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Shooting a feature with EX3, Letus


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#1 Maarten Kroonenburg

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Posted 06 May 2009 - 12:28 PM

I am thinking of shooting a feature film with the Sony EX3. So far I have come up with the following set-up to be the best one. Sony EX3 no lens, Letus 1/2 Relay Lens, Letus Ultimate, and some kind of Kick-ass Lens. The camera will record onto the AJA Ki Pro, in full res 4:2:2 resolution. The film I am shooting is a shoot in the woods in Canada, 60% night, with minimal crew. The budget is will not allow a RED or a 900. Is this the best option. The film will be released in the big screen in the theatre festivals on HD projectors, and a Film print might become a reality if interest is shown. So my concerns are the range of my camera in the whites and the blacks, and the resolution for the blow-up, and the 4:2:2 work-flow as opposed to 4:2:0 with less latittute in post, and thus less forgiving if the exposition is not right on.
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#2 Maarten Kroonenburg

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Posted 06 May 2009 - 01:35 PM

I guess that I forgot to ask my question, can anybody suggest a better low budget camera package ?
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#3 Maarten Kroonenburg

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Posted 06 May 2009 - 06:31 PM

This is my first posting on this forum, so maybe I am doing something wrong, since nobody is answering me. Is the Sony EX3 the best prosumer camera out there? Should I use the Letus or not? The Film I am shooting is scripted to be shot by one of the characters, like in Blair Witch, and Cloverfield, and Rec., and the actress will shoot herself at times. So in a way the 'video look' of the film is justified, at the same time I want to make a visually appealing film. The budget is limited, so we can not rent a Red or a F900, and those cameras would be to bulky to get that quick of the wrist feeling a Sony or Panasonic P2 has. I am sure that the Sony delivers a better picture then the P2. Sony with the EX3 I could remove the lens that comes with the camera, and go straight to the Letus Ultimate, and then I need some recommendations for a wide zoom that is pretty quick, maybe an angenieux or the new Red zoom 16-45. Did anybody try the Ki Pro yet?
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#4 Nadav Hekselman

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Posted 06 May 2009 - 09:55 PM

This is my first posting on this forum, so maybe I am doing something wrong, since nobody is answering me. Is the Sony EX3 the best prosumer camera out there? Should I use the Letus or not? The Film I am shooting is scripted to be shot by one of the characters, like in Blair Witch, and Cloverfield, and Rec., and the actress will shoot herself at times. So in a way the 'video look' of the film is justified, at the same time I want to make a visually appealing film. The budget is limited, so we can not rent a Red or a F900, and those cameras would be to bulky to get that quick of the wrist feeling a Sony or Panasonic P2 has. I am sure that the Sony delivers a better picture then the P2. Sony with the EX3 I could remove the lens that comes with the camera, and go straight to the Letus Ultimate, and then I need some recommendations for a wide zoom that is pretty quick, maybe an angenieux or the new Red zoom 16-45. Did anybody try the Ki Pro yet?


Sounds like the EX3 is a great choice. Its probably the cheapest 1080x1920 camera available.

I recommend you test the Letus adapter and your set of lenses against the standard Sony lens .
Keep in mind operating issues as well.

Good luck
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#5 Maarten Kroonenburg

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Posted 07 May 2009 - 08:07 AM

Sounds like the EX3 is a great choice. Its probably the cheapest 1080x1920 camera available.

I recommend you test the Letus adapter and your set of lenses against the standard Sony lens .
Keep in mind operating issues as well.

Good luck



Thank you Nadav, I am testing a ex1 with his lens, against a ex3 with a Letus, I heard that the ex1 cannot fit a Letus, a close focus issue, have you heard about this. Our local rental house tried it, and told me about this problem. As for operating issues, you are right to bring this up. The Letus rig will be more cumbersum, and it will require a focuspuller. My director wants the crew as small as possible, so as not to be too intrusive to the young teenage cast. Also the camera will be more awkward for the actress that will operate sometimes. I will let you know which look fits the film better in my opinion.

Maarten
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#6 Andrew Rawson

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Posted 07 May 2009 - 10:16 AM

I have an EX-1 with a Letus Elite and it works great. I've been using Nikon primes and my partner has been using Canon's and we have never had any issues (except for just forgetting to turn on the vibrating mirror :).
I would be more worried about lighting night woods exteriors with a limited lighting package.
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#7 Andrew J. Whittaker

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Posted 07 May 2009 - 12:52 PM

In my opinion I think you will find yourself shooting without the adapter.

As others have said, the operation of the camera and the need to light night exteriors in a forest, in my mind negates the use of an adapter.

I think also that the pitfalls of shooting it without an adapter won't be as much of an issue with the location you mentioned. In the woods you are not bound by four walls and it will be a lot easier to create dynamic frames and separation between your foreground and background. You can also make up for some of the softness the adapter will create by using some filters in front of the lens.

As for using a zoom in front of the adapter, that sounds even less likely. The cine zoom lens you are talking about would likely be too heavy for the mount of the Letus without rod support. If you are adding lens supports in front of a camera system that is already front heavy, you will have even more operating headaches. Also say goodbye to your actors being able to operate the camera. The fastest still zooms that I am aware of are in the f2.8 ballpark, which to me is two stops too slow for night exteriors in the woods with your proposed plan.
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#8 Maarten Kroonenburg

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Posted 07 May 2009 - 03:28 PM

I have an EX-1 with a Letus Elite and it works great. I've been using Nikon primes and my partner has been using Canon's and we have never had any issues (except for just forgetting to turn on the vibrating mirror :).
I would be more worried about lighting night woods exteriors with a limited lighting package.



Thank you for your input Andrew, I appreciate your concern about lighting the woods at night. My A plan is using a balloon with 8x1k Tungsten, and 2 hand held Kino, and or some Led Panels. The balloon can be Helium filled and fly, but branches and wind might be an issue, you can get it high at the end of a highstand, but my gaffer tells me that you defeat the purpose of the balloon that way, since it becomes labor intensive to move. My plan B is to string a metal wire between some trees, and hang some china-balls from it, battery powered if possible. I will go to the lighting forum to discuss this properly, but I need lots of input from you guys.
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#9 Jamie Metzger

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Posted 07 May 2009 - 04:15 PM

If it's supposed to bear resemblance to Blair witch, then forgo the letus.
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#10 Maarten Kroonenburg

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Posted 07 May 2009 - 05:23 PM

In my opinion I think you will find yourself shooting without the adapter.

As others have said, the operation of the camera and the need to light night exteriors in a forest, in my mind negates the use of an adapter.

I think also that the pitfalls of shooting it without an adapter won't be as much of an issue with the location you mentioned. In the woods you are not bound by four walls and it will be a lot easier to create dynamic frames and separation between your foreground and background. You can also make up for some of the softness the adapter will create by using some filters in front of the lens.

As for using a zoom in front of the adapter, that sounds even less likely. The cine zoom lens you are talking about would likely be too heavy for the mount of the Letus without rod support. If you are adding lens supports in front of a camera system that is already front heavy, you will have even more operating headaches. Also say goodbye to your actors being able to operate the camera. The fastest still zooms that I am aware of are in the f2.8 ballpark, which to me is two stops too slow for night exteriors in the woods with your proposed plan.



Hello Andrew, thank you for your advice. I am starting to see the folly of my ways in wishing to shoot with the adaptor. I guess I am just an old film addict, trying to make video look the same. You are right about shooting in the woods, and it lending itself to easier depth creation in the frame. The thing I heard about the Letus going straight onto the EX3, thus bypassing the lens that comes with the EX3, is that you gain 2 stops, but the Letus extreme that I own, only cuts 1/3 stop, so were do these 2 stops come from. I guess that I am just worried about shooting a feature for half a million dollars with a prosumer camera without the cinema look of the lens adaptors, so now do I shoot with the lens it comes with, or do I take a film lens that opens at 2.2, 2.5, or do I take a 2/3 inch lens. I cannot use primes do to the nature of the shoot, so I need 1 lens from 16 to 55 lets say. Any suggestions?
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#11 Maarten Kroonenburg

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Posted 07 May 2009 - 05:26 PM

If it's supposed to bear resemblance to Blair witch, then forgo the letus.


It resembles Blair Witch story wise, in that the film is shot by the characters in the film. I do not want this film to look like Blair Witch. We have come a long way since Hi8 Video.
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#12 Andrew J. Whittaker

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Posted 07 May 2009 - 07:22 PM

I guess that I am just worried about shooting a feature for half a million dollars with a prosumer camera without the cinema look of the lens adaptors, so now do I shoot with the lens it comes with, or do I take a film lens that opens at 2.2, 2.5, or do I take a 2/3 inch lens.


I guess I have a question for you. Why are you shooting a movie with this budget on something like an ex1. I have worked on much smaller projects where an f900, red and even 35mm film was feasible.

As for the zoom, I would probably stick with the stock lens, unless there is another lens made for the 1/2" format. Using lenses designed for 35mm (without your letus) and 2/3" cameras will give you essentially longer focal lengths. Like putting a 50mm lens on a 16mm camera and seeing the effective field of view of a 100mm lens on 35mm. The same applies to 2/3" designed lenses though obviously not as dramatic. Still if you insist on something other than the stock lens here is a link that you might find helpful in order to find the right lens and what equivalent focal lengths it will produce on a 1/2" sensor.

Panavision Focal Length Conversion Calculator
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#13 Maarten Kroonenburg

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Posted 07 May 2009 - 08:43 PM

I guess I have a question for you. Why are you shooting a movie with this budget on something like an ex1. I have worked on much smaller projects where an f900, red and even 35mm film was feasible.

As for the zoom, I would probably stick with the stock lens, unless there is another lens made for the 1/2" format. Using lenses designed for 35mm (without your letus) and 2/3" cameras will give you essentially longer focal lengths. Like putting a 50mm lens on a 16mm camera and seeing the effective field of view of a 100mm lens on 35mm. The same applies to 2/3" designed lenses though obviously not as dramatic. Still if you insist on something other than the stock lens here is a link that you might find helpful in order to find the right lens and what equivalent focal lengths it will produce on a 1/2" sensor.

Panavision Focal Length Conversion Calculator



Hey there Andrew, I shot a 35mm film in Anamorphic for $40.000 with Russian Elite lenses. I know it can be done. The director is insisting that we shoot on video. He finds that the RED is trying to be a 35mm camera, but not succeeding. The F900 is starting to become to big physically to get the loose wrist feel that we want the camera operator to have. So that leaves me with the EX3 as the best options as far as I can gather. I will have to shoot some test with the EX3 and screen them on the big screen to see the damage of the codec. I am also scared to take the RED into the woods, and it adds a data wrangler to our crew, and then there are issues with RED at night, and how it deals with the blacks.

I know what you mean though, it sounds pretty silly to shoot a picture with a half a million dollars on the EX3, but if that is what the story asks for, then we are supposed to tell the story in the most appropriate way, and necessarily the most beautiful way. It is this subservience that I still have the most difficulty with.

As for the lenses, you are right to remind me about the changes in size and we mix platforms. Wide is important however, so I guess my only gadget will the Ki Pro, if it ever comes out.

Maarten
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#14 Andrew J. Whittaker

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Posted 08 May 2009 - 02:13 AM

The budget is will not allow a RED or a 900.



The budget is limited, so we can not rent a Red or a F900



Hey there Andrew, I shot a 35mm film in Anamorphic for $40.000 with Russian Elite lenses. I know it can be done.



I guess I assumed from your earlier posts that the budget was infusing the aesthetics of the film, and the two were not independent of each other. My mistake. Best of luck with the project.

Edited by Andrew J. Whittaker, 08 May 2009 - 02:16 AM.

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#15 Glynn Albert

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Posted 13 May 2009 - 09:08 PM

I guess that I forgot to ask my question, can anybody suggest a better low budget camera package ?


I am shooting a feature with my EX3 and Letus Ultimate on zeiss primes, the problem that i see with the comment to push back for shallower depth of field is that you get more camera shake and you loose intimacy with the actors. I see on Philip Blooms site the test with the EX relay makes the shot much brighter, but I would not trust that, I would check out someone else's relay first. Like you said, your elite only looses 2/3, if thats true where is the 2 coming from?
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#16 Glynn Albert

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Posted 13 May 2009 - 09:21 PM

It resembles Blair Witch story wise, in that the film is shot by the characters in the film. I do not want this film to look like Blair Witch. We have come a long way since Hi8 Video.

If the characters will hold the camera, you may wish to forgo the Letus then, that is pretty heavy for take after take day after day for even a man, doing a fake hold is possible but then you'd better have a large LCD on set. I would not recommend having the talent hold my EX3 and Letus Ultimate, no way, too distracting and taxing.
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