It's always exciting when we get new glass in the office - and this time was no exception.
The B-Set is particularly exciting because it includes the VERY wide 32mm, a difficult lens to make by any measure, and this set is one of the very first ever shipped by Atlas. We're excited to dig into them and offer them to our rental clients right away.
On first glance it does have slight barrel distortion but nothing that is glaring. Edge to edge sharpness and contrast is also on par with the other lenses in the set which is to say overall very good, but not on the same level as something like a Zeiss Master Anamorphic.
Just in case you've been living on the moon, the Atlas Orion Anamorphics are seeking to disrupt the traditional lens industry by making high quality cinema-grade lenses available at prices that were previously thought impossible. At around $8,000 per lens, that represents more than a 66% reduction on purchase price compared to other top-quality anamorphic glass. However, there is a pretty big caveat on all that $$$ savings. The jury is still out as to wether the longevity and overall quality will live up to the standards set by companies like Zeiss and Cooke. Opinions are heated and all over the map, as is the trend when discussing glass with passionate filmmakers.
Size wise the lenses are large and range from 5 to 7 lbs. They aren't the most gimbal friendly lenses but they will work with some builds on things like a Ronin 2 or a Movi Pro. Compared to other new anamorphics like the Kowa Evolutions, they are substantially larger and heavier, but less distorted and cheaper. The 114mm fronts are uniform as are the gear pitch and ring placement.
Sharpness in our quick tests looks pretty good, some slight variance between focal lengths, but it's not noticeable unless you are looking for it. Slight barrel distortion as well, but again that's par for the course with anamorphic, and it's often a characteristic of the format that people like.
The flares they make are certainly appealing if you are one to like flares. They have a traditional streaky blueness to them when you hit it with the right type of specular light.
Dollar for dollar it's hard to find an argument against these lenses. If the build quality and optics hold up over time, that will be another check mark in the 'pros' column as well. Are they as nice as Cooke's or Zeiss or Angenieux? No, but they are not that far off. Are they as cool and charactered as Kowas or Cineovision or Lomos? That's more of a subjective opinion, and our answer is - kind of. For a wacky short film or experimental music video I'd still favor the size and look of a Kowa, but for a more traditional anamorphic look the Orions would be at the top of the list - especially if I didn't want to shell out for Master Anamorphics or Cooke's.
At Brainbox we're happy to finally offer all 6 lenses for rent to our clients, both the A-Set and the B-Set. This way you can be the judge for yourself and decide if these lenses are worth your time.