Shooting with Anamorphic Lenses on the BMPCC 6K

The Pocket 6K can probably be nominated for the cheapest 6K cine camera on the market these days. A few contenders are in the same price range, but a 6K quasi-raw at $2,495 is probably a unique and unrivaled asset of the Pocket 6K. That being said, what is the most iconic kind of lens that screams “serious cinematography” more than anything?

Indeed, it’s an anamorphic lens kit. Now, shooting with this kind of lenses when you’ve worked only with spherical lenses can be a challenge, but in the video below filmmaker Chadwin Smith will drive us through his process of shooting anamorphic with the Pocket 6K.

The lens set he chose is the Orion anamorphic, by Atlas Lens. You may have heard of this company when it first announced the production of affordable anamorphic lenses.

Truth is that the three-lens set, priced at $24K, requires a whopping budget for any small production, even if considering renting instead of buying, and yet, it’s still a fraction of the cost of similar products made by competitors.

In Atlas lineup, we have 2 sets: the first is a 40, 65, and 100mm, while the second consists of the 32,50, and 80mm. The latter is exactly the kit Chadwin chose to shoot his project. At first look the sheer size of the lenses is impressive, they are noticeably bigger than the camera body itself, plus they weight a few times more, ranging between 2.2 and 3kg.

It would be foolish to think of shooting with such a lens without some kind of lens support to ease the pressure from the lens mount. The feeling is of complete sturdiness and resistance. A full metal body encloses the high-quality optical group, while a cylindrical lens seals the front of the lens.

Well, that’s all nice, but how about the actual image? As you can imagine, it’s fantastic. The combo of the Pocket and the Atlas could trade blows with any other high-end cinema rig. The usual oval bokeh and the proverbial lens flare are there, as is the stark separation between talent and background.

As all anamorphic lenses, these are quite soft at full aperture, so it’s important to have the iris a little bit stepped down, to T4 more or less. If you are willing to keep the iris open, you should consider a matte-box for drop-in ND filters since the huge cannon-like front lens will be too huge for most of the screw-on filters currently available on the market.

All cine lenses share a few specs that are required on higher-end sets. One of the most important is the T-stop value instead of the f-stop. It may seem trivial, but it’s actually of great importance.

Having a T value means you know exactly the amount of light coming out of the rear end of the lens, since T-stops factors in the actual quality of the glass used in the lens, while the f-stop, being a simple geometric relation does not account for that.

What does it mean in reality, though? It means that if you switch lenses and have a selected T-stop, your exposure will stay exactly the same, and that is something a DOP will likely rely on. On top of that, we usually find smooth and long iris and focus throw, a feature that lets you have those smooth and long focus-pulls.

But how about the actual anamorphic shooting on the Pocket 6K? Well, it turns out that it’s very easy after all. You just need to select the 3.7K anamorphic mode provided by the camera, and you’re done! It’s that easy. The file will be recorded in the usual square format, but you’ll have a real-time de-squeeze on your viewfinder or any external monitor, making framing and composition smooth and easy.

Back on your computer, you’ll have to de-squeeze the footage, but that’s what typically you should expect when shooting anamorphic. The only downside is that the camera has the anamorphic mode working only if you shoot in BRAW, and not in ProRes, but that’s a negligible downside to deal with, since the biggest platforms are starting to accept that format, plus a license for Resolve is complimentary to any Blackmagic camera purchase anyway.

Probably, you did not expect it to be so easy, right? Well, then, there’s no time for excuses, get your hands on some sweet anamorphic goodness and go try it out!

[source: Chadwin Smith]

Order Links:

Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 6K (B&H, Amazon)

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