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Lens Brands, your favorites and why


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#1 David Calson

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Posted 02 April 2007 - 08:30 PM

Hi, so I'm trying to learn all the names of lens brands used for motion pictures whether film or digital. Can you tell me what they are, which is your favorite, and why? Thanks.
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#2 Mike Rizos

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Posted 02 April 2007 - 08:36 PM

Panavision, Zeiss, Cooke, Kinoptik, Angenieux, Canon, Nikon, Red(non quite yet, but)etc.
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#3 Kevin Zanit

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Posted 03 April 2007 - 01:19 AM

For film, the Panavision Primo line is pretty great. For HD work, Zeiss Digiprimes.

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#4 Ken Minehan

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Posted 03 April 2007 - 04:15 AM

This is a great thread. I also want to learn more about lenses, and hear what other DOPs have to say from their experience. I'm always using carl zeiss Ultra Primes, Arri lenses, Digi primes, Angenieux. Many of the other brand are not that widely used here in Singapore.

I have never shot with a panavision camera before. Was wandering what makes the Panavision Primo so good. This seems to be a common sentiment amongst many DOPs.

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#5 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 03 April 2007 - 06:24 AM

All good, but for different purposes. Like the later Zeiss's for their crispness and Cooke for their overall
warmth or "feel" (ie less crisp). But it can also be a tossup - the older T1.3's from Zeiss when shot wide open are a lot softer than a Cooke lens, for instance.

I'll use the Zeiss T1.3's for beauty work in close-up because of their softness. The range is a bit limiting though, and you end up missing lenses around 20-24mm, 27-32mm and something around 40mm.

I'll use the Cooke S4's for their lovely range and when I want a more "feature" film feel.

I'll use the Ultra Primes when I want real snap and insane crispness.

I'll use the Master Primes when I need to shoot wide open AND have crispness. Mostly for night stuff in existing lights - cityscapes etc.

I'll use the older Zeiss T2.1's when I want the wide range of lenses, but am on a budget/or/and need to be lightweight (steadiam, handheld etc).

I'll use the re-housed Cooke Speed Panchro's when I want a real old school feel with lots of glare, flare and stuff happening in lens.

I'll use Zeiss Variable Primes when I'm in a studio environment and need to cover a lot of setups a day (or when the director specifically asks for them). Very sharp, very good, but also very heavy and don't open up as much as I like. They're zooms basically, no matter what Zeiss calls them.

I'll use the Russian anamorphic Lomo lenses when I want anamorphic on the cheap. I'll use Panavision or Hawk when I want it expensive.

I have tried and tested the old Schenider Xenons and LOVED the way the behaved with lights in frame - have still to get a director brave enough to let me bring them on set.

Don't really have an opinion on Zooms and I don't use them that much. But I'd like to try the Optima from Angenieux or the new Master Zoom.
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#6 Rupe Whiteman

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Posted 03 April 2007 - 07:37 AM

I have tried and tested the old Schenider Xenons and LOVED the way the behaved with lights in frame - have still to get a director brave enough to let me bring them on set.
[/quote]

Adam - what kind of look/flares do you get from the Xenons?

Regards...
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#7 Mitch Beaudry

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Posted 03 April 2007 - 08:47 AM

For SD I prefer Canon's lenses because of the "smooth" look they give compared to other lenses (ie Fujinon).

For film I honestly shoot with anything I can get my hands on due to my budgets but I've only had bad experiences with Cooke lenses where the main problem was focus. I'm not sure if it were the lenses themselves or the lack of care taken of them, but I'm going to assume it's the care over the brand.

That's another thing you should note. You can go with an expensive lens that makes the image look great however if you think there's a problem with it in the rental house (grinding noises, etc.) then it's better to go the safe route and get the next best thing instead.
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#8 Arni Heimir

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Posted 03 April 2007 - 09:40 AM

Panavision - Cooke and Hawks. Three way tie.
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#9 Tony Brown

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Posted 03 April 2007 - 10:16 AM

but I've only had bad experiences with Cooke lenses where the main problem was focus. I'm not sure if it were the lenses themselves or the lack of care taken of them, but I'm going to assume it's the care over the brand.

That's another thing you should note. You can go with an expensive lens that makes the image look great however if you think there's a problem with it in the rental house (grinding noises, etc.) then it's better to go the safe route and get the next best thing instead.


Just exactly what was this 'focus' problem Mitch? I've not heard of any problems since the initial batch were recalled for some kind of cam mod.

If lenses have grinding noises dont change the lens, change the rental house.
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#10 John Holland

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Posted 03 April 2007 - 10:27 AM

anything made by Zeiss.
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#11 Tony Brown

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Posted 03 April 2007 - 10:55 AM

anything made by Zeiss.


Cant get on with Zeiss at all. T2.1's are ok but dislike the rest

Not had the pleasure of Master Primes tho..... The little Zeiss on my old Contax T never ceases to amaze me.

Cooke S4's as a good all rounder, though they barrel a surprising amount 25 and wider

Canon 300 T2.8 is my favourite lens ever

Nikon 300 T2 is nice (200 is a complete pain for A/C's)

Hawk 150 - 450 is a great '2nd camera' lens

Old 10-1 Cooke for beauty work
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#12 Mitch Beaudry

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Posted 03 April 2007 - 11:30 AM

Just exactly what was this 'focus' problem Mitch? I've not heard of any problems since the initial batch were recalled for some kind of cam mod.

If lenses have grinding noises dont change the lens, change the rental house.


We found that after we set the focus for a long, steady shot (not moving) the focus seemed to"drift" during the shot and the footage by the end was not usable.
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#13 Tony Brown

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Posted 03 April 2007 - 11:34 AM

We found that after we set the focus for a long, steady shot (not moving) the focus seemed to"drift" during the shot and the footage by the end was not usable.



You mean the barrel moved or it was an internal fault? Hope someone was looking through and noticed!
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#14 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 03 April 2007 - 11:40 AM

I have tried and tested the old Schenider Xenons and LOVED the way the behaved with lights in frame - have still to get a director brave enough to let me bring them on set.
Adam - what kind of look/flares do you get from the Xenons?

Regards...


I don't know how to describe it in english, but it's kind of like one of those rings with a cone in it: it looks like one of those old wooden spinning gyro toys you used to have as a kid - the one you spun on your floor and watched dance across the floor on its needle. That's how the Xenons flare looked.

I did some tests with it years ago, and hopefully I will be able to get it it digitized at some point.
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#15 Rupe Whiteman

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Posted 03 April 2007 - 11:44 AM

Thanks Adam - they sound funky!
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#16 Hal Smith

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Posted 03 April 2007 - 12:06 PM

My favorites are my 18/25/40/75mm set of Cooke SII/III's. They didn't put me in the poorhouse and they make nice pictures. For zoom I've got the small 35-140 T3.5 Angenieux, it's a lot sharper than I expected.
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#17 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 03 April 2007 - 12:24 PM

I don't know how to describe it in english, but it's kind of like one of those rings with a cone in it: it looks like one of those old wooden spinning gyro toys you used to have as a kid - the one you spun on your floor and watched dance across the floor on its needle. That's how the Xenons flare looked.


In English it's called a "Top" :)
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#18 Joseph White

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Posted 03 April 2007 - 01:03 PM

love cooke s4's for anything small screen, love older e series panavision anamorphic lenses for anything scope. also love the clairmont anamorphic primes as they're soft and fall apart easily, but in lovely ways :)

i use 1.3 zeiss superspeeds A LOT as they're cheap and snappy and look great for close-ups if using the 85mm. love that lens.

cooke speed panchros are really fun and soft and gauzy. i find i use even less diffusion on my lamps when using cookes because i know there's an inherent beautiful softness with the lenses themselves.

my favorite zooms are the 10:1 super panazoom anamorphic lens (50-500) - the thing looks like a piece of military equipment but i used it on a shoot in chicago and man the images were just gorgeous. for spherical, you simply cannot beat the angenieux optimo zooms, i've used the 17-80 and the 24-290 and they are both amazing (and huge, especially the latter) lenses.

hope this helps :)
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#19 David Calson

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Posted 03 April 2007 - 03:42 PM

Hey guys, thanks for all the responses. Very helpful as usual. So, so far the major lens brands are Panavision, Zeiss, Cooke, Kinoptik, Angenieux, Canon, Nikon, Hawk, Angenieux, any others?
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#20 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 03 April 2007 - 03:50 PM

Hey guys, thanks for all the responses. Very helpful as usual. So, so far the major lens brands are Panavision, Zeiss, Cooke, Kinoptik, Angenieux, Canon, Nikon, Hawk, Angenieux, any others?


Elgeet. Wollensack.
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