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Flare testing the Sirui 50mm F1.8 Anamorphic Lens
The $699 Sirui 50mm F1.8 Anamorphic 1.33X lens is a stunner for its price. For the budget filmmaker — the one hoping to buy a car or a…
The $699 Sirui 50mm F1.8 Anamorphic 1.33X lens is a stunner for its price. For the budget filmmaker — the one hoping to buy a car or a house, rather than a lens set — this manual focus APS-C format lens from Sirui is a great entry point into the inevitable obsession that is of the anamorphic image. Stop now, or recognize there will come a time when that 3-piece LOMO lens kit up on eBay will whisper “mortgage the home” into your ear when you thought you were sleeping.
What is anamorphic?
For the uninitiated: anamorphic lenses squeeze the horizontal bounds of an ultra wide aspect ratio image, such as 2.39:1, inward to fit on a traditional sensor size like 16:9 or 4:3.
The blue flaring seen in J.J. Abrams movies, the squished bokeh of streetlamps in the distance, and that washed and slightly softened look are all more present on anamorphic lenses due to how their uniquely curved lens designs shape light.
See it in action
Impressions of the flare
So let’s get down to it. The Sirui is sharp and clean at all apertures and carries an exuberant yet soft blue flare.
Build quality is nice as well with dampened focus and aperture rings and a balanced heft. The aluminum lens barrel feels cheap in a way, brittle somewhat. The level of fit and finish is not on par with that of the Sigma 18–35mm F1.8 or the Canon 70–200mm F2.8 L II, and that does not give me confidence that it will last a career as these two lenses will. But, this is a sub-$1000 anamorphic lens. Its image is what we are after.
To demonstrate, I have a sweet potato. This bewhiskered big boy was fresh from the stack at Big Y. At the time, it spoke to me as a social distance appropriate method of analyzing skin tone. Though, later in the edit, it became more an example of acuteness. Sharpness and contrast, really.
In the above shot taken at F4 on a Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K on a white background, there is no visible color bias. The same goes for on a black background. Sans bright lights in the field of view, the image is neutral. This lens does not have a vintage look, for lack of a better word.
And as far as acuteness goes, the lens falls more in line with cinema lenses than photographic lenses. The image is sharp, but not overtly sharp as is necessary with a photographer’s lens. Contrast is also very nice.
When light from a bright source is directed from above, the image immediately gives off a dominantly white veiling glare. The outer edge of the glare closest to the source carries a green cast and the edge on the far side is pinkish. I see the glare as both artistically valuable and problematic with concern to contrast. A matte box when outdoors is a necessity if the loss in contrast is not a desired look.
Once a source enters the field of view, the blue streaks appear in full force. These vivid blue streaks remain somewhat soft. The 10-blade aperture makes for a pleasingly soft flare that is neither dirty nor sharp.
The $699 Sirui 50mm F1.8 Anamorphic 1.33X lens gives the budget filmmaker the anamorphic look at a great price. Though the build quality is not perfect, and something to be watched, the anamorphic image it delivers to the camera, with good sharpness, contrast, and a stylish flare, is well worth the cost.