Atlas Orion Anamorphic Lens Review
This is the write up of our latest YouTube video which you can watch here – Click here.
Anamorphic Lenses were originally designed, in order that filmmakers could utilize Full Academy Aperture i.e. excluding the Sound Track Area of the 35mm Film Format. There was a range of reasons this was a huge benefit for Filmmakers at the time of Film but now in the age of Digital why do people still shoot anamorphic?
Well, there is a range of reasons but there is something special about anamorphic lenses and with digital sensor getting better filmmakers are hunting for ways to dirty up their image and create their own style and character when creating imagery. Because of this more and more affordable anamorphic solutions are popping up onto the market and one the newest is what we are looking at today. The Atlas Orion lenses are aiming to bring big budget anamorphic to the masses. They are currently shipping the A set which consists of a 40, 65 & 100mm.
Before getting our demo set of lenses I managed to get my hands on the lenses twice before. The first was at BSC 2018, the second was NAB 2018. The mechanics have got progressively better and now they solid with only minor inconsistencies in the fell of the focus. The focus, of which you have 270 degrees of movement feels like a slightly stiffer master prime. The aperture also feels smooth as expected.
The 40 & 65 have a very similar size & weight but the 100 is much bigger and heavier. Despite the varying size, your gear placement is consistent throughout the set and your front diameter is also consistent at 114mm across the three lens set.
The lenses have 14 aperture blades and are all rated at T2 wide open. This is fast for an anamorphic being faster than the newish P+S Kowa EVO 2X and a little bit faster than Cookes prime offerings.
The close focus on these lenses is also very impressive. The current three lenses we have ranged from 2’ to just over 3’. You can see each at their close focus here below.
Although we haven’t got any you can actually swap between mounts really simply and easily. This is an awesome feature because due to the affordability of the lenses the market they are aimed at will have a range of mounts. You can currently change them from PL to EF, E or MFT.
The pricing is pretty damn incredible for the quality of these lenses. The A set of the 40, 65 & 100 will set you back around $24k which is around $8000 a lens. That is incredibly well priced for a 2X anamorphic lens in this kind of housing and with its feature set but how do they perform?
I had a chance to sling them on the projector and on one of our Alexa Mini’s, because the Alexa is life.
We shot in in 2K 2.39 2X Anamorphic mode at 25p, ISO 200, 180-degree shutter.
Focus breathing is apparent across all of the lenses in the set but is not too extreme. Below you can see some screenshots of the flares at different apertures.
The flares are pretty consistent throughout the set. They are a very saturated blue with hints of rainbow flaring. The 40mm has a very busy flare with a lot of circular flares showing wide open and a few when stopped down. The 65mm is very similar to the 40 but with much less circular flare. The 100mm doesn’t have the dual horizontal streak like the other two lenses and has a large circular flare which is reduced in size when stopped down. Below you can see some screenshots of bokeh at different apertures.
The bokeh on the 40mm has a kidney bean effect which is better at close focus. This effect is almost gone when you stop down to T4 where the bokeh is better shaped. On the 65mm wide open is very cats eye but as soon as you stop down to T4 the points on the top of the bokeh are reduced and the bokeh is much more pleasing. On the 100 the bokeh looks cut. When we pull to close focus you can see that the bokeh is not been shaped like it should be and is cut. This is only an issue wide open as when stopped down to T4 Bokeh is shaped as expected with no cutting.
Distortion is fairly well controlled for a 40mm. You can see a little bit of bowing on the edges of the frame but this is normal for a 40mm 2x like this and is nowhere near as extreme as some other options on the market. Both the 65mm & 100mm are extremely well controlled with very minimal distortion across the frame.
Skin tones look great on these lenses, transitions are smooth and warm. The lenses also produce good contrast and are incredibly sharp when stopped down to T4.
Up next we through up our focus chart.
Wide open the 40mm is decently sharp with flare and CA out into the corners. Stopped down the sharpness is increased, the flare is gone in the centre and CA is better controlled. Wide open the 65mm has heavy purple fringing in the centre of the frame and a consistent flare going out to the corners. When stopped down both purple fringing has almost gone in the centre and flaring is massively reduced. The 100mm wide open is better than the previous being decently sharp with only minor CA across the frame. When stopped down sharpness is improved and CA is reduced.
So that’s it our review of the Atlas Orion 2X Anamorphic primes. We are massively impressed with these lenses. A nice flare, gorgeous tone, nice separation, great mechanics & an IMS system make the Atlas Orion rival other anamorphic lenses well outside their price bracket and cement them as some of the best bang for buck cinema lenses on the market today.
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Written by Jake Ratcliffe