This episode provides an extensive tutorial on anamorphic lenses for the Mavic Air 2 and Osmo Pocket, and reviews the Freewell Anamorphic Lenses.
Click the image to the right to view the episode.
Purchase Freewell Lenses and Filters for the Mavic Air 2:
Note: These are affiliate links.
The Mavic Air 2 has a very low ground clearance, which means you need a flat surface to launch and land with. I use the Hoodman Drone 5' Launch Pad and have for years. Below is a link to the 3' version of the launch pad. Well worth it so you can launch and land wherever you want.
I also have a Facebook group, Jeff Sibelius Texas Drones, where we talk about drone issues and arrange opportunities to fly together. If you like to talk drones or want to ask me any questions, join the group. I love flying with other drone pilots - if you're in Texas (or even Oklahoma or Louisiana), join the group and let's get together and fly!
Youtube Video Show Notes - Downloads
Here are some files from this episode for you to download.
Right click the link and choose "save target as" to download the files.
Youtube Video Show Notes - The Script
This content is copyrighted; please do not reproduce without written consent. Contact me if you would like to reproduce this content.
Some moments are too compelling to be captured with the average lens.
Panoramic landscapes like these fail to translate to video when constrained by the limited frame of your average sensor.
To capture a special scene, you must use a special lens, one thatí's uniquely crafted to transform your footage into an epic, cinematic experience.
Meet the Anamorphic lens for the Mavic Air 2 and the Osmo Pocket, created by Freewell.
On a recent vacation to southwest Texas, I had the opportunity to try out Freewellís Anamorphic lenses for the Mavic Air 2 and the Osmo Pocket. This kind of lens was new to me, as it probably is for you.
I think there are a lot of misconceptions about anamorphic lenses.
Most people think the anamorphic lens just shoots really wide video, but the truth is more subtle, and more impactful than that. If you believe you can recreate the effect of an anamorphic lens simply by placing black bars at the top and bottom of your video - which is what I thought just a few weeks ago - youíre mistaken.
In this video Ií'll explain what an anamorphic lens is and how itís different from a normal lens. Ií'll show you how to use these lenses with the Mavic Air 2 and the Osmo Pocket.And then Ií'll talk about who will or will not be able to make use of these lenses.
Anamorphic lenses were popularized by Hollywood starting in the 1950s. People were staying home to watch TV rather than go to the theaters, so movie producers decided to make their films wider, more sweeping and more panoramic, to deliver a viewing experience people couldnít get from their TVs. There were several techniques for making these wide screen movies; anamorphic lenses were just one approach.
Youí've seen many movies shot with anamorphic lenses over the years - several of the Star Wars films, Star Trek Dark Territory, Transformers, Aladdin, Rocketman, Jumanji the next level, Xmen, Pet Cemetery, Avengers Endgame and hundreds of other films have all been shot with anamorphic lenses.
So what exactly is an anamorphic lens and how does it work?
Hereís the definition from Wikipedia: It is the cinematography technique of shooting a widescreen picture on standard 35 mm film or other . . . visual recording media with a non-widescreen native aspect ratio. It also refers to the projection format in which a distorted image is "stretched" by an anamorphic projection lens to recreate the original aspect ratio on the viewing screen.
Wow, what does that mean?
It means the lens captures a wide view and squeezes it from the sides to make it fit in the standard video frame - for our purposes, it takes an image of a horizontal range wider than 16x9 and squeezes it from the sides into the 16x9 range.
Because ití's squeezed, the image as it is recorded is a bit distorted. So, the image must be desqueezed, which stretches it out wider than a 16x9 aspect ratio. For Hollywood movies, this desqueezing is done by a special projector that is playing the movie. We video makers must desqueeze the video with a video editing program like Adobe Premier Pro. The video we render is stretched out horizontally, and this is why it is wider than what fits in the 16x9 frame - or, it fits horizontally in the frame but doesnít fill the frame vertically, leaving black spaces above and below.
I'm going to do a little demonstration to show you what an anamorphic lens is and does.
Let's say this sponge is a scene, the scene you want to shoot. And this glass, the top here is the lens that's built into your camera and your sensor.
You can see that my scene is not going to fit in my lens. I can shoot this side of it if I want. I can shoot right down the middle and get the middle of it. I can shoot off to the side.Maybe I start off tot he side and pan across the scene to get it all. But the fact is, I'm not getting the whole scene through that lens and onto that sensor.
But what if I had a device that could squeeze the scene and make it more narrow. From top to bottom it's the same size but it's more narrow. And now it will fit through that lens and into the sensor.
It doesn't look very good, it's all squished up, but it's all there from left to right.
So we get it back to the house and it's time to process the video. We take it out of the media card and it's still squished. It still looks like this and that's not very good.
But we can take it into a video editing program and desqueeze it back to its honest aspect ratio. And we have a video that is wider than what that sensor and lens was normally capable of shooting.
That's what an anamorphic lens does.
It compresses from the sides, and then it captures the entire scene on the sensor.
And then when you take it out you have to use a video editing program and stretch it back out to get an ultra wide video clip that gives a cinematic presentation of the scene you were shooting.
This is what anamorphic video looks like before itís been desqueezed. Notice how everything is squished in?
And here is the same footage after itís been desqueezed. Now everything is not squeezed from the sides as I was before. And Iíve got a much wider video as well.
The elements in most lenses are circular, but an anamorphic lens has some optics that are oval-shaped. The oval shaped glass squeezes the image from the sides to make the wider scene fit.
Anamorphic video has some unique characteristics that make it look different than standard video.
Obviously, Anamorphic footage is wider than your regular 16x9 aspect ratio video.
Another, less obvious characteristic of anamorphic video is that when the image is dequeezed, the outer sections of the image will experience a bit of softness and distortion, while the center region is less affected, as you can see here.
To me, this characteristic is subtle, but itís the most impactful characteristic. This slight warping and softening makes the anamorphic video wrap around you more visually than a standard 16x9 video can do. The net result is a more compelling panorama.
And THIS is why you canít make an anamorphic video simply by placing black bars at the top and the bottom of the image. The anamorphic video treats the sides of the scene differently than the middle, an effect you canít create any other way.
One other characteristic of an anamorphic lens is that it creates a blue lens flare when pointed into a bright light source. I personally won't make a lot of use of this, but youíll see this flare all the time in movies. It adds a futuristic visual effect to the scene.
So thatí's what an anamorphic lens is.
Hey, before I go on, letí's test your knowledge with a trivia question about anamorphic lenses.
When and why were anamorphic lenses first developed?
A. In the civil war so photographers could shoot wide angle pictures of battlefields
B. In the first world war to provide tank drivers with a wider view of their environment
C. In the 1920s - they were the first fisheye peephole lenses to be used in hotel room doors
Make your best guess - Ií'll tell you the right answer later in this video.
So thatís what anamorphic lenses are. Until recently, they were typically the tools of specialized film makers, movie companies, Hollywood. And they were expensive - look at B&H Photos website and youí'll see some of these lenses cost more than $90,000.
Recently, companies have started selling small anamorphic lenses to use with consumer level cameras, even cell phones. Typically priced between $50 and $800, these lenses have delivered the ability to create anamorphic effects to consumers and hobbyist videographers.
Now, Freewell has released two anamorphic lenses for DJIís Mavic Air 2 and Osmo Pocket, allowing us to take this widescreen technology to the skies and our mobile cameras.
Letí's talk for a minute about using the Freewell lenses.
Attaching the Freewell anamorphic lens is easy. On the Osmo Pocket, the lens sticks to the camera with a magnet. I found that I needed to start the camera first, then attach the lens. The lens was too heavy to allow the Pocket to do its startup routine properly.
Attaching the lens to the Mavic Air is also pretty simple. If you saw my review of the Freewell Neutral Density filters - and if you havenít, you can click the link in the upper right corner to check it out - you know that installing a lens or filter is simple. Remove the factory installed lens cover by turning it counter clockwise until it clicks, then lift it off - then place the anamorphic lens onto the camera and turn it clockwise to click it into place.
I found the mavic air 2 lens caused me no issues during my flight. I didní't even notice the distortion in my appís first person view, as you can see here.
Things get trickier when it comes time to process the video. As I said before, you caní't simply download your video and post it on Youtube. You must process the footage in a video editor that is capable of desqueezing the video from this, to this.
The way you desqueeze your video depends on what video editing program you use. I used Adobe Premier Pro, using the technique described in another Youtube video. Iíll put a link to that video in the description below.
Some programs, like PowerDirector, caní't desqueeze the video by themselves. Youíll need to process and export the raw video in a program like Handbrake, and then bring it in to PowerDirector.
If youíve watched my review of the Freewell ND filters, you know Iím a big believer in Freewell. The company has a great tradition of creating quality filters and lenses for drones and action cameras. They manufacture their own lenses so they are experts in this market. And they offer a lifetime warranty as well.
As far as the lenses themselves, they are built well and they attach firmly to the cameras. I was concerned about the magnetic lens for the Osmo Pocket, but it clipped firmly in place and never slipped for me.
Each lens is shipped in a plastic case that holds up to four lenses or filters; This is nice for assembling a custom assortment of filters for your cameras and keeping them all together.
Earlier I told you the average prices for Anamorphic lenses. Youíll be happy to know the price for each freewell Anamorphic lens is only $39.99, whether itís for the Mavic Air 2 or the Osmo Pocket.
All in all I thought the Freewell lenses were terrific, and a terrific value. About the only fault I found with the lenses was the lack of instructions. We could use some specs and information, included with the lenses or on the website.
I hope Freewell will create some basic tutorials on how to process Anamorphic lens footage with different video editors and post them on Youtube to help us out.
Also, Ií've heard some people suggest that the video shot through these lenses is soft. Some softness and distortion on the sides of an anamorphic video is expected; thatís part of what makes it such a cool lens. Beyond that, I didn't see excessive softness in my samples. Given that most people complain that drone footage is typically too sharp, youí'd think something to soften the footage might be welcome.
But hey, you can decide for yourself. I have posted show notes for this episode on my website, land and air phoos.com. You can read additional information about the lenses and download raw anamorphic clips taken with each camera - you can test out desqueezing video in your video editor and evaluate the softness of the footage. The link to the Show Notes is in the description below so help yourself.
So, with all that in mind, let me give you my thoughts on who should and should not buy Freewellí's anamorphic lens for the Mavic Air 2 or the Osmo Pocket.
Who should buy the Freewell anamorphic lens?
People who are comfortable with video editing and have a good editor. It wasní't difficult to process the videos as I did, but it does require a video editor that can do this.
People who are serious about shooting dramatic video. If youíre a pixel peeper, a color grader, a serious photographer who actually changes your settings beyond auto, I think you would really enjoy this lens.
Specialized videographers who do travel videos, weddings, higher end real estate work should also have this lens in their bag. I can see wedding photographers or travel videographers really eating this lens.
And thatí's actually why Iím curious as to why freewell doesnít have an anamorphic lens for the Mavic Pro 2, which is more of a professional drone than the MA2. I bet ití's being developed now.
Anyway, If you fall into those categories, you'll love playing this lens. And for $40, ití's cheap enough to play around with or use occasionally and still feel like you got your moneyí's worth.
That said, who do I think should not buy this lens?
If you doní't edit your videos, thereís no sense buying this lens.
Likewise, if you doní't understand how to use things like manual camera settings, aspect ratio, things like that, this is not the lens for you. This is not an entry level device. Get your photographic chops down first; then youí'll be able to make this lens work for you.
If you use a consumer level video editor, check to see if it will work with anamorphic video before you buy the lens. If it doesní't, try downloading the free program Handbrake and use my sample clips to see if you can export them to a format you can use.
By the way, If youí're looking to get something to protect your cameraís lens, this is not the right choice. I strongly encourage you to buy the Freewell IR UV filter or one of the Neutral Density filter sets to protect your lens. The anamorphic lens will protect your lens, but youí're committing to editing everything you shoot and living with the wide aspect ratio, just for the sake of protection. The UV filter or a neutral density filter would be a better choice.
Either of those are a much better way to protect your cameraís lens.
If you want to buy an Anamorphic lens, or the UV or ND filters for the Mavic Air 2 or the Osmo Pocket, use the links in the description below to order from Amazon. Please use these links and help support this channel.
I took my anamorphic lenses on my vacation to test them, but I really didní't think Ií'd be that interested in using them. I was wrong.
Ií'll admit I tend to think the term ďcinematicĒ is badly overused on youtube. What many people call cinematic is, to me, bleary, color-distorted, washed out and blurry.
That said, I think the anamorphic video taken by the Freewell lens truly is cinematic. That is, it delivers a unique Hollywood-like, wide screen experience. I woní't use it all the time. But when Ií'm shooting special locations like this, I will be using the Anamorphic lens - to create the most compelling imagery I can of all the remarkable places I visit.
Hey, remember my trivia question?
When and why were anamorphic lenses first developed?
The answer is B. In the first world war the technology was developed to help tank drivers and was capable of showing a field of view of 180 degrees. If you guessed one of the other answers I had. . . sorry! I just made those up.
You know, Ií've published lots of episodes about many drone accessories and Iíve got more videos like this in the works now. Onscreen is a playlist of drone accessory videos so be sure to check those out.
If you found this helpful, I hope youí'll click the cartoon Jeff icon on screen and subscribe. As always, I appreciate your likes and comments as well.
Thanks for watching.