A few days ago I had the opportunity to try out the new Sirui 50mm f/1.8 1.33x Anamorphic Lens. I was super keen to see how it would perform when attached to my Olympus OM-D EM1x.
The lens is designed for Sony E-mount, Fuji, and Micro 4/3 camera bodies. It can be somewhat challenging to work out for those who, like me, had no experience using such a niche piece of kit.
This blog isn't designed to be a comprehensive review—just some sample shots and thoughts on the lens from my brief little test run.
One of the biggest hurdles I encountered with using the lens was that, by design, the anamorphic aspect ratio puts the focal length at 75mm on a Micro 4/3 body. Yes, you do get a wider image once it is de-squeezed in post-production, but you will need to work within the spatial conforms like you would when using a 75mm lens. For videographers, this is quite tight and limits the chances of this lens being a one-sized fits all, run-and-gun creator.
That being said, when using this lens outdoors, it produced some incredibly fresh and cinematic style images and footage. The below info is based on my findings when using the EM1x.
Considerations Before Purchasing
The lens is fully manual, meaning there is no auto-focus
The image requires de-squeezing in post-production.
Focal length on M4/3 = 75mm Equiv
When using on an Olympus body, there will be no auto-de-squeeze preview
No EXIF data stored. You will need to manually make a note of your aperture and shutter speed if you need a reference to it later. Only ISO is registered as this is set by the camera itself.
Not weathered sealed (but you can't have everything)
For accurate focus and de-squeezed preview, you really should use an external monitor
When filming in Cinema 4k on the Olympus, you will lose a small amount of the image on the top and bottom. This is minimal compared to filming with a regular lens and switching between Cinema 4k and UHD 4k
There is no denying that the 50mm f1.8's primary purpose is to film cinematic style video footage; however, there is seriously no reason why this beauty couldn't be a part of your stills photography kit. Especially if you are a portrait or commercial photographer, looking to separate yourself from the crowd.
The de-squeezed images are actually near perfect for cover photos on various social media sites and look fabulous as commercial banners.
Camera Setup: Stills
Focus peaking set to high-sensitivity
Histogram turned on
Gridlines turned on
Post Production: Stills
Inported to Lightroom Classic > Right Click Image> Edit In > Adobe Photoshop
In the top menu > Image > Image Size > Long side = 583.75 (Long side x 1.33) > Press enter > File > Save
Close Photoshop > Image instantly appears de-squeezed in Lightroom
Either delete the de-squeezed image or leave it there. It doesn't really matter
Begin colour grading
I highly recommend that you don't colour grade or edit your image until it is de-squeezed. Otherwise, the colours will vary from scene to scene, due to higher numbers of colours squished together in the squeezed image.
Camera Setup: Video
Focus peaking turned on and set to high-sensitivity
Image Stabilization: M-IS2
WB: Cloudy + Incandescent
OM-LOG400 with BT.709 Live view preview activated
Post Production: Video (Final Cut Pro X)
Created new project in Final Cut Pro X > Custom dimensions (5076 x 2160, 25p) > Import anamorphic video files > Change x-scale to 133 = Footage de-squeezed
Colour graded: Cinema Grade
Having zero experience using an anamorphic lens, I found it a little tricky to handle at first. Not because of design faults, but more so operating a fully manual lens. After a good hour or so of playing around with it, I could safely say I was having a rad time.
Considering the price point relative to the production quality of this lens, I couldn't recommend it more highly to any aspiring filmmaker or photographer looking to add a cinematic flair to their work. The glass is small enough to compliment the size of my Micro 4/3 system perfectly, and the build quality is incredible for a lens at this price range.
The majority of professional filmmakers out there shoot with completely manual lenses, so the lack of autofocus will likely not be a deal-breaker. For those beginners out there, it could take a little more time to master, but once you do, you'll be smiling from ear to ear.
Is this the ideal single lens, run and gun set-up? Well.. yes and no. If you can deal with a 75mm equivalent focal length and are looking for that beautiful portrait style compression, this is the lens for you. For those of you who prefer something a little wider like a genuine 50mm or even better, 35mm equivalent (crop factor accounted for), then perhaps you might like to wait a few more months and see what is on the horizon ;).
Solid construction and beautifully made
Wonderfully fun to use
Possibility to get a big-budget look for a small cost
De-clicked aperture ring. Smooth turning here baby
Incredibly beautiful flares
Lovely soft oval bokeh
Great depth of field for portrait and tight shots
Even with the image squeezed on the camera screen, it is quite easy to compose a scene
Fantastic sharpness considering the price point
Even with focus-peaking turned on, at apertures <f3.6 focus was incredibly tricky to nail
75mm Equiv. is quite tight to use as a single lens kit
Horizontal flares on stills images do not appear as smooth as when filming
Niche lens. Aspect ratio not ideal for all filming purposes
If you are like me and love quirky, well-priced pieces of photography gear that can really elevate your production value then, you can purchase this lens for any system mount HERE through my store. You'll even snag a 5% discount code by entering: SIRUI50REVIEW5 at checkout
All images edited using my Portrait Presets - Vol.1 which work perfectly for cinematic scenes such as these.
*While I am an Official Sirui Australia Ambassador, all views and findings in this blog are entirely my own. I was not paid for this review.