Sandmarc crams cinematic video flare into a tiny iPhone anamorphic lens

Sandmarc has a new lens for videographers wanting to cram more cinematic quality into their videos — using gear that fits in a pocket. On Thursday, June 20, Sandmarc launched an anamorphic lens for the iPhone, bringing a cinematic aspect ratio along with the bokeh and flare characteristic of some major feature films.

Anamorphic lenses “squeezes” the video for software to later “desqueeze,” creating a wider aspect ratio. Unlike simply cropping the image, using an anamorphic lens doesn’t reduce the resolution.

The new lens, simply called the Sandmarc Anamorphic, is a 1.33x lens, which creates a 2.4:1 wide-aspect ratio when shooting with an iPhone. The company says that aspect ratio squeezes more information into a wide frame, a practice common from in major cinematic movies, including projects by J.J. Abrams and Stephen Soderbergh. That wide-angle perspective will also create bokeh that is oval in shape rather than round. Because the lens squeezes the image for that wider aspect ratio, the lens requires an app like Filmic Pro or software like Adobe Premiere Pro to “desqueeze” the footage in post-production.

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Anamorphic lenses also create a unique type of flare that turns bright points of light into horizontal lines. The effect is particularly dramatic with bright lights and dark surroundings, like street lights and headlights. The lens also uses multiple coatings and anti-reflective glass for higher quality.

Compatible with the iPhone XS Max, XS, XR, X, 8 Plus, 8, 7 Plus, and 7, the lens can be used with a clip or an iPhone case, with both options included in the price. The lens with the case is available for $160.

Sandmarc isn’t the first company to launch an anamorphic lens for the iPhone. Moment launched an anamorphic lens last year, using the same 1.33x multiplier as well as that horizontal lens flare traditional to these types of cinematic lenses. The Moment app also has a built-in option for desqueezing the video, instead of editing later, offering a real-time view of what you’re actually shooting, though with some reduction in resolution over completing the task in post. Moment’s take on anamorphic for mobile retails for $150 and requires a $40 case as well.


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