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Anamorphics On 16mm
Published : 30th September 2003
This is a follow up to a discussion that happened sometime last year, on whether or not using scope lenses on 16mm is anything of an advantage.
I think the basic consensus was "it's about the same, so why go through the hassle"
I just went through testing the Clairmont anamorphic lenses on 16mm versus spherical lenses of the same field of view. I discovered a lot of interesting things.
As some of you may know, the Clairmont scopes were developed with handheld work in mind, so they are considerably lighter than the Arriscopes or Pannies. They may in consequence be of less resolution wide open, but that's just a guess.
Most importantly is the lack of coverage on the wide end, and what to do about it. If the director loves the use of longer lenses for a whole show, then you're in luck, otherwise you'd have to find a way to match the scopes.
The 32mm anamorphic seems to correlate more to a 20mm spherical rather than a 16mm in the 16mm format. One way or the other, that's not very long. Minimum focus is higher on scopes than on spherical.
The set ranges from f/2.3 to f/3.2, but I think it would be a mistake to shoot with those lenses at wide open. Without 'properly' testing (i.e., with a resolution chart), it looks like closing the lenses at least 2/3rd of a stop from wide open seems to give a more acceptable image. I wonder if others who have used the Clairmont anamorphics have discovered the same thing.
The COLOR of the lenses are quite unique: they seem to be a little greenish, with magenta-like flares
What I basically did was shoot a medium close-up of a subject with each of the scope primes, and then 'eye-matched' a similar field of view with the Canon 11-165.
The negative was developed then scanned onto my laptop, where I did the 'un-squeeze' in Photoshop. I also cropped the super16 image to match the aspect ratio.
Beyond the color matching issue, of course, is the soft focus artefact that is inevitably gained with using scopes. It's very pretty, and obvious, when a side-by-side comparison is done. Also, the scopes tend to 'flare-out' at the highlights, more so than the zoom, which was surprising.
I suppose if one wants to shoot regular 16mm anamorphic, one is doing it specifically for the 'look'. As Mitch Gross (?) pointed out, the resolution of the image is higher in super16 than with scopes.
If there's any interest, I could always email the test images to David W. to be posted, although it would be nice to use in conjunction with that fascinating conversation that happened last year.
Oh, and…after testing, it has been decided that we are using the Clairmont lenses, but only for specific sequences. Everything else will be shot spherical cropped to 2:1 to match the 'almost' full unsqueezing of the scopes.
I would be interested in seeing your tests. Out of interest what are you shooting for and why have you chosen this format? I shot something a couple of years back on Super 16mm where I had the ground glass marked for a 2:35 :1 ratio and then cropped in tk - it looked great - the ratio really helped it feel 'bigger'.
Wow...2-perf 35 and anamorphic 16mm both return to CML on the same day!
I guess it's
a nice break from CineAlta v. Varicam and Pro35 v. DigiPrimes.
Both David Mullen & I shot some tests of this last year, mine a little more extensive than his because the lab we used is located here in NYC so I had a bit more freedom to play. I found that there really wasn't that much of a difference other than a few artefacts in the anamorphics. Remember that if you go to a 35 print there's always going to be an anamorphic squeeze in there somewhere, it's just a question of whether you have it on the taking lenses or on the optical printer.
I haven't used the Clairmont anamorphics, so I can't testify to their performance. I've found that most anamorphics perform pretty well if you close them down a couple of stops. Front anamorphics tend to flare more than rear anamorphics, but they are supposedly sharper as well. Nothing is as clear and sharp as a nice clean spherical prime lens, and if you're finishing to tape then the only reason I see for shooting anamorphic is the artefacts and attending depth of field effect. If you care about resolution then cropped spherical is the way to go. As has been discussed, actual used neg. area is essentially identical.
Curious to see your results. I should check with the optical house David & I worked with to see if they ever set up the website with frame grabs they had planned.
>I should check with the optical house David & I worked with to see if they >ever set up the website with frame grabs they had planned.
...and they haven't. I'll mention it to them to see if I can get stuff posted there. It was almost exactly a year ago that we did all our tests.