What’s Best? Anamorphic vs Spherical Lenses
When it comes to film and video production, one of the most important decisions that a DOP, producer, or art director has to make is choosing the right lens for the job.
For some, the choice is simple and based on their personal preferences. Other times, it’s a more technical decision. In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at two types of lenses that are commonly used in the industry: spherical lenses and anamorphic lenses. We’ll explore the differences between the two, and discuss the pros and cons of each that we always consider when making informed decisions for all of our MOONJI Production projects.
Spherical lenses have been around since the dawn of cinema – and 2nd generation photography – and are the default lens type you’ll find on most cameras, amateur and professional. These lenses work by projecting images onto a sensor without affecting the aspect ratio, coming in both prime and zoom varieties. Spherical lenses are faster, with lower T-stops, making them better for low-light conditions and fast-action shots.
One of the biggest advantages we find with spherical lenses is their superior image sharpness. These lenses are known for producing high-quality, sharp images that are ideal for close-up shots and detailed work. They also have a more traditional look that can be well suited for certain types of projects.
On the other hand, anamorphic lenses are a newer invention that work differently when attached to a camera or rig. These lenses compress images and therefore the captured video requires stretching in post-production to be displayed properly.
Originally, these lenses were designed to utilize the full standard 35mm frames for wide-format images and improve image quality by enhancing vertical resolution and reducing the appearance of grain. Today, DOPs are finding many new ways to utilize their unique quality, and are finding their way across many more production shoots. However, they are incredibly expensive and a lot more complicated to use.
Anamorphic lenses have a distinct look that can be very desirable for certain types of projects. They have a unique bokeh that is oval-shaped, which can add a sense of depth and dimension to the final image. Additionally, anamorphic lenses can produce a wider aspect ratio, such as 2.35:1 or 2.39:1, which can be ideal for certain types of films and videos.
When it comes to bokeh, spherical lenses produce circular out-of-focus elements, while anamorphic lenses have an oval-shaped bokeh that affects the look of lens flares (think Star Trek!)
Which is Better?
In terms of image sharpness, spherical lenses have a clear advantage over anamorphic lenses that favor a softer look along the edges.
When MOONJI Production begins work on a new project, we soon get to the creative decision of final visuals – essentially are we going for a more cinematic bokeh style, or something crisper and more traditional?
As a production company, we always weigh the pros and cons of each type of lens and consider the specific needs of our clients’ projects. For example, if the project is low-budget, spherical lenses not only have a visual aspect to consider but they may be the better choice for keeping costs down too. On the other hand, if we’re working on a big-budget project and want to create a unique look, anamorphic lenses may be the way we go.
The truth is, no one lens is better than the other because both spherical and anamorphic lenses have their own unique strengths and weaknesses. As a production company, it’s important to consider the specific needs of your project and choose the right lenses to achieve the desired look and feel of the final product, so whatever the task, we put careful consideration and proper planning into every step of the process, from lenses to everything else you can imagine.