I had the privilege and honor to get a product review/interview with Andrew B. White. He’s an establish and award winning mobile photographer. Andrew and I have been discussing about the Moondog Labs 1.33x Anamorphic Lens for quite sometime. We both wanted to get our hands on this lens and do our own projects with the lens. Andrew gave in, bought the lens and gave me the link to the movie demo up above. I was so impressed with the clarity of the movie, that I asked Andrew to do a product review/interview with this anamorphic lens adapter.
What is your take on this lens ?
ABW: Like many people, the Moondog Labs 1.33x anamorphic lens grabbed my attention from its use in the movie “Tangerine” which was shot on iPhones using prototype Moondog lenses.
Being a mobile artist that uses an iPhone to shoot video, and owning several other third party lenses, the Moondog anamorphic lens interested me immediately.
I recently picked one up for my iPhone 6 Plus after a small wait. Due to the popularity of the lens the initial pre-orders were sold out. In preparation I had searched the web for examples of footage shot with the lens to see what it could do but didn’t find much. What I did find, although mostly crude, got me thinking about the potential of what could be done with it in the right hands.
How would you grade this mobile lens for it’s quality ?
ABW: In a nutshell, the anamorphic format is the technique of shooting a widescreen picture on a non-widescreen device. This image is then “stretched” recreate the original aspect ratio (in the Moondog lens case 2.4:1) when viewing so you get an ‘extra wide’ finished shot. You also get organic light flares (such as vertical light rays through lighted objects) and distortions in certain circumstances. You’ll see this ‘stretched’ picturea nd lighting effects in movies like “Bladerunner” – often with black lines at the top and bottom of the screen.
The lens will also give you panoramic 16:9 still images that are different than the results you get from a wide angle. Effectively you get an extra 33% more pixels in your video and still shots.
Was it worth the money ?
The lens is beautifully made out of aluminum and glass, comes with a plastic carrying case and small bag. It attaches elegant to the phone with a simple fastening mechanism – simply open the latch, slide the lens over the iPhone’s camera and then close the latch. Easy and secure.
Because it attaches right onto the iPhone you cannot use a case so you need to be aware of this if you normally use a case on your phone. One workaround I thought of was to buy a cheap silicone iPhone case and cut out an area in the shape of the lens. That way you can cover most of the phone while still using the lens.
Do you recommend this lens to future mobile movie makers ?
ABW: This is no plastic toy – the weight of the lens is also reassuringly substantial. The lens is priced between $160 and $170 USD depending on the phone you have. Factor in shipping if you are outside the US. The lens is only available from Moondog Labs’ website – you won’t find it on the likes of Amazon etc. It works with the iPhone 5/5S, 6, 6 Plus and the Schnieder Optics iPro Lens system case. There is no Android version. Aside from the iPro Lens version, due to the way it attaches to the phone, each model will only work with the phone it is designed for. Keep this in mind if you plan to upgrade your phone in the short term. With the iPro Lens version you can use your lens with any current iPro lens case system which incorporates threaded lens attachments, which could be more future proof. However the iPro Lens case will increase your initial outlay by around $75 (for the basic case) and you will still need to purchase one of these cases each time you upgrade your phone. There is also word that Moondog labs will offer an iPad version and a 37mm thread version that is compatible with case systems such as iOgrapher (which could also mean it works with the ALM mCam and Beastgrip Pro systems that also use 37mm lenses).
So, the Moondog Labs anamorphic lens is a serious piece of equipment for the serious user.
Yes the price is somewhat on the high side for a mobile device accessory but considering the prices for anamorphic lenses for DSLRs and professional movie cameras the price is very reasonable.
Do you plan to do more video projects with this lens ?
ABW: My first tests with the lens were very simple held-held video shots in New York City on an overcast, summer day. At first I used the lens with the app FiLMiC Pro which has a special mode for the Moondog Labs lens. This mode ‘de-squeezes’ the video on the fly so you can see exactly what you are shooting in the final format and avoid de-squeezing the video later in post. Very nice.
However I was not able to achieve clean and non-jittery shots using FiLMic Pro for this test, despite having done a clean install of the app (V 4.1.3). This was frustrating as FiLMiC pro is a good app to shoot video with and the native Moondog Labs mode is a great idea.
As I was shooting hand-held with no tripod I went back to the standard Apple video camera shooting at 60fps and taking advantage of the iPhone 6 Plus’ optical image stabilization. Apple have done a great job with this for video and it really eliminates camera shake to the point of being pretty amazing, The controls for shooting are less limited than in an app like FiLMiC but you can at least lock the focus and exposure. Of course shooting with the Moondog Lens meant the image on screen appears vertically ‘stretched’ when viewing. This is the effect of the anamorphic lens ‘cramming’ more pixels into the image. It will appear stretched in your camera roll too so you need to de-squeeze it later when you are editing. The simplest way to do this is to select the clip in your video editor and adjust the horizontal width from 1920 pixels to 2554 pixels. 2554pixels = the Moondog lens’ 1.33 aspect ratio x 1920 (33% more pixels).
Likewise for still images.
Opinions and Thoughts ?
ABW: The results from the lens range from subtle to awesome, depending on what and where you are shooting. In some cases you may not notice much unless you were to compare the 1.33x anamorphic result with a standard image. What this lens offers is nice wide scenes, a very cinematic effect in your shots and visually pretty images. This was especially noticeable in some of the still shots I took using the Apple camera in HDR mode. Shots appeared to have a special depth and warmth to them – I can’t quite put my finger on what exactly but they have a ‘thing’ going on. The anamorphic effect of light beams was also noticeable in shots I took of moving subway trains underground. The beams move vertically and horiztonally which creates a very cool effect. Other light sources seem much better captured with this lens also. With some experimentation and figuring out what light sources work best to capture this effect, you could really get some interesting shots, especially at night and for sci-fi themes.
Edge distortion artifacts are not overly noticeable as they are in many mobile lenses ie. straight edges at the edge of the screen appear to be ‘bent’. There is some image distortion at the edges but this is very minimal and the quality is top notch. There is only a tiny amount of image softness at the edges (if any) but I think that actually adds to the overall feel anyway.
Although the Moondog Labs lens produces overtly cinematic shots I’m keen to use it for interview and documentary style shoots as well as more traditional film shoots such as music videos. Combine it with a tripod, suitable gimbal and external lights and mics and you really have an awesome movie making tool in a mobile package.
While this probably won’t give you instant “Tangerine” results (there is is more to making a movie than just gear) this is one of the best mobile lenses out there on the market. It won’t suit everyone and the price may be a factor, especially if you upgrade your phone often, but if you are wanting to get cinematic looking video using your iPhone (and wide still shots) then the Moondog Labs lens might be for you. It is one of those lenses that is exciting an inspiring to use.
– Great design, well made
– Attaches elegantly to the phone
– Beautiful results in video and stills
– Cool light effects in certain situations
– Can open up creative possibilities for your work
– Only works with one specific model of iPhone so choose correctly*
– Not future proof*
– Slightly pricier than your average mobile accessory lens
– Only some video apps currently offer on-the-fly de-squeezing of content
– Unless you use one of these apps you need to de-squeeze your content in post
– Like most add-on lenses, if you shoot in public people will look at you inquisitively when you are using it!
– *unless you choose the iPro Lens System version
*Most of the photos and movie were taken by Andrew B. White in New York City in this blog post.*
1.33X Anamorphic Adapter for iPhone 5/5S – $160
1.33X Anamorphic Adapter for iPro Lens System (iPhone only) – $175
1.33X Anamorphic Adapter for iPhone 6 – $160 BACKORDERED
1.33X Anamorphic Adapter for iPhone 6+ – $175 BACKORDERED
This is the Tangerine movie trailer all shot with Filmic Pro app and using the Moondogs Labs 1.33x Anamorphic Lens. I want to give a huge thanks Andrew B. White for the interview/review of this lens. Thanks Andrew I couldn’t of done this blog post without you !!! If you have any questions about this blog post, please leave comments or email me firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a great day and see you soon !!!