Testing the Sony G Master 85mm f1.4 in anamorphic using the Rectilux 3FF-W adapter

During the few days I had with the new Sony G Master lenses I was constantly impressed by just how sharp and bokehlicious the 85mm f1.4 lens was. It has a three dimensional ‘pop’ that beats most other 85mm lenses I’ve owned. Almost as soon as I placed it onto my camera, I started to wonder how the lens would work combined with an anamorphic adapter.

The adapter I had in mind was the Rectilux 3FF-W with Schneider Anamorphic lens combination. I reviewed this single focus 2x adapter a few months ago and was impressed with its resolving power. I combined the 85mm and Rectilux, then built a small Sony a7S II rig that kept everything together.

The Sony G Master 85 with Rectilux setup.
The Sony G Master 85 with Rectilux setup.

The resulting image was pretty much the sharpest I’ve seen from an anamorphic adapter (as opposed to a dedicated anamorphic lens). The bokeh was nice, but the result was almost too clinical, without the character and big lens flares that some users love.

To address this I put a Schneider True-Streak Blue 2mm filter in front of the lens – held in a Movcam matte box. This artificially added the blue streak effects that are common in commercials and movies today.

The Schneider True-Streak Blue 2mm filter in Movcam mattebox.
The Schneider True-Streak Blue 2mm filter in Movcam mattebox.

This week I took the setup out shooting in London’s Soho district. Perhaps the images were not as pretty as those from a true anamorphic cine lens, but it was still pretty convincing given the cost of the whole setup – just a small fraction of the price of the latest Cooke or Zeiss anamorphic cine lens.

There was one major issue that I had to contend with, though. For the Rectilux to work best, the G Master lens had to be set at infinity (focus is then done just using the adapter). Because of the fly-by-wire nature of the G Masters there is no hard end stop to help set infinity focus – during the shoot I was constantly checking to confirm that the 85mm was still set at infinity. This was far from ideal and I would hope Sony eventually bring out a complete range of lenses with better manual focus contols.

Because the front of the Rectilux 3FFW rotates and extends, it makes fitting a filter a little tricky. Even with the matte box, the filter was sometimes held quite a long distance away from the Rectilux front element. I don’t know for sure, but I think this may have contributed to the slightly odd out-of-focus highlights in some of the shots. The filter also seems to soften the image slightly as well.

Quick test: Sony G Master 85mm f1.4 with Rectilux 3FFW and Sony a7S II (no streak filter) from Dan Chung on Vimeo.

I also did some additional shots without the filter and these were quite a lot sharper, although I think they had a lot less character. You can make your own mind up as to which you prefer.

In post I simply adjusted the aspect ratio of the clips in Adobe Premiere for the 2x squeeze, then cropped in a little at the sides to make the resulting image closer to 2.39:1 aspect ratio. The images were given a quick grade using FilmConvert.

Do let me know what you think of the results.

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