A new era for anamorphic

ARRI announces an entirely new range of anamorphic lenses for 35 format digital and film cameras. Comprising seven high performance primes, ranging in focal length between 35 mm and 135 mm, the ARRI/ZEISS Master Anamorphic series represents a significant step forward in the technology and practicality of anamorphic cinematography.

Every one of the seven Master Anamorphic lenses has a T-stop of T1.9 and is super color matched to the other primes and zooms in ARRI's current lens line-up. For the very first time, a perfect combination of compact form factor, minimal weight, exceptional optical performance and very high speed has been achieved in a set of anamorphic lenses. The Master Anamorphic range shares the same reliable mechanical construction as the Master Prime and Ultra Prime lenses, and has been tested for a temperature range of --40°C to +70°C.

Drawing on its unparalleled expertise in the field, ZEISS has engineered a new and cutting-edge optical design for the Master Anamorphic lenses, overcoming many of the common distortion problems associated with other front or rear anamorphic systems. Virtually no image breathing is displayed by the lenses and the problem of anamorphic 'mumps' (fattening the faces of performers) is automatically compensated for without any need for calibration on the set. The near telecentric optical design also reduces color fringing and shading at the image corners.

A sophisticated focusing mechanism keeps both the vertical and horizontal focal lengths of each anamorphic lens perfectly sharp, thereby eliminating astigmatism. It also obviates time-consuming mechanical readjustments on the set because lens elements will not become misaligned, even in situations involving heavy vibration such as car mount shots. In essence, the Master Anamorphic lenses are less delicate and technically challenging than anamorphic lenses have been up until now; they can be used in much the same way as other modern cine lenses.

While the Master Anamorphic lenses have consigned to history many of the problems associated with anamorphic cinematography, they have lost none of desirable visual elements that have made the anamorphic look so enchanting and popular for the last 60 years. Among these are the unique blue streak lines, reflections and flares produced by anamorphic lenses, which are highly valued by cinematographers for their artistic effect and have been optimized in the Master Anamorphic series.

Another important and distinguishing visual facet of anamorphic images is the appearance of out-of-focus background elements, or bokeh. A newly developed iris with 15 aperture blades has been incorporated into the Master Anamorphic lenses, creating perfectly oval and evenly illuminated out-of-focus highlights. This ensures a pleasing bokeh that filmmakers will enjoy manipulating creatively.

Though they are also compatible with analog film cameras, the Master Anamorphic lenses are the first anamorphic primes to have been designed for modern digital cameras. More specifically, they are intended to perfectly complement the ALEXA Studio, M and Plus 4:3 models, all of which have a 4:3 sensor. The size and shape of this sensor is ideally suited to anamorphic image capture, maximizing image quality and faithfully rendering the optical characteristics of the lenses.

Weighing in at under 3 kg each and with a front diameter of only 95 mm for most focal lengths, the Master Anamorphic lenses are comparatively compact and lightweight, allowing them to be used in combination with ALEXA cameras as freely as any other prime lens. At IBC 2012 ARRI is showing a working prototype of the Master Anamorphic 50 mm (MA50) and a mock-up of the MA35. Deliveries of the MA35, MA50 and MA75 are planned for early 2013, with the MA100, MA40, MA60 and MA135 following later in the year.