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35mm glass on Super 16


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#1 Doug Durant

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 08:27 PM

Have a short film I'm shooting on super16 that I'm prepping for right now coming up around the new years. Graciously had many rolls of 16mm (7203,7207,7219) in 200' a minima rolls and some standard 400' rolls donated to me and the director. Looking at packages and wondering if it's worth testing out some different lenses than the usual canon super16 zooms I've used before (8-64, 6-66, 11-135) with zeiss 16 super speeds or ultra prime 16's, or if I try to opt for maybe some sharper 35mm glass like S4's or the Summicron's. I feel that with the smaller negative size you don't see the nuances of the glass as much as you would on 35mm film or digital. Anyone have any experience where they've tested 16mm lenses vs 35mm lenses and how noticeable were the differences. Any help/advice is very appreciated.

 

Thanks.


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#2 Dom Jaeger

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 11:20 PM

If anything lenses designed for S16mm should be sharper than ones designed for 35mm, since the smaller negative might require being blown up to a larger magnification. Hence the tighter Circle of Confusion for 16mm.  Zeiss Ultra 16s for example are among the sharpest lenses ever made.

 

I've examined Zeiss Super Speeds many times on a lens test projector and there is definitely a difference between the ones made for S16 and the ones for 35mm in terms of resolving power - the S16 lenses are sharper. The difference, however, is at a level of detail that may not be picked up in most viewing scenarios, or may be obscured by the film grain - in the 60 to 200 line pairs/mm region. 

 

Of course it's likely that modern high speed 35mm lenses like Summiluxes or Master Primes will perform better wide open compared to older S16 lenses like Zeiss Super Speeds, but you'd be missing wide angle options. There is also the question of whether a large-barrelled 35mm lens will fit your camera. Many don't fit an SR3 for example because they hit the viewfinder.

 

Cooke themselves never made a full set of modern lenses for 16mm, only the 3 SK4s for the wide end: 6, 9 and 12mm. For the rest of a 16mm set, you'd use S4s. Cooke supplied front masks for their S4s, to window down the image circle so as not to flood the mirror cavity with extraneous light and possibly reflect and flash the film. The SK4s resolve more detail than S4s, which is probably helpful for wide shots, but because they are so well colour-matched they intercut seamlessly.

 

 


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