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Subjective Lens Opinions for Super 16 Please


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#1 Jaron Berman

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Posted 22 May 2008 - 03:29 PM

While I've operated quite a bit of super 16, I've never DP's or been in any way responsible for putting together the camera package, specifically the lenses. Currently, I'm helping a DP friend of mine put together an SR3 kit for an upcoming feature, and have been doing quite a bit of legwork in terms of quoting out prices around town while he's scouting locations down south. He shoots almost exclusively in 35, so we're about equal in (lack of) knowledge when it comes to super16 lenses.

The obvious staple lenses are the Zeiss superspeeds. I've used them quite a bit as an op, but have never done any proper testing on charts or scenes specifically to compare against other lenses. At the "arri night" a while back I did get a chance to see the unveiling of the rest of the Zeiss Ultra 16 line, and the tests they displayed comparing the Supers to the new Ultras. Yes, the ultras wipe the floor with the old superspeeds when shooting the corners of a resolution chart, but here's the beginning of my question: Off a chart and shooting wide-open, how great is this difference going to be in real life? If the production doesn't have the budget for Ultra16's or even a kit of SK4/S4's, what's the next best option?

I've also heard very good things about the new Canon Zooms, but there is even less information floating about them than the Arris, and essentially no comparisons against other zooms or primes. Specifically, the 10.6-180mm Canon zoom. How does this lens stack-up against the old superspeed in sharpness and contrast when shot at similar stop? The design is about 20-30 years newer, so I'm guessing that the Canon will be pretty good, but I have never used it or seen footage from it (that I know of specifically), so I'm looking to hear opinions from those who have used and looked at footage shot with it.

Details:
The film is going through a 2K di, so color matching is less critical. But, getting a clean and sharp picture is still important as the footage will be filmed-out to 35 (a separate budget, for those who would suggest dumping the DI money into Ultra16 lenses and finishing photochemically). Obviously there are myriad choices of lenses for effect and mood, but the DP is basically looking for a nice clean film capture on s16. So down to the nitt-gritty... if you were shooting a production on super16, and didn't have the budget for Ultra16's/Ultraprimes, what would you choose?

Thanks, I appreciate all responses.
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#2 Chris Keth

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Posted 22 May 2008 - 11:32 PM

I have shot quite a bit on S16. If given that same choice, I would take a set of superspeeds and a good canon 8-64 zoom. Both lens selections vary with the example you have in your hands so putting them on a projector or shooting tests will be a must.

Since you are blowing up to 35mm, I would resist the urge to go wfo with the superspeeds a lot. They do suffer a good bit wider than 2 or so.
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#3 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 23 May 2008 - 06:47 AM

The superspeeds just aren't very good lenses compared to the advances in the 35mm lenses these days. Like mentioned, they fall apart below T2. They also have the nasty 3-blade iris which gives triangle bokeh. Some people like that, but it drives me nuts.

But there isn't much choice - if you can't afford the new Ultra 16's (they're great lenses) or the SK4's, you're kind of stuck. I prefer the Angeniex 7-81mm zoom or the 11-110mm to the Canon myself, but that's mainly because they're proper film lenses, not optical quality. The canon has such a short, imprecise barrel that it makes it hard to pull accurate focus on.
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#4 Jaron Berman

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Posted 23 May 2008 - 01:35 PM

Adam and Chris - I appreciate the responses. I was aware of the nasty triangular iris, which only goes away wfo....and it's a little disheartening to hear that the lens sucks wfo or has those nasty highlights when stopped down. I keep reminding myself that there were probably a great number of well shot films done on these lenses before anyone had seen Ultra's or S4's...the problem is being spoiled now by knowing how good it can actually get and not having the budget to go for it.

I'll have to check the mechanics of that particular Canon, but it appeared to be a pretty long throw...I wasn't really looking at that, but thanks Adam for bringing it up (I should be at least a LITTLE considerate of the AC).

As it stands, we have the superspeed set and the new Canon 10.6-180 zoom, which is an update of the older 11-165. The 8-64 as I understand is the older version of the 6.6-66 Canon, also an option for us.

So if the superspeeds suck so much wfo, and have a triangular iris stopped down into the 2's, would we be better off just getting the 2 newer Canon's? They have "circular" iris patterns (not sure how many blades) and are most likely pretty sharp at 2.4....

I guess we'll have to find a lens projector and all these lenses to actually see.... any feelings are invited though, I'd love to hear more opinions and "if I were in your shoes" kind of comments. Thanks all.
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#5 Max Jacoby

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Posted 23 May 2008 - 01:44 PM

I hate that triangular bokeh also. Only place it ever looked good was in that Depeche Mode video. But keep in mind that on wide shots it won't be visible.
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#6 Chris Keth

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Posted 23 May 2008 - 02:28 PM

I prefer the Angeniex 7-81mm zoom or the 11-110mm to the Canon myself, but that's mainly because they're proper film lenses, not optical quality. The canon has such a short, imprecise barrel that it makes it hard to pull accurate focus on.


If that's the zeiss 11-110, I would second that wholeheartedly. I've used that zoom on several films and have always been very happy with it. It actually fits my preference for focal length range better than the 8-64, too. I tend to like a little more at the long end and I rarely use even the 11-110 at the widest setting.
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#7 Gus Sacks

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Posted 26 May 2008 - 12:18 AM

Any chance you could find a house that has Optar Illuminas?

http://www.optarillumina.com/

Very nice, clear lenses for S16. I use them whenever they can't afford Cookes...
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#8 rob spence

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 06:07 AM

Hi ,

my zeiss Mk 1s have 6 bladed iris....is this not the case with them all

best

rob spence
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#9 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 05:12 PM

I too like the Optars as a low-cost option. I find that the 16mm can be pretty soft when opened up past T2, but the rest of my set hasn't let me down even when I was T1.3.
The Canon zoom is a great choice as well.
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#10 Jaron Berman

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Posted 09 June 2008 - 01:43 PM

Hi ,

my zeiss Mk 1s have 6 bladed iris....is this not the case with them all

best

rob spence


Optically, besides the iris I believe that all 16mm superspeeds are the same. The MKI's have 6-bladed irises that close down as hexagons, which is quite nice. But they didn't come stock with focus gears and from what I can tell they don't have matching front diameters and the focus throw is considerably shorter than on the MKII's or III's. The MKII's and III's actually have more blades - 8 I believe, but they close down in a triangular pattern. So you get built-in gears, better focus scales and matched fronts in exchange for a nasty triangular iris. Bastards!

It looks like we're getting SS MKII's and the canon 10.6-180mm zoom - a hard piece to get a hold of, I guess there's a lot of demand and it's new enough that most of the 16 houses don't carry it. Very nice mechanics though, it felt like 360degrees throw for focus, and very solidly built. When I do finally get a day to look at everything side-by-side on the projector, I'll see how it compares to the zeiss, older canons, and the primes. Any idea where to find Optars in LA?

Edited by Jaron Berman, 09 June 2008 - 01:43 PM.

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#11 rob spence

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Posted 10 June 2008 - 06:07 AM

Hi

I can thoroughly recommend both the Mk 1s and the Canon 8-64 zoom. I've just used them all extensively on my trailer ( I'm using the trailer to raise more cash )
you can view it on youtube to get a low res idea.

http://uk.youtube.co...h?v=rPw-IuTClJo


best

rob spence
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#12 rob spence

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Posted 10 June 2008 - 06:07 AM

Hi

I can thoroughly reccommend both the Mk 1s and the Canon 8-64 zoom. I've just used them all extensively on my trailer ( I'm using the trailer to raise more cash )
you can view it on youtube to get a low res idea.

http://uk.youtube.co...h?v=rPw-IuTClJo


best

rob spence
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