Jump to content




Photo

What Fstop is used the most in movies.


  • Please log in to reply
16 replies to this topic

#1 Reggie Miller

Reggie Miller
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 13 posts

Posted 12 March 2015 - 05:07 PM

I've heard that using a 28mm lens is the secret focal length to get that movie look on a 35mm sensor. Is there a Fstop equivalent that people use most of the time while trying to get the film look. Right now I have blackmagic production camera and sigma art 1.4 lenses. I usually shoot at F2.8 but I think the depth of field is too shallow to mimic what true cinema looks like. If any of you more experienced cinematographers have any suggestions to what specific Fstop or Fstop range you think should be used in film please let me know . So far I've been studying cinematography for a year now on my own. 


  • 0




#2 Rakesh Malik

Rakesh Malik
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 84 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Seattle, WA

Posted 12 March 2015 - 05:16 PM

That's not great advice. Sometimes a longer lens works better, and sometimes a wider lens does. Sometimes you want a very deep focus, and sometimes you want a shallow depth of field. It depends on the shot, the story, and the style of the DP and director.


  • 0

#3 Stuart Brereton

Stuart Brereton
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2574 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 12 March 2015 - 05:30 PM

A 'Standard' lens on a s35mm sensor is a 35mm lens, not a 28mm. It may be true to say that a 35mm gets used more often than any other focal length, but that does not imbue it with some magical qualities that other lenses don't have.

 

With regards to F stops, Cinematographers use a wide variety, though most would not go over f8, due to diffraction issues. Before the current vogue for super slim DoF, stops in the region of f4 and f5.6 were more common.

 

Neither a lens or f stop is somehow going to give you a 'movie look'.


  • 1

#4 Oron Cohen

Oron Cohen
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 208 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Tel-Aviv/London

Posted 12 March 2015 - 05:34 PM

I agree with Rakesh, that it changes from a film to film and from one DP to the next. 

 

In my view, roughly 70-80% of a REAL film look comes from costumes, art directing, set dressing and of course the main work of the dop: lighting! do you happen to have a few lights and grip trucks laying around? 

 

Sorry, not saying anything to let you down, just my view is this art form is mainly about painting with light, not trying to calculate a magic number combination, it's art not science, even though we can be too geeky sometimes! 


  • 0

#5 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 18788 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 12 March 2015 - 05:58 PM

It's not unusual to light a night interior scene to around f/2.8, or an f/2.8-4 split if you are using a zoom lens, and night exteriors might be even lower, like an f/2 depending on your lens and lighting package and what you are balancing to, but for day interiors, it depends on whether you want to bring up the interior so that you don't need to use ND gels on the windows, though can then use ND filters on the camera to get back down to f/2.8 or so.

 

But if you look at the history of cinema, there have been all sorts of trends for deeper or more shallow focus and all of those movies could be called "cinematic", whether it is "Gone with the Wind", often shot at f/2.8 probably considering the speed of 3-strip Technicolor, or "Citizen Kane", often shot deeper than an f/8.

 

Same goes for focal lengths, though 27mm-ish is a nice focal length for wider-angle photography that isn't too wide-angle, too distorted for faces -- I've noticed that Spielberg has often dollied in from medium to a close-up on a 27mm lens in his spherical movies.  And a lot of "The Game" was shot on a 27mm lens.  Much of "Citizen Kane" was shot on a 25mm lens.  But you can list many great movies mostly shot on a 35mm lens, or a 50mm lens, or an 18mm lens, etc.  One focal length isn't more cinematic than another, just depends on what you are trying to achieve with field of view and depth of field.  Some directors favor wide-angle photography (Gilliam, Polanski, Spielberg), some favor medium-focal lengths (Ozu, Hitchcock), and some favor longer lenses (Kurosawa, Ridley Scott).  Some directors use the whole range from extreme wide-angle to extreme telephoto (Michael Bay).


  • 2

#6 Leon Liang

Leon Liang
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 86 posts
  • Student
  • Sydney

Posted 12 March 2015 - 07:22 PM

Regarding the whole "standard focal length" thing, I think standard focal lengths also vary according to the aspect ratio. I mean, using a 35mm lens on Super 35 in 1.85 wouldn't have the same effect as using it in 2.35 since in close-ups faces would look flatter.
  • 0

#7 Rakesh Malik

Rakesh Malik
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 84 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Seattle, WA

Posted 12 March 2015 - 07:26 PM

The normal focal length does vary by film format. It's the focal length that gives you a view comparable to what your eyeball would give you. So on a 135mm still camera, it's 50mm. On a 4x5, it's 150mm. On a super 35, I think it ends up being around 35mm?

 

And so on. 

 

It's a good reference when you're deciding on a focal length for a shot, I suppose. I don't worry about it much any more. i just pick the lens that makes the most sense for what I need for the composition and depth of field.


  • 0

#8 Leon Liang

Leon Liang
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 86 posts
  • Student
  • Sydney

Posted 12 March 2015 - 07:29 PM

The normal focal length does vary by film format. It's the focal length that gives you a view comparable to what your eyeball would give you. So on a 135mm still camera, it's 50mm. On a 4x5, it's 150mm. On a super 35, I think it ends up being around 35mm?
 
And so on. 
 
It's a good reference when you're deciding on a focal length for a shot, I suppose. I don't worry about it much any more. i just pick the lens that makes the most sense for what I need for the composition and depth of field.

Exactly - the best choice is often the one that feels right. In the end, all the maths doesn't matter as long as you feel that it works best according to your eyes.

For example, with still photography 50mm is said to be the standard focal length on full-frame (36x24mm) but when I do still photography I prefer to use a 40mm on APS-C. It just seems right to my own eyes - and it's exactly the same with cinematography.

Edited by Leon Liang, 12 March 2015 - 07:32 PM.

  • 1

#9 Mark Dunn

Mark Dunn
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2182 posts
  • Other
  • London

Posted 13 March 2015 - 04:49 AM


 50mm is said to be the standard focal length on full-frame (36x24mm) but when I do still photography I prefer to use a 40mm on APS-C.

APS-C is much smaller than 36x24- it's very similar to Academy- so for a similar FoV you'd expect the equivalent  to be shorter than a 40. More like 30.


  • 0

#10 Leon Liang

Leon Liang
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 86 posts
  • Student
  • Sydney

Posted 13 March 2015 - 05:49 AM

APS-C is much smaller than 36x24- it's very similar to Academy- so for a similar FoV you'd expect the equivalent  to be shorter than a 40. More like 30.


Whoops...sorry, I was in a rush so I didn't really explain what I meant. I like how 40mm looks on APS-C compared to a 30mm on APS-C or a 50mm on full-frame because it's slightly longer and it seems natural to my eyes.

Edited by Leon Liang, 13 March 2015 - 05:49 AM.

  • 0

#11 Leon Liang

Leon Liang
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 86 posts
  • Student
  • Sydney

Posted 13 March 2015 - 06:00 AM

To explain my point about different aspect ratios in the same format having different "standard focal lengths", if I were to do still photography in, say, 2:1 instead of 3:2 I would use something shorter than 40mm, maybe 32 or 35, since it would give me a closer vertical field of view.
If we go back to the original discussion about F-stops, I like how f/2.8 looks with spherical lenses in the 21-50mm range - again it just looks natural to my eyes.
By the way, does anyone know what F-stop or T-stop Robert Richardson usually uses? Many of his films seem to have a depth of field that seems shallower than what f/4 would give. I know the 'American Cinematographer' article about "Django Unchained" says that he tends to light for a T2.2, but that's with anamorphic (so that would be T1.1 for spherical) and that's for interiors. I'm especially interested to know what he used on "Platoon", which consists almost entirely of exteriors.
  • 0

#12 cole t parzenn

cole t parzenn
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 287 posts
  • Other

Posted 13 March 2015 - 10:45 AM

APS-C is much smaller than 36x24- it's very similar to Academy- so for a similar FoV you'd expect the equivalent  to be shorter than a 40. More like 30.

 

 

50mm is slightly long, in 135; (24^2+36^2)^.5=43.3 (rounded).


  • 0

#13 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 18788 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 13 March 2015 - 11:22 AM

Once 1.37 Academy started being cropped to 1.85, the vertical field of view became smaller and some people started compensating with shorter focal lengths even though this increased the horizontal field of view.


  • 0

#14 Leon Liang

Leon Liang
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 86 posts
  • Student
  • Sydney

Posted 13 March 2015 - 06:23 PM

50mm was the standard for Academy 1.37...right? So when
Hitchcock made Psycho in 1.85, why did he use a 50mm "because it most closely approximated human vision" instead of, say, a 40mm? Did he usually use something longer for his 1.37 films?
  • 0

#15 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 18788 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 13 March 2015 - 06:36 PM

I believe Hitchcock stuck to the 50mm as much as possible, even when cropped to 1.85, but he also used the 50mm a lot on his VistaVision movies, which of course gave him a wider field of view.  But I'd have to do some research to confirm all of this because it's been so long.

 

I think the story about using a 50mm on "Vertigo" (VistaVision) came from Herb Coleman's book, where he mentions doing a second unit shot in a restaurant of Kim Novak on a 35mm lens instead of a 50mm like Hitchcock requested (due to some space limitations) and Hitchcock not being happy about that.  But I don't think Hitchcock was as extreme as Ozu in terms of sticking to a 50mm for everything.


  • 0

#16 Leon Liang

Leon Liang
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 86 posts
  • Student
  • Sydney

Posted 13 March 2015 - 06:39 PM

I think Hitchcock would have used an 80mm or 85mm lens with Vistavision, because I read that when he made "To Catch A Thief" the studio execs complained that the depth of field was too shallow, so they had to flood the set with light and stop the lens down to have the same field of view as 50mm on Academy 35.
  • 0

#17 Mark Kenfield

Mark Kenfield
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 712 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Melbourne, Australia

Posted 14 March 2015 - 06:47 AM

The f-stop I'll use for a shot depends entirely on the requirements of each individual shot. For most narrative work I tend to stay between T/2-T/4 in order to limit the depth of field and control what elements of the frame the viewer's eye is led to. However, if I have a large number of characters in a single shot and need them all to be in focus, I'll stop down to T/5.6-T/11 without hesitation.

 

Where focal length is concerned, that's no different - I always choose the focal length most appropriate to the shot. Do I want to isolate a character or element in the frame? Do I want to create a stronger or weaker sense of the environment around a character? Do I want things to feel 'correct' or 'distorted'? All of these factors come into play in the choice of focal length - the key is to choose wisely.

 

Aperture and Focal Length don't have rules, they're tools.


  • 1


CineLab

Paralinx LLC

Technodolly

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Pro 8mm

Willys Widgets

Tai Audio

The Slider

Aerial Filmworks

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

rebotnix Technologies

Abel Cine

Rig Wheels Passport

Visual Products

CineTape

Ritter Battery

Zylight

Glidecam

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Aerial Filmworks

Zylight

CineLab

Technodolly

Ritter Battery

Rig Wheels Passport

The Slider

CineTape

Paralinx LLC

Tai Audio

Pro 8mm

Abel Cine

Willys Widgets

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

rebotnix Technologies

Visual Products

Glidecam