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SLR 35mm lenses


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#1 Scott Bryant

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Posted 23 November 2008 - 12:09 AM

So i've been doing a little research on using 35mm still photography lenses on my Eclair NPR. I'm thinking Nikon primes, 28mm or so but i have a couple of questions. I know these aren't cine lenses per se, but is this my best option other than getting a set of Cookes or Zeiss?

Also, I've read that SLR lenses tend to loose sharpness at certain apertures (too wide or too small) has anyone had any experience with this? Is it mostly on older lenses or do new ones suffer as well?
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#2 Glen Alexander

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Posted 23 November 2008 - 12:45 AM

So i've been doing a little research on using 35mm still photography lenses on my Eclair NPR. I'm thinking Nikon primes, 28mm or so but i have a couple of questions. I know these aren't cine lenses per se, but is this my best option other than getting a set of Cookes or Zeiss?

Also, I've read that SLR lenses tend to loose sharpness at certain apertures (too wide or too small) has anyone had any experience with this? Is it mostly on older lenses or do new ones suffer as well?



i'd suggest you head over to photo.net, you'll get much more informed answers about SLR lenses, than here. i'm a fan of SLR lenses, so shoot with the best glass you can afford to buy or rent. With the Nikon primes, it can be very much hit or miss depending on variety of variables, but if you do your research and poke around photo.net, you'll find out which serial numbers and models are the best ones. Some Nikons will have similar overall specs but have different number of optical elements in the lens. you can get some great lenses at www.keh.com, just know what you are buying. you can get a set of fast nikons f1.2, f1.4, for MUCH less than anything by cooke or zeiss. Nikon also makes a sweet zoom 80 to 200mm f2.8.

Edited by Glen Alexander, 23 November 2008 - 12:46 AM.

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#3 Simon Wyss

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Posted 23 November 2008 - 06:50 AM

The original lenses for Olympus Pen F cameras are not bad. They are designed to cover an 18 X 24 mm aperture, thus smaller than those for 24 X 36 mm pictures, and have some resolving power that might surprise you.

Edited by Simon Wyss, 23 November 2008 - 06:52 AM.

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#4 David Auner aac

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Posted 23 November 2008 - 11:38 AM

Also, I've read that SLR lenses tend to loose sharpness at certain apertures (too wide or too small) has anyone had any experience with this? Is it mostly on older lenses or do new ones suffer as well?


That phenomenon is not limited to SLR lenses. All lenses are softer when wide open and if you stop down to much they loose sharpness again, this time due to diffraction. As a rule of thumb it can be said that lenses are at their best about 2 stops down from wide open. The better quality lenses suffer less from that kind of defect than their cheaper brethren. A number of lens defects (barrel distortion, chromatic aberration etc.) are more noticeable towards the edge of the lens' image circle. So if you use a 35mm still lens on a 16mm camera you'll only use the center portion of that lens. So you might not see some defects that would be visible if used in 35mm still.

Regards, Dave
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#5 Paul Bruening

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Posted 23 November 2008 - 01:27 PM

Money is such a big factor in this. Premium cine lenses (Max is a good info source on those) are better in most every way than SLR lenses. But if you're broke, then SLR lenses are worth the consideration. I'd hazard a guess that most folks here would rather rent premium cine lenses than own SLR lenses.

Another factor is that still lenses are made to resolve onto those larger film frames. If you're going to use only that small rectangle out of the middle of the lens, you may only be getting a fraction of the resolving power of the glass. The surveys of forum members I have sought have been comparing Nikons vs. average cine lenses for 35mm cine framing. Maybe, some here will have seen comparisons of still lenses vs. made-for-16mm lenses. I can say that while SLR lenses on 35mm cameras is only uncommon, I have actually never heard of anyone using an SLR lens on a 16mm camera.
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#6 Kip Kubin

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Posted 24 November 2008 - 12:29 AM

At the same aperture you will get darker blacks and better, or lets say richer, color rendering with primes over the Nikons... that's fairly obvious, I think because you are using the lens for the purpose it was intended.

I've done tests with my Bolex and with 35mm Lens adapters using Nikkons and Cookes.
http://www.dvxuser6..../1199160779.jpg

Not exactly what your asking but you can spot the difference fairly quickly between the lenses.

My suggestion is to find out what lens adapters are made or can be made and look into building your set a lens or two at a time with 16mm primes.

I did that with a small set of Cookes for my Bolex and I couldn't be happier with the results... my Cookes were only a few hundred more than Nikkons. Just took a while to build as I was hunting for them on Ebay\

I've also used 35mm and 16mm Cookes on my Bolex for the same project and the footage and images cut just fine.

I hope that helps you.

Edited by Kip Kubin, 24 November 2008 - 12:30 AM.

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#7 Chris Keth

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Posted 24 November 2008 - 12:54 AM

One should also be aware of the possibility of camera flare when you use lenses intended for a larger format. They project more light than is really needed into the body of the camera and, if your camera is not flocked and/or baffled well enough, can cause contrast-decreasing flare. This will happen especially when you are shooting toward light sources that are just out of frame.

When you use lenses that over-cover the format, be extra careful to flag the lens well and use hard mattes if you have them to avoid this being a problem.

Here's a link to a PDF that explains the problem rather well as it pertains to large format photography.

Edited by Chris Keth, 24 November 2008 - 12:58 AM.

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#8 David Auner aac

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Posted 24 November 2008 - 02:21 AM

At the same aperture you will get darker blacks and better, or lets say richer, color rendering with primes over the Nikons... that's fairly obvious, I think because you are using the lens for the purpose it was intended.


Hi Kip,

I don't think the difference in color rendition is because the Nikkors were developed for still and the Cookes for cine use. All lenses differ slightly in color rendition, especially when you use older and more recent examples next to each other. Oh and I for one would prefer the cooler look of the Nikkor to the warmer Cooke unless it fits my project.
Modern lenses have better multi coatings than older ones. A 50 Nikkor is a prime too! BTW what mount were the Cooke lenses in you used on the Bolex? Was that a bayonet Bolex?

Cheers, Dave
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