Anamorphic Lenses for smartphones – Are you looking to improve your smartphone videos to make them look more cinematic?
Today’s smartphones are becoming a valuable tool to shoot incredible-looking videos without having to purchase expensive mirrorless or DSLR cameras to shoot cinema-quality footage.
But the unfortunate thing about shooting video on a smartphone is the capabilities of the built-in lenses.
Sure the lenses on the latest smartphones from Apple, Samsung, and Huwaei help a filmmaker shoot a low-budget film with impressive results, but to kick the footage up a notch, you need to add an attachment lens.
One attachment lens that delivers incredible results to any smartphone video is an anamorphic lens.
This post is for those independent filmmakers looking for help to make his/her videos stand out from the crowd with a simple anamorphic attachment lens.
By the end, you will have a better understanding of what an anamorphic lens can do for your smartphone video footage, and which brand you should buy for your next smartphone feature.
How Do Attachment Lenses Work For Smartphones
Lens add-ons attach to your smartphone’s camera lens that helps increase or decrease its focal length.
Many popular smartphones today have at least one wide-angle lens. The latest iPhone 12 is equivalent to about 26mm on a real camera, which is a bit wider than the human eye.
The great part of attachment lenses is they can give the user more photographic and video possibilities when your phone doesn’t have additional lenses built-in.
If you are looking to improve your smartphone videos to match the cinematic feel of a filmmaking camera, the anamorphic lens can do just that.
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What Is An Anamorphic Lens?
Anamorphic lenses over the years of filmmaking have been a favorite for professional cinematographers and even independent filmmakers as well.
What an anamorphic lens provides is an ultra-wide rectangular aspect ratio, long horizontal flares, and a characteristic oval bokeh that makes these lenses the go-to in the filmmaking industry.
An anamorphic lens changes the dimensions of an image in one axis; allowing for a wider field of view and squeeze that same image onto a narrower sensor.
Basically, these lenses maximize the use of the sensor by fitting more footage onto the sensor.
Keep in mind when using an anamorphic lens for smartphone videos is the images captured through the anamorphic lens need to be stretched in post-production via a video editing software program like adobe premiere.
If not, the video footage will look horrible when projected.
Anamorphic Lenses For A Smartphone
While many of the great smartphones from Apple, Samsung, and Huwaei ship with built-in multiple lens options like telephoto and ultra-wide-angle, no smartphone brand has yet to add the anamorphic lenses for a smartphone.
So if you are looking for a classic widescreen cinema look to your video footage, you’ll need to add an anamorphic conversion lens.
Below is a comparison of the most popular anamorphic conversion lenses on the market today.
Mounting the anamorphic lens
First off, you will have to understand how each lens is mounted to the smartphone, as each anamorphic lens mounts onto a smartphone device differently.
The great thing about the Moment Smartphone Case (sold separately), is that you will never have to worry about adjusting the lens when mounting it on the Moment smartphone case because the mounting position is fixed.
Moondog Labs and Ulanzi lenses, both come with a mounting that needs to be adjusted so they can sit perfectly over the smartphone lens. But the pro to this type of clip is that these lenses can be used on many different smartphone devices.
Moondog Labs and Ulanzi both make smartphone cases just like Moment as well for a more secure fit, the downside is they don’t offer smartphone cases to the latest smartphones like the Apple iPhone 12.
Each anamorphic lens in this post has a special character to it when it comes to lens flares.
What are anamorphic lens flares? Lens flare refers to a phenomenon wherein light is scattered or flared in a lens system, often in response to a bright light, producing a sometimes undesirable artifact within the image.
Why use a lens flare? Lens flares are a great way to ground a shot in reality—particularly ones that incorporate multiple digital elements. The deliberate use of a visual ‘flaw’ like a lens flare means that the viewer associates the shot with a real-life scene.
It really comes down to personal preference when it comes to lens flares, as I find they complement the image, rather than distracting the audience from the video.
Flares look fantastic if they appear and disappear during the shot. It’s like a burst of light which fades.
It comes down to practice on shooting with an anamorphic lens to find how you want to incorporate them into your videos.
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Look Of The Image
By watching the videos above as an example of the overall look of these anamorphic lenses, you may notice a difference in the colors of the image.
Depending on the anamorphic lens Moment has, you may either see a slight blue or gold cast to the image which might it look either cooler or warmer.
The Ulanzi lens, on the other hand, offers a blue hue to the image that makes the images look cooler as well.
Something to keep in mind with the video produced by today’s smartphones is the distribution format doesn’t allow the user to change the color too much before it goes cloudy.
I don’t want to scare you off from using these anamorphic lenses because of the possible change to the look of the video footage, just keep in mind when using them and the limits you can push these lenses.
ULANZI 1.33XT Anamorphic Lens Filmmaking Phone Camera Lens
Ulanzi‘s picture quality is an 8.5 out of 10 which is very good and to be expected since this is an add-on.
The blue light line is very prominent as I saw from online user videos. Pricing is great and it is flexible for use with other Ulanzi systems like their rigs and cell phone cases that share the same thread pattern.
It’s the best cheap anamorphic lens for those on a low-budget market.
Plus, this lens is made for FilMiC Pro which is a mobile app designed to turn your smartphone into a professional video camera.
Moment Blue Flare Anamorphic Lens
I had high hopes for the Moment Anamorphic Lens, and I can say it has lived up to each one of them. The build quality is surprisingly high for such a small item and it has a good weight to it without being some rock on the backside of your phone.
The glass itself is crisp and clean and delivers on its promise to give you a wider, more cinematic view when filming or taking photos.
Be sure to rotate the lens mount for your device so that you get the correct anamorphic effect. If you don’t, it’ll just be distorted and you’ll be a bit in the dark over why you purchased the lens (as I was for the first 15 seconds it sat on the back of my phone).
Yes, you’ll need the moment app to de-squeeze the image, but the app is also a gem too if you’re worried about customizing your images a bit more than the standard iPhone app.
Overall, this is hands down a 5-star lens and I look forward to grabbing more moment products in the future!
Moondog Labs Anamorphic Lens
The Moondog Labs Anamorphic Lens is designed for serious iPhone filmmakers and photographers who want to elevate their look, creating compelling, professional-looking films and photos.
I read a lot of articles and watched a lot of videos before I bought this lens and it absolutely lived up to the hype. This will make your iPhone footage look cinematic with ease.
I can not recommend this product enough for any iPhone filmmaker.
According to IMDb, Steven Soderbergh shot Unsane on an iPhone 7 Plus with a Moment anamorphic lens, and his second iPhone film, Netflix’s High Flying Bird, on an iPhone 8 with a Moondog Labs anamorphic adapter and Moment 2x telephoto lens.
It makes your phone camera highly “tunable,” giving you wide control over ISO, shutter speed, frame rate, focus, exposure, and white balance.
It records 4K in up to 100 Mb/s, which, as FiLMiC says, “Holds up at Sundance, Cannes, or SXSW.” Frame rates are customizable, from 1 to 240 fps, from fast to very impressive slow motion.
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