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Selecting SLR Lenses with a large barrel throw?


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#1 Salil Sundresh

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Posted 11 September 2009 - 04:04 AM

As we all know, a problem with pulling focus on SLR lenses is the short barrel throw. It makes focusing very difficult when you go from 5ft to 7ft in a fraction of an inch. I've noticed that some SLR lesnes are better than others at providing a large enough barrel throw. What can I look for that will help me find lenses with a decent barrel throw? I don't have the money for cine lenses of course. If anyone has any lenses they've found works especially well for pulling focus, I'd appreciate it if you could mention the model and/or provide a link.
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#2 Chris Keth

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Posted 11 September 2009 - 12:56 PM

There may be some that are better than others, but I'm afraid I don't know of any that I would call adequate. They're made for focusing by eye.
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#3 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 11 September 2009 - 02:58 PM

There may be some that are better than others, but I'm afraid I don't know of any that I would call adequate. They're made for focusing by eye.



Sreious +1 on this. Some fine glass out there but barrel throw inadequate for serious focus pulls.
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#4 Mike Rizos

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Posted 11 September 2009 - 07:32 PM

Also the marks on still lenses may not be relied upon for total accuracy. There is some which are a little better than others but no by much. There is also no witness marks.

Almost all still lenses have gotten worse on this over the years.

In the 50's almost all lenses had witness marks whether made for cine or still. Even the cheapest D mount for 8mm had them. Rangefinder lenses had them. There were called "tick marks" in the still world. In order to get all these numbers on the barrel the lens was made to focus with a longer throw. When the SLR came into mass production some manufacturers including Nikon produced lenses with these tick marks. The original 50/2 for the Nikon F had these. The aperture was also marked like this without the click stops. However this was quickly abandoned within a year or two. Leica held on a few years for their rangefinder lenses but even they stoped doing this by the 70's.

Through the years as each lens was redesigned the focus throw generally shorter. AF made this even worse. For example some Nikon AI lenses have a little more focus throw than the same AIS lenses. I've seen an aparently similar pair of 50/1.8 where one was marked differently. This is not much and I doubt if it's worth searching out these.

In the end I don't think there any good solution to this problem. Try to use the longest lens possible.
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#5 Chris Keth

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Posted 12 September 2009 - 05:33 PM

I would choose lenses based on their speed, sharpness, a good aperture shape, smooth focusing, and lack of click stops in the iris ring. The reality is that pulling focus with them is always going to suck. Still manufacturers just have different priorities in making their lenses.
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