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Optar Illuminas? Zoom?


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#1 Colin Nolan

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Posted 03 December 2011 - 10:57 PM

Hello,

I'm trying to decide on a lens or lenses to shoot a S16 feature. I have a dedicated focus puller, but the crew is scant and speed/efficiency is an important consideration. We've done tests with the older Angenieux zooms, and a host of other lower cost lenses. The 10-100mm was always a disappointment. Being generally frustrated with old school lenses/technology on 16, I want to finally drop the dough. No more coke bottle lenses.


Within our budget, we've been looking at a set of Optar Illuminas (not the Elite ones). Are they super sharp? How do they compare to zeiss primes? Any suggestions?

There are some Zeiss speeds out there, but couldn't afford but a few, definitely not a whole set.

Also looking at the Canon 8-64 and 11-165/11-138mm lenses. I've looked at the Zeiss 11-110. The Canon
8-64 is attractive because of it's close focus.

Are the witness marks clear and plentiful on the Canon? I can't seem to find a good enough pic of one.

What would be the disadvantages of shooting with a zoom for the whole feature?

Any suggestions or direction would be great before the wallet opens up -again :- )

Thanks in adavance,
Col
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#2 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 07:59 AM

If you're shooting a feature film with only a zoom, I'd go with a lens that doesn't breathe when you pull focus. For that reason I'd go with the Canon 8-64 or a Cooke.
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#3 Dom Jaeger

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 08:43 AM

Have you considered renting? The best results I've seen for S16 have used Cooke S4s masked for 16, supplemented by S4Ks for the wide end. Or rent Zeiss Super Speeds if you need more speed. With rental lenses you can at least be sure they're properly collimated and checked.

But if you're set on buying.. I recently serviced a set of Optar Illuminas - optically they were not far below Zeiss Super Speeds, but the build quality was decidedly inferior. Biggest problem was the focus scaling - it was all over the place. I got the feeling that quality control was sacrificed to reduce cost. You'd definitely want to test a set before buying I reckon.

The Canon zooms are all pretty good, so is the Zeiss 11-110 though breathing and close focus are an issue. I also like Cooke zooms like the 10.4-52 or 10-30, but I'm partial to the Cooke look. But by their nature zooms won't generally be as good as primes, and there's more mechanical components, meaning more to go wrong. Back focus needs to be set correctly if you want them to hold focus through the zoom range.

It's possible to use one zoom for a whole feature but any deficiencies will colour the entire production, and if the lens comes a cropper you're basically stuffed. But I'm just a technician, not a DP, so maybe others have a more experiential viewpoint.
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#4 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 04 December 2011 - 08:48 AM

Optar Illuminas aren't bad. I have a set for my SR3, but as mentioned, focus scale is on occasion a little lacking. Also, I gotta say, I hate the way they flare, especially the 9.8 mm. Still, when it comes down to it, they're alright lenses if you keep 'em serviced and keep flare mitigated (again, only really bad as you go wide).
They do have a fast speed of 1.3 and pretty good close focus (10" if memory serves.)
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#5 Bragi Schut

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Posted 04 January 2012 - 10:47 PM

I'm not a DP, I'm a writer/director with an interest in cinematography..but I shot a short several years (on super 16mm) and we did some extensive testing on a really old set of optar illumina lenses and they were fantastic. Really impressive. They were primes and held up every bit to much more expensive glass. Just my two cents, but I would seriously consider renting and shooting on primes.
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