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I really love these lenses because they have great housing that are very user-friendly and the optics let you go really far creatively. I think this set offers the most trademark qualities of anamorphic in one place. They have a pleasing ghosting effects when looking towards bright highlights. They are much more low contrast that more modern lenses. When wide open, the distortion gets very soft on the edges and creates a very unique effect. The flaring has some very interesting rainbow angelic halo type of effects that are quite interesting. I really love this set, but it is crucial to know what what kind of environment you will be shooting in and at what stop to get the best result.
One name that has quickly become synonymous with
“anamorphic,” is Hawk. Vantage Film has been making stunning anamorphic lenses
for quite a while now. They started out by rehousing Lomo Round Fronts to make
their C-Series primes. The C-Series make gorgeous images but they have aging
mechanics and some of the lenses are quite large. Fast-forward to the present
and the Hawk V-Lites have become the first choice for many of the biggest DPs
in the game. They are fast, sharp, but they still have classic distortion and
lens flares, and they are extremely lightweight and compact, especially the
wide and medium focal lengths.
For our test we chose the V-Lite Vintage ’74 primes. These ’74 primes were created because of the demand for lenses that had more of a vintage feel. They are still sharp and have enough contrast, but they flare more easily than the standard V-Lites and have slightly less contrast. The recipe is really nice. Similarly to the Cooke SF primes, the Vintage ‘74s benefit from modern designs and manufacturing techniques but still have a lot of the vintage characteristics that DPs want. It’s hard to find any flaws with V-Lites, other than heavier focus breathing than some of the other lenses we tested.
The Vantage/Hawk Vintage ‘74 lenses are the same optical design as standard V-Lite lenses, but with changes made to the coatings applied to help encourage a prescribed degree of flare to the anamorphic elements in the lenses. While they do flare more than standard V-Lites, their flares have a slightly different feel than actual anamorphic lenses from the 70s or 80s. That said, they do have their charms and with many focal lengths to choose from in the set and modern mechanics, these lenses are a nice choice for their ruggedness and ease of use. Some of the wide lenses do have some focus fall-off on the top and bottom of the frame to look out for, but that shouldn’t be a deal breaker.