You Can Replicate Anamorphic Bokeh With Custom Lens Inserts

Vlad Moldovean anamorphic lens inserts

Romanian visual artist and photographer Vlad Moldovean has created a step-by-step guide for photographers and videographers to recreate the look of anamorphic bokeh using a traditional spherical lens.

Anamorphic lenses work fundamentally differently than spherical lenses. They capture a distorted perspective, which can then be stretched into a wider aspect ratio than would otherwise be possible on a given image sensor. For example, a 2x anamorphic lens doubles the horizontal information captured by a typical spherical lens, meaning that when 16:9 footage is de-squeezed, it will be a 32:9 aspect ratio.

Besides offering wider photos and videos on any image sensor, the anamorphic lens’s design also delivers unusual oval-shaped bokeh. While Moldovean’s guide cannot replicate an anamorphic lens’s image-widening capabilities, it can enable photographers to capture the anamorphic look in terms of bokeh appearance.

Vlad Moldovean anamorphic lens inserts

“This mod is usually referred to as ‘anamorfake’ or cine-modding a lens. Many people have talked about it before me, but no one explains how to design the ideally sized insert for whatever lens you happen to have,” Moldovean writes. “The goal of this mod is to transform the boring old round bokeh balls from your regular photography lenses into more complex ones that enhance the out-of-focus areas of the image. More intriguing and imperfect backgrounds will make your photography stand out while having that signature oval bokeh of an anamorphic lens can help you get more cinematic photos.”

Vlad Moldovean anamorphic lens inserts

To create the custom lens insert, photographers will need three measurements: the diameter of the front element, the shell diameter of their lens, and the width of the oval they want. As for dialing in the oval width, Moldovean writes, “The width of the oval cutout is what is going to determine your final look.” A good starting place is to take the first measurement of the front diameter divided by the shell diameter. He also encourages experimenting with the oval width.

Vlad Moldovean anamorphic lens inserts

As for the insert itself, the photographer 3D prints his using Black PLA+ material, but any material that is soft enough to not damage the lens and not transparent should work, including cutting them by hand out of plastic or cardboard.

Complete instructions are detailed on Moldovean’s blog post and the 3D printable files are available on Printables.

Image credits: Images courtesy of Vlad Moldovean