The Viltrox 1.33x Full Frame Anamorphic Lenses are designed to deliver a 2.39:1 aspect ratio from 16:9 cameras. This is useful if you want to shoot anamorphic with cameras that don’t have the ability to shoot in a 4:3 aspect ratio or open gate.
What sets the Viltrox lenses apart is that, at least to my knowledge, they are the only set of 1.33x anamorphic lenses that cover full frame on the market. Yes, the SLR Magic 1.33x Anamorphot-CINE 50mm T2.8 and 70mm T4 cover full frame, but the 35mm T2.4 doesn’t.
We have started to see quite a few budget anamorphic lenses flood the market in the last year or so from companies such as Laowa, Vazen, and Great Joy.
Competing companies such as Laowa chose to adopt a 1.5x squeeze design to balance the anamorphic characters as well as the resolution of the image. The 1.5x squeeze can produce a cinematic widescreen 2.39:1 aspect when paired up with 4:3 sensors. When paired up with 16:9 sensors, much less data (than 2X anamorphic lens) is needed to be cropped away to create the desired 2.39:1 ratio.
In a lot of ways, particularly for lenses at this price, Viltrox’s decision to go with a 1.33x anamorphic makes a lot more sense than going with a 1.8x or 2x. 1.33x is more versatile and it allows the lens to be used on more cameras, although you could make that argument for 1.5x as well. Making a 1.33x anamorphic is also a lot easier than creating a 1.8x or 2x anamorphic.
When we usually think about anamorphic lenses we think of lenses that are 1.8x or 2x, and not 1.33x. There are very few 1.33x anamorphic lenses on the market, except for the SIRUI 1.33x, SLR Magic 1.33x Anamorphot-CINE, and the Hawk 1.3x (which are very expensive), but none of those options completely cover full frame. The SLR Magic 1.33x Anamorphot-CINE 50 and 75mm do cover full frame, but the 35 does not.
As you can use any of these 1.33x lenses on any 16:9 sensor camera as well as with cameras such as the ARRI Amira, Panasonic GH5/GH5s/GH6, Panasonic S5/S1H, and BMPCC 6K PRO in their 1.3x anamorphic modes, I thought it was a good time to have a look at the Viltrox 1.33x Full Frame Anamorphic Lenses in more detail.
Unlike spherical lenses that project images onto the sensor without affecting the aspect ratio, anamorphic lenses project a version of the image that is compressed along the longer dimension (by a factor of 2, or in the case of the Viltrox, a factor of 1.33). This means that the image requires stretching, later on, to be displayed correctly. A lot of today’s monitors and EVFs have the ability to de-squeeze an anamorphic image, so you can view it correctly when you are shooting.
The Viltrox 1.33x Full Frame series are complete, one-piece, anamorphic lenses. The lenses come in focal lengths of 35mm T2, 50mm T2, and 75mm T2. The lenses are suitable for use with cameras that have a full frame or S35 sensor, and they allow you to record an image with a wider aspect ratio than your sensor’s native aspect ratio without cropping your image. As you aren’t cropping into your image, this helps to maximize the resolution you can obtain.
The lenses have geared focus and iris rings, and a 95mm front diameter.
The geared focus and iris rings allow you to use follow focus units or lens motors.
They are available in Sony E, Nikon Z, Leica L, or PL mount. The mount are also interchangeable which is a nice touch.
Anamorphic & affordable didn’t use to go in the same sentence
Anamorphic lenses have historically been expensive and out of reach for a lot of shooters, but times have changed. We now have a myriad of affordable options in different squeeze ratios hitting the market from companies such as Laowa, Vazen, Great Joy, SIRUI, etc.
At $2,799 USD each, the Viltrox 1.33x Full Frame Anamorphic Lenses are reasonably cost-effective options, and they are a lot more affordable than lenses like the Hawk V-Lite anamorphic, or the SLR Magic 1.33x Anamorphot-CINE Lenses. You could dive into the second-hand market to try and find a bargain, but good luck. Even second-hand Lomo, Kowa, Canon K-35, and Cooke anamorphic lenses are generally going to be out of reach. For example, a set of 4 Kowa anamorphic lenses rehoused by P+S Technik listed on FJS International for $108,000 USD.
In saying that, lenses such as the Great Joy 1.8x full frame anamorphic lenses are extremely affordable, but they are really designed to be used on cameras that have 4:3 sensors and open gate sensor modes.
Who are these lenses aimed at?
I was interested to find out who Viltrox was targeting with these lenses so I reached out to ask them. They told me that the 1.33x Full Frame Anamorphic lenses are being targeted at the TV/Film and advertising market.
At least, in my opinion, it is best to think of a 1.33x lens as a middle ground between a spherical and an anamorphic lens with a higher squeeze ratio. 1.33x isn’t going to give you a very ‘anamorphic’ look, but it will offer enough character to make it different from shooting with a spherical lens. I think that Viltrox is hoping that the 1.33x Full Frame Anamorphic lenses offer something that is a little different from what else is on the market.
In some ways, you may think that 1.33x is a strange choice, but the reason for going with this squeeze ratio is that you can use the lenses on just about any camera. You don’t need a camera with a 4:3 sensor or a camera that can shoot in anamorphic recording modes. 1.33x will give you that 2.39:1 aspect ratio without throwing away resolution. The other reason is that it is easier and cheaper to make a 1.33x full frame lens than a 1.5/1.8 or 2x. Viltrox has also been able to make the lenses all T2. This would have been almost impossible to do if they chose to go with a 1.5/1.8, or 2x squeeze.
Why were anamorphic lenses made?
What you may not know is that anamorphosing optics was developed by Henri Chrétien during World War I to provide a wide-angle viewer for military tanks. The optical process was called Hypergonar by Chrétien and was capable of showing a field of view of 180 degrees. After the war, anamorphic lenses for cinema were originally designed so that wide format imagery would fully utilize the film area of a standard 35 mm frame. The lenses also enhanced vertical resolution and reduced the appearance of grain. The technology was first used in a cinematic context in the short film Construire un Feu in 1927 by Claude Autant-Lara. The introduction of the Super 35mm format made the difference between anamorphic and spherical lenses a lot less obvious. This is because Super 35 provided more horizontal film area, as it didn’t have to record the audio next to each frame, as was the case with standard 35mm film.
Why shoot anamorphic?
With a lot of anamorphic lenses, you are going to see image imperfections, but this is what makes anamorphic lenses so special. With modern-day cameras and sensors being so good, a lot of DPs want to try and add character through the use of vintage or/and anamorphic lenses. Image characteristics when shooting with an anamorphic lens include the bokeh taking on the appearance of being oval-shaped as opposed to circular, and flares appear as bluish horizontal or vertical streaks which can span across the entire picture. The other characteristic associated with anamorphic shooting is the widescreen aspect ratio.
If you are working in HD or 2K formats with spherical lenses, you could just crop your 2K frame to get a 2.39:1 ratio, right? Yes, you could, but the problem is you are left with just 858 lines of vertical resolution. Anamorphic lenses provide a way to capture a 2.39:1 ratio without having to make that sacrifice in resolution. Of course, you can also capture at higher resolutions (4K, 6K, 8K, etc.) and then deliver in a lower resolution as well.
2x anamorphic lenses produce a super-wide 3.55:1 ratio. To produce a traditional 2.39:1 ratio with a 16:9 sensor, a 1.33x or 1.35x anamorphic lens is needed.
Anamorphic certainly isn’t for everyone
As the old saying goes, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Anamorphics aren’t for everyone and they certainly aren’t suitable for a lot of projects. The very nature of their aspect ratio makes them difficult to use for a lot of content you may want to shoot. TV broadcasters often want a native 16:9 aspect ratio as they don’t want to have black bars below and above the image shown on their viewer’s screens. A lot of DPs would love to shoot anamorphic or even in a wider aspect ratio, but this is normally vetoed by the network. Because the anamorphic-scope camera format does not preserve any of the images above and below the scope frame, it may not transfer as well to narrower aspect ratios, like the commonly used 16:9 for full-screen television.
You also need to take into account that the depth of field is also affected when shooting anamorphic-ally. Technically anamorphic and spherical lenses have the same depth of field, but in real-world use, you have to use a longer focal length with an anamorphic in order to achieve the same angle of view. This means at the same magnification (for example using a 35mm focal length), anamorphic lenses produce a shallower depth of field. As we all know, (whether you agree or not) the “cinematic” look is often associated with shallower depth of field.
Reasons for not shooting anamorphic can include:
* Most anamorphic lenses can create artifacts or distortions
* Generally more expensive than a spherical lenses
* A lot of anamorphic lenses are slower than a spherical lens and require more light
* Does not transfer well to narrower aspect ratios, such as 16:9
Size & Weight
As I previously mentioned, these are not lightweight lenses. All three focal lengths tip the scales at 1.98kg / 4.36 lbs each. They have physical dimensions of Ø102 x 133mm.
I personally think that these lenses are probably too big and heavy to use with some mirrorless hybrids.
At least, in my opinion, I think they are better suited to use with mid to larger-sized digital cinema cameras.
Above you can see a size comparison between the Viltrox 1.33x 75mm T2 and the Great Joy 1.8x 85mm T2.9.
As a side note, the Great Joy and Viltrox 1.33x anamorphic lenses won’t work with the Mofage POCO adapter that I recently reviewed on the site as their rear elements are too long.
Viltrox does include lens support mounts that you can attach to the lenses.
The lenses are robustly made and they certainly have some weight to them. To be honest, the build quality was a lot better than I was expecting.
The lenses have focus and iris markings on both sides of the barrel.
All three lenses are the exact same length and their focus and iris rings are all in the exact same position so this makes changing over lenses when running a follow focus a lot easier.
All three of the lenses have slightly different-looking front designs.
The aperture ring is really well-weighted and has just enough resistance without being too stiff. The focus ring is quite stiff and it does take quite a bit of effort to turn it. The lenses have a nice long focus throw and you really do need to use a follow focus or remote follow focus system if you plan on doing major focus pulls with these lenses. Pulling focus by hand can be done, but I found it difficult to do.
The mount is well made and the lens attaches easily to any PL mount camera. I have seen some horribly made PL mounts that just don’t fit onto cameras very easily, luckily this is not one of them.
I am not the biggest fan of white lenses, but each to their own.
If you buy the kit where you get all three focal lengths they come in a nice hard case that has laser cutouts for the lenses and accessories.
All three focal lengths feature 8 aperture blades. The 35mm has 19 lens elements in 13 groups and the 50mm and 75mm have 18 lens elements in 12 groups, and 18 lens elements in 13 groups respectively.
All three lenses feature an anamorphic cylindrical group in the middle of the lens. The lenses feature an HD Nano multi-layer coating and a waterproof anti-fouling coating.
The Viltrox 1.33x 35mm and 50mm have a minimum focus distance of 2.7′ / 82.29cm which is reasonably good. The 75mm has a close focus distance of 3.3′ / 100.58cm.
The lenses do undergo a back focusing procedure at the factory before they are sent out, but because the flange distance varies across different cameras the back focus may need to be adjusted.
In the kit, Viltrox gives you the tools so you can do this yourself. It is best to use a back focus chart, but if you don’t have access to one, you can download one from the Viltrox website.
When doing back focus adjustment it is always a good idea to set the aperture to its maximum value, in this case, T2. You should then place the camera with the lens attached (in this case the 50mm), 4.6′ away from the chart by measuring the distance from the chart to the sensor plane on your camera.
You can then check the focus. If your lens doesn’t focus at exactly 4.6′ you will need to add shims to correct it. Depending on how far off the back focus is will depend on which shim you need to add.
Viltrox does include detailed instructions in the lens kit and they do include a table that allows you to work out what shims if any, you need to use.
The Viltrox lenses are reasonably sharp, but they are a little soft when shooting wide-open at T2, but you really need to zoom in a lot to see that softness. Once you start stopping down to T2.8-T4 they do sharpen up. I would say T4 to T5.6 is the sweet spot for sharpness.
The 75mm is certainly the sharpest of the three lenses and even at T2 it retains a good amount of sharpness when compared to the 35mm and 50mm.
In technical tests, these are probably not lenses that are ever going to win people over, but that’s true of a lot of anamorphic lenses. Technical tests are more unforgiving than a lot of real-world shooting situations and they are done to look very closely at potential optical flaws.
In the real world, most lenses are going to look a lot better than they will in technical tests. The reason I do tests like this is it gives you a benchmark when comparing other lenses. The robot has a very fine pattern on its surface and this is very helpful in seeing sharpness and detail.
I tested out the lenses by doing large focus throws and there is a small amount of breathing when using the lenses wide open, but for anamorphic lenses at this price, it is very well controlled. If you stop down to T5.6 the breathing is almost nonexistent.
Anamorphic breathing appears in a different way than when using a normal spherical lens. With a spherical lens, breathing gives the appearance that the focal length is changing. However, with anamorphic lenses, vertical stretching occurs with the background. So when you adjust focus from something close to something further away, the background takes on a squeezed appearance. Hence why you see oval instead of round bokeh.
With anamorphic lenses, the more you stop the lens down, the less the out-of-focus object’s appearance will change. If you shoot wide open and pull focus the out-of-focus objects will change shape more dramatically.
Older anamorphic lenses such as Lomo’s and Kowa’s can breathe a lot. Newer anamorphic designs from companies such as Zeiss and Cooke have a lot less breathing. The popular Panavision E Series anamorphic lenses retain true anamorphic artifacts such as disproportional vertical focus breathing.
Let’s face it, the reason a lot of people want to use anamorphic lenses is because of the interesting flares you can obtain. Yes, they can be overly used, and sometimes less is more, but the probable target audience for these lenses is arguably looking for prominent streaks.
Used wide open, or relatively wide open, you do get that streak that everyone is familiar with. Whether you prefer the blue streak or a more neutral steak is again a personal thing. I personally found the blue streaks were a little overpowering for my tastes. They are very strong and pronounced and not soft or subtle. I would personally probably use these lenses in combination with something like glimmer glass to soften the streaks.
I would have preferred to have seen Viltrox make the lenses with a more neutral streak that takes on the appearance of the lighting source you are shooting. The strong blue streak might be fine if you are shooting a Sc-Fi movie, but it can be very distracting for a lot of other content. Sometimes less is more.
Out of the three focal lengths I actually preferred the flare I was getting on the 75mm T2, but again, flare is a very personal thing.
The lenses maintain reasonably good contrast when a lot of direct light is shining down the barrel.
The lenses didn’t exhibit any real-world signs of chromatic aberration, at least none that you can see without cropping in a significant amount. The lack of chromatic aberration is impressive for an anamorphic lens.
Oval-shaped bokeh is another drawcard of anamorphic lenses. The ability to create interesting-looking out-of-focus areas can certainly be used to help to enhance a shot. I personally prefer out-of-focus areas in the foreground rather than the background when using lenses like this.
The bokeh is nice for a 1.33x lens with a T2 aperture. It doesn’t really have that oval appearance, and that’s because it is a 1.33x squeeze anamorphic and it isn’t going to have the same characteristics as a 1.8x or 2x.
Despite not having the oval bokeh, I still liked the bokeh you can get with the lenses, it just isn’t going to have much of an anamorphic character to it.
Real World Use
I took the lenses out and shot some footage so that you could see the general look and characteristics of the lenses. The grade I have done is quite stylistic (moody and dark), but nonetheless, you should still be able to see the lens’s character and optical performance.
I enjoyed using the lenses and I liked the images I was getting from them. They have character without being over the top and they have a nice amount of sharpness and pleasing bokeh.
I did find that the illumination out towards the edges of the frame is certainly darker than the center. You do also get a double streak when direct light is hitting the lens. Whether you like this or not is a very personal thing.
The Viltrox lenses surprised me because, in all honesty, I wasn’t sure what to expect from a company that hasn’t made dedicated cine lenses before. As the old adage goes, you should never judge a book by its cover.
A lot of wider anamorphic lenses tend to suffer from pretty bad edge distortion, but because the Viltrox is only 1.33x, the distortion is very well controlled. Even out on the edges of frame, I wasn’t seeing warped lines.
Do they match?
With some of the ‘affordable’ anamorphic lenses on the market, the look and build quality between focal lengths can vary quite dramatically. It was nice to see that the build quality and general look of all three lenses remain consistent with the Viltrox. If you are going to buy a set of lenses, you want them to match as closely as possible.
Can you get wide enough?
With the widest focal length being 35mm, you may well be asking, is that wide enough? A 35mm 1.33x anamorphic lens has the equivalent field of view of a 26.3mm lens. What you do need to remember is that you are getting a 26.3mm horizontal field of view, but you are losing information vertically. Wide angle anamorphic lenses of less than 40 mm focal length produce a cylindrical-perspective which some people like, and others hate.
It really depends on whether or not you are using the lens on a full-frame camera or S35. On a full-frame camera, the 35mm is pretty wide.
1.3x on the ARRI Amira
The Arri Amira has the ability to do 1.3x anamorphic de-squeeze which will work well with the 16:9 sensor so you can create a 2.39:1 aspect ratio. The nice thing about this mode on the ARRI is that it actually records the image in the correct aspect ratio in camera, so you don’t have to do anything to it once you start to edit.
The Viltrox 1.33x Full Frame anamorphic lenses are priced at $2,799 USD each (PL mount), or you can buy the three lens set for $7,899 USD. Orders are scheduled to begin on Jan 1st, 2023. The company has said they will release more focal lengths in the future, including a 25m and 100mm.
How do these prices compare to some of the full-frame and S35 anamorphic lenses that are available?
Below you can see:
- SLR Magic 70mm 1.33x Anamorphot-CINE Lens (PL Mount) $4,499 USD
- SLR Magic 35mm 1.33x Anamorphot-CINE Lens (PL Mount) $3,999 USD
- SLR Magic 50mm 1.33x Anamorphot-CINE Lens (PL Mount) $4,499 USD
- SLR Magic 1.33x Anamorphot-CINE Lens Set with 35, 50, 70mm Lenses (PL Mount) $8,999 USD
- SLR Magic 1.33x Anamorphot-CINE Lens Set and EF-Mount Adapter Kit $9,698 USD
- Vazen 50mm T2.1 1.8x Full-Frame Anamorphic Lens (Interchangeable PL/EF) $8,000 USD
- Vazen 85mm T2.8 1.8x Full-Frame Anamorphic Lens (PL/EF-Mount) $8,000 USD
- Vazen 135mm T2.8 1.8x FF Anamorphic Lens (PL/EF) $8,000 USD
- Vazen Full Frame 1.8x Anamorphic Lens Set with Hard Case (50/85/135mm, PL/EF) $19,999 USD
- Vazen 28, 40 & 65mm Anamorphic Lens Set with Case (RF/MTF Mount, Amber Flare) $9,500 USD
- Sirui 50mm T2.9 Full Frame 1.6x Anamorphic Lens (Sony E) $1,499 USD
- Sirui 35mm T2.9 1.6x Full-Frame Anamorphic Lens (Sony E) $1,499 USD
- Sirui 75mm T2.9 Full Frame 1.6x Anamorphic Lens (Sony E) $1,499 USD
- Sirui 100mm T2.9 1.6x Full-Frame Anamorphic Lens (E-Mount) $1,499 USD
- Sirui T2.9 1.6x Full-Frame Anamorphic 4-Lens Set (35/50/75/100mm, E-Mount) $6,495 USD
- Sirui 35mm f/1.8 Super35 Anamorphic 1.33x Lens (RF Mount) $599 USD
- Sirui 24mm f/2.8 Anamorphic 1.33x Lens (E Mount) $599 USD
What you need to clearly remember with the SIRUI options is that they only cover S35 sensors and they aren’t available in PL mount.
- Great Joy 35mm T2.9 1.8x Anamorphic Lens EF/PL/E/L/RF/MFT Mount £1,349.00 +VAT
- Great Joy 50mm T2.9 1.8x Anamorphic Lens EF/PL/E/L/RF/MFT Mount £1,349.00 +VAT
- Great Joy 85mm T2.9 1.8x Anamorphic Lens EF/PL/E/L/RF/MFT Mount Expected price: $1,445 USD
The Viltrox 1.33x full frame anamorphic lenses offer a good balance of build quality and optical performance. There really aren’t many 1.33x anamorphic lenses to choose from and they really do fill a niche place in the market. The ability to use them on regular 16:9 sensor cameras is a big deal and in some ways, it makes them a little bit more versatile than 1.8x or 2x anamorphic lenses.
Whether or not buying a 1.33x lens makes sense if you want to shoot anamorphic is bound to draw strong opinions from different people. With quite a few 1.5/1.6/1.8x options now available, 1.33x is potentially going to be a hard sell.
The lenses have very little barrel distortion, no real signs of chromatic aberration, and the breathing is very well controlled. They retain a good amount of contrast and their color tone is quite neutral. I did find that the blue streaks were a bit too harsh for my liking, but they are more pleasing than the streaks you get on the Laowa and Sirui anamorphic lenses.
The lenses are very solidly made and constructed and I think Viltrox has done a reasonably good job with this set. Are they going to be as good as other more expensive anamorphic lenses, no they aren’t, but at their price point I wouldn’t expect them to be. They do, however, face very stiff competition from a bevy of affordable anamorphic lenses that have started to flood the market in the last year or so.
If you are an owner/operator and are looking to own a set of reasonably affordable anamorphic lenses that you could use on just about any camera then the Viltrox is worth considering. While they certainly aren’t going to be lenses for everyone, they may be a good option for rental houses due to their build quality.
I quite liked using the Viltrox 1.33x Full Frame Anamorphic lenses as they were easy to operate and they create nice images. It is good to have more anamorphic options on the market so that there is more choice for the end user.