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Still lense or cinema lense?


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#1 Dominic Disla

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Posted 06 May 2015 - 10:11 PM

Are still lenses really that hard to pull focus? How much more difficult would it be to pull focus with a Canon 24mm f/1.4 L on a 7D than with a Cooke S4 25mm T2.0 on a 7D-PL mount? If I were using a 24mm lens and an aperture of f/8, would I still need a follow focus for a handheld scene? I saw somewhere that the DP for Black Swan shot the subway scenes by himself on a 7D with a still lense. Is there any possible setup where the focus would not need to be adjusted during a handheld scene?
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 07 May 2015 - 12:42 AM

Yes.

It would be harder.

Yes.

Sure, if the distance to the subject never changed as the camera moved.

 

Still lenses have a short rotation so imagine pulling four inches as an actor leaned forward in a close-up on a lens where four inches just involves wiggling the barrel a little.  The focus pulls would also be more obvious if it doesn't take much rotation to go from minimum to infinity.  And pulling by tape measurement is very hard on a still lens due to how close the distance marks are, again due to the short rotation.

 

Not to say that you can't use still lenses for motion picture work, it's just going to be a bit harder to pull focus on.


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#3 Leon Liang

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Posted 07 May 2015 - 12:48 AM

Do still lenses tend to be 'softer' or not as sharp as cine lenses? My guess is they are, since they're used more for still portraiture...
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#4 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 07 May 2015 - 02:21 AM

It depends on the lens how sharp they are compared to cine lenses. Top still lenses can match a lot of cine lenses in sharpness, although other factors come in like breathing when fulling focus are not important in stills lenses. You also want cine lenses to match each other over an entire set. The main difference is in the mechanics, especially noticeable when there are stills and cine versions of the same glass as with the Zeiss CP range,

 

Some people are using vintage stills lenses on digital cameras because they have a look.


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#5 Mark Dunn

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Posted 07 May 2015 - 04:08 AM

Do still lenses tend to be 'softer' or not as sharp as cine lenses? My guess is they are, since they're used more for still portraiture...

With a few exceptions lenses for portraiture haven't been made deliberately soft for decades. You soften by adding diffusion.

In any case the soft style of portraiture went out with with the Golden Age of Hollywood, more or less.


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#6 Mark Dunn

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Posted 07 May 2015 - 04:16 AM

Yes.

It would be harder.

Yes.

Sure, if the distance to the subject never changed as the camera moved.

 

Still lenses have a short rotation so imagine pulling four inches as an actor leaned forward in a close-up on a lens where four inches just involves wiggling the barrel a little.  The focus pulls would also be more obvious if it doesn't take much rotation to go from minimum to infinity.  And pulling by tape measurement is very hard on a still lens due to how close the distance marks are, again due to the short rotation.

 

Not to say that you can't use still lenses for motion picture work, it's just going to be a bit harder to pull focus on.

As David knows, Kubrick's modified f0.7 lens for 'Barry Lyndon' racked through two complete revolutions in order to get enough accuracy for pulling focus.


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#7 rob spence

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Posted 07 May 2015 - 06:43 AM

Plus stills zoom lenses generally don't hold focus on zooming in or out.


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#8 dan kessler

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Posted 07 May 2015 - 10:36 AM

As David knows, Kubrick's modified f0.7 lens for 'Barry Lyndon' racked through two complete revolutions in order to get enough accuracy for pulling focus.

Lens mechanics are what we make them.

Helicoids consist of multistart threads with long leads, giving them
a lot of linear translation for a little rotation.  A normal thread
is typically a single start with a much shorter lead.  It will rotate
multiple times to achieve the same linear travel.


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#9 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 07 May 2015 - 05:18 PM

Are still lenses really that hard to pull focus? How much more difficult would it be to pull focus with a Canon 24mm f/1.4 L on a 7D than with a Cooke S4 25mm T2.0 on a 7D-PL mount? If I were using a 24mm lens and an aperture of f/8, would I still need a follow focus for a handheld scene? I saw somewhere that the DP for Black Swan shot the subway scenes by himself on a 7D with a still lense. Is there any possible setup where the focus would not need to be adjusted during a handheld scene?


It sounds to me like you have a specific scene that you are planning to shoot and are trying to avoid renting cinema lenses or a follow focus. If so, why not tell us what the scene actually is so that we can help you?

I've shot some scenes for a feature a while back where we stole footage in the subway by using a 5D and still photo lenses, so it's possible. But you need to plan for a certain type of coverage if that's the case. Long tracking shots with subject to camera distance changes won't work unless you don't mind the actor walking in and out of focus.
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#10 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 07 May 2015 - 05:18 PM

Are still lenses really that hard to pull focus? How much more difficult would it be to pull focus with a Canon 24mm f/1.4 L on a 7D than with a Cooke S4 25mm T2.0 on a 7D-PL mount? If I were using a 24mm lens and an aperture of f/8, would I still need a follow focus for a handheld scene? I saw somewhere that the DP for Black Swan shot the subway scenes by himself on a 7D with a still lense. Is there any possible setup where the focus would not need to be adjusted during a handheld scene?


It sounds to me like you have a specific scene that you are planning to shoot and are trying to avoid renting cinema lenses or a follow focus. If so, why not tell us what the scene actually is so that we can help you?

I've shot some scenes for a feature a while back where we stole footage in the subway by using a 5D and still photo lenses, so it's possible. But you need to plan for a certain type of coverage if that's the case. Long tracking shots with subject to camera distance changes won't work unless you don't mind the actor walking in and out of focus.
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#11 Dominic Disla

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Posted 07 May 2015 - 07:07 PM

The scene is located at a beach where the main characters are walking around and talking to strangers.

I think that cinema lenses would definitely be the better choice. Could the cam op pull focus himself for this scene?...it would probably be better to be on the safe side and pay more for a wireless follow focus. What lenses would be good for this type of shooting? Cooke S4s or maybe even Zeiss Super Speeds?
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#12 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 08 May 2015 - 01:07 AM

Are you shooting handheld or Steadicam? Either way, you'll get more usable footage if you have a dedicated focus puller. Steadicam guys usually have their own wireless follow focus system they can rent you as part of their package.

Are you the DP or the director? What's the lens budget? Focal lengths needed? What look are you going for?
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#13 Dominic Disla

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Posted 08 May 2015 - 06:57 PM

It will most likely be shot with a shoulder rig. Would the ac pull focus by eyesight or should he be looking into the monitor? Would a cinetape be necessary?

I am directing a short. We are still figuring out a budget. I would like to use a 24mm for the whole film.
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#14 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 08 May 2015 - 07:04 PM

That all depends on what your particular AC needs. Most would probably like to at least have an on-board monitor for checking focus. If it's handheld, you don't necessarily need a wireless follow focus. ACs have been pulling with a manual follow focus on these types of shots for decades before the wireless was ever invented.
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#15 Dominic Disla

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Posted 08 May 2015 - 07:31 PM

I going for a look similar to Like Crazy. How would the ac have kept up with the dp for these short tracking shots? It looked like the dp for The Shining didn't ever use an ac but rather pulled focus himself.
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#16 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 08 May 2015 - 07:44 PM

Lots of good lens options in that focal length. What camera are you shooting on?

It mostly comes down to budget, size and weight limitations, and the look you want. If you were going to be switching focal lengths a lot, I would have recommended a compact zoom like the Angenieux 15-40. Especially on a beach where there is lots of chance of sand and salt water getting into the camera. But if not then primes would work. If your camera is compact like a C300 without a lot of back weight, then a zoom would be harder balance properly on the shoulder.

If you plan to stop down to f/8 then most brands won't look too different. Cooke S4s and Master Primes are the easiest to pull focus on, nice big widely spaced marks. Ultra Primes are much smaller, lighter and cheaper but not as nicely marked or as smooth. Super Speed Mk2 and older lenses are a bit tougher to pull on, much smaller focus scale and only on one side. SS Mk3 has better marks with the same glass, still not as good as UP. Only the UP and old Standard Speeds come in 24mm, all the other sets have a 25mm as standard.
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#17 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 08 May 2015 - 07:53 PM

Haven't seen 'Like Crazy.' But if it's handheld with a lot of camera movement, then the AC using a manual follow focus would dance around the camera operator while following the action, switching sides as needed. If there are a lot of tight corridors or reflections to avoid, then that's where a wireless system would come in handy.

'The Shining' is an interesting case since there is such an unusually mix of shooting styles. On sticks or on Steadicam, you can be sure that there was an AC pulling or at least setting focus on set. Other times, with Kubrick operating his own camera documentary-style with a handheld Arri 2C, he was probably setting the focus on the lens and using depth of field to hold focus. But again, that only works when you're using a wide lens and stopping down.
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#18 Dominic Disla

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Posted 08 May 2015 - 08:49 PM

Thanks for your help!
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