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Atlas Orion Lens Discipline Check – Anamorphic for All?

Atlas Orion Lens Field Test - Anamorphic for All?

Again in 2019, I caught a glimpse of the Atlas Orion anamorphic lenses and was instantly intrigued. On the time, we had been seeing a surge in quick and reasonably priced spherical lenses that cowl full-frame, and Atlas Lens Co., on the anamorphic facet, was forward of the pack when it comes to worth level. At $8.999, the Atlas Orion prime is reasonably priced, at the least when in comparison with the Grasp anamorphic collection out there on B&H for $48.000. Since 2019, just a few different low-cost opponents, comparable to Sirui and Vazen, occupy a spot a number of thousand {dollars} under the Atlas Orions. Since there are already loads of pictures of lens charts on the market, my hope is this text will function half subject check and half introduction to anamorphic for these getting began on this area of interest.

Utilizing the Atlas Orion lenses A-set with their 2X squeeze and a Canon C500 MK II taking pictures 5.9K Canon Uncooked Gentle, I shot a cereal business in San Diego and a yet-to-be-announced undertaking in downtown Dallas (each throughout the day and night time).

The fashionable trying Orion 40mm T2.0. Picture Credit score: Graham Sheldon / CineD

As a result of the 5.9K full-frame RAW out of the C500 MKII is totally beautiful, it appeared like a fertile testing floor for these optics. Canon can be introducing a potentially phenomenal replace for the Canon C500 MK II that lands on the finish of July 2021. The addition of each 4:3 and 6:5 sensor modes when taking pictures in Canon Uncooked Gentle represents a real embrace of the anamorphic format by that digicam system.

Preliminary concerns

Canon C500 MK II + Orion Collection Anamorphic in Dallas, TX. Picture Credit score: Graham Sheldon / CineD

First, why shoot in anamorphic?
Whereas there’s an simple cinematic look to the wide-aspect ratios most related to anamorphic taking pictures, and your explicit undertaking would possibly lend itself to that stretched-out horizon, there are additionally distinctive optical qualities comparable to oval bokeh or vertical and horizontal flare traits everyone knows and love. Usually, anamorphic lenses have a tendency to not be as tack sharp as their spherical lens equal, and I discovered that to be the case with the Atlas Orions too. This attribute shouldn’t be seen as a downside as we don’t have to see each. single. pore. on our actors’ faces.

One other hallmark of the “anamorphic look” is the power to seize an out-of-focus background with a wider angle of lens when in comparison with spherical. Every other hallmarks of anamorphic that I’ve missed? Let me know within the feedback under!

There’s nice content material concerning the historical past of anamorphic on the market, and I encourage you to analysis the fascinating origin of this format. Right here’s a 10-minute snippet from the Anamorphic on a Finances channel:

A fast observe on side ratio and a query I get requested lots: Sure, for desired optical qualities, you possibly can nonetheless shoot anamorphic however ship within the required 16×9 format, understanding that the vast side will likely be misplaced within the course of. This course of is what DoP Rachel Morrison needed to do for HBO’s Affirmation, and she or he goes into that course of here.

First impressions – the optics:

Pay explicit consideration to the sensor protection notes on the backside of this chart. Picture Credit score: Atlas Lens Co.

Atlas Orion collection lenses have been difficult to come up with for some years now, and at one level, there was a substantial lead time on positioned orders. Since then, buying these lenses has change into simpler, and now, for the primary time in years, Atlas Lens Co. has each the units and particular person primes in inventory and able to be shipped. There’s additionally a wide selection of rental choices out there in a lot of the main markets in North America and Europe, and Atlas Lens Co. helpfully lists a lot of them here.

Picture Credit score: Graham Sheldon / CineD

The Orion Collection ships in two distinct units as both EF or PL. An A-Set prices $26.997 and consists of the 40, 65, and 100mm. The B-Set prices $27.997 and consists of the 32, 50, and 80mm. Atlas Lens Co. was good sufficient to ship me the A-set for testing, and for me, when it comes to all-around taking pictures, this set looks like essentially the most versatile of the 2. The lenses are consumer interchangeable between EF to PL and vice versa (new mounts value $299 every) – one other good contact that ought to future proof issues a bit. There has additionally been a 25mm Orion prototype floating round for just a few years now, and hopefully, we’ll see that added to the lineup, as nicely.

Low res picture pulled from video. No grade. Copyright: Raindrop Company

One other query I get requested lots is that if any individual can solely afford to purchase one lens, which lens would I like to recommend? My reply is the 40mm. This can be a basic anamorphic focal size and most of Chinatown was shot with this lens. When in comparison with a 40mm spherical equal, the 40mm anamorphic lens is kind of vast. Relying on the undertaking, you would possibly be capable of get away with operating on a 40mm the whole time. The second lens to pair with a 40mm? Go for the 100mm and finances permitting, construct from that time.

The Dallas, TX skyline. Picture Credit score: Graham Sheldon / CineD

The very first thing you would possibly discover concerning the Atlas Orion collection is the bodily dimension – considerably bigger than the common spherical prime. The collection can be heavier in weight (the Orion 100mm tops out at 6.7 lbs/3 kg.) however with a comparable bodily footprint of 4.15 lbs/1.9kg (T2.0 SIGMA 50-100 Cine zoom). None of this can be a dealbreaker. Simply know {that a} rod and lens assist system will likely be your buddy with any of the six at the moment out there Atlas Orion collection primes, similar story with the brand new Silver Version collection (extra on the brand new lineup later). You’ll need lens assist, primarily when utilizing the usual click-in Canon EF mount. As for me, I really feel a bit safer with both the Canon PL or locking EF mount.

Digicam setup

The Canon C500 MK II, specifically, is straightforward to set for anamorphic viewing. Merely head over to the “Monitoring Setup” tab within the menu and navigate to “Anamorphic Desqueeze,” after which set your squeeze issue at 2.0x to match the Atlas Orion lenses. You might additionally set your Desqueeze ratio to 1.3x for utilizing different sorts of glass just like the significantly pricier Hawk Anamorphics.

An odd quirk of the C500 MK II: when taking pictures in Sluggish & Quick mode (S&F for brief), you have to navigate to “Desqueeze for S&F,” and the show will likely be gotten smaller. It’s precisely what it feels like – your Canon monitor all of the sudden shows a picture a 3rd of the scale of regular. This discount makes working difficult, however exterior screens can compensate for this by zooming or cropping in manually.

Lens character

Low res nonetheless pulled from video with a fast 20-second grade away from Log. Picture Credit score: Raindrop Company

Diving deeper into sharpness, I discovered that the settings between T2.8 and T5.6 had been the sharpest for these lenses, and all the way in which open at T2.0 was a bit too mushy for my style. Nonetheless, all the way in which open at T2.0 undoubtedly have an analogous degree of sharpness to classic lenses I’ve used, and followers of retro lens design (all the craze proper now) would possibly really feel proper at dwelling at T2.0 with a corresponding sharp digital sensor.

I additionally respect the horizontal blue flare character of those lenses and didn’t discover them too distracting (see the picture of the cereal-eating parrot above). For those who discover the flares too blue, you may additionally dial the saturation up or down utilizing Premiere. You may faux such a flare utilizing Schneider True Streak filters and get pretty shut (don’t kill me), however in my view, the True Streaks don’t really feel as natural and are too clear, and naturally, you aren’t getting the stretched side ratio or the oval bokeh.

Relying in your digicam distance to horizontal strains within the body, you’ll often see fisheye distortion that can make strains bow barely in that body. That is regular on anamorphic primes and any wide-angle spherical lenses, for that matter. It’s most evident within the Atlas Orion 40mm, and it most likely exists within the 32mm – although I haven’t had an opportunity to check that. You might mitigate this by merely backing up far sufficient together with your digicam so the distortion doesn’t learn fairly as simply within the shot. There are a ton of video guides in DaVinci, Premiere, or Ultimate Minimize about dealing with lens distortion.

When lighting your undertaking, you’ll wish to think about doing assessments prematurely utilizing your explicit lighting package deal to see how the flares of the Atlas Orions work together together with your lights. Headlights, headlamps, flashlights, noticed fresnel, Leko/highlight, and different onerous gentle sources like streetlights aimed immediately on the lens can look nice. Nonetheless, often some sources you anticipate to flare would possibly disappoint. As all the time, check after which check once more after which make strategic selections about whether or not these flares are serving to or a distraction (like obscuring your most important character’s eyes in a vital second).

Orion collection – Silver Version

Atlas Lens Co. has not too long ago launched a brand new restricted Silver Version line of 2X anamorphic lenses that may solely be bought within the full set of six focal lengths for $89.000 (not together with transport and dealing with).

John D. Hayes, head of the photographic division of Bausch & Lomb Optical Co. holding the 50mm Cinemascope Combo Rig Picture Credit score: Widescreen Museum

I spoke with Atlas Lens Co. co-founder and cinematographer Dan Kanes for his perception on why the corporate created the restricted 100 unit (six focal lengths per unit) run of the Silver Version line. Right here’s what he needed to say:

“The Silver Version collection is supposed to pay homage to the silver display screen period of Hollywood (mid-50’s). Orion was meant to be a workhorse anamorphic lens in a manner that was by no means out there earlier than. With the Silver Version we needed to drill down a little bit extra and get into classic lenses and specifically the Bausch & Lomb Optical Co. baltar Cinemascope was an affect for us. Two of the issues I actually love concerning the Silver Version Collection: 1) they flare and match the colour of the sunshine supply and you can also make silver streaks by matching the colour temp of the sunshine supply. 2) The main target feels just like the Bausch & Lomb Optical Co. baltar Cinemascope. 25% foreground falloff and through focus after the main target level is held 75%. We additionally checked out how we predict Leica handles through focus and was influenced by that.””The Silver Version collection is imply’t to pay homage to the silver display screen period of Hollywood (mid-50’s). Orion was imply’t to be a workhorse anamorphic lens in a manner that was by no means out there earlier than. With the Silver Version we needed to drill down a little bit extra and get into classic lenses and specifically the Bausch & Lomb Optical Co. baltar Cinemascope was an affect for us. Two of the issues I actually love concerning the Silver Version Collection, 1) they flare and match the colour of the sunshine supply and you can also make silver streaks by matching the colour temp of the sunshine supply. 2) The main target feels just like the Bausch & Lomb Optical Co. baltar Cinemascope. 25% foreground falloff and through focus after the main target level is held 75%. We additionally checked out how we predict Leica handles through focus and was influenced by that.”

Dan Kanes, Co-Founding father of Atlas Lens Co.

Dan referenced Through Focus a number of instances whereas talking with me. That’s an attention-grabbing factor, contemplating I haven’t seen different optical producers contact on it because it pertains to the design of their merchandise. There isn’t a wealth of extra supplies out there for this idea, however I encourage you to present this link a learn to study extra concerning the science behind it.

Atlas Lens Co. Co-Founders Forrest Schultz and cinematographer Dan Kanes. Picture Credit score: Atlas Lens Co.

The three low-res comparisons under are all with the 40mm prime from every set at T2.8 and the digicam stability set to 56K. These had been taken primarily as an example the distinctive flare traits from each the Orion Collection and Silver Version Collection.

Observe how the person strains of LED diodes within the Rosco DASH gentle are being translated to the flare within the Orion Collection 40mm. You might or might not like this look, however the important thing right here is to check the sunshine sources you’re putting in your scene.
We’ve now switched to the 40mm Silver Version within the picture above and saved our T-stop at T2.8. Observe the silver streak with each lights matching a daylight white stability of 56K. Observe additionally that every one types of different flare traits are actually turning into evident from the iPhone gentle too.
The HSI mode is now switched to an orange-red coloration on the Rosco DASH gentle to the proper, and the flare is now matching that coloration within the Silver Version. The daylight iPhone supply nonetheless displays a silver streak within the Silver Version.

For this put up, I primarily targeted on the unique Orion Collection A-set, however there’s a lot to like concerning the new Silver Version collection. You’ll have initiatives higher suited to the extra vintage-leaning Silver Version collection with an nearly 3D pop really feel from in-focus objects and a few that could be higher suited to the Orion collection with its extra refined basic horizontal saturated blue flares. The exterior construct high quality for each is identical, and I’d all the time encourage direct testing, utilizing various kinds of lighting throughout prep to higher know the place you possibly can put lights within the body to boost the picture with flares and never pull viewers focus from the story.

Put up workflow with Adobe Premiere

No grade. DoP: Graham Sheldon, Picture Credit score: Raindrop Company

Take into account that, as talked about above, you possibly can de-squeeze and show the picture you might be recording on the Canon C500 MK II, however the digicam received’t deal with the de-squeeze recording within the digicam. So, your footage will initially appear to be the above when performed immediately off the onerous drive.

To de-squeeze the bodily footage, you’ll have to interpret the footage on an NLE like Adobe Premiere by clicking in your imported footage and choosing -> modify and interpret footage. Then you possibly can change your pixel side ratio to “Anamorphic 2:1 (2.0)”.

No grade. DoP: Graham Sheldon. Picture courtesy of Raindrop Company

Drag the newly modified footage onto your timeline, and your pictures will nonetheless appear too vast. So, from there, you’ll want to vary your sequence settings on the timeline to 4096×1716 and alter the “Pixel Facet Ratio” to sq.. Then merely go to the consequences tab and use the dimensions software to scale the whole lot to suit. Precisely how a lot you’ll have to scale will depend on what decision you shot on with the C500 MK II.

The objective right here is to match the side ratio you’re viewing in-camera and composing with and carry that via put up. The above workflow is value a fast check throughout prep. I’m not an editor, however it wasn’t too onerous to get the grasp of and labored after I needed to easily view my dailies on my laptop computer within the night on the resort.


The group at Atlas Lens Co. payments the Orion Collection as “anamorphic for all of us.” That’s a lofty ambition and one I love; nevertheless, for a lot of homeowners/operators, the per-prime price ticket stays a barrier. Renting, after all, continues to be a risk, so perhaps the tagline needs to be modified to “anamorphic for most of us.”

After testing, I discovered myself a sufficiently big fan of the Atlas Orion collection that I bought the 40mm T2.8 and 100mm T2.8 with a objective of in the future filling out the A-Set with the 65mm. As a longtime fan of anamorphic, I’ve all the time been conscious of the till now astronomical worth of entry, so it’s a thrill to have the ability to achieve common entry to this format with the 4:3 sensor firmware improve coming quickly to the Canon C500 MK II. 

With a month of regular anamorphic filming paired with the Canon C500 MK II beneath my belt, I’ve discovered tons to like concerning the Orion collection. The sturdy high quality constructed, PL/EF mount flexibility, blue horizontal flares, and simply the correct amount of sharpness for me when dwelling between T2.8 and T5.6 are spectacular. These lenses don’t really feel medical. They’ve simply sufficient character to discover a dwelling on most of my productions requiring an anamorphic really feel however don’t have so distinct a burned-in look that their broad project-to-project enchantment is proscribed. Two thumbs up!

What do you assume? Have you ever had an opportunity to check out the Orion collection to your work? What had been your ideas? Tell us within the feedback under!

Observe: A really particular because of director Thierry Denis and the California primarily based Raindrop Company for his or her assist with this text.

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