Why are anamorphic lenses so expensive? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 48 Old 09-10-2013, 08:46 PM - Thread Starter
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In today's age, where plasma TVs are down to under 1k for 50" screens, why is a non mechanical, glass part so much money? Why hasn't china reverse engineered a comparable product at a fraction the price?

I understand the low volume game. But is there something inherently artisan about prismatic lens making that is impossible to scale and reduce manufacturing cost of?
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post #2 of 48 Old 09-11-2013, 04:52 AM
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It takes a lot of manufacturing time to grind precision optical glass, and manufacturing time is expensive, there's really no way around it, look at any kind of lens. High quality SLR lenses are quite expensive as well.

See what an anamorphoscopic lens can do, see movies the way they were meant to be seen
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post #3 of 48 Old 09-11-2013, 08:35 AM
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Ya, just take a look at the Nikon or Zuiko (Oly) 300mm F2.8. A friend of mine just got the Nikon used for $5000, and thought that was a great deal. HE lenses aren't exactly mass produced either.
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post #4 of 48 Old 09-11-2013, 09:09 AM - Thread Starter
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Totally agree
But is there something fundamentally difficult about the lens processing? And if so, is there a cheaper way to bend the light using some other technique that is easier to mass manufacture? Any optical scientists from MIT on the forum?
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post #5 of 48 Old 09-11-2013, 10:19 AM
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Are Anamorphic lens' expensive because they are not mass produced and have a smaller market or because the manufacturing cost is high,
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post #6 of 48 Old 09-11-2013, 11:32 AM
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Both. I'm sure if they were mass market, they could be cheaper, but I'm guessing not significantly. Normally the way you reduce costs is to simplify manufacturing steps, but there's really no way to do that with precision optics. Another way is to "cut corners" (use lower quality manufacturing techniques or components), but that results in a lower quality product, which is OK for a lot of cheap electronics, but not really for precision optics.

See what an anamorphoscopic lens can do, see movies the way they were meant to be seen
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post #7 of 48 Old 09-11-2013, 11:54 AM
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Why should everything be cheap? We pay $4 for a gallon of gas.. why is it so expensive? eek.gifsmile.gif
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post #8 of 48 Old 09-11-2013, 12:34 PM - Thread Starter
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No reason why everything should be cheap. Art, for example.

But nor does everything have to be expensive just because incumbent manufacturers believe so. In most luxury good, there is a steep gradation in price for moderate gradations in performance. And that is exactly as it should be. A ferrari is double the cost of a Porsch which is double the cost of a BMW/Audi which is double the cost of a honda, with perhaps a 10-20% improvement in performance at each level.That's the price of luxury. Mbl 101 speakers are triple the price of mbl 111 speakers with perhaps a 10% improvement in performance...amps....processors...all the same general price-performance curve. But in each case, there is a "Honda" option available.

But for anamorphic lens, there is no motorized "Honda" at 1k or thereabouts. The motor alone is 1500 at a minimum.

industry is replete with examples of incumbents that were asleep on the wheel selling High cost products that attackers changed the game on either via a significantly better product at same price, or same product at a fraction the price. Nokia and apple. Blackberry and apple/Samsung.....I could give you a book of examples.

Here, there is no demand for a higher quality product But there is a ton of latent demand for a simple to use lens, that does not cost more than the projector!

But I am wondering if demand could be exploded if someone could come up with a business model of creating a lens that delivers 90% of the performance of a DC1, motorized, at under $1k. You could then just build that into a $3k projector and sell it for $4k with a built in, motorized internal anamorphic lens. I might develop or fund a startup that develops that product myself quite frankly if someone here has the expertise to help me do it!
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post #9 of 48 Old 09-11-2013, 01:06 PM
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Why can't a 3-4K projector project native 2.35:1? Why does it have to zoom and result in picture quality loss to show 2.35?

Projectors are mass produced; how complex is it to make a projector show both 16:9 and 2.35 without loss of picture quality (for PJ's in the 3-5K range)?
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post #10 of 48 Old 09-11-2013, 01:15 PM - Thread Starter
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Projection design avielo came out with a native 235 projector but at almost 30k, I think. Someone else can verify.
No idea why epson or benq have not launched a native 235 projector. Maybe because it requires a chip that is too expensive for this price range?
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post #11 of 48 Old 09-11-2013, 01:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adanny View Post

Projection design avielo came out with a native 235 projector but at almost 30k, I think. Someone else can verify.
No idea why epson or benq have not launched a native 235 projector. Maybe because it requires a chip that is too expensive for this price range?

It about time someone make a projector with an in-built anamorphic lens or native capability to switch between 2.35 and 16:9 without loss of quality in the 5K range.
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post #12 of 48 Old 09-11-2013, 03:11 PM
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All of those things can be done, but no way they can be done at the price ranges you are requesting. It's not just a matter of creating a 2.35:1 chip, you also need the necessary video processing to take advantage of it (which even the Avielo projector above never truly had, as it could not accept a 2560 x 1080 native signal), a whole new optical engine, a new case design, etc. All of that takes quite a bit of investment of time, money and energy. Then there is the issue of demand. Panamorph came out with the CineVista, which had an introductory price of $1200. We sold hundreds and hundreds. But to get the prices to where you want them, we would need to sell millions and millions. That's NEVER going to happen (as much as we'd like it to wink.gif

Right now you can take a sub $1K Optoma or BenQ projector and pair it with the CineVista lens and an inexpensive 2.35:1 screen and be under $3K for the whole system. As you can see, there are already systems available at UNDER the price points suggested here.

Bending light is a matter of physics. Think about what you are trying to do - expand light by a fixed percentage, and then only in one plane (horizontal), but not the other. There is no magic way to bend light other than with the methods outlined (at least as far as lens systems go). The other option is simply to make a 2.35:1 chip, which I discussed above.

Sad as it is, 2.35:1 will remain a niche product, though I will admit, it could be a much bigger niche than it is. Look at VIZIO and Philips - they both released 2.35:1 television sets and eventually Philips stopped making them altogether and VIZIO ended up dumping theirs at Costco before ending their own production attempts.

I've been training dealers and the public on "UltraWide" for almost a decade now. The sad truth is that most people have no idea what an aspect ratio is or why the black bars on movies are even there. If 2.35:1 flat panels started selling like hotcakes, I can just imagine the kind of tech support calls the flat panel manufacturers would get from people trying to make sense of how to watch 4:3 content and still fill the whole screen. wink.gif
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post #13 of 48 Old 09-11-2013, 06:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adanny View Post

Here, there is no demand for a higher quality product But there is a ton of latent demand for a simple to use lens, that does not cost more than the projector!

There have been some, like the Home Theater Brothers lens, I think that started out at about $500, the CAVX Mark 1 was pretty inexpensive as well. The problem with lenses that inexpensive is they don't have any of the correction/quality improvement features. To hit that price point you're basically stuck with just a pair of prisms, you can't do anti reflective optical coatings, nor can you do astigmatism correction. When you start adding those features the cost increases quickly.

If you're really curious take a look through the history of Mark's (CAVX) lenses and also the XEIT lens. Both are individuals that have built lenses because they weren't satisfied with the commercial or standard DIY options. But if you look you'll see they both ended up with "expensive" lenses (not saying overpriced, but their desires for quality led to requiring expensive fabrication features/techniques).
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But I am wondering if demand could be exploded if someone could come up with a business model of creating a lens that delivers 90% of the performance of a DC1, motorized, at under $1k. You could then just build that into a $3k projector and sell it for $4k with a built in, motorized internal anamorphic lens. I might develop or fund a startup that develops that product myself quite frankly if someone here has the expertise to help me do it!

Define "90%", because you could argue that a lens made of trophy prism delivers 90% of the performance of an ISCO III, but you could just as validly say it's only 10% of the performance.

If 90% includes optical coatings and astigmatism correction, I'd be surprised if you could even get that fabricated for $1k.
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Originally Posted by smuggymba View Post

Why can't a 3-4K projector project native 2.35:1? Why does it have to zoom and result in picture quality loss to show 2.35?

Projectors are mass produced; how complex is it to make a projector show both 16:9 and 2.35 without loss of picture quality (for PJ's in the 3-5K range)?

I'd say pretty complicated, I can think of one thing that's similar in function to what's being asked for here, basically something with a "switchable" lens. Canon makes a 200-400 mm super telephoto with a switchable teleconverter. In principal it's a similar concept, it's got a lens element that can be switched in and out on demand to change the optical qualities. Something similar would be required for a switchable anamorphic element in a projector.

The EF 200-400 F/4L IS 1.4x is $12,000.

And actually that's simpler, a teleconverter element is relatively simple. But an anamorphic lens has anywhere between 3 and 5 elements and needs and airspace. That means anamorphic lenses are quite large, external lenses are larger than would be needed internally but they would still probably significantly increase the size of the lens group and probably the machine as a whole. Oh, and especially if you want to retain lens shift.
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All of those things can be done, but no way they can be done at the price ranges you are requesting. It's not just a matter of creating a 2.35:1 chip, you also need the necessary video processing to take advantage of it (which even the Avielo projector above never truly had, as it could not accept a 2560 x 1080 native signal), a whole new optical engine, a new case design, etc. All of that takes quite a bit of investment of time, money and energy. Then there is the issue of demand. Panamorph came out with the CineVista, which had an introductory price of $1200. We sold hundreds and hundreds. But to get the prices to where you want them, we would need to sell millions and millions. That's NEVER going to happen (as much as we'd like it to wink.gif

In principal it wouldn't be that hard, you could use one of the 2560x1600 chips available off the shelf and optically mask it down. I think that's what the Avielo did. But looking around I see only DPI, ProjectionDesign and Barco make projectors with chips that large, so I'm guessing those chips are prohibitively expensive for a <$5k price point.

See what an anamorphoscopic lens can do, see movies the way they were meant to be seen
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post #14 of 48 Old 09-11-2013, 06:37 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Schuermann View Post

All of those things can be done, but no way they can be done at the price ranges you are requesting. It's not just a matter of creating a 2.35:1 chip, you also need the necessary video processing to take advantage of it (which even the Avielo projector above never truly had, as it could not accept a 2560 x 1080 native signal), a whole new optical engine, a new case design, etc. All of that takes quite a bit of investment of time, money and energy. Then there is the issue of demand. Panamorph came out with the CineVista, which had an introductory price of $1200. We sold hundreds and hundreds. But to get the prices to where you want them, we would need to sell millions and millions. That's NEVER going to happen (as much as we'd like it to wink.gif

Right now you can take a sub $1K Optoma or BenQ projector and pair it with the CineVista lens and an inexpensive 2.35:1 screen and be under $3K for the whole system. As you can see, there are already systems available at UNDER the price points suggested here.

Bending light is a matter of physics. Think about what you are trying to do - expand light by a fixed percentage, and then only in one plane (horizontal), but not the other. There is no magic way to bend light other than with the methods outlined (at least as far as lens systems go). The other option is simply to make a 2.35:1 chip, which I discussed above.

Sad as it is, 2.35:1 will remain a niche product, though I will admit, it could be a much bigger niche than it is. Look at VIZIO and Philips - they both released 2.35:1 television sets and eventually Philips stopped making them altogether and VIZIO ended up dumping theirs at Costco before ending their own production attempts.

I've been training dealers and the public on "UltraWide" for almost a decade now. The sad truth is that most people have no idea what an aspect ratio is or why the black bars on movies are even there. If 2.35:1 flat panels started selling like hotcakes, I can just imagine the kind of tech support calls the flat panel manufacturers would get from people trying to make sense of how to watch 4:3 content and still fill the whole screen. wink.gif


Totally agree with your last point smile.gif. That was my wife's disappointed reaction when she saw empty screen on the left and right on our brand new 144" scope screen when I switched to TV!
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post #15 of 48 Old 09-11-2013, 07:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stanger89 View Post

In principal it wouldn't be that hard, you could use one of the 2560x1600 chips available off the shelf and optically mask it down. I think that's what the Avielo did. But looking around I see only DPI, ProjectionDesign and Barco make projectors with chips that large, so I'm guessing those chips are prohibitively expensive for a <$5k price point.

That's exactly what pd did, mask down the 2560 x 1600 chips. I had a long talk with pd's engineering department about the project, and they talked about all of the challenges to designing the whole optical engine to make that particular data-grade chip look good. They never did support a 2560 x 1080 resolution either, because we checked into that on the Folded Space side.

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post #16 of 48 Old 09-15-2013, 07:36 PM
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Sad as it is, 2.35:1 will remain a niche product,

I'm happy to be part of a niche. Our systems get to be "special" and feel special. Being able to have a big 2:25:1 screen and image is one of the things that really separates our system from
the ubiquitous-everything-is-called-home-theater-now 16:9 TVs. If all TVs were this shape it wouldn't feel quite as cool and unique.
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post #17 of 48 Old 09-16-2013, 04:44 AM
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Yup, being a niche is fine with me, so long as we are catered to.

See what an anamorphoscopic lens can do, see movies the way they were meant to be seen
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post #18 of 48 Old 09-16-2013, 08:33 AM
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Yup, being a niche is fine with me, so long as we are catered to.

I think that is the most important part of niche.

I must be guilty because people say I am guilty because they chose to call me guilty because they refuse to see the truth. Much easier to be part of the mob..
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post #19 of 48 Old 09-16-2013, 03:32 PM
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I'm happy to be part of a niche. Our systems get to be "special" and feel special. Being able to have a big 2:25:1 screen and image is one of the things that really separates our system from
the ubiquitous-everything-is-called-home-theater-now 16:9 TVs. If all TVs were this shape it wouldn't feel quite as cool and unique.

Me too Rich: I love that my set up isn't the same 'big TV' that many colleagues and friends have/aspire to. When I turn off my TV and lower the projector screen (and put my lens in place) it feels like an occasion and I don't have to moan about seeing 'black bars' that so many TV owners seem to obsess about if they aren't filling their whole screen.

Zooming: Been there, done that, bought the lens...
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post #20 of 48 Old 11-22-2013, 07:17 PM
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This thread just reminded me of how Dollar stores can sell Reading Glasses that i use around the house for a BUCK !! And make a profit !

Lol
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post #21 of 48 Old 11-23-2013, 02:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smuggymba View Post

Are Anamorphic lens' expensive because they are not mass produced and have a smaller market or because the manufacturing cost is high,

Because the cost of manufacture is very high. Even high volumes don't drop the price that much per unit.

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post #22 of 48 Old 11-23-2013, 11:33 AM
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Unlike electronics which get cheaper due to high quantities and highly automated production, lenses have a very high labour content relative to the materials cost. You can't get any old chump in a tin shack to make a great lens either, so there's a limit as to how much you could save by using lower skilled labour.

I think It's just a sign of the times that a certain portion of the public seems to expect it (almost as right) that everything must get cheaper, especially if it's something they want. There are some things I'd love to own (Ferrari F430 for one having driven one for 4 laps round Silverstone as last year's Christmas present), but I just accept that they are beyond my finances rather than bitching about why they should be cheaper...

Zooming: Been there, done that, bought the lens...
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post #23 of 48 Old 11-28-2013, 06:20 AM
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I don't understand how the lense can be worth the high cost. I have a 133" 2:35 screen (JVC Rs4810 projector) with a 15ft throw distance. Blueray movies look amazing on this setup. So why should I spend $3,000+ on a anamorphic lense??
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A $1000 BenQ W1070 will throw a great image, so why should anyone spend so much more money on an RS4810?

It's the same thing for Anamorphic lenses, they have benefits (thoroughly discussed here, so I won't repeat). Whether or not a lens's improvements are worth the price differential are something only an individual can decide.

See what an anamorphoscopic lens can do, see movies the way they were meant to be seen
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post #25 of 48 Old 11-28-2013, 07:58 PM
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Simply put, supply and demand.
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post #26 of 48 Old 11-28-2013, 11:34 PM
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"Sad as it is, 2.35:1 will remain a niche product"

 

I'm confused & new.  I just did the math on the projection surface of my screen which is 55.5" tall and 119.75" wide.  Aspect ratio = 119.75/55.5=2.371287:1.  I looked at my favorite movie "Star Trek" (Older than "Into Darkness" but same cast) & I don't see aspect ratio listed.  My Sony projector fills the screen so if pressed I would say it projects at 2.35:1 however the manual says it is 16:9.  Did I do the math wrong?  Good grief...

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post #27 of 48 Old 12-05-2013, 10:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WBonafe View Post

I'm confused & new.  I just did the math on the projection surface of my screen which is 55.5" tall and 119.75" wide.  Aspect ratio = 119.75/55.5=2.371287:1.  I looked at my favorite movie "Star Trek" (Older than "Into Darkness" but same cast) & I don't see aspect ratio listed.  My Sony projector fills the screen so if pressed I would say it projects at 2.35:1 however the manual says it is 16:9.  Did I do the math wrong?  Good grief...

confused.gif I'm confused by your post so, no wonder your confused. smile.gif What ratio is your screen? if your screen is 119.75" wide then I come up with the height as being 67.3" tall. If it's a 2.37 ratio then I have it at 50.5" tall.

119.75"/1.78 or 119.75"/2.37 will give you the screen height.

If your sceen is truly 55.5" tall, then you have a strange aspect ratio.
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post #28 of 48 Old 12-05-2013, 11:16 AM
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119.75 / 55.5 = 2.15,...not 2.37
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post #29 of 48 Old 12-05-2013, 03:40 PM
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I screwed up its 119.75 by 50.85

 

Sorry...

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post #30 of 48 Old 12-05-2013, 04:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WBonafe View Post

Quote:
"Sad as it is, 2.35:1 will remain a niche product"

I'm confused & new.  I just did the math on the projection surface of my screen which is 55.5" tall and 119.75" wide.  Aspect ratio = 119.75/55.5=2.371287:1.  I looked at my favorite movie "Star Trek" (Older than "Into Darkness" but same cast) & I don't see aspect ratio listed.  My Sony projector fills the screen so if pressed I would say it projects at 2.35:1 however the manual says it is 16:9.  Did I do the math wrong?  Good grief...

Projectors produce a 16:9 image , ...some movies are in 2.35:1 cinescope aspect ,...but the image INCLUDING black bars, is actually being projected in 16:9 .

In other words when watching a 2.35 film, your projecting those black bars on a 16:9 image , the part we actually watch is 2.35:1

Hope this makes sence.
randyc1 is online now  
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