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Selecting a lens


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#1 George Ebersole

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Posted 15 September 2010 - 02:26 PM

Since I'm not a DP I've been curious how you professionals go about selecting the right lens for the right scene. What's the criteria, and how do you arrive at your decision?
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#2 Sunil Prem

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Posted 20 September 2010 - 10:27 PM

That is depend on location and shots,normal cases I used 50mm,close up 85mm,100mm or 105mm,wide range 24mm or 28mm,extra wide 14mm ,medium long shot 35mm,then if u wanna do a fish eye,u have to go 9mm or 8mm

Edited by Sunil Prem, 20 September 2010 - 10:28 PM.

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#3 James Martin

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Posted 29 September 2010 - 04:24 AM

There's a massive amount that can go into choosing a lens, I suppose basic things are:

Do we need to zoom? If you do, that rules primes out

Do you have the budget for a big box of primes and a couple of zooms?

For me, shooting a lot of digital, I need to know if I need a TV-style (lens with hand control) or a cine-style lens

After that I need to think about what "look" I want, different lenses give you different feels (eg. Zeiss and Panavision both have world-class optics, but really different feels)

Then you need to work out how far back you can physically be, how large in frame the subject must be, how much background you want to see (this affects if you want to be close on a wide lens, far away on a long lens), this will also distort/compress the subject's features

Then you'll know if you need a, 8mm,15mm,25mm,35mm - it's the last thing I decide. Working with zooms I'm sometimes quite ignorant of the actual mm of the lens, if we're in a rush. Good to note it though so you can do reverses, or repeat the setup etc etc....

I hope this goes some way to helping you?
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#4 Hal Smith

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Posted 29 September 2010 - 07:45 AM

In Sidney Lumet's book "Making Movies" he talks about the esthetic effect of different lenses from a Director's point of view.
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#5 George Ebersole

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Posted 29 September 2010 - 06:49 PM

There's a massive amount that can go into choosing a lens, I suppose basic things are:

Do we need to zoom? If you do, that rules primes out

Do you have the budget for a big box of primes and a couple of zooms?

For me, shooting a lot of digital, I need to know if I need a TV-style (lens with hand control) or a cine-style lens

After that I need to think about what "look" I want, different lenses give you different feels (eg. Zeiss and Panavision both have world-class optics, but really different feels)

Then you need to work out how far back you can physically be, how large in frame the subject must be, how much background you want to see (this affects if you want to be close on a wide lens, far away on a long lens), this will also distort/compress the subject's features

Then you'll know if you need a, 8mm,15mm,25mm,35mm - it's the last thing I decide. Working with zooms I'm sometimes quite ignorant of the actual mm of the lens, if we're in a rush. Good to note it though so you can do reverses, or repeat the setup etc etc....

I hope this goes some way to helping you?

It does. To me composition used to be the key factor, but it's more apparent in my older years that it's focal length that determines the success of a shot. But getting the diopter right seems to be a secret soceity art by those in the know. I'm not a DP, but it is a topic that interests me because I wonder how all those great shots in some of my favorite films are achieved. And, to this end (if I ever finally pull the damn money together) how I can duplicate them.

Thanks for the response. It does help.
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#6 James Martin

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Posted 30 September 2010 - 02:48 AM

No problem, don't forget that lighting and film stocks also have a massive impact. In the case of older films, slower stocks meant they tended to light somewhat heavier, but some modern films are hardly "lit" at all. Million styles for a million movies...

Also, note that although these days shooting wide open with a 35mm adapter (for ridiculous depth of field) or something is quite "in", the classic film stop for 35mm is about 3 or 4, and for anamorphic 5.6 or thereabouts (different DPs, different opinions no doubt).

It does. To me composition used to be the key factor, but it's more apparent in my older years that it's focal length that determines the success of a shot. But getting the diopter right seems to be a secret soceity art by those in the know. I'm not a DP, but it is a topic that interests me because I wonder how all those great shots in some of my favorite films are achieved. And, to this end (if I ever finally pull the damn money together) how I can duplicate them.

Thanks for the response. It does help.


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#7 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 01 October 2010 - 02:17 AM

the classic film stop for 35mm is about 3 or 4

Classic in what sense? Also, is it common in the UK to call for a "3" stop on the lens? I've yet to hear that one in the US and I think it would confuse many 1st's here.
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#8 James Martin

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Posted 04 October 2010 - 12:00 PM

I've frequently heard a lot of DP's refer to the traditional stops they aim for being either 2.8 or 4 on Super35 and 5.6 on anamorphic.

I said "3" just because I know quite a few lenses with a T-stop of 3, yes 2.8 would be more correct hence I said "about" 3.

I've noticed recently though a lot more people tend to want to shoot wide open. Reading AC mag yields so many different takes, I've seen DPs that deliberately whack on the ND just so they can have their Master Primes wide open at 1.3 and I've known others to give themselves plenty of light so they can stop down from their lenses' maximum apertures.

Horses for courses

Classic in what sense? Also, is it common in the UK to call for a "3" stop on the lens? I've yet to hear that one in the US and I think it would confuse many 1st's here.


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Technodolly

Wooden Camera

Visual Products

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

FJS International, LLC

The Slider

Metropolis Post

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Glidecam

Ritter Battery

Aerial Filmworks

CineLab

Paralinx LLC

Willys Widgets

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

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