Using an Anamorphic Lens - Sam Hurd Is at It Again!

Using an Anamorphic Lens - Sam Hurd Is at It Again!

Photographer Sam Hurd is sharing yet another one of his artistic photography techniques with his followers. He mastered The Brenizer Method, he basically had all of Amazon on backorder for Prisming, he ripped the lens mount right off his 50mm for Freelensing, and then he did some convex Lens Chimping. This time around, Sam attached an old anamorphic movie lens to his 85mm in order to shoot a very cinematic wide field of view. Take a look at how it works!

I discovered this new tutorial on Sam’s blog and thought you might also want to learn how he went about this cool technique. Unlike his past tutorials, this one requires the purchase of a special lens and an adapter – which can be pretty expensive compared to, say, a prism. Sam bought his lens here, but I saw similar lenses on eBay for as little as half to one third of the cost. I’m sure you can find pros and cons for either source, but once you have the gear, here’s what you'll need to know:

Instead of capturing an image at a regular aspect ratio like the lenses you already have in your camera bag can, an anamorphic lens sends a very compressed image to a camera’s sensor which appears elongated. Sam refers to this as the “squished” image that needs to be “un-squished” back to proper proportions during post processing. He doesn’t actually go into detail about how he does this un-squishing, but I played with his black and white portrait in Photoshop for a little while and found that by multiplying the main lens’ focal length by the anamorphic lens’ focal length (85 * 1.9 = 161.5) I was able to increase the image width using the product of the mentioned focal lengths (161.5%). (Be sure to turn off Constrain Proportions for that one!) This got me very close to his result and what appeared to be proper proportions. I was just experimenting, but I think this equation might work with other lenses. (Maybe someone with greater math skills than I have can chime in on this.)

fstoppers-aaron-brown-squished-anamorphic-portrait Sam Hurd - Original Anamorphic Portrait

fstoppers-aaron-brown-unsquished-anamorphic-portrait Sam Hurd - Proper Proportioned Anamorphic Portrait

Sam even included a quick video on how to properly mount the anamorphic lens.

Here are some more stunning examples of how he utilized this new lens combination.


I noticed the center placement of his subjects within these shots, so I asked Sam if it was more of an artistic choice or if it was due to technical limits. This is what he later added to his blog in response.

“the biggest caveat that i’ve found when doing this technique is the focusing. it’s kind of a pain and it’s why i’ve pretty much relied on center weighted compositions when doing them. it’s just easier to get pin sharp focus in the dead center of the frame, and with such a wide panoramic aspect ratio it’s easier to balance the compositions with a centered subject.”

My first real education in photography actually came from what I learned at film school, so I think this is a really cool technique of combining two mediums I love. I immediately think back to Tonino Delli Colli's cinematography in Sergio Leone's "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly." Although achieving focus may take extra time, this method allows for ultra-wide compositions within a single image — unlike panoramic stitching! So now that you know how to go about capturing sweeping cinematic images within a camera you already own, one question remains. Are you going to make some room in your camera bag for one more lens?

[Via Sam Hurd Photography]

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Aaron Brown is a Northwest Indiana wedding & portrait photographer. In his off time, he enjoys grooming his beard, consuming assorted meats and craft beers, and battling friends and foes alike in blitz chess. Follow him below, and feel free to drop him a line anytime.

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Stop posting stuff that makes me want to be a better photographer. You're only making it worse on yourself because i'm just gonna ask you to teach me.

AB, good stuff! looking forward to reading all of your future articles!

Thanks Thierry!

been looking for a lens that gives a good flare that's a reasonable price.

Cool technique but NOT new to world of Photography (neither was "chimping" nor "prisming") can we stop claiming that this are new ? Maybe new in this day and age because more and more people are getting into photography (with no real education or experience with it), might consider this stuff new, but people who have been involved in film and photography for a while have known about this. It's a cool technique but difficult to keep all your images looking unique if overused.

There are several books published by Kodak with several "cool" "techniques" to create interesting compositions and effects, I recommend you looking that up if you want to "discover" "new" techniques.

no one said it was "new" technique. the article says its a new tutorial on his blog. the original blog post even states that its an old technique and gives a brief history of it. One way to stop people from sharing information, is bashing them for the things they share. if its not helpful for you then awesome! your super smart and can move along.

Oh snap!

You have got to love how innovative this dude is! Seriously. I know that techniques he uses aren't all new but I appreciate an individual who is always attempting to infuse creativity into their work. Makes me want to stop being such a lazy ass photographer! ;-)

Me too — cheers!

Maybe new in this day and age because more and more people are getting into photography (with no real education or experience with it), might consider this stuff new, but people who have been involved in film and photography for a while have known about this. It's a cool technique but difficult to keep all your images looking unique if overused.

Whether it's new or old, no one (that I know of) is doing it these days. Hat is off to Sam for trying out stuff to set him apart from the rest. Snap away my friend!

You can retain even better image quality, and have more choices for composition, if you use a regular lens and just crop to that panoramic format. Then, on the bright side, you also have a regular photo if you prefer that over the panoramic version.

that would end up with a totally different result. the big positive of doing this is that you get the compression/depth of field of the camera lens (say 85mm) and the field of view of a wider lens. can't do that with a crop.

read the original post on Sams blog. he talks about and shows an example of shooting with a normal lens and the anamorphic.

Hmm... no offense, as I admire Sam's bold experimentation... but I simply scrolled right through (even the video). Am I missing something?

finally, the lesser being known as photogragers learn from the filmmakers.

I definitely would like to try this on my Sony a7R, especially since there is focus peaking that can help with focusing off-center subjects.

25 Posts series about anamorphic shooting on dslrs:

its in portuguese, but is a GREAT compendium... it wont hurt opening up an extra tab for google translator ;)

I use a setup like this as well with a Iscorama ultrastar anamorphic lens (looks like just a slightly diffrent version of that one) and a canon 135L. It gives the images a much different look then just cropping a normal photo. The bokeh is stretched out with the anamorphic but its hard to get the anamorphic flare since most newer lenses (that you have to attach this to) kill the flare. People use these with old russian helios lenses and the results are awesome. Check out these guys who use setups like this:

Is it just me or would this work wonderfully with landscape photography?

This is so awesome! I just got my hands on an Elmoscope II. It was in a grab bag of old camera stuff someone was giving away. Any one know anything about them and how to attach it to my 85 or 50? Thanks in advance!