Favorite lens packages
Posted 03 December 2015 - 12:25 AM
Posted 04 December 2015 - 10:00 AM
I own a lens rental company so you may want to consider my opinions with the fact that I have a financial interest in some of the lenses I would reccommend.
I do work with a fairly wide range of lenses and have had an opportunity to evaluate many both on a projector and on the job as a DP.
Every project could be designed to favor a specific look that would lead a DP to select a particular lens or group of lenses. One of the big factors to consider is what lens coverage you require for the project you are shooting. If you are working with a S-35 image circle then your choice of cinema lenses are pretty much unlimited. If you are shootin Alexa Open Gate or Red Dragon at 6K then you will need to make sure the lenses you want to shoot are capable of covering a 33.5mm image circle. In some cases I don't mind a vignette caused by a lens with an image circle that is 'too small' for the format chosen. . .for example in Arri Open Gate shooting an aspect ratio of 1:85 the Optimo 12-1 will vignette at most focal lengths to varying degrees - and for some projects that might be just what you like (or just dreadfull depending on your taste).
As to favorites it really depends on the look you are trying to acheive. If I were interested in a super modern/clean polished look shot with a digital camera then I might want to consider Arri Master Primes matched with the Fujinon Premier zoom lenses.
For a Romantic Drama or Comedy where I would be working hard to create a glamorous look for the actors I would be very interested in a set of Leica Summilux C lenses matched with an Optimo 12-1 and maybe a couple of Optimo hand held lenses.
The Leicas are just superb - they have so few flaws and they are eaasy to work with being small and perfectly matched in size.
Personally for many types of jobs with digital cameras I really like the TLS Cooke Speed Panchros and the TLS Super Baltar vintage lenses. They have a wonderful look with a sharp-er center image that falls off fairly quickly to softer corners. The over all image is softer than most modern lenses wide open with reduced contrast and a tendancy to flare nicely. Often these lenses are just beautiful with no diffusion added at all. The masterful lens designers at TLS have made these older lenses as easy to work with as an S-4 with widely spaced and easily read focus markings. The vintage lenses really add a lot of character to the sometimes 'too clean' look of digital.
For anamorphic I am a big fan of the Panavision G-series lenses. Small and fast these are some of the best looking anamorphic lenses I have worked with. The Arri Master anamorphic lenses are very clean and sharp and I would like to try out the new flare adapters they have introduced to help give these lenses more character. For anamorphic zoom lenses I think Panavision is still the best option for both long and short anamorphic zoom lenses - with the exception of lightweight zooms. Angenieux has done a great job with the new 30-72 anamorphic and the 56-152 anamorphic which are adaptations of the 15-40 and the 28-76 spherical zoom lenses. Both of the Angenieux anamorpics are great lenses that have very little geometric distortion and are sharp corner to corner with very little field curvature problems like many anamorphic lenses. The Angenieux anamorphics also focus really close at 2'2" MOD which is a big deal for an anamorphic zoom (and many anamorphic primes) which means you can leave the diopters in the filter case for almost all close ups.
Director of Photography
Posted 21 December 2015 - 04:07 PM
Neal thanks for your extremely detailed response. The TLS Super Baltar vintage lenses sound awesome and seem like they'd be something I'd really love if I get a chance to shoot with them.
Does anyone else any other Lens Packages that they like or rental houses they recommend?
Posted 22 December 2015 - 12:56 AM
I work a lot with a mixed set of Zeiss Super Speeds (18, 25, 35, 50, 65, 85) and Standard speeds (32, 40, 100, 135). I love the way they look at t2 or t2.8. Lovely bokeh and falloff
The Camera House are my favorite rental place. Great service and genuinely nice people
Posted 23 December 2015 - 12:39 PM
Thanks Stuart, I've never used The Camera House so maybe on my next gig I'll reach out to them.
Any other opinions / preferences out there?
Posted 31 December 2015 - 06:12 PM
Last 2 years I've been using Leica T1.4's a lot. They're small enough to handheld and they have a great organic feel. They are my modern go to lenses. Older lenses, I'm a big fan of the Zeiss T2.1's and the Cookes. For zooms, the Fujinon 18-85mm T2 is my favorite. That thing can truly replace primes in that range.
Posted 31 December 2015 - 06:33 PM
In the interests of mentioning something here that costs less than a house, I'm very happy if I can get my hands on a set of the Veydra mini-primes. Money no object, the Fuji 19-90. Why use anything else.
Posted 31 December 2015 - 08:44 PM
Canon CN7 I prefer to the Fuji.. for extra range and just that the iris,zoom,focus seem to be better placed.. and 180 degree focus travel.. although both heavy and the CN7 is a bit more front heavy.. ideal for doc,s or locations where you dont want to change primes..
Posted 01 January 2016 - 04:19 AM
Posted 01 January 2016 - 04:37 AM
I like and use the old Schneider Kreuznach Cine Xenon because of how organic they look, the softness and the bokeh, which is beautiful and very special.
As for new lenses I love the look of the Leicas, the Vantage T1 when wide open and the old Panavision Super Speed lenses.
On the anamorphic side:
Lomo Squarefront lenses, Cineovision and any Panavision ones (B Series if I had to pick one)
Satsuki, it is interesting what you say about the Standard Zeiss because in Spain people like the Super Speeds the most, and they give you loads of explanations as to why (I like both anyways)
Even the camera rental houses give you the Super Speeds as default.
Posted 01 January 2016 - 06:03 PM
I just don't like the CA on the Supers and find the warmer, rounder look of the Standards more attractive on faces. The rainbow flares are also pretty, although that may have been down to element separation or some other defect in that particular set.
A good set of Kowa anamorphics are lovely, though you really have to box in the lens with flags and hard mattes to keep them from veiling too much.
Posted 01 January 2016 - 07:39 PM
I just don't like the CA on the Supers
Posted 01 January 2016 - 09:02 PM
Money no object, the Fuji 19-90. Why use anything else.
The Cabrio 19-90 has a tendency toward the green end of the spectrum and has zero character. People tell me it cuts really well with Ultra-Primes. I'm not sure that's a selling point for me.
Posted 02 January 2016 - 03:06 PM
Agree about the 19-90, boring lens. A set of Standard Speeds is around $250/day, $50 cheaper than Supers. See Phil, I'm being economical!
Posted 02 January 2016 - 06:22 PM
Well, yes, but that's sort of the point. Get something clean, filter to taste. It's OK if you're renting, I guess, but I'd rather have something that didn't have an indelible, built-in characteristic that might not be appropriate for all productions.
Posted 02 January 2016 - 08:39 PM
Ehh I dunno; I want a little pizzazz, personally-- I find both the UPs and The 19-90 about as welcoming as a german proctologist waiting area-- they lack that little bit of magic, maybe the "film look" between ENG/EFP and something-- well special, unique.
Posted 02 January 2016 - 08:54 PM
...I find both the UPs and The 19-90 about as welcoming as a german proctologist waiting area...
Don't hold back, man! Don't hold back!...lol
Posted 02 January 2016 - 08:57 PM
It's true; just about every times i've used UPs I've been let down by them and just not-- moved, i guess, by the images they create. Same with the 19/90-- and in fact I try my best to never use either anymore.
If I had to go favorite, Cooke S4s, else Zeiss Standard Speeds.
Posted 02 January 2016 - 11:27 PM
I like the Ultra Primes just fine, it's not necessary for every project to use lenses that have "character". The Ultra Primes are very similar to Super Speeds, they just don't go to f/1.3 and they have a bigger barrel for easier-to-read focus marks and a longer rotation. They don't really have a "look". They are similar to Primos to me, clean workhorse prime lenses with minimal flare.
Posted 02 January 2016 - 11:37 PM
The Ultra Primes are very similar to Super Speeds,
I'd have to disagree, David. I shoot with Super Speeds all the time, and on the odd occasion I have to have an Ultra Prime to round out a set, it stands out like a sore thumb. It's not their fault, Ultras are designed to be super clean and clinical, but the downside is a complete lack of character.