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Optimal cinema lens choice


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#1 Alex Lopez

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Posted 09 September 2014 - 05:48 PM

I am going to be shooting a short film on a Canon C300 (PL mount) far abroad and I want to get my hands on cinema lenses. Due to the horrifying lack of experience or knowledge about them (doing lots of research) I would like to ask for an opinion about what would be the best choice in order to grab 2-3 of them and go abroad. The crucial thing is the size and weight. Since all of it is going to be shot with a shoulder rig and the production involves a lot of travelling they have to be quite small and light (at least compared to those bigger ones in the market). Cooke S4 got my attention. I was also exploring anamorphic lenses and I absolutely love the way they look on digital as well. Is it worth going for?

 

Thank you very very much in advance!


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#2 Dom Jaeger

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Posted 09 September 2014 - 09:49 PM

Your choice of lenses is very much dependent on a few other factors that you haven't mentioned - what would suit the film and probably most pertinently what your budget is. Proper cinema lenses are extremely expensive to buy (Cooke S4s for example retail at around $20,000 each), so I assume you mean to rent the lenses? Rental houses may not be receptive to letting you take their lenses "far abroad" if you're inexperienced and unknown to them, so you may need to rent the lenses abroad. Something for you to look into anyway.

 

The needs of the film should determine what sort of lenses you might look for. If you're doing a lot of shoulder mount shooting in a documentary sort of style you might find a compact zoom gives you more flexibility and saves time changing lenses. If you're not expecting any low light or night shoots or don't require fast lenses for a shallow DOF look you could try something like Cooke S4 minis, which are just like S4s only smaller and only open to T2.8. If you're on a very low budget you might want to look into Samyang or Rokinon Primes or other lower cost options.

 

Anamorphic lenses have a specific look that doesn't suit every type of film, and they are often bulky and heavy, with rather slow apertures.  Using 2x anamorphics on a 16:9 sensor you will end up cropping a third of the image to achieve a final 2.40 aspect ratio, so you'd want a very good reason to use them. If you still like the idea, the Kowa anamorphics are the most compact and lightweight I've come across (I'm talking about the Prominar cine lenses, not the projection lenses).


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#3 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 10 September 2014 - 01:30 AM

What focal lengths do you need?

 

What's your budget? Cooke S4s are great lenses, but I would not call them small or light. A 6 lens set is also around $900/day to rent. S4 Minis, Zeiss Ultra Primes, Super Speeds, or Standard Speeds would be much easier to travel with, and cheaper.

 

How well-balanced is your shoulder rig? Most C300 rigs I've used require a significant amount of back weight to keep the rig from becoming front heavy with a prime lens, rods, follow focus, handgrips, and matte box. Adding even the lightest compact zooms (Angenieux DPs) to that equation can pretty much make it impossible to balance.

 

Will you have camera assistants with you to help with lens and filter changes, focus pulling, packing and shlepping cases of gear through airports, hotels, on location? If not, you might be better off with an EF mount C300 and some small EF zooms. My go to documentary lenses are the 16-35, 24-105, 70-200. The 24-105 is f/4 but is image stabilized which helps a lot with handheld. You can fit lenses, camera, filters, and AKS into one backpack and carry on.


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#4 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 10 September 2014 - 01:49 AM

If you're shooting with a C300, I would avoid anamorpic lenses unless you have a full camera department supporting you.

 

The C300 has a native 16:9 sensor and no ability to unsqueeze the anamorphic image for framing. You'd need an external viewfinder with 2x unsqueezing capability, as well as custom frame lines cropping the sides for 2.40. I'm assuming you will have a director and/or client who will also want to see the properly unsqueezed and framed image on an external monitor, so that monitor will also need that capability. You'll need to shoot a framing chart and make sure that gets passed on to post along with the footage, or even better baked into transcoded dailies.

 

The Kowa scope lenses are very small and light, but they are very soft until you stop them down to at least T4, preferably T5.6. Also, the standard set is 40, 50, 75, 100mm. 40mm not wide at all on the Super 35 3-perf sized C300 sensor. You'll be stuck without a wide angle option with these lenses unless you can get the wide angle adapter for the 40mm, which makes it a 30mm.


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#5 Oron Cohen

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Posted 10 September 2014 - 03:42 AM

I am going to be shooting a short film on a Canon C300 (PL mount) far abroad and I want to get my hands on cinema lenses. Due to the horrifying lack of experience or knowledge about them (doing lots of research) I would like to ask for an opinion about what would be the best choice in order to grab 2-3 of them and go abroad. The crucial thing is the size and weight. Since all of it is going to be shot with a shoulder rig and the production involves a lot of travelling they have to be quite small and light (at least compared to those bigger ones in the market). Cooke S4 got my attention. I was also exploring anamorphic lenses and I absolutely love the way they look on digital as well. Is it worth going for?

 

Thank you very very much in advance!

Hi Alex, 

 

I suppose you're renting lenses? If so, and you're using C300 on the shoulder I would highly recommended getting a couple of lightweight zooms or even one.

 

You have few great options: 

- Two Angenieux Optimo DP: 16-42mm and the 30-80mm.  They are great lenses! lightweight and to my opinion look as beautiful as Cooks. 

- Fujinon Cabrio 19-90 , I personally not a big fan of the look of this lens, Angenieux look much better to my eye, but I did used it, and it's very helpful as an all around lens. 

- The Canon 17-120 Cine, I haven't check it out yet, but could be a great option as well. 

 

I think a lot of people that are starting out don't pay much attention to zooms, but modern Cine zoom don't really fall in quality from what prime lenses has to offer and many DP's and director prefer using zooms over primes if possible from various reasons, so do check them out. 


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