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Difference between zooms and primes?


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#1 Mark A. Rapp

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Posted 21 October 2006 - 12:51 PM

Okay, new question. I have an Arri 16BL that I'll be shooting with next fall. It has a stock Zeiss 10-100mm.

What's the difference between shooting with a 50mm prime lens, and setting the zoom lens to 50mm? Is the difference that prime lenses just tend to be better quality lenses?
Do I need prime lenses at all?
And if so, which primes should I have in my lens "arsenal?"

I know - a bunch of questions from a cinemeatography neophyte...
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#2 Stephen Williams

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Posted 21 October 2006 - 01:04 PM

Okay, new question. I have an Arri 16BL that I'll be shooting with next fall. It has a stock Zeiss 10-100mm.

What's the difference between shooting with a 50mm prime lens, and setting the zoom lens to 50mm? Is the difference that prime lenses just tend to be better quality lenses?
Do I need prime lenses at all?
And if so, which primes should I have in my lens "arsenal?"

I know - a bunch of questions from a cinemeatography neophyte...


Hi,

The 10-100 T2 is very sharp, the slower versions were not as good IMHO.
Primes will distort less, weigh less & be slightly better optically.
You probably don't 'need' prime lenses unless you want to hand hold all day.
Make sure the zoom is properly collimated.

Stephen
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#3 Tim Carroll

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Posted 21 October 2006 - 01:08 PM

A prime lens is going to have fewer pieces of glass between the image and the negative than your zoom lens. So, all things being equal, a prime is going to give a "better" image than a zoom.

With the Arriflex 16BL, you are a bit limited with primes. You cannot use the Zeiss Super Speeds, even the original ones, because I do not believe they will fit inside the BL prime blimp housing.

So you are stuck with Schneider primes (the internal focus type, not the originals) which aren't that sharp, some of the later Zeiss/Arriflex primes that were made for the Arriflex 16S, and maybe one or two modified Cooke Kinetal primes (modified so they do not hit the mirror on the 16BL). Between finding prime lenses that will fit inside the prime blimp housing, and won't go too deep into the camera and break the rotating mirror shutter, your options are not that great.

My personal recommendation is to make sure your Zeiss zoom has the T* on it that indicates it has the T coating, if it doesn't, try to get one that does, then send the T* lens to someone like Paul Duclos and have it overhauled. That will give you the best image quality with the least amount of hassle that you can get with the Arriflex 16BL.

-Tim
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#4 Mark A. Rapp

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Posted 21 October 2006 - 01:25 PM

Wow, you guys got back to me quick! Much appreciated. Thanks to both of you for the lesson! So where is the red T* located on the lens?

Edited by Mark Rapp, 21 October 2006 - 01:28 PM.

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#5 Tim Carroll

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Posted 21 October 2006 - 01:33 PM

Wow, you guys got back to me quick! Much appreciated. Thanks to both of you for the lesson! So where is the red T* located on the lens?


Right on the front of the lens, you can't miss it.

Posted Image

-Tim
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#6 Mark A. Rapp

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Posted 21 October 2006 - 01:45 PM

Duh! Thanks again, Tim! My camera is in Pittsburgh and right now I'm in Wichita, so I can't get a gander at it for a few. So how bad is the Zeiss without the T*? Still good enough to shoot a short that will be bumped to DVD?
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#7 Tim Carroll

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Posted 21 October 2006 - 02:02 PM

So how bad is the Zeiss without the T*? Still good enough to shoot a short that will be bumped to DVD?


That question is too subjective to answer. I would recommend shooting a test and taking the footage through your whole post path. Have it transferred, and use whatever editing program you are going to use, and DVD authoring program, and burn it to a DVD and look at it. If the image quality is good enough, go with it. If not, have the lens serviced (or the camera if it is out of spec), and/or try to find a lens with the "T" coating.

-Tim
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#8 Ian Dudley

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Posted 21 October 2006 - 03:57 PM

Hi,

Actually, you CAN use the MK1 Zeiss Super Speeds with an Arri 16BL Blimp housing. It requires only an extension piece that makes it long enough to house the longer Super Speeds. Focus rings are also available for each prime lens that mounts on the housing. I used this exact setup for a couple of years and had no problems whatsoever. You can find it at Visual Products probably.

Just thought I'd pitch in..

Ian Dudley

Edited by Ian Dudley, 21 October 2006 - 03:59 PM.

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#9 Tim Carroll

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Posted 21 October 2006 - 04:51 PM

You learn something new every day.

Who makes the extension piece, have never seen one? Is it made by ARRI or has someone made it up aftermarket?

And are you saying you can get one from Visual Products? What do they call it, or what do you ask for?

Thanks,
-Tim
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#10 Ian Dudley

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Posted 21 October 2006 - 08:40 PM

You learn something new every day.

Who makes the extension piece, have never seen one? Is it made by ARRI or has someone made it up aftermarket?

And are you saying you can get one from Visual Products? What do they call it, or what do you ask for?

Thanks,
-Tim

Hi Tim,

It's all Arri original and I believe it's just called the super speed prime blimp. No guarantee they have one available at Visual Products. I imagine they're relatively rare, but they do exist. I enjoyed using mine- it protected the lens well and made the 16BL quite the battleship.

regards,

Ian

Edited by Ian Dudley, 21 October 2006 - 08:41 PM.

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#11 Nate Downes

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Posted 22 October 2006 - 07:05 AM

I have a non T* Zeiss prime and was wondering if it's possible to have Zeiss add the T* coating to it....

Actually I have 4 of them but who'se counting? 8)
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#12 Tomas Stacewicz

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Posted 22 October 2006 - 08:27 AM

Isn't one of the advantages of using primes that they generally are faster compared to zoom lenses? I.e. you will need more light and that have to be taking to account when doing a budget.
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#13 Ian Dudley

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Posted 22 October 2006 - 08:50 AM

Isn't one of the advantages of using primes that they generally are faster compared to zoom lenses? I.e. you will need more light and that have to be taking to account when doing a budget.

Hi,

That's generally the biggest advantage of primes verses zoom lenses. Primes are generally much faster and can be used with slower film stocks and less lighting than zooms.

regards,

Ian Dudley
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#14 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 22 October 2006 - 10:01 AM

All true about optical quality and speed. However, zooms are also useful as variable focal length lenses to get the right composition when your back is literally to the wall and sometimes when the camera is on a dolly.
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#15 Alex Haspel

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Posted 22 October 2006 - 10:12 AM

With the Arriflex 16BL, you are a bit limited with primes. You cannot use the Zeiss Super Speeds, even the original ones, because I do not believe they will fit inside the BL prime blimp housing.



well, but it is no problem when shooting mos.
i have previously used zeiss highspeed primes on a 16bl.
there a few things to mention tho...
.) because the mount is so low on the bl, you need some kind of distance plate in order to fit a follow focus in there.
.) the mount is embded in rubber (!) most likely for noise reasons. so you have to be careful when focuspulling to infinity for example. when you hit the dead end, the lens might move and so does the image.
.)it's noisy as hell.
.)sorry for my bad english

here are a few pictures.
Posted Image
Posted Image
Posted Image
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#16 Mark A. Rapp

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Posted 29 October 2006 - 01:01 AM

Thanks again for all of your input. Most helpful!
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#17 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 30 October 2006 - 05:10 AM

Also, prime lenses will generally focus much closer than zooms, making them much more useful for certain types of "Wellsian" wide-angle framings.

For example, the Ziess 10-100 T2 will only focus to 3'6" (the lens is only marked to 5', so you'll have to add your own marks to the barrel with paper tape), whereas some of the Superspeeds will focus down to a few inches. Also, the aforementioned zoom breathes like crazy when you rack focus, whereas the Superspeeds breathe very little if at all.
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