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Anamorphic 40mm Prime Lens Comparison Test (Technovision, Xelmus, Cooke, and Lomo)

Anamorphic 40mm Prime Lens Comparison Test (Technovision, Xelmus, Cooke, and Lomo)

By Matthew Fresolone | May 10th, 2022

This week, DP Max Goldberg shot an in-depth lens test at the Bokeh Rentals Facility with four lenses in high demand. Using the Alexa Mini LF at 4.5K LF Open Gate, Max tested:

Click from the list above to see the full tests, and check out more lens tests on our Vimeo page.  

Xelmus Apollo anamorphic 40mm Xelmus Apollo Anamorphic 40mm Technovision anamorphic 40mm P+S Technovision Anamorphic 40mm Cooke FF 40mm Anamorphic Special Flares Cooke FF Anamorphic SF 40mm Lomo Round Front Anamorphic 40mm Lomo Round Front Anamorphic 40mm

Visual Look

These four lenses all have their own unique looks. The plant at the left of frame shows that the Cooke SF’s visual look embraces warmer colors. The green appears brighter on the Cooke than the other three lenses, and the highlights are less reined in, lending itself to a dreamier, more organic feel.  The Technovision 40mm has a slightly vintage look, with a little more noise and aberration than the others. The Xelmus and Lomo strongly embraces its anamorphic qualities, as demonstrated by their 2x squeeze factor. A lot more can be said about their looks, but the best way to compare lenses is to see them for yourself. Watch the Xelmus 40mm test below to see all the stylish features anamorphic has to offer:

Anamorphic Format

These lenses are all built to capture in the anamorphic format, which is the conuterpart to spherical lenses. Anamorphic is a format in which the image is essentially squeezed horizontally, resulting in different image characteristics. The anamorphic image is mainly known for two things, its unique lens flare and its horizontally distorted presentation. This horizontal squeeze is why anamorphic lenses can produce wider landscapes and characters tend to look thinner onscreen. However, not all anamorphic lenses have the same squeeze factor—and the effect is notable. In Bokeh Rentals’ test, DP Max Goldberg saw how the Xelmus Apollo and Lomo 40mm’s 2x squeeze factor produced an image with noticeably more horizontal information than the Technovision 40mm. In between the two sits the Cooke’s squeeze rate of 1.8x, producing an image in between. These squeeze factors are in inherent to the lens, and can be chosen to accompany the user's visual preference. The higher the squeeze factors, the more a lens leans into its anamorphic format. With all things lenses, at the end of the day it comes down to taste. Notice the Lomo 40mm's squeeze factor below:

Lens Flares

The Xelmus Apollo takes the cake here, which isn't surprising, since it leans so hard into its 2x anamorphic squeeze factor. Not only does the Apollo have the most active flaring onscreen, but it also has the most hue in its flare. This anamorphic lens is bold in reproducing the coveted anamorphic flare, with lines reaching across the frame in blue streaks that seemingly verge into purple shades. Similarly, it has the most layers within its flare design, creating a nuanced, unique look. Some users might find this exaggerated taste appealing, as there are plenty of popular anamorphics built specifically for enhanced flares. Next is the Technovision 40mm with its loud flare design. While light into the lens causes a blue-white streak to extend across the frame, there are additional, more abstract blue artifacts when sources point directly at the sensor. The Cooke SF 40mm does have several blurry, blue layers that seem to reach into the lens, but less prominently. These blue artifacts are less prominent than the Technovision's, suggesting that the Cooke FF lens is less sensitive to light. This Cooke lens is also a SF, or “Special Flares” version of its regular line of anamorphic primes, suggesting that the “Cooke Look” generally errs towards a controlled flare response. However, even its Special Flares builds have flares that are less exaggerated than the Xelmus Apollo. Lastly, we found that the Lomo 40mm has the most controlled flare response of these anamorphics. While it has short thin streaks emanating from the light source, flaring artifacts don’t tend to reach across the frame. This stands in comparison to the Apollo and Technovision, which seem eager to reach across the image with bold blue streaks, opposed to dressing only the source corner. Keep in mind that more or less flaring doesn't make an anamorphic lens better or worse. It simply comes down to user preference. View our Technovision 40mm T2.2 test in full resolution below:

Focus Breathing

Focus breathing is when the image shifts as a result of changing focus. When doing lens tests, it's common practice to rack from the close focus to infinity to assess the maximum focus breathing you'll see on a lens. During Bokeh Rentals' lens tests, we found that the Xelmus Apollo exhibited the most distracting breathing. This isn't surprising though, given the much smaller retail price of the Apollo, compared to the Cooke 40mm, which has great breathing control and a much higher price. Watch our Cooke anamorphic 40mm test below, shot exclusively at the Bokeh Rentals facility:

The Bottom Line

Overall, these lenses show the wide range of possibilities within the anamorphic format. Between the different flare responses, squeeze factors, and even basic differences in image such as contrast and color rendition, it's up to each user to decide which expression of anamorphic works for them.

Considering renting? Why not check out Bokeh Rentals’ Anamorphic Prime packages!

•Rent the Cooke FF 1.8x Anamorphic SF 2.8 Lenses at Bokeh Rentals

•Rent the PS Technik Technovision Anamorphic 1.5x FF Lenses at Bokeh Rentals

•Rent the Round Front Lomo Anamorphic Lenses at Bokeh Rentals

•Rent the Xelmus Apollo 2x FF Anamorphic Lenses at Bokeh Rentals

Contact us to customize a package to suit your production needs at low prices!

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