus a few mm on the 4K APS-H mode of the 1Dc).
Here are some of the features of the Letus Anamorphx
* 1.33x squeeze, which will work with all current crop of 16:9 cameras, bringing it to a standard 2.39:1
* Works with current prime and zoom lenses
* Custom optical components
* High resolution.
* 0.8 mod pitch gear for critical focus
* Option of single coated or multi-coated lens elements depending on level of lens flare desired. Single coated will produce more flares.
* CNC aluminum housing
* Mounting solution for 114mm outside diameter lens like Zeiss CP* and adapting ring for smaller lens like 77mm, 82mm, etc.
* 1/4-20 thread hole for lens support
* Made ready with matte box (Optional)
* Patent pending clip on 2-stage filter (Optional)
Front diameter: 138mm – Thickness: 65mm – Weight: 1.5lbs without matte-box & 1.9lbs w/matte-box – Snap-on filter tray: 0.35lbs – Filter size: 4×5.65”
This concludes part 1 of my 2-part post. I will be posting some video clips and tests on part 2.
Michael N Sutton