After releasing several anamorphic prime lenses for Micro Four Thirds (MFT) – 28mm, 40mm and 65mm – Vazen has now released this 85mm lens for full frame. Curious how it works? Continue reading…
Many Chinese companies have recently started to bring more or less affordable anamorphic lenses onto the market, such as SLR Magic, SIRUI, Vazen or, more recently, Venus Optics (LAOWA), which have a 1.33x anamorphic adapter for their OOOM- Cinema zoom lens teased.
What sets Vazen apart, however, is the fact that they design their prime numbers with a 1.8x horizontal stretch factor, rather than the typical 1.33x factor that most other companies offer.
Vazen 85mm f2.8 1.8x full frame anamorphic lens. Image credit: Vazen
While I understand that a 1.33x stretch is ideal for converting a typical 16: 9 video image into a 1: 2.4 inch widescreen, for me personally, the "anamorphic look" is all about one certain aesthetics and a certain character – namely the out of the vertical stretching of objects or the elliptical representation of light sources – actually only with 1.8x or 2x horizontal stretching.
Vazen 85mm f2.8 1.8x anamorphic full screen frame. Image credit: CineD
Please read our article here which explains sensor sizes and aspects of anamorphic shooting if you are not familiar with it. Our article also has the full specification of the anamorphic vazen 85mm f / 2.8 1.8x.
Optical performance of the Vazen 85mm f / 2.8 1.8x lens
Disclaimer – I have not created a resolution map. The following statements are my personal observations from recording different scenarios over the course of a week with this lens.
General – 85 mm with a full-frame sensor with 1.8 times horizontal expansion means an effective field of view of 47 mm – a very useful focal length.
Example image in the aspect ratio 1: 2.7 (difference to 1: 2.4 indicated by the black bars). Image credit: CineD
For the sample material in the video above, I used the Panasonic LUMIX S1H in 3: 2 full screen sensor mode (V-Log) and the 1.8x desqueeze option for sensor-based image stabilization and the monitor. The 3: 2 full image sensor recording gives an aspect ratio of 1: 2.7, which has a slightly lower image height than the standard widescreen ratio of 1: 2.4. In the example image above, I have indicated this difference by the small black bars above and below.
A quick note on working with the footage in DaVinci Resolve – The 3: 2 sensor mount of the LUMIX S1H is encoded in 10-bit H265 with a resolution of 5952 × 3968 – that's a whopping 23.6 megapixels per frame – almost three times the UHD resolution! That would normally be a nightmare.
However, I recently built a new PC (AMD Ryzen 3900x, 32 GB RAM) with a rental RTX3090 graphics card from NVIDIA (thanks!). Incredible but true, but working with these monster resolution H265 files in a 3840 × 2160 timeline in DaVinci Resolve (17 public beta 6) and some nodes for color correction including a LUT results in buttery smooth rendering at 28% GPU load (7.6 GM memory usage).
Sharpness – at the f / 2.8the lens is a little soft and shows a curvature of field (i.e. if you are shooting a landscape and focusing in the center, the corners are soft and if you are focusing in the corners the center is quite soft). I personally like this softness as it feels very natural and clinically not as sharp as some modern lenses.
At the f / 4sharpens the lens over the image including the corners. With higher aperture numbers (e.g. 1: 8), bright light sources transform into beautiful star shapes.
Torches – Please take a look at the sequence of images below. At f / 2.8 the lens flickers quite a lot overall, and pointing it into the sun creates the typical blue horizontal stripes.
Image credit: CineD
As you close the aperture down to f / 4, f / 5.6, and f / 8, the flare is reduced, while the blue horizontal stripes become harder, and indeed stronger.
Image credit: CineDImage credit: CineDImage credit: CineD
Blurred areas – Objects in front of and behind the focal plane are beautifully rendered, and the 1.8x horizontal stretch results in a nice, clean, elliptical-shaped representation of light sources. The transition from blurred to blurred areas is also smooth.
Image credit: CineD
Minimal focus distance – A bit too long at 1.15 meters, which limits your ability to take close-ups. For example, the previously tested Vazen 40mm T2 lens for MFT was 0.85m, which is much more user-friendly.
Processing quality of the Vazen 85mm
Overall, the processing quality is quite good, the focus and aperture rings move with the right mechanical "feel". The weight is 1.5 kg and the length 17.5 cm – so not that heavy and quite handy for handheld photography.
Image credit: CineD
As can be seen in the picture above, there are no exact markings for the aperture and focus distance.
What feels a little strange is the grease that is used to lubricate the moving elements in the lens, visible – it looks like too much has been used here … (indicated by the red arrow below).
Image credit: CineD
Plus, the carbon fiber inserts have a cheap look to them – in my opinion they don't go well with the rest of the lens by design.
So it doesn't quite live up to my expectation of a $ 8,000 lens that isn't exactly cheap.
Lens mount – The lens is supplied with a PL mount and an EF conversion kit. The PL bracket is a huge plus compared to other brackets like the MFT as it doesn't bend and feels super solid. I used a PL-L adapter from Novoflex from AV Professional in Vienna (thanks for lending it!) For the LUMIX S1H.
I like the resurgence of the anamorphic appearance over the past few years, driven by companies like Vazen or SIRUI that offer relatively cheap anamorphic prime numbers.
Well, with the recent expansion of the lens range, the 1.8x 1.8x Vazen lens with 85mm f / 2.8 is no longer exactly "cheap" for $ 8,000, but compared to conventional lenses such as Kowa anamorphoses. And finally, this lens covers a full-frame sensor – for example the Red Monstro and the Alexa LF.
The general image characteristics are really nice and I really enjoyed working with this lens – it just offers that different look compared to your standard spherical lens set that can really make your production stand out.
I'm very excited about the other two anamorphic full-frame prime numbers announced by Vazen, namely the 55mm and 105mm focal lengths, which will be released in early 2021.
Have you recently worked with Vazen's anamorphic primes? What are your impressions Let us know in the comments below.