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Angenieux zoom question


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#1 Dan Laporte

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Posted 21 September 2009 - 04:38 PM

Hi All,

I have a lens question that I'm hoping someone can answer. I have the opportunity to shoot with an angenieux 12-120mm zoom (which vignettes at around 25mm, but appears to cover from 25-120mm reasonably well) and an older angenieux f 3.2 15-300mm lens. Considering that most of the scenes I want to shoot will be between 30mm & 100mm, I'm wondering which is the better lens to go with. I'm leaning towards the 15-300mm, because it was made for 35mm cameras, but I don't know much about this lens so I'm a bit wary. I can't seem to find much info on it online.

Does anyone out there have experience with this lens? If so, what would you recommend? Any general thoughts or opinions on this lens are also welcome, as I might have the opportunity to buy it after the shoot.

Your input is appreciated.

Dan
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#2 Boris Belay

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Posted 22 September 2009 - 05:17 PM

Hi All,

I have a lens question that I'm hoping someone can answer. I have the opportunity to shoot with an angenieux 12-120mm zoom (which vignettes at around 25mm, but appears to cover from 25-120mm reasonably well) and an older angenieux f 3.2 15-300mm lens. Considering that most of the scenes I want to shoot will be between 30mm & 100mm, I'm wondering which is the better lens to go with. I'm leaning towards the 15-300mm, because it was made for 35mm cameras, but I don't know much about this lens so I'm a bit wary. I can't seem to find much info on it online.

Does anyone out there have experience with this lens? If so, what would you recommend? Any general thoughts or opinions on this lens are also welcome, as I might have the opportunity to buy it after the shoot.

Your input is appreciated.

Dan


Hi Dan,

Hard question to answer because both lenses are older types that 1) may have had a rougher 'personal' history and 2) were made over a long period of time with improving visual qualities. This latter point is particularly true of the 12-120, which was produced from the mid 50's to the mid 80's (!). A late 12-120/2.2 (look for serials beg. with 13xxxxx or better 14xxxxx) can be quite a decent lens to shoot with, and if it's a 12-120/2-2.2 version, it's even better.
As for the 15-300 model, it is quite rare indeed. It does cover the S-16 frame, but of course is doesn't go as wide as the 12-120. Also, I don't believe it's a 35mm. lens, but rather one that was designed for the 1-inch pick up tubes of 70's video cameras (thus the S-16 coverage). As the 12-120 (type 10 x 12) had a 20x version (12-240), so did the 15-150, and that is your 20x15 lens. I'm not sure picture quality was that great to begin with, since those early video cameras were quite dismal in resolution. Also, Angénieux went for the wow effect of a 20x. lens, which was an engineering feat at the time. So range probably comes at the expense of some quality, in that case -- not to mention, of course, the slowish aperture.
Personally, I'd lean towards the 12-120, if it's a late s/n, especially if weight/bulk is an issue.
But again, these are general considerations. The most important factors would be the actual age of the lens and how it has been treated, serviced, etc. since leaving the assembly line.
Cheers,
B.
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#3 Dan Laporte

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Posted 22 September 2009 - 08:31 PM

Hi Dan,

Hard question to answer because both lenses are older types that 1) may have had a rougher 'personal' history and 2) were made over a long period of time with improving visual qualities. This latter point is particularly true of the 12-120, which was produced from the mid 50's to the mid 80's (!). A late 12-120/2.2 (look for serials beg. with 13xxxxx or better 14xxxxx) can be quite a decent lens to shoot with, and if it's a 12-120/2-2.2 version, it's even better.
As for the 15-300 model, it is quite rare indeed. It does cover the S-16 frame, but of course is doesn't go as wide as the 12-120. Also, I don't believe it's a 35mm. lens, but rather one that was designed for the 1-inch pick up tubes of 70's video cameras (thus the S-16 coverage). As the 12-120 (type 10 x 12) had a 20x version (12-240), so did the 15-150, and that is your 20x15 lens. I'm not sure picture quality was that great to begin with, since those early video cameras were quite dismal in resolution. Also, Angénieux went for the wow effect of a 20x. lens, which was an engineering feat at the time. So range probably comes at the expense of some quality, in that case -- not to mention, of course, the slowish aperture.
Personally, I'd lean towards the 12-120, if it's a late s/n, especially if weight/bulk is an issue.
But again, these are general considerations. The most important factors would be the actual age of the lens and how it has been treated, serviced, etc. since leaving the assembly line.
Cheers,
B.


Thanks B.,

I appreciate the time you took to write your response. If you're up for it, here's a similar question for you. What are your thoughts on the 25-250mm vs the 12-120mm with regards to image quality (assuming similar ages and condition of the lenses) - keeping in mind that I'll be covering the wider shots with yet another angie - the 17.5-70mm, so I'll basically just be using it for shots between 70-100mm.

Best,

Dan
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#4 Boris Belay

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Posted 23 September 2009 - 07:06 PM

Thanks B.,

I appreciate the time you took to write your response. If you're up for it, here's a similar question for you. What are your thoughts on the 25-250mm vs the 12-120mm with regards to image quality (assuming similar ages and condition of the lenses) - keeping in mind that I'll be covering the wider shots with yet another angie - the 17.5-70mm, so I'll basically just be using it for shots between 70-100mm.

Best,

Dan

My thoughts are the same for the 25-250 AND the 17,5-70 as for the 12-120 : look at the particular lens' details (and first its serial number). These are both ciné lenses, and both types were 1) successful and 2) therefore made over several decades. In general more care should have gone into the 35mm. format 25-250 (Angé's flagship for quite a while) than into the affordable 16mm. format 17,5-70, but if the latter was made in the late 70's and the former in the mid-60's, and if an amateur bought the first one and harly used it, taking great care in his hard-earned treasure, while the big 10x25 was owned by a rental house that wore it into the ground before putting it in the bin (from which it should not have been salvaged), then... you see my point.
And again, the 10x25 is a BIG lens, so that may be a consideration : can your camera even handle it without a support system ?
As for the 4x17.5, I'm a little weary of their fairly recent 'rediscovery' on eBay. Because one reseller had a very good batch of late series NOS, and because they happen to cover S-16 (not such a feat, given the not-so-wide angle it goes down to), there seems to be a flurry about any and all of these lenses. People (sellers included) don't seem to even distinguish between the 50's (yes, 1950's!) silver version of that series (4x17,5/18/20/25) and the later black version, let alone bother with the serials that could tell you whether those are from the 60's or the 70's...
So, a word for the wise when it comes to those classic Angénieux : don't dismiss them all out of hand because many are indeed soft and beaten down, but do proceed with caution, as they were victims of their own success and only a few of them are still gems in the pile.
And if I'd have to risk an abstract advice, I'd say : stick with the 12-120 if it's decent (which is as likely as for the other lenses you mention), and consider going with primes for the complementary wide shots. There are lots of good cheap wide-angle primes in the range you mention (10/12-18), particularly if you can use 'legacy' mounts such as C (AR Switars) or Arri St (Taylor Hobson Kinetals, for instance).
Basically, zoom lenses designed before the late 70's suffered substantially in optical quality compared to prime lenses. (It's still true afterwards, but to a lesser extent.) So zoom lenses from that period have to be in very good shape to be good shooters, while you can be a little less picky about primes (so long as they weew well designed and crafted to begin with).
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