Anamorphic vs. Spherical Camera Lenses: What’s the Difference?

If you've ever wanted to know what people mean when fancy film people say "anamorphic" this one's for you.
Anamorphic Vs Spherical Lenses

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay about the difference between anamorphic and spherical camera lenses.


If you’re a film fan, there’s a good chance you’ve heard the word “anamorphic” before. But what does it actually mean? While, unless you are a camera-wielding person or a film student, you’re probably going to have to follow your curious impulse and do a little digging. Which may very well be how you wound up here. Hello!

Indeed, filmmaking is a very scientific art. And uber-technical discussions can be a bit daunting for those of us who don’t work directly in the industry. But, as the video essay below astutely notes: understanding the subconscious effects of practical concepts can be very rewarding, even for recreational cinema dorks. Knowing how the sausage is made can make you appreciate the sausage even more.

The video essay tackles the question of “what is an anamorphic camera lens?” by contrasting it with its practical and creative opposite: the spherical lens. The essay unpacks the physical differences between the two lenses and the practical reasons you would choose one over the other. Finally, the video concludes with examples of creative applications of both lenses, which can create a boundless host of implied effects from claustrophobia (The Lighthouse) to nostalgia (Moonlight) to a sweeping sense of grandeur (Lawrence of Arabia).

Watch “The Difference Between Anamorphic and Spherical Lenses Explained“:

Who made this?

This video essay is by In Depth Cine, a YouTube account dedicated to providing its audience with practical rundowns and explainers on some of the more technical aspects of movie-making. Gray Kotzé, a documentary DP based in South Africa, is the man behind the channel. You can check out Kotzé’s portfolio on their website here. And you can check out In Depth Cine on YouTube here.

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Meg Shields: Meg Shields is the humble farm boy of your dreams and a senior contributor at Film School Rejects. She currently runs three columns at FSR: The Queue, How'd They Do That?, and Horrorscope. She is also a curator for One Perfect Shot and a freelance writer for hire. Meg can be found screaming about John Boorman's 'Excalibur' on Twitter here: @TheWorstNun. (She/Her).