Shoot ultra-wide with new Kickstarter anamorphic iPhone lens


posted Friday, November 22, 2013 at 3:12 PM EDT


If you want to capture a truly cinematic vision of video, there's something about shooting widescreen video that is intensely cinematic. The widescreen format is so intimately associated with the heights of 20th century film making that it's a look a great number of people want to replicate. But anamorphic lenses are expensive, and cropping down your video leads to resolution loss. But a new Kickstarter wants to bring true 2.4:1 video to the iPhone with an anamorphic adapter lens for the iPhone 5 and 5s.

Rather than chopping the top and bottom off of a full resolution video, the lens adapter essentially squeezes in more of the scene horizontally, while leaving the vertical untouched. This leads to skinnier, squished looking footage. But then you can use software to stretch it out to the proper dimensions, leading to fully widescreen footage. As the creators at Moondog Labs explain it:

Anamorphic lenses were introduced for filmmaking in the 1950's to create an immersive, panoramic experience intended to compete with the widespread adoption of television.  In addition to a wide aspect ratio, the anamorphic aesthetic is characterized by horizontal flares, distortion that creates a unique sense of depth or dimensionality, and oval "bokeh" or blur for out-of-focus areas. For these artistic reasons, anamorphic filmmaking has been enjoying a decades-long renaissance.  However, due to the complexity and expense of the optics involved, anamorphic lenses are not readily available to most independent filmmakers.  We believe there are stories best told with an anamorphic aesthetic, so we have developed an affordable 1.33x Anamorphic Adapter specifically for the iPhone 5/5S.

The very first run of $85 adapters has already been sold out, but there are still discounted ones available for $105 and $125, depending on how quick you are to back the project.

Now, you'll still be shooting on an iPhone, so you'll hit the usual problems with limited dynamic range, and good luck getting that classic anamorphic bokeh. But it's certainly a lot cheaper than trying to buy a traditional anamorphic lens for a more professional camera.

(via NoFilmSchool)

Nominal iPhone video capture format, 16:9 aspect ratio
Raw anamorphic video capture before "de-squeeze"
Anamorphic video after de-squeeze, 2.4:1 aspect ratio