Anamorphic Lens V Spherical Lens: What’s the Difference?

Anamorphic lens vs spherical lens

Bella C |

Choosing the right lens for your work is a key step that will help you get the perfect shot each time and when selecting between an anamorphic lens vs a spherical lens it might seem complex but it's all about the effect you want.

The Differences Between Anamorphic Lens vs Spherical Lens

When it comes to an anamorphic lens vs a spherical lens the differences are at once subtle and obvious. One is the lens that we have been using for years that attempts to make our pictures and film look the same way it does to our eyes. Whereas the other is especially warped to create a different effect.

Spherical lenses are round and circular in nature, attempting to accurately replicate the spherical nature of the human eye. These classic or regular lens forms have been around as long as humans have made camera lenses.  

The name of anamorphic lenses comes from the Greek word for "to transform." Anamorphic lenses are a newer innovation that allows you to bend space around your subject. This creates a push-and-pull between the foreground and background. It is effectively squeezing and distorting the image so you can get more out of it later through editing.


The biggest difference between an anamorphic and a normal lens is that one tries to mimic the human eye, while the other tries to augment and see more than the human eye.

Benefits of Spherical or Regular Lens

A Range of Looks

The most common reason to use a spherical or normal lens is because it is the closest approximation of a human eye. This gives a true feel to photography or video so the audience feels like they're there.

On top of that, a truly talented photographer can manipulate a spherical lens to give a range of looks depending on positioning and composition.

It can be Sharp or Soft Depending on Lens Choice

Spherical lenses come in various effects, with additions and adapters that can change the look of the lens itself. This can give a softer or sharper appearance depending on your preference.

Benefits of Anamorphic Lens

Wider Aspect Ratios

Using an anamorphic lens vs a spherical lens allows for an exaggerated and more cinematic frame. In addition, it produces a 2:1 or 2.4:1 ratio, adding black bars once the image is de-squeezed in editing.

Squeeze Image Without Losing Image Quality

Choosing an anamorphic lens over a regular lens allows you to squeeze more information and images into the picture. The lens compresses the images it focuses on, pushing them in close so they can all fit, to be de-squeezed later. All of this without distorting the image. It looks natural and unrushed while including a massive array of backgrounds.

Introduce Oval-Shaped Bokeh

In a spherical lens, the bokeh, or out-of-focus images, are round, like the lens itself. However, because of the squeezing power of an anamorphic lens vs a normal lens, the bokeh for an anamorphic lens is oval-shaped, giving a unique cinematic quality to the film.

Provide Edge Falloff

Because of the shape of the anamorphic lens vs regular lens, the anamorphic lens provides edge falloff, or a loss of light toward the edge of a scene, creating a cinematic lighting effect that highlights the center of your image.

Anamorphic Flare

Anamorphic lenses are famous for their anamorphic flare. This is because light bounces and interacts differently within the optics of the anamorphic lens vs in the spherical lens. This leads to light effects and flares that accent the image.


Anamorphic Lens V Spherical Lens

The differences between an anamorphic and regular lens come down to the artistry and effects you're looking for within your image. A normal spherical lens is the closest approximation of the human eye, while the anamorphic lens offers drama and cinematographic effects. For more tips and tricks on photography, visit our website.

1 comment

Great article! Very clear and concise.

I have 2 (one in the mail) of the 3 lenses in the Sirui EF-M anamorphic set, only missing the 35mm. Sadly the 50mm isn’t available for EF-M, I wonder why that is…

Anyway, I’ve been waiting to have more than one to start shooting on them, can’t wait to try them out. Just casually watching a Netflix show my mom had on, I noticed it was shot fully with anamorphic lenses. Short films, here I come!


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