Anamorphic lenses can make your photos feel larger than life, from stunning portraits to close-ups of plants to candid shots that amplify the charm of daily tasks.
Anamorphic lenses compress images horizontally to capture an artificially widened field of view (FOV) with a standard 4:3 size sensor. This process, called desqueezing, creates a wider aspect ratio in post-production without a wide-angle lens. Cinematographers initially used anamorphic lenses in the early days of filmmaking to show a vast scene with a shallow depth of field (DOF) to focus on subjects within their work — a cinematic feel with the intimacy of a portrait.
“When movies were shown on television, it was 4:3 letterbox,” videographer Margaret Kurniawan explains. “They wanted to look different, and that’s where anamorphic lenses came in.”
In those days, a technique called Cinemascope helped achieve the widescreen effect. As opposed to the more circular shape of regular lenses, oblong anamorphic lenses allowed early filmmakers to create the illusion of a more extensive field of view. They then squeezed the footage onto a narrow film strip, which was then stretched back out by the projector to create a widescreen image.
“It would take the 4:3 image and stretch it wider,” says photographer Shane Dresch. “It gave a new wider perspective.”