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Anamorphic for Underwater

Kowa Anamorphic Lenses | Underwater Camera Operator

I’ve just finished working with DP Ben Fordesman and Directors Us on a music promo for the new DELS track. Ben had selected the Kowa Anamorphic set to use for his dry land work. I was onboard as Underwater Camera Operator.

Anamorphic Problems Underwater

We were using an Alexa XT in a Hydroflex RAC housing for the underwater shots of the promo. Lens size is always an issue when you are trying to fit motors around them inside an already tight space. Some anamorphic lenses are too wide (in physical size) to fit. However, the Kowas seemed like a good choice with their long, thin form factor. The Hydroflex is extendable using tubes from 1″ to 3″ long, so the lenses still fit in fine). One thing to note is that the tubes introduce extra bouyancy into the front of the housing. This mskrd it more bouyant overall even with the longer lenses. We had to correct this with two ankle weights joined together. These fit around the dome port’s hood to achieve a more even neutral bouyancy in the water.

Preventing Distortion

In terms of optical problems, we shot with a dome port on the front of the housing (more info on that here). The port corrects for the aberrations caused by light passing through water and then air. This means that you are actually shooting an image projected by the dome port (which acts like a concentric lens). This image lies somewhere in front of the camera. It’s a lot closer than the actual action so lens close focus becomes an issue. We took advantage of the Kowa Anamorphic lenses uniform front diameter and attached screw-on diopters for closer shots. You can read more about this on Hydroflex’s site here

Here is a lens test with these Kowas. I shot this at Movietech with Nye Jones a while back:

The final product from the anamorphic shoot: