SLR Magic 2x Anamorphot-CINE Test Footage

I took SLR Magic’s 2x Anamorphot-CINE lenses set for a spin with the GH5. Here are my personal impressions of working with them. 

Disclaimer: This is not a full review. It is my first time working with anamorphic lenses and therefore please take this information from my perspective: A young filmmaker who’s cutting his teeth on a new way of creating images that he hasn’t worked with before. SLR Magic’s pricing of these anamorphic lenses put them in reach of filmmakers with a smaller budget, like me.

The cinematic look has personally always fascinated me.

For that reason, I often try to create this look (as many others out there) with modest means, even though I might not be able to afford a high-end cinema camera, like the Arri Alexa or beautiful cinema primes.

However, the SLR Magic 2x Anamorphot-CINE Lens Set are the first anamorphic lenses that I have ever used, I can tell you my experience, what I learned and discovered.

Anamorphic Test Footage Video

The video above is shot on the GH5 in the 4:3 Anamorphic Mode and the SLR Magic 2x Anamorphot-CINE Lens Set, in 6K/25p. We uploaded it in 4K on YouTube for practical reasons.

35mm T2.4 (MFT Mount)
50mm T2.8 (MFT Mount)
70mm T4 (MFT Mount)

(Links to B&H and CVP below this post for pricing and availability!)

These lenses were specifically made with an MFT mount for GH5 users to utilize the camera’s unique anamorphic 4:3 shooting mode that can use its full 6K resolution.

Getting used to shooting anamorphic

Hopefully after watching this video you get an impression of how the lens set performs. Filling the frame and creating a beautiful composition in the anamorphic wide screen format is for sure something new and took me a bit of time of getting used to.

The GH5 has an in-camera anamorphic de-squeeze mode that enables you to see the actual 2.66:1 aspect ratio picture on set. This function is a major help in judging and feeling the created frame – enabling me as a cameraman to react quickly and efficiently, without being forced to bloat your setup with an additional external monitor to perform that very function.

Anamorphic peculiarities

The characteristic anamorphic lens flares and the oval bokeh might be two of the main reasons to use this type of lens. In the test video I focused on these two elements and tried to create compositions that emphasize these qualities. This is what creates a distinct high-quality look that is usually associated with cinema.

Lens flares

I am a big fan of lens flares, especially anamorphic ones. I already tried creating anamorphic flares by DIY Methods, which worked for the project, but for sure wasn’t ideal. So now for the first time in my life, I had real anamorphic lens flares in my video, which is awesome. To me they render nicely and give a high quality feeling, and all three SLR Magic anamorphic lenses seem to perform similarly in this regard.

Bokeh

As you can see on the shot showing the cars on the highway, the bokeh is nice and oval and gives the image a cinematic touch. I love how the bokeh and the lens flares combine with the movement of the camera slider and the cars in this shot.

It was initially challenging to achieve a nice oval bokeh and took some trial and error. I needed time to create a picture with a nice bokeh, by finding the right distance between camera, subject in focus and background. I don’t know if other anamorphic lenses perform differently or if finding this sweet spot is a bit of a challenge in general. I can imagine this will get easier when using anamorphic lenses over a longer period of time.

Handling and quality, challenges

Having worked with other cinema primes and zoom lenses it wasn’t to much of a step up weight and handling wise. Although the lenses are generally quite big, they come in a nice case for safe transportation, which makes them much easier to carry around. Most of the time I worked alone, and it worked fine like this.

There are other much more expensive anamorphic lenses on the market which are certainly sharper and better in quality, but to me the SLR Magic 2x Anamorphot-CINE Lens Set performs well enough in terms of sharpness and quality considering their very good price.

On the 35mm lens I noticed some distortion at the edges. However we haven’t done a lab test or comparison to other lenses, so it’s hard to put that in context.

I found that using a lens support and follow focus is essential for shooting with these lenses. Pulling focus just using your own hand is practically impossible. The focus range on the lens is very long.

Even by using a follow focus, it was not possible for me to pull focus from very near to far in one smooth motion as the focus rotation on the lenses is quite wide. I haven’t tried the lenses with a wireless follow focus system – which most probably is the best way to use them. This might also be necessary to really judge the lens breathing on these lenses.

One rather strange thing I noticed was a polarizing color effect, when changing focus with a Tiffen VariND filter attached. I am not sure why this happened, but the combination of the Tiffen VariND and the SLR Magic Anamorphic lenses wasn’t ideal – next time we’ll use the ND filters they supplied for the test (I unfortunately didn’t have them with me).

Also something to keep in mind using a filter on the lens (especially the 35mm) is to adjust the sensor stabilization of the GH5, so you don’t see the filter in your frame while moving the camera.

Having the stabilized sensor set correctly though is a great benefit and really makes shooting handheld much easier.

Conclusion

Working with the SLR Magic 2x Anamorphot-CINE Lens Set for a few days was a great experience and a lot of fun.

The overall look you can achieve by using this lens set is excellent and something new to me while working in film. I can recommend to test these lenses for yourself  in a project to see how they perform, and I’m almost completely sure that the results would be interesting and the images quite pleasing – but of course it’s dependent on what the particular shoot requires.

The SLR Magic 2x Anamorphot-CINE Lens Set opens the door of a real anamorphic shooting experience to a much bigger audience, and I believe this set gives us the opportunity to tell cinematic stories (on a budget) in a new and exciting way.

Thanks to all the people involved in this project. Especially to the cinema5D team for giving me the opportunity to work with such great gear and thanks to Judith Dornetshuber and Christian Stephen for the nice BTS photography.

Are you planning to get into shooting anamorphic? Or do you already have experience in it? Let us know in the comments below!

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Wilco van den Akker Reply
Wilco van den Akker January 5, 2018

No Thank you

Reply
Gregory Gillaspie January 5, 2018

Dude, no offense meant to you personally, but I don’t think you were fit to do this review at all.
As you mentioned, you haven’t used anamorphic glass before, so you have nothing to compare them to.
Also it seems that you don’t know how variable ND’s work.
You can’t use a variable ND with a lens that has a rotating filter thread man! Come on… that’s just basic stuff. A variable ND is two polarizers (A linear one and a circular one). The SLR Magic Anamorphic primes are anamorphic lenses with a rangefinder adapter built onto the front to focus, which extends and rotates.
I highly recommend you guys change the title to a “test”, because it’s embarrassing as a review.
You wouldn’t see a “review” like this on some other sites.

Stefan Haselgruber Reply
Stefan Haselgruber January 8, 2018

Dear Gregory, I agree with you that this article shouldn’t be called a review. This was a mistake and was never meant to be a review. In this hands on article I tried to articulate, what I experience working with anamorphic lenses for the first time. I hoped that less experienced videographer could benefit from what I wrote and that more experienced cameraman like you at least could get an impression of the quality and look from the video itself.
Thank you for the detailed explanation how a variable ND works. I do know that. What I didn’t noticed in the short time I used the lenses (since I only used the filter once) is that they use a rangefinder adapter which extends and rotates. Thank you for pointing that out.

Andrei Goldobenko Reply
Andrei Goldobenko January 6, 2018

Agreed – the review leaves more questions that answers.

Thanks for putting in the time, but reviews like this dont belong on a platform where informed professionals are expected to be posting reviews and answering questions on behalf of the readers. Cinema5d has really started to go downhill.

Stefan Haselgruber Reply
Stefan Haselgruber January 8, 2018

Hey Andrei, I sorry that you feel that way. This was always meant to be a hands on and not a review.
If you have any questions that I might be able to answer please let me know.

Clovis Free Reply
Clovis Free January 6, 2018

Thank you Stefan for this test.
I’m haooy i could have seen some more footage of those lenses.
However i believe the flares are a little bit too present, too blue also. I mean, i like the looks of old kowa anamorphics, or old lomo, but i find that the SLR Magic Anamophot are a little bit over the top, they almost look fake, although I’m conscious they are cheap.
Anyhow i’m always bugged when people tries to use a MFT camera in a narrative situation, i believe if you decide to use anamorphics lenses its not to use with a camera that doesnt give a nice DOF. (one exeption for the pocket cinema camera, but you cant use X2 anamorphics on it). I think the GH5/GH4 are good cameras for ITW and evenmentials video, not for narrative, they are out ranged by S35 and FF camera imo.

Stefan Haselgruber Reply
Stefan Haselgruber January 8, 2018

Hey Clovis, thanks for your comment.
Its very interesting to hear your opinion about the flares and the performance. I’m glad that you enjoyed the footage and that you could analyze it for your use.
Since this Lenses use the MFT Mount and I wanted to test out the 6K anamorphic feature of the GH5 I chose this setup.

Vladislav Kurashov Reply
Vladislav Kurashov January 6, 2018

“a lot of fun” only for $8500

Reply
paolo baroni January 6, 2018

crap lenses …..poor aperture, pricey,35 is not wide enough…..and you say nothing about glasses, blades, color rendition….u just rented for a couple days and wrote the piece……CINEMA 5d you r going very amateur….but this is the future…amateurs

Reply
Johnnie Behiri January 6, 2018

Paolo baroni.

Did you read our added disclaimer on top?

I hope you will find the information you are looking for in other pro sites.

Thank you.

Johnnie

Reply
paolo baroni January 7, 2018

yes you should hire me for some pro articles….

Reply
Johnnie Behiri January 7, 2018

Will be happy to do so! Are you up to the challenge? If yes, please pm me privately.

Thank you.

Johnnie

Reply
Greg Latham January 8, 2018

Thanks for writing up the post, Stefan. I think there are a lot of people out there, myself included, who have never used anamorphic lenses and while we’re all familiar with the look you can achieve, a lot of people aren’t aware of the many caveats that come with using such lenses.I think a follow up post that acts as a resource guide for curious filmmakers could be a good idea, the article as it currently stands leaves a lot of questions open.

Might also be interesting to dig a little into why and when we should be using these lenses. I’d argue that they don’t have a place in docu work unless you’re trying to convey something especially relevant to the look.

Reply
Claude Chiarot January 9, 2018

Thanks for the article Stefan!
If you have to choose one lens only, which one would it be?
What was the ND filters that were provided with the lenses? One grade NDs or vari-ND?
Also as didn’t you miss a matte box? I saw SRL Magic has a special hood for those lens to be able to adapt a Matte box.

Reply
Jon Keng January 10, 2018

I’ve shot an entire narrative short film on these lenses and the biggest problem for me is that the focus ring is located far too close to the front of the lens. Clip-on matteboxes are not an option since the front of the lens rotates, and there is also too little space to use a studio mattebox with a manual follow focus. In fact, the only option you have (if you want to use proper 4×5.65 filters) is to use a wireless follow focus gear that is small and thin profile (like the Heden Carat). This was such a huge problem for me and I can’t believe this wasn’t even mentioned on the review. Don’t get me wrong, these are good looking budget anamorphics for the price but the design choices are just horrible.