Atlas Mercury 1.5x Full-Frame Anamorphic Series – Design Choices Explained

During IBC 2022, we sat down with Forrest Schultz, President of Atlas Lens Co., to learn more about the thought-process behind their newly-announced Mercury 1.5x full-frame anamorphic series. The first three family members (36mm/42mm/72mm) are now available for pre-order. The final price for each single piece is set at $5,995.

The popular Atlas Orion 2x anamorphic series owes its fortune to the peculiar position it covers in the market, filling a gap between low-budget anamorphic lenses and crazy expensive high-end glass, without compromising on image quality. If you’d like to learn more about the philosophy behind this lens series, I highly recommend taking some time to watch this interview we shot back at NAB 2022.

The company’s new full-frame Mercury series seems to follow the same principles and is aimed at a similar target, which obviously includes big productions and rental houses, but also solo operators looking to own a professional anamorphic lens set. So let’s take a closer look at what this new series is all about.

Image credit: CineD

Atlas Mercury: 1.5x full-frame anamorphic lenses

Although the existing Orion lenses can achieve full-frame coverage with the help of Atlas’ 1.4x LF Expander, the new Mercury series offers the benefit of native compatibility with full-frame sensors, with a claimed imaging area of 36.7×25.54mm.

Initially, this new anamorphic family will consist of three focal lengths: 36mm T2.2, 42mm T2.2, and 72mm T2.3. Two additional 54 and 95mm lenses will join the series next year, while a sixth focal length is yet to be announced. ARRI PL is the only lens mount option for these lenses.

Image credit: CineD

Besides sensor coverage, one of the major differences with the popular Orion Series stands in the squeeze factor. Indeed, this has been reduced from 2x down to 1.5x. This choice serves two purposes: reducing size and weight, while still providing users with the flexibility they need to achieve a variety of final aspect ratios (2:1 / 2.25:1 / 2.66:1 / 2.4:1) using different sensor modes (16:9/3:2/4:3).

When standing next to the existing Orion 40mm, the new Mercury 42mm really shows the effort the company put into shrinking the design. The new lens is 11.2cm/4.4” in length and weighs about 1.1kg/2.3lbs. That’s about half the size and weight compared to its Orion sibling!

Image credit: CineD

Warm, vintage look

Just like with the Orion series, the character of the new Mercury anamorphic primes is the result of a careful research for the perfect balance between optical performance and a characteristic vintage look. According to the company, although these optics keep chromatic aberrations under control and deliver accurate colors and skin tones, they’re far from being aseptically perfect.

Image credit: CineD

Indeed, the amount of barrel distortion has been carefully calibrated to achieve a specific aesthetic that is pleasant to the eye. The Mercury series is characterized by warm, vintage tones with golden lens flares.

Price and availability

The first three focal lengths (36, 42, and 72mm) in the Atlas Mercury series are now available to pre-order. The official retail price of each lens will be $5,995, but if you pre-order now you can save $1,000. A 3-lens set is also available to pre-order for $14,595, while its final price will be $17,985. All items should start shipping in 2023.

To access the pre-order list, you will need to deposit an amount of $995 for a single lens and $2,495 for the 3-lens kit. After December 31st, 2022, these pre-order amounts will increase as follows:

  • Preorder deposit through March 31st, 2023: $1,295 (single lens) / $3,395 (3-lens set)
  • Preorder deposit through June 30th, 2023: $1,595 (single lens) / $4,295 (3-lens set)

For more information, please visit Atlas’ website here.

Have you ever shot on Atlas anamorphic lenses? What do you think of their new Mercury series? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!

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