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lens question


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#1 joe garcia

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Posted 28 October 2008 - 08:59 AM

Hey all

I realize this would be a question that would probably leave one open to the style and tastes of a DOP,,, but here goes...

I'm just starting to work with storyboard software that allows for the use of the common lens used on a set. I'd like to learn what lens and why, or what lens you'd use given a location, or desired effect.

I don't quite know the difference between a 35mm and a 50mm lens. Until now I have been tethered to the fixed lens of my video cam.

The software allows selections that include Primes by Zeiss, Cooke and Panavission. This program also allows for Max Zooms and Hieghts outside the scope of Primes.
All that is great but I'd like the 'fast and dirty' regarding the basics to help me select and understand the preference of one lens over another given a set or desired effect.

Thank you in advance
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#2 joe garcia

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Posted 30 October 2008 - 11:31 PM

Sup ,, no takers ?
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#3 Chris Keth

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Posted 31 October 2008 - 12:28 AM

Search "field of view" and do some reading. Here's a start.

Better yet, find a basic cinematography book and read it cover to cover. A lot of this is something that must be seen and not just explained.
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#4 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 31 October 2008 - 03:02 AM

What's the software you're using?
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#5 joe garcia

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Posted 31 October 2008 - 09:13 AM

Thanks Chris,,, seems I should know that but sometimes a fellow's got to be told...



James,, I am using Frameforge which is pretty OK I guess
Hence the lens question since simulation in the software does not immediately look any different
and I'd be interested in knowing the best way to decide on a lens selection for given environments.
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#6 David Regan

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Posted 31 October 2008 - 09:46 AM

Assuming this is what your asking...

Choosing a lens, like most things in cinematography, can be practical and aesthetic. Practically, as you mention given environments, you might be in a really cramped space, and just have to see certain elements in your frame, so you may need a wider (shorter focal length) lens. Or you might not be able to get very close to a subject, and need to use a telephoto lens. Another practical consideration might be exposure, certain lens types are faster (meaning you can open up more to allow more light in) than other sets.

Aesthetically speaking, lenses can convey a mood. A wide lens, say an 18mm, expands the space, objects seem further apart, it exaggerates distance. It can also lead to distortion, which is often found to be displeasing, if you ever get close to a subject on a wide angle their facial features will be somewhat warpped. Wide lenses are often thought to be comical, and they can exaggerate motion, small movements by objects seem enhanced.

Opposite this is a telephoto lens, say a 100mm. These lenses compress the space, objects apear stacked up and on top of each other. It flattens out the image so to speak. Motion towards and away from the camera is diminished, think that last time you saw a NASCAR race on TV, when all the cars are driving towards the camera, they all appear to be bunched up, and you don't really see that they are moving alot, until they hit the curve.

Obviously these are the basic elements of what a lens does, choosing the right lens is a big decision, and can really affect the success of how a scene is filmed emotionally.
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Aerial Filmworks