The Angénieux Look
A unique signature for your images
Some Cinematographers call it creamy, warm, organic… some talk about a round and delicate roll-off, with flares… some others would say it is very cinematic, warm and with character.
What is the so-called Angénieux look?
Kees Van Oostrum, when he was President of the ASC (American Society of Cinematographers), the biggest association of cinematographers in the world, defined the look of the Angénieux lenses, in an interview with Jon Fauer from Film & Digital Times:
“I think it’s the way they manage human faces. When you photograph a face with an Angénieux lens, it seems to be gentle. It is very 'kind' even without putting diffusion in front. It’s not only the definition. It’s also the way that it treats the skin tones–the tonality of the skin–that have an influence over me. […] Of course, we use sharp and ultra-sharp lenses for certain scenes, but if I had to live on an island alone with just one lens, I would take an Angénieux right now.”
This quote stands for all. Such a result comes from more than eight decades of amazing savoir-faire and expertise. Assembling a good lens is complex, but it can be done by some optical manufacturers who have the knowledge of making optical elements and putting them together in mass production. Building a high-end lens that makes a pleasant image, which can be used in top level cinema productions by the most demanding cinematographers of the world, is another step. The lens needs to please first the cinematographer who is selecting optics very carefully in order to create his/her art.
Angénieux’s philosophy is to give freedom to the cinematographers, to enable them to do almost anything they want to express their creativity. The idea is to give the very best, making outstanding lenses that they can degrade if needed, or modify with filters or nets. You cannot think technical only, it is important to think artistic too. This approach goes back to Pierre Angénieux’s old times. With specific parameters such as focal length, aperture, size, weight or reliability, the look of the image is one of the most important parameters for the DP when he/she selects a lens. Especially in the new digital age, where the image made through the digital sensor and the signal processing is very standard, the choice of the optics based on its look is becoming more and more important.
Years after years, Angénieux’s optical engineers have been working on their design in order to build products which provide an emotion on the image, a unique look for telling a story. They design a collection of optics which are all very homogeneous, making not only a perfect image with good contrast and minimal chromatic aberrations, but also optics having a distinctive look, not too clean, not too sharp, with a good balance between resolution and contrast. Optimo lenses also have a nice and smooth transition between the area in focus and the area out of focus, providing a pleasant organic look. The glass and the coatings are selected carefully in order to generate a warm image giving an appealing rendition of the skin of the actors and actresses. The depths of field are also smooth and well balanced from the front to the rear of the scene.
Angénieux’s optical designers are like the winemakers who are crafting a grand cru by blending different type of grapes or grapes providing from different field. They are designing a new product following years of experience making lenses for cinema and exchanging ideas with users in order to give them a product they will be pleased to use. That is the so-called State of the Art.