Hands-On with the New Sirui 35mm Anamorphic Lens

Sirui has been making waves with a range of affordable film and video products from their Guangdong Province, China-based facility. They make tripods, monopods, gimbals, filters, mobile phone accessories, and now some pretty compelling lenses.

Though popular in big budget movies, and a staple for J.J. Abrams, anamorphic lenses are expensive and generally hard to come by. There just aren’t lots of options out there that don’t break the bank, which has left a lot of us who are eager to shoot with that classic movie look to use anamorphic adapters with a hodgepodge of diopters. You’ll end up with a cool look, but a lot of compromises in practicality.

So, Sirui released their first 50mm anamorphic mirrorless lens a little while back, a lot of people were shocked to see it was priced at just $699. Let’s dive in with DSLR Video Shooter to see how their new 35mm anamorphic lens matches up.

Anamorphic lenses optically compress images to produce a wider aspect ratio. These were transformative in the heyday of Hollywood filmmaking as they allowed storytellers to fill the audience’s field of vision, giving them a greater sense of immersion into the film, and all while using the same camera and projection equipment that was already in place.

When you shoot with anamorphic lenses, the height of the image stays the same, but the image is stretched out wider. The final aspect ratio of footage shot with SIRUI’s 1.33 anamorphic lenses is 2.4:1 instead of the camera’s native 16:9 ratio but with no quality loss through cropping.

The Sirui 35mm Anamorphic lens is Sirui’s second offering, having previously released a 50mm anamorphic lens just a short time ago.

That lens is optically very good, but for the S35 shooter 50mm lenses are a little too tight, and it’s splendid to see they’re releasing a wider version with this Indiegogo campaign.

The lens ships as a MFT lens but is adaptable to work with Sony E Mount, Canon EF-M, and Nikon Z mounts.

As a bonus, Sirui has included 2 lens gear rings with the 35mm Anamorphic for the focus and iris that are a really nice touch.

Build Quality

For $599 (campaign backers, release price will be higher), the quality of the build is superb. The focus and iris rings are dampened just right and the lens feels like a quality built product.

They’ve learned a lot from the creation of their first anamorphic lens and put all of those refinements into this design.

The construction is very similar to the 50mm, using the same overall look and 67mm filter threads, and the image quality is just as good too. Although, the 35mm version is as a slightly less shallow depth of field, and the anamorphic bokeh doesn’t produce as tall of an oval space.

Color Characteristics

This new focal length is significantly warmer than the original 50mm which is a welcomed change but this might pose a problem on a film shoot.

Generally, you want your lenses to maintain the exact same color profile as this makes cross cutting more natural and color grading a breeze in post.

Image Quality

Wide open, you can expect the 35mm to be a little softer than the 50mm which is fairly standard for the 35mm focal length and fortunately the difference presented here doesn’t seem very substantial. I would consider this to be a fantastic 35mm lens from the images used in this presentation.

Minimum Focus Distance

One thing these two lenses share, unfortunately, is the same minimum focus distance of 2.8 feet. This could be a deal breaker for anyone who does a lot of close subject shooting, but close focus distances are a common problem among anamorphic lenses.

You can use a diopter to adapt the lens for closer shooting, but that will present limitations for infinity focusing, narrowing your focus range to closer objects. It is an added step, but they can be easy removed when reframing.

Flaring

One of the main attractions to anamorphic lenses is the dope lens flares they produce. Since the 50mm produces a bluer image than the 35mm, you can expect a slightly warmer flare on the 35mm version of this lens.

Overall the image quality from this lens is fantastic with the only real complaints being the minimum focus distance and the inconsistency in color between the set.

This could just be an issue between batches, or maybe the 50mm used here is an older copy but it is something to be mindful of should you require both; which you do. You should always buy lenses in a set.

Seeing anamorphic lenses offered at this price point is phenomenal given the competition starts in the thousands of dollar range and can get astronomical expensive for high end.

This is definitely worth the expense if you love the 2.4:1 anamorphic look, and want to give JJ a run for his money. Hands down, this is a killer lens.

[source: DSLR Video Shooter]

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