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Winner of the RTS NETB Centre Award 2014

Review: XTAL Anamorphic Prime Lenses

We spoke to DOP Jamie Korn to get his thoughts on the XTAL Anamorphic Prime Lenses – part of our growing stock of hard-to-find and vintage lenses. 

PC: So, what equipment set up did you use, and what was the shoot?

JK: I was asked to lens ‘Tainted Love’ – a short dark comedy, for my good friend and long time collaborator Harry Cauty. We decided to shoot digitally and anamorphic very early on in the project, so opted for the XTAL Anamorphic lenses with an Alexa Mini.

Wide focal lengths and comedy for me have always gone hand in hand, and with an ensemble cast playing all but two scenes in the film, Harry and I wanted to fill the frame from left to right with reactions from our sarcastic, sadistic and confused characters.

PC: How does the size & weight of the lenses compare to other sets?

JK: The lens set aren’t the lightest or most compact, but as for the majority of the film our frames were static, we didn’t feel held back by their presence. When we started to add movement into our scenes, the extra weight actually helped me operate the Alexa Mini with more fluidity.

‘Widescreen lenses give you so many framing possibilities.’

PC: Any other challenges shooting with anamorphic lenses?

JK: Jumping from multiple projects shot with spherical lenses onto an anamorphic project (from commercial to narrative) was a case of mind over matter rather than mind over machine. The very nature of widescreen lenses give you so many framing possibilities – that is once you begin thinking cinema screen as opposed to iPhone screen.

PC: The XTALs are noted for having a unique look and feel. What did that mean for you, creatively?

JK: Creatively, we were looking for a vintage lens set to work on our digital camera, to draw parallels to our over the hill gangsters in a modern world. When the Xtal’s were offered to us, after a quick test we couldn’t have asked for a better set of lenses for the project.

PC: And (dare we ask!) how did the shoot go….?

JK: We were on a very tight schedule, especially on our final day where we knew we had 7 pages of dialogue over 4 cast members, as well as a stunt at the end of the day (just to add insult to injury!).

Harry and I knew performance had to take precedence in our shot choice and so with a widescreen aspect ratio we knew we could block and frame our ensemble cast in a way where if it all came down, our two master shots could very well work as complete coverage of the scene.

Logistically we felt comfortable using vintage anamorphic lenses. As the whole piece takes place in the hours of daylight, I knew we’d be able to ride a deeper stop – granting us contrast as well as a sharp cinematic look on our small domestic lighting package.

Might I add that against all odds, science and logic, we didn’t drop a single shot, thanks to my incredible team – focus puller Emily Jane Robinson and loader Max Guy Openshaw, as well as the tour de force- our wonderful 1st AD Luke Goodrich.

‘The XTALs added an incredible texture to my work.’

PC: Would you use the XTAL Anamorphic lens set again?

JK: It was a joy working with the XTALs. I think for a low budget daylight shoot, these lenses are completely practical and have added an incredible texture to my work, both in my own method as well as the final image on screen.

PC: Any other comments?

JK: I wouldn’t be able to work to the standard I do if it wasn’t for the help and continued support of Natasha, Jamie and everybody working at Picture Canning. So a huge thank you and much love to you all.


To find out more about our expanding collection of anamorphic lenses, or to enquire about booking, please contact us on 0207 998 0490 (London), 0161 457 0566 (Manchester) or 0191 265 0061 (Newcastle). Alternatively you can email

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