Cinematography Mailing List - CML

16mm Anamorphic Lenses


I am preparing a feature film, we are going to shoot super 16 and digitally framing it for cinemascope in the post.

The question is does anamorphic lenses exist for either super or standard 16?

We would still do the postproduction digitally , but hoping to get some of the characteristic as of anamorphic lenses, such as flares and distortion.


Manuel Alberto Claro - Dop
Copenhagen, Denmark

>The question is does anamorphic lenses exist for either super or >standard 16?

You can use any PL-mount anamorphic lens for 35mm shooting if your camera has a PL-mount. The trouble is the aspect ratio -- anamorphic lenses normally have a 2X squeeze, which creates a 2.66 : 1 to 2.74 : 1 image on regular 16mm (depending on if you believe the 16mm aperture is 1.33 or 1.37) and a 3.32 : 1 to 3.38 : 1 image on Super-16 (depending on if you believe the S16 aperture is 1.66 or 1.69).

Since 35mm anamorphic projection is 2.39 : 1, you'd be cropping the sides of the frame even if you shot regular 16mm, and Super-16 is completely pointless if you are going to put a 2X anamorphic lens on the camera.

So it's a choice between shooting regular 16mm with a 2X lens and cropping the sides slightly, or shooting Super-16 with a spherical lens and cropping the top & bottom. Graininess is similar in both cases, with the spherical lens method being more convenient but the anamorphic lens approach getting you those unique distortions and flares. You'd have to find anamorphic lenses with short enough focal-lengths to get your wide-angle shots in 16mm.

There has been some discussion about a 1.5X anamorphic adaptor made by Isco, I believe, that has been attached to a zoom lens for shooting in Super-16, although even that is too much squeeze -- it would be more like a 1.33X anamorphic lens to squeeze scope onto Super-16.

And then you have the problem that the 35mm version would still need to have a 2X squeeze, so if you did the blow-up optically, you'd have to convert 1.5X or 1.33X squeeze to 2X -- most people would probably un-squeeze to a spherical element and then add a 2X squeeze to another generation (like going to a Super-35 IP and then an anamorphic IN). Sort of makes doing the blow-up work digitally more appealing at that point.

Now that we're starting to see some 16:9 single-chip HD cameras, I think it makes the case for someone to start building new sets of anamorphic lenses with a 1.33X squeeze for people who want a CinemaScope image without cropping. Such lenses could also be used to squeeze 16:9 or 1.85 onto regular 16mm and 35mm/S35, or 2.39 onto Super-16 and 3-perf S35...

Panavision? Vantage? Clairmont? Are you guys listening?

David Mullen, ASC
Los Angeles

For 35mm, the 1.5X anamorphic idea was originally known as "IscoVision". In 1982, projection engineer Glenn Berggren proposed using a 1.5X anamorphic squeeze and the 35mm "scope" image area for the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, maximizing the use of the film area for both origination and projection. Using 1.5X more image area would improve grain and sharpness on the camera negative, and would greatly increase the efficiency of illumination during projection, giving 1.5X more light on the screen. With the standard 0.825 x 0.690 "scope" image area, a 1.5X anamorphic gives a 1.79:1 (16:9) aspect ratio, so this would also offer compatibility for HD television production.

I presented a technical paper and demo at the 2000 SMPTE Technical Conference in Pasadena, expanding on the IscoVision proposal, and showing the viability of shooting Super-35, and doing the 1.5X squeeze by optical printing or digital intermediate. SMPTE members may access the paper on-line :


Unfortunately, despite enthusiasm for this good technical concept, it has not been adopted because all theatres would need to purchase new 1.5X anamorphic projection lenses to take advantage of the new format in improving image quality and light efficiency.

The technical contact at IscoOptic regarding 1.5X anamorphic lenses is

Christian Lindstedt:

John Pytlak
Eastman Kodak Company

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