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Canon FD lenses on RED CAM


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#1 Sing Howe Yam

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 03:31 AM

Hey guys,

I'm starting a feature next month and I'm shooting on the RED with still canon fd mount lenses. Has anyone shot with this setup and is there any little things you've noticed that is unusual or something that you really need to pay attention to. We can't afford cine lenses for the shoot <_<

Also how did the lenses perform? Were you happy with the results of the canon lenses?

Any info or advice on this would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Sing
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#2 Chris Keth

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 03:57 AM

I don't like the setup as a focus puller because it's nearly impossible to do good pulls. The distance markings on still lenses are rubbish and how can one be precise when the distance from infinity to close focus is a quarter-turn of the barrel?

You can make good pictures with the setup but normal, everyday things like pulling with an actor in CU who leans in and out becomes impossible because the difference on the barrel is less than the backlash of even a good follow focus like an arri. If you're operating, expect to have to pull some things by eye that your focus puller simply cannot do.

Edited by Chris Keth, 17 November 2008 - 03:59 AM.

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#3 Sing Howe Yam

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 04:40 AM

I don't like the setup as a focus puller because it's nearly impossible to do good pulls. The distance markings on still lenses are rubbish and how can one be precise when the distance from infinity to close focus is a quarter-turn of the barrel?

You can make good pictures with the setup but normal, everyday things like pulling with an actor in CU who leans in and out becomes impossible because the difference on the barrel is less than the backlash of even a good follow focus like an arri. If you're operating, expect to have to pull some things by eye that your focus puller simply cannot do.


Yeah I was assuming that just like any of those 35mm adapters, same issues. Did you think the color reproduction from the FD lenses look good? I'm still going to try and push for some PL lenses if we can somehow find an awesome rate. It seems like it would be easier to pull focus by hand as long as it's not conflicting with the DP/Operator.
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#4 Chris Keth

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 02:41 PM

Yeah I was assuming that just like any of those 35mm adapters, same issues. Did you think the color reproduction from the FD lenses look good? I'm still going to try and push for some PL lenses if we can somehow find an awesome rate. It seems like it would be easier to pull focus by hand as long as it's not conflicting with the DP/Operator.


The set I used were reasonably matched in color, as far as sets of stills primes I have seen. Nowhere near a set of proper primes, though. In the edit you could notice color shifts at nearly every cut. Most were slight but a few were very noticeable. One of our lenses in particular was a bit cool while all others were various shades of warm.

If you can get a set of proper PL primes, I would try hard to do so. Some lomos, standard speeds, or cook pancros should all be cheap and can all give fine images.
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#5 Chris Keth

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 02:55 PM

I wanted to add a bit about if you can't get PL primes. If you have to go with the canon primes, a couple of things will make your life much, much easier.

First of all, completely disregard the distance markings on the lens barrel. Your 1st AC needs to set up a chart and create a new scale from scratch with plenty of marks and accurate ones. Narrow p-touch tape is good for this with a fine permanent marker. Once it's done, put clear scotch tape over it so that you don't accidentally rub it off.

Second, try to get the lenses on a projector. That way your 1st can note any particularly bad spots in the lenses. For example, as I look at my notes, the 75mm I had was quite soft compared to the other lenses. It sharpened up a stop closed down but I found I actually liked the slight softness since it was mainly my CU lens and I was working with a lot of women. The projector test can also be the time to note any particular bad color issues. Knowing all of these things won't necessarily keep you from using the lens at those stops, but at least you go in knowing about it and can make the best decisions.
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#6 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 10:00 PM

Good list, Chris. May I also add:

- Give yourself plenty of time to test the lenses in prep. You will find lemons and quirks even in the good lenses.

- Give your focus puller a decent stop to work at, 2.8 or slower if possible.

- Rent the biggest monitor you can get for checking focus, and keep it where the 1st can pull off of it for difficult shots.

- Get the director his own big monitor so he doesn't hog the 1st's monitor.

- Make production understand beforehand that by choosing to go with still lenses, they are trading time and efficiency on set for a cheaper rental cost. There will be soft shots and more retakes than usual, guaranteed. And there's nothing you or the 1st can do to fix that.

- Stand up for your 1st if he asks for another take or need more time to get marks.
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#7 Chris Keth

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Posted 17 November 2008 - 11:00 PM

All good points, Satsuki.

I forgot one thing that can really help since you're doing this on the RED. The RED has a display function that colors sharp edges in red on an otherwise greyscale image. If there's a particularly tough shot, the 1st can see to focus pretty well with that function. You just keep the catchlights in the eyes red and you're pretty golden. If your first asks to use it, consider it even though the director will probably complain about having to watch a greyscale monitor.
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#8 Sing Howe Yam

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Posted 20 November 2008 - 02:49 PM

Thanks for the advice on remarking the lenses Chris. Definitely something I will do if this is the final decision.

Last night I had meeting with the producer and he got completely hot headed about me bringing up more about trying to get stuff for the RED. I got a great quote for a set (5 lenses, 18mm, 25mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm) of Zeiss Standard Primes (T2.1), 2060 O'connor head with tall and baby sticks, hi & lo hat, Arri FF4 follow focus for 19 days at $2,500 for the whole shoot. Told me it was too much, I wanted to smack the guy. I also brought up the time issue with the still primes and of course he used the usual "you're just a cinematographer that just wants toys." People are so ignorant.
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#9 Chris Keth

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Posted 25 November 2008 - 07:35 PM

Thanks for the advice on remarking the lenses Chris. Definitely something I will do if this is the final decision.

Last night I had meeting with the producer and he got completely hot headed about me bringing up more about trying to get stuff for the RED. I got a great quote for a set (5 lenses, 18mm, 25mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm) of Zeiss Standard Primes (T2.1), 2060 O'connor head with tall and baby sticks, hi & lo hat, Arri FF4 follow focus for 19 days at $2,500 for the whole shoot. Told me it was too much, I wanted to smack the guy. I also brought up the time issue with the still primes and of course he used the usual "you're just a cinematographer that just wants toys." People are so ignorant.


That's an outstanding quote that is mostly things you need anyway. A good head, sticks, and a follow focus aren't optional. What is this producer thinking?
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#10 shane grace

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 12:19 AM

That's an outstanding quote that is mostly things you need anyway. A good head, sticks, and a follow focus aren't optional. What is this producer thinking?


Easy answer:

He was thinking about money.

I noticed you siad your producer said it was "too much". Then ask him how much he is willing to spend, give that price to your supplier and see what he can do - you probably wont get everything but you might have enough for your main lenses, you may not need all of them. Some directors shoot whole features using only 1 size lens.

If that doesnt work, sometimes things work-out differently when you dont have all the toys - your use of the FD lenses may give a different quality that someone else see's and says "hey thats nice - how did you do that?"
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#11 Chris Keth

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 01:15 AM

Easy answer:

He was thinking about money.


Well yeah, all producers are always thinking about money. I swear sometimes, though, that they would rather hoard money than make the movie.
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#12 Erik Arheden

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Posted 27 November 2008 - 11:33 AM

If you want to see a reference of a commercial film shot with the RED camera using Canon FD lenses go to:

www.kingedward.se

click on "showroom" and look at the title "Skånetrafiken - framtiden". From what I understand they had a good experience. Then again commercial shoots are a lot different than features (as you probably know.) They are one of our competitors here in Malmö, Sweden.

I hear you on the hoarding money point. However, I'm a producer and generally tend to favor the wishes of the cinematographer, director, grip, gaffer and anyone else who have a solid argument, which it sound like you do. So, your particular producer just sound uninformed!
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#13 Sing Howe Yam

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Posted 27 November 2008 - 10:57 PM

Well it has been settled on this shoot and we're shooting with the FD's. The way I see it right now is that I will have to work with what I have and just do my best. The camera was done on a backend deal and we're getting a full setup but some of the stuff we're getting is a tad old. The tripod I'm getting is an O'connor 50. Never used it looked up some stuff about and not sure if I should be worried or not. I want a decent head for this shoot!
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#14 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 27 November 2008 - 11:18 PM

As an Oconnor '50 head owner. . ..

It's an old head.. It's a good head though, for what it's worth. Hasn't treated my SR3 badly since I've gotten the head.
Best of luck with the shoot!

Another thing to keep in mind- as this happens with my Nikons from time to time, is that sometimes the lens mount and the lens don't quite get along the whole day through. . .lens might seem seated properly but focus is. . .well. . .weird. This comes from experiences with the Letus setup I have as well as having thrown some Nikons (not mine) on a red (also not mine.) your experience may vary but as mentioned before, it's important to keep an eye on these "hybrid" systems.
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