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Zooms vs Prims


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#1 Chris Walters

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Posted 28 August 2007 - 06:10 PM

I've heard such great things about zoom lens quality improving and I really love the speed of changing focal length with a twist. Besides aesthetics is there any other reason for using primes or are do they still have a noticible better resolution.

Thanks for the replys

Chris

Ps. I do know anamorphic zooms are different so I'm only asking about spherical lenses at this point... unless anyone has insite on them too.
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#2 Michael Nash

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Posted 28 August 2007 - 06:18 PM

Speed and physical size are still a big factor, even as the sharpness and contrast of zooms gets better. A sharp, fast 35mm zoom tends to be HUGE.

But zooms are used all the time, especially when the camera can stay on a dolly and the the shooting stop is adequate.
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#3 Max Jacoby

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Posted 28 August 2007 - 06:26 PM

I think you'll find that even if there are fast zooms out there (the Cooke 15-40mm T2, the Angenieux 17-80mm T2.2 or the Primo 17.5-75mm T2.3 come to mind), primes still have an advantage. Abberations are harder to correct in zooms because they do not need to work for just one focal lenght, but cover a whole range, so compromises are inevitable. Hence primes are sharper than the zooms wide open and also exhibit less distortion. Plus the less glass means that they handle flares better and they are lighter too. The fastest primes (the Master Primes at T1.3) still have a speed advantage over even the fastest zooms.
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#4 Chris Keth

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Posted 29 August 2007 - 11:23 AM

As fast as a focal length change is with a zoom, it shouldn't be much faster than your assistants changing a prime.
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#5 Paul Bruening

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 02:16 PM

I'm not ordinarily an endorser of zoom lenses. I lean towards the optical "purity" of good primes. At the same time, there is something to be said about an infinite range of focal lengths available within the zoom's range. I have spoken to some that think the infinite range provides greater variety and, therefore increased interest from the viewer. Others I have spoken with feel that a set number of primes represents part of the fixed, visual vocabulary within the film and the viewer shouldn't be boggled by an inconsistent use of focal lengths.
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#6 Chris Keth

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 04:00 PM

I'm not ordinarily an endorser of zoom lenses. I lean towards the optical "purity" of good primes. At the same time, there is something to be said about an infinite range of focal lengths available within the zoom's range. I have spoken to some that think the infinite range provides greater variety and, therefore increased interest from the viewer. Others I have spoken with feel that a set number of primes represents part of the fixed, visual vocabulary within the film and the viewer shouldn't be boggled by an inconsistent use of focal lengths.


I can definately rationalize both sides of that argument. This is a very polarized example, but I shot two shorts for a particular director. On one of them we used three lenses only. On another film that, by design, shakes up the audience and creates a feeling of unease I used a zoom and tried not to duplicate a focal length for a particular type of shot. Reverses didn't match, closeups were with different lenses, et cetera.
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