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Author Topic: Choosing lenses.  (Read 6980 times)
Morgan_Moore
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« on: December 19, 2011, 02:12:08 AM »
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I have thought a lot about lenses for filming.

My ideal is to have lenses that can be used for both stills and motion and for me stills means AF.

The situation seems to be far from that Ideal at the moment

As far as I got in this comparison video (not very far) I could not really see any optical difference in half decent glass.

Me the selection of lenses has become purely physical in terms of choice.

Considerations.

Focus Throw/End stops
No hard stops mean you can go beyond infinity and lose FF marks
Too short a throw means lack of accuracy
Too long a throw means difficulties for the solo operator

Cine lenses can be too long, Nice Stills primes good, good AF stills lenses acceptable, off brand and cheap stills lenses a challenge

Focus Feel
The smoothness and torque of focus

Manual stills primes need careful checking before purchase
Good AF stills lenses (L or G) can be OK
Offbrand stills lenses can be horrid

Robustness

My main issue is that zoom lenses that extend (e.g. L 24-105) can have a certain 'flop' when zoomed
ANy wobble backlash will show up in a motion clip

Longevity retention of value
I am not convinced of the longevity of electronic lenses with little motors/VR
This dissuades me from putting too much cash in that direction

In terms of cine lenses we are of the age where people say manual focus will always rule
I do not believe this to be the case and think it could have a negative impact on the future value of cine glass

Bashing the Matte Box
If you have ND in a matte box extending zoom lenses can hit this
even primes that extend (e.g. nikkor 55 macro) can hit it too

Focus direction

Pulling focus manually can be confused by not sticking to one direction (NIkon or Every body else)

Follow focus position

Lenses like a 50 1.8 can be so short to be problematic while lenses such as an 80-200 can require such long rods that they appear in the frame when using wider lenses
Cine lenses often are 'sets' where FF adjustments are minimal this is ideal.

Compatibility

Typically an issue with Canon L glass, but L glass is now rocking on Red, F3, Af100 and canon - actually thats a weird flip from the old status quo!

Conclusion

Frustration with lens changes Matte box fiddling, backlash, ff alignment etc have made me consider the purchase of 'one lens' to keep on the camera for 99% of shots
either an Arri LWZ or RRP 18-80

The size of these lenses and my concerns for their long terms value (in a future AF age) have made me reject this

My distrust of VR/AF motors has kept me somewhat away from expensive modern stills glass

The horrible feel of many Sigma/Tamron/Tokina etc lenses has kept me away from them (I think the Tokina 11-16 is probably the exemption to this rule)

My advice would be to consider Contax or Canon FD glass for filming
These lenses are cheap focus 'the right way' - really you can't go badly wrong

Personally Due to my Nikon 'heritage' I have bought/already owned a lot of nikkon glass - which I supplement with my G nikkor 80-200
old nikon is a viable option but can cause 'direction' issues

I also have a canon 24-105 because, matched with the 5d is so versatile

FWIW

SMM



« Last Edit: December 19, 2011, 02:14:17 AM by Morgan_Moore » Logged

Sam Morgan Moore Cornwall
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UlfKrentz
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« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2011, 04:46:08 AM »
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Hi,

I also feel the pain of making the right decisions right now, I think this sums it up quite well.
Regarding the direction issues with Nikon glass, we have got a follow focus where you can turn around the gearbox -> change direction.

Cheers, Ulf
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Morgan_Moore
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« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2011, 11:18:38 AM »
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Absolutely reversible FF exist but maybe you don't always use a FF or if you have a mixed set

For example Tokina 11-16 then nikons it slows you down making the change

There are various lenses that interest me (21 voigtlander etc) that I am not using because of this

S
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Sam Morgan Moore Cornwall
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bcooter
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« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2011, 11:24:28 AM »
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As still photographer's we're spoiled.  Or idea of an expensive lens is $6,000 and if you look around for used you can cut that by a third.

Then in video, cinema, motion, whatever you want to call it, starting entry for a PL mount lens is 5 grand, a zoom is twenty thousand, a fast zoom (T 2.2) thirty thousand and that's for non powered zooms.

Like CB we've tested a lot of lenses and like CB some you can see a difference, some you can't, though motion can be more demanding on the physical attributes of the lenses, a little less demanding on sharpness.

Since I have two RED's my thought was to usually have two sets of lens mounts.  1 with a nikon mount for single operator, fast shooting, where the focus is pulled by the operator, the second PL mount where we hire a focus puller and they handle it.

First we tested the Zeiss Mini Primes in PL mount that were sharp though slower than their ZF  (nikon mount) lenses and a little slower so we went with a series of the ZF Ziess to go along with a large set of older Nikor manual lenses that are sharp but obviously still lenses so the barrel focus is a little sloppier and not as tight or accurate as the Zeiss.

Now we are buying RED PL mount primes because the price is good, the lenses are fast T 1.9 and the primes are very sharp, though I thought the RED zooms were less sharp than the primes. They are not as well built as some other lenses, but since we own them they'll get much less abuse than rental lenses.

For zooms the only time we go to a zoom is when we hire our Steadicam operator and focus puller that works off a remote.   They prefer the Agenieux zooms which is a beautiful lens  and allows for fast shooting as you don't have to change focus attachments everytime you change focal length.   

I thought of buying one though the entry is $20,000 for a T 2.8, $30,000 for a T 2.2 which makes rental a little better idea than buying, at least at the moment. 

We have stayed away from the Canon servo lenses for most uses (unless we use a 5d2) just because there is non focus stops on the lenses which makes focusing to marks impossible.

The Canon lenses are sharp, though nothing we've tested is sharper than the Zeiss lenses in any mount.

Nothing is as pretty as the Angeniux.

IMO

BC
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fredjeang
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« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2011, 02:24:55 PM »
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Well, James is right I'm afraid.

I remember when I was a kid I used to enter in every possible shop in La Bastille district, Paris.
There you found second-hand photo and cine gear. I was fascinated by the Angenieux cine lenses. They weighted so much
that I hardly could handle them. The vendors were kind with me and let me play, they obviously knew I wouldn't buy.

I've also been trying almost every possible affordable (in our photo criterias as pointed James) lens in every existing mount.
My interest was, and still is, to be able to use fast and light lenses for both stills and motion.
But lenses from the photographic industry aren't working and vice-versa.

I would have love something light, fast, quick, affordable etc...

They can give very high quality, but it's a real pain once you start to work motion more in serious.  
Then, the sturdiness of the cine equipment makes a lot more sense in a motion set than in a photographic one.
Focussing motion in action is a real pain, if not a guess, with lenses that aren't fully prepared for this task.

Those vintage Angenieux in my Bastille district, not a long time ago before the world is doing motion, costed very little. They had their life in some cine movies
and were retiring gently there...but now they sell them as hot dogs for 6000-10000 minimum.
They'll have a second life with digital cameras but the affordable that works is gone. It's even more reasonable to buy new.

Chris Barrett and the other persons did a testing in what for motion is considered affordable, but the prices are already something. I found most of those quite close, a part from a few where differences are obvious
and on one there is a visible drop in overall quality.  

This focussing to marks Coot talked is really a big problem not having it. At least for me and the way I see the things.

If photography is a cat, motion is a tiger and need a lot more food.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2011, 02:27:07 PM by fredjeang » Logged
Morgan_Moore
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« Reply #5 on: December 19, 2011, 03:48:19 PM »
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It should be remembered that all is not lost

A lot of motion doesn't have that much focus pulling anyway - or loss of focus is 'acceptable'

(Thats how people manage to make 'nice stuff' with 5d cameras)

It only gets tough when people have a moving camera (shakes the elements) and a wildly moving subject (needs focus pulling) or changes of direction (torque the mount)

This is interesting..
http://provideocoalition.com/index.php/freshdv/video/freshdv_film_school_art_of_focus/

Seems like basically the guy knows his lenses and does it all by feel and experience anyway

I shot this for a student graduation project .. its awful.. skip forward to 4.08 I am pretty proud of the focus which is a 50 at 2 or 70 at 3.5 - done live no marks at all
http://vimeo.com/24108529

While $30k of cine lens is good, I think you can also do OK with my selection..
18mm nikkor $700
35-70 nikkor - $100
50 1.4 nikkor - $200

Frankly that lot gives most stuff a run for its money!

S




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Sam Morgan Moore Cornwall
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« Reply #6 on: December 19, 2011, 03:52:01 PM »
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Sam,

You might sometimes get away with AF stll lenses for movies, but if you need to follow focus, or change iris during the shot, cine lenses are almost a must have.

If AF worked for movies, then we would have started using it long ago. But, even if it worked fast enough, cameras do a poor job deciding what to focus on, especially if foreground elements cross the lens.

Cine lenses are pricey, though I was pleasantly surprised by the image quality of the RED primes, and even the 18-50 zoom wasn't too bad.

The Ziess compact primes come with an interchangeable mount so that you could use them for stills with manual focus, but you'll give up some lens speed on the wider lenses (18mm f3.5).

Shooting movies gets kind of expensive, even with cheap cameras...
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Bruce Alan Greene
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Morgan_Moore
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« Reply #7 on: December 19, 2011, 04:05:48 PM »
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Racking Iris is one thing, most still lenses are not good..

although Faders work OK and one of my fans the nikkor 28/3.5PC has a rack able iris (ish)

I know AF does not work for movies.. at the moment

It is my belief that AF or at least electronic control of lenses via wifi/face rec/i pad whatever will come and soon

I believe that such technologies may impact on the value of no electronics cine lenses such as the Arri LWZ

Enough for me not to remortgage to get one anyway - it would be a 10 year bit of kit for me

I think current movie Af is about as good as the first gen (nikon F3) AF - useless

But to think computer assisted focus of some nature won't come, and won't be good in 80% of situations is blinkered - thats my opinion only

As for the choice of stills lenses - I have chosen very carefully lenses like this one have both good travel and image quality.. and are not AF Smiley







The 18 and 28 and 35 70 pretty much cover 18-80 and can be got for less than $1k - its a steep choice to go from there to a $22k lens to gain a little convenience and a stop..





« Last Edit: December 19, 2011, 04:12:34 PM by Morgan_Moore » Logged

Sam Morgan Moore Cornwall
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fredjeang
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« Reply #8 on: December 20, 2011, 06:05:47 AM »
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Yes, who's gona save us? Engineers.

No doubt as you point that in a relatively short period, the electronics will allow to overcome the problems.

If this industry, as it seems to be, will be more and more fragmentated into small structure or self-employed structures, the cost of current cine lenses is out-of question
for most little prod houses and as there is a demand for both still-motion wich is relatively new, industrial and engineers will answer to that in a cost effective way I'm sure
because they have a huge potential market.

Anyway, with whatever and a lot of practise, one can adquire skills even if the gear is far from being ideal and end to be efficient.

The gaffer-tape and pens have become one of the most important gear for me.

Also, I find that the sensor's size like the GH2 is sort of ideal when it comes to focussing because DOF isn't as much critical as with the Canon and very much similar to what cine cameras produced.
So if you have an assistant that worked in motion he would find his marks easyly with a m4/3 sensor.
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Hywel
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« Reply #9 on: December 20, 2011, 09:05:49 AM »
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Although I have not used them myself, I hear good things about http://www.ducloslenses.com/Duclos_Lenses/Main.html
cine mod lenses. As I understand it, they take a set of stills lenses (eg ZF.2 Zeiss lenses, or the Voigtlander lenses for m4/3), take them apart, remove the "clicky ring" on the aperture so it changes smoothly and add focus gear and standard sized front cap.

It is certainly a lower-cost option than CF.2 and allegedly has similar optics, keeps a faster max aperture but doesn't get quite the robust build quality or the many-bladed iris.

Has anyone used them? I'm tempted by a set in EF mount to go with my Scarlet.

Although I agree with Morgan that I think electronic focus control via iPad/monitor is probably the wave of the future...

  Cheers, Hywel.


  Cheers, Hywel.
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ChristopherBarrett
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« Reply #10 on: December 20, 2011, 02:11:48 PM »
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I think the ZF's are quite a good option.  Like all Zeiss glass, they are produced to very high standards.  The are small, light, relatively inexpensive and very usable with the Duclos mod.  I have used the Duclos Leica-R set with the mod and can certainly recommend their work.

The negatives for the ZF's are these:  They barrel forward as you pull focus which causes issues with Matteboxes.  The Nikon focus rotation is counter to everyone else's.  They are more prone to CA and edge softness than some of the pricier glass.  They are reportedly inconsistent in color across the set.  Maximum apertures are also inconsistent across the set.

But... if you can deal with the detractors, they are a great option, the mechanics of the lenses is buttery smooth and the glass has very nice rendering qualities.  That glass is by all accounts exactly the same as the CP.2s.

Cheers,
CB
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bcooter
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« Reply #11 on: December 20, 2011, 02:41:34 PM »
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I think the ZF's are quite a good option.  Like all Zeiss glass, they are produced to very high standards.  The are small, light, relatively inexpensive and very usable with the Duclos mod.  I have used the Duclos Leica-R set with the mod and can certainly recommend their work.

The negatives for the ZF's are these:  They barrel forward as you pull focus which causes issues with Matteboxes.  The Nikon focus rotation is counter to everyone else's.  They are more prone to CA and edge softness than some of the pricier glass.  They are reportedly inconsistent in color across the set.  Maximum apertures are also inconsistent across the set.

But... if you can deal with the detractors, they are a great option, the mechanics of the lenses is buttery smooth and the glass has very nice rendering qualities.  That glass is by all accounts exactly the same as the CP.2s.

Cheers,
CB



CB is right on the ZF zeiss.

For the money, they're great, for the real world heavy production they can be limited.

I wouldn't use these with a secondary focus puller as you will drive him/her crazy, but if your shooting and pulling focus yourself your brain corrects pretty quickly.

For any PL mount camera, the best option is a dedicated PL lens, that focuses the right way, doesn't breath, and is robust.   You'll pay more, but PL lenses don't drop that far in price if you ever decide to change.

But I do like the ZF's have seen no CA and don't think I see much difference if any in color.  Shooting footage from multiple cameras is a mixed bag when it comes to color anyway, as shooting one camera 40 degrees away from the main camera will always look different and require grading in post to make it a closer match, regardless of lens.

In regards to matte boxes, for the ZF's we don't use our traditional shades, just Lee compendium's with a ring on each lens.  They're lightweight and hold filters and don't require huge, expensive tiffens.

Then again the reason we use the ZF's on one of our RED's is to make for a more mobile and quick camera, though I must admit, it looks damn silly to have a 5 oz. lens on a 8 lb camera.

IMO

BC
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ChristopherBarrett
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« Reply #12 on: December 20, 2011, 03:22:27 PM »
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I used to use those Lee hoods on my view camera and have been thinking about them again recently for the small lens, lightweight setup.  Do you use filters with them?  I have a set of glass ND's that usually go in the Arri MB but if they would fit in the Lee too that would be awesome.
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fredjeang
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« Reply #13 on: December 20, 2011, 04:03:31 PM »
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I used to use those Lee hoods on my view camera and have been thinking about them again recently for the small lens, lightweight setup.  Do you use filters with them?  I have a set of glass ND's that usually go in the Arri MB but if they would fit in the Lee too that would be awesome.

It depends wich Arri MB you owns. If you're on the light ones (and I bet you're not  Wink), it should be fine for a 4" that would suit both the Lee and the Arri.

Indeed the Lee is a good answer. I definatly get rid-of the MB but the Lee is the best solution to keep it movable, light...freedom in a word.


By the way, wich filter brand would you recommend most for ND?
« Last Edit: December 20, 2011, 04:06:01 PM by fredjeang » Logged
ChristopherBarrett
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« Reply #14 on: December 20, 2011, 04:16:13 PM »
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My filters are all 4x5.65 so I was thinking they might be able to slide into the Lee holder... sticking out top and bottom.  I like Formatt.  They're British (to go with my British lenses).  People in the industry seem to like those, Tiffen and Schneider amongst others.
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fredjeang
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« Reply #15 on: December 20, 2011, 04:30:20 PM »
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My filters are all 4x5.65 so I was thinking they might be able to slide into the Lee holder... sticking out top and bottom.  I like Formatt.  They're British (to go with my British lenses).  People in the industry seem to like those, Tiffen and Schneider amongst others.

Yeah I imagined that you had 4x5.65. it makes sense for secure full coverage with your Red. It should work with a 4" Lee, as you pointed inserting it bottom-top although it will look weired but who cares.

Thanks for the Formatt brand. I'll have a look.

Cheers.
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Morgan_Moore
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« Reply #16 on: December 20, 2011, 04:38:17 PM »
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I have a Bronica Bellows as my 'Matte Box' - I actually use circular filters on the lens and they can move in the MB

Its worth having a play

To be fair I have done this arrangement because the cost was zero as the old Bronny box was in my bits heap.. rather then siting a specific reason why this should be better than a dedicated cine box


S
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Sam Morgan Moore Cornwall
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fredjeang
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« Reply #17 on: December 20, 2011, 04:49:30 PM »
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Great idea!

By the way, some Bronicas bellows have a short rail system. I ignore if those woulf fit in distance with the standard rods? in that case this is a very affordable MB. The idea woud be to replace the bronica rods for the ones in the cage.
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Ron Steinberg
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« Reply #18 on: December 20, 2011, 05:33:06 PM »
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CB,

You should take a look at the Genus PV matte box, 2 stage, one rotating, 4x5.65, can mount on rods or clip on with adapter rings. Optional top and side flags. Perfect for going lightweight.

http://www.genustech.tv/matte-boxes/genus-pv-matte-box.html

Cheers,
Ron

Yeah I imagined that you had 4x5.65. it makes sense for secure full coverage with your Red. It should work with a 4" Lee, as you pointed inserting it bottom-top although it will look weired but who cares.

Thanks for the Formatt brand. I'll have a look.

Cheers.
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ChristopherBarrett
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« Reply #19 on: December 20, 2011, 08:01:46 PM »
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Thanks Ron, that may be just the ticket!
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