Venus Optics has become a strong brand in the lens space by focusing on providing more unique solutions for photographers and filmmakers – the probe lens stands out as a personal favorite. Their cinema line keeps growing though the most interesting options they have released so far are the Laowa Nanomorph Anamorphic primes.
Anamorphic lenses are not exactly known for being budget-friendly though the past few years have changed that up. Laowa might have just made the best budget anamorphic lens set so far and if you are interested in these Super 35mm primes you should check out this video from MCKC that shows off their capabilities.
Let’s get some of the basics on these lenses out of the way:
- 1.5x Squeeze
- Super 35mm Coverage
- Amber, Blue, and Silver Flare Options
- Multiple Mount Options: Canon RF, DJI DL, FUJIFILM X, Leica L, MFT, Nikon Z, Sony E, and ARRI PL/Canon EF
- Three Focal Lengths: 27mm, 35mm, and 50mm
- Full Manual Operation
It should be obvious by their name, but the Nanomorphs are extremely compact. These are certainly the smallest Super 35mm anamorphic primes I’ve seen. They aren’t particularly slow either with the 35mm and 50mm clocking in at T2.4 and the 27mm dropping a touch to T2.8.
They certainly aren’t the fastest, but this should be surprising for anamorphics like this.
Being compact makes them more viable for indie filmmaking, especially if you wanted to fly your rig on a gimbal. Plus, the smaller and slower design does make them very affordable at around $1,000 each for the mirrorless versions. (The ARRI PL/Canon EF versions cost a tad more).
Looking at the footage the stronger squeeze of 1.5x compared to adapters or other affordable options which are 1.33x gives an even more pronounced cinematic and anamorphic look.
The reason for the “cinematic look” is due to the distinct optical characteristics of the anamorphic squeezing and desqueezing process.
Bokeh takes on a more oval shape that becomes more aggressive towards the corners for example. But, the most obvious part of the anamorphic style are the flares.
Lens flares with anamorphic lenses create a streak across the entire frame and provide that hyper-stylized look. Laowa doesn’t disappoint here. They even offer three versions of the Nanomorphs with either Amber, Blue, or Silver flares.
Amber and Blue are common anamorphic flare colors but the Silver is a nice neutral option that will be appealing to many who want a slightly less aggressive anamorphic style.
Compared to using anamorphic adapters, complete anamorphic lenses offer plenty of operational benefits. The close-focus distance isn’t too bad with the 27mm being able to focus down to around 17” /43 cm and the 50mm hitting 28” / 70 cm.
If you do opt for an anamorphic lens you’ll want to keep in mind that the de-squeeze will make your focal length look a touch wider – though the top and bottom would be cropped off compared to a regular lens. Looking at the 27mm you are getting the width of something closer to 18mm.
As we mentioned earlier these lenses are affordable at around $1,000 each. If you buy the whole set you’ll save about $100 a lens. Many pro anamorphic lenses will run you thousands a piece if not tens of thousands.
Build quality is also solid. It uses a metal exterior that feels durable and the manual controls are smooth.
As for mounts, there are all the regular options for mirrorless, including Sony E, Canon RF, MFT, Leica L, DJI DL, FUJIFILM X, and Nikon Z. There are ARRI PL/Canon EF versions for DSLRs and cinema cameras.
I’ve been eyeing the Nanomorphs myself and am certainly more tempted after watching this video. The only thing holding me back (besides having the cash on hand to do it) is that I work with an a7S III and FX3 so the Super 35mm picture isn’t ideal. Still, Venus Optics did release a coverage test that is very interesting.
What do you think about the Laowa Nanomorphs?
- Venus Optics Laowa Nanomorph 27mm T2.8 1.5x Anamorphic Lens (B&H)
- Venus Optics Laowa Nanomorph 35mm T2.4 1.5x Anamorphic Lens (B&H)
- Venus Optics Laowa Nanomorph 50mm T2.4 1.5x Anamorphic Lens (B&H)
- Venus Optics Laowa Nanomorph 3-Lens Set (B&H)
- Venus Optics Laowa Nanomorph 3-Lens Set (ARRI PL/Canon EF) (B&H)
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