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35mm or 50mm? Help!

Lenses new cinematographer

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#1 Casey Joe Bradley

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Posted 08 November 2016 - 09:58 AM

Hi Guys,

 

I'm fairly new in cinematography and have my first budget short film to make in January. The director has asked me he would like it shot looking a bit like Christopher Doyle in 'In The Mood For Love' and Tarkovsky's Solaris. I'm going to buy an expensive prime lens and am struggling to see anywhere online which lenses seem to match these films. If anyone could help that would be great!

 

here's links to the films:

 

 

 

Many Thanks!

 

Casey


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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 08 November 2016 - 11:02 AM

Trouble is that neither movie was shot with a single focal length and "Solaris" was shot in anamorphic.  You also didn't say what sensor size is on your camera since that affects the field of view of your lens.


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#3 Casey Joe Bradley

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Posted 08 November 2016 - 11:20 AM

Hi David, thank you very much for your reply, i really appreciate it! Its a 5d Mkiii so Full Frame sensor. Because of the change in formats over the years, i'm trying to research the best lens to use to try and emulate these looks. Solaris looks much wider (with anamorphic) and In the Mood for love looks like a lot of 50mm, with tighter frames but i maybe wrong... To replicate the anamorphic look of Solaris would you say use a 35mm and create a letterbox in post? Sorry i'm a bit of a newbie.

 

I know that Ozu and Hitchcock were famous for using the 50mm lens but on super35mm not on a full frame sensor, so is that still 50mm for me to replicate or more like 85mm?

 

Many thanks in advance.


Edited by Casey Joe Bradley, 08 November 2016 - 11:22 AM.

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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 08 November 2016 - 11:52 AM

Yes, an 85mm on a FF35 camera would get you something like a 50mm on a 35mm movie camera.  I'm using a 1.7X crop factor to calculate the difference in view between the 21mm width of standard 35mm cine and the 36mm width of FF35.

 

Though your aspect ratio affects your perception of how "wide" the shot is.  On the old 4x3 format of movies before the mid-1950's, a 50mm "felt" wider in view than it did later when movies cropped the height to 1.85, even though the horizontal view stayed the same, so you had to switch to a 40mm or shorter to keep the same "feeling" as the 50mm got you in Academy or Silent Era photography.

 

And if you will be cropping to 2.40 : 1, this is even more true.

 

Anamorphics are more complicated -- they are like using a spherical lens with a 2X wide-angle adaptor except that the image only gets wider in view horizontally.  So a 40mm anamorphic lens sees horizontally like a 20mm spherical lens.  So if you think of it in those terms, if a lot of "Solaris" was shot on a 40mm anamorphic lens for its wider-angle shots, you'd have to use something like a 35mm on a FF35 camera (20mm x 1.7 = 34mm).  But I don't know what anamorphic lenses were used on "Solaris" -- the interior clip feels like a 50mm anamorphic was used.

 

Yes, a lot of "In the Mood for Love" looks like a 50mm or 85mm or 100mm lens was used in small spaces, the camera backed up past doorways and windows to look in with a longer lens. But there are wider-angle shots in the movie too.  The trouble with committing to just getting one lens is that it might not be wide or long enough for some of your spaces.  Wong Kar Wai made it part of the style to put the camera where it could fit in these small apartments, even if it meant looking through doorframes that are blocking part of the frame, but your locations might not afford you those angles.


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#5 Casey Joe Bradley

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Posted 08 November 2016 - 12:01 PM

Thank you David, superb response. Really appreciate your help. Totally understand. Are anamorphic lenses easily obtained for EF?


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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 08 November 2016 - 01:21 PM

No, most are anamorphic cine lenses designed to cover the 35mm 21mm x 17.5mm frame, not the 36mm x 24mm area. Of course with a 2X anamorphic lens, you only use a 1.20 : 1 area so the lens would just have to cover 29mm x 24mm, but most won't cover that, plus your DSLR mirror would probably get in the way of a PL-mount rear element. There are attachable 1.3X anamorphic adaptors for 35mm still camera lens but they have limitations.
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#7 Michael Rodin

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Posted 08 November 2016 - 02:54 PM

If you want your shot to look like Solaris you don't just pick the right lens. Obviosly, it was Ekran/Lomo anamorphics for this movie and DoP Vadim Ivanovich Yusov used wide focal lengths a lot throughout his career. There sure was a 50mm in his set, then either a 35 or a 30 and maybe a 22. Longer 75 and 100 as well.

 

Yusov has also got a very special lighting style. He's a father of classical/academic realism in cinematography and has a big influence on modern Western cinematography as well, i.e. Roger Deakins stated he followed Yusovs principles and style, and you can see lots of Yusov references in Nykvist's and - later - Lubezki's work.

He's basically taken the old "precision lighting" (which for example Mr Mullen referenced in "Love Witch") method and made it more subtle. His lighting was motivated and "invisible" but still very "emotional", using fine accents and modeling on faces. It was all realistic yet highly tasteful.

Read up on his work and see his films, it'll be an inspiration for sure.


Edited by Michael Rodin, 08 November 2016 - 02:55 PM.

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#8 Casey Joe Bradley

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Posted 09 November 2016 - 10:27 AM

Thank you Michael you have been very helpful - i will definitely check up his lighting techniques. What a great cinematographer!


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