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Extreme telephoto lenses

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#1 Arnaud Serexhe

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Posted 08 January 2017 - 05:55 AM

Hi, 

 

I'm last year student in Cinematography school in Belgium, and I'm making a end-of-year work about extreme telephoto lenses used in Cinema.

 

I saw a part of the movie Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by DP Hoyte van Hoytema where they use a 2000mm to compress the foreground and the background. The result is wonderful : https://vimeo.com/152514220

 

So I'm looking for other movies, other shot like this one. If any DP here already used big lenses (over 500mm with 35mm sensors), I'm interested to ask them some questions.

 

Thanks in advance, 

 

Arnaud Serexhe

 


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#2 Mark Dunn

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Posted 08 January 2017 - 11:32 AM

There's some of this in the battle scenes in Barry Lyndon. John Alcott used a 25-500 zoom.


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#3 Arnaud Serexhe

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Posted 28 February 2017 - 07:38 AM

Thanks!
I'm looking to it!

 

Does anyone else has any idea ? 

 

Or maybe some lenses that exist, lenses that weren't adapted from photography but created for the cinema?

 

Thanks


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#4 Michael Rodin

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Posted 28 February 2017 - 12:11 PM

Over years LOMO has produced a lot of super-tele 35mm cine lenses. Here is a good site by Olex Kalynychenko: primes http://www.geocities...e-tele-lens.htm and zooms, including the impressive 30x: http://www.geocities...s/zoom-lens.htm

There were also experimental Design Bureau Ekran lenses produced in (very) small numbers - super-speeds of T1 or less, extreme telephoto zooms, etc.

Today's Optica Elite in StPetersburg is the direct descendant of Ekran. Their designs are based on Ekran's experimental lenses and the best of Soviet OKS35 / OKS16 lines. Vantage Film also actively used Soviet know-how when they started producing anamorphics: earlier Hawks were very basically PL-mounted custom LOMOs, with optical blocks produced by Optica Elite.

Both Elite and Vantage have fast telezooms - Elite 120-520 T3 and Vantage 150-450 T2.8 (plus 2x scope versions) based on the same Ekran heritage.


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#5 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 28 February 2017 - 06:27 PM

There's the famous shot of the Concorde landing, with the Empire State Building and the sun right behind it, in Bonfire of the Vanities. Allegedly the most expensive second unit shot ever made, as it was only a very small window on the year where the sun aligned perfectly behind the ESB and they had to charter the Concorde to get the shot at the perfect time, which isn't a cheap thing.

 

I have no idea what lens was used, but it's gotta be at least in the 2000nm or more range. It's a great shot.

 


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#6 Haris Mlivic

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Posted 28 February 2017 - 06:50 PM

Ok so this got me interested, I cant sleep at the moment, so here's what I found: 

 

First, here is another thread on the topic, not sure if there is anything useful there but I've read it in the past, you've probably seen it. 

http://www.cinematog...?showtopic=4849

 

Here is a shot from the Graduate, scroll down. 
https://cinemashock....n-the-graduate/

 

Some epic shots in Lawrence of Arabia, they used a lot of teles in the desert i believe. 

https://greg-neville...ence-of-arabia/

 

Some interesting stuff about Kurosawa films, he used some extreme tele anamorphics, (or maybe not...) 

 

An idea, go through this list, find some extreme lenses used in some films, and see if you can find the frames within the films:
at quick glance I saw that Fury used a 1000mm panavision lens, have no idea for what shot, but It would be cool to identify it.
 
Good luck!

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#7 Dom Jaeger

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Posted 28 February 2017 - 07:41 PM

One of the most commonly used telephoto lenses in cinema would be an Optex, Century or Panavision converted Canon 150-600, which can be used with a doubler (sometimes even two!) to get extremely long focal lengths.

 

Other widely used options would be Angenieux's 24-290 with a doubler to reach 580mm, and for older films 25-250s by Angenieux and Cooke would have been used with a doubler to get to the 500mm range.

 

Panavision have a large series of anamorphic telephotos going all the way to 2000mm.

 

There are some more recent options, like Canon's 30-300 or Fujinon's 75-400 that can be used with doublers, and the new Canon 50-1000 but they probably haven't been used all that much yet in mainstream cinema.


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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 28 February 2017 - 09:04 PM

Geoffrey Unsworth used anamorphic zooms with doublers on them to shoot most of the exterior battle scenes in "A Bridge Too Far" -- I think a lot of the lenses were 25-250mm zooms converted to 50-500mm anamorphic zooms, and then with doublers became 100mm-1000mm.  But again, with anamorphic, you have to keep in mind that 1000mm is more like 500mm in spherical.

 

Same goes for "Lawrence of Arabia", shot in 65mm using lenses that probably started out as medium-format still lenses modified. A 430mm telephoto on a 65mm camera would be similar to something half that long in 35mm spherical.  There are a few zoom lens shots too in the movie.

 

The article on Kurosawa is interesting, I tend to agree that a movie like "Seven Samurai" seems mainly composed for a 50mm.  And even for a later movie like "Ran", the cinematographer said that they were on zooms but often set the master angle at around 75mm.  The numbers for the anamorphic films are harder to figure out and I'm not sure the article accurately converted the figures for anamorphic focal lengths if he was just basing the number on the field of view.  To me, a lot of shots in his anamorphic movies look like a 75mm or 100mm anamorphic for the master and even longer for special shots.  In Donald Ritchie's book, he mentions that "Red Beard" was the most extreme use of long anamorphic lenses and for this shot:

 

redbeard2.jpg

 

The lens was 500mm and mounted to the rafters of the soundstage ceiling at the opposite end of the set.  He said another shot of a couple on a bridge was done on a 750mm.


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#9 Doug Palmer

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Posted 01 March 2017 - 04:36 AM

Long lenses have been used frequently in period dramas, for establishing shots on location that require modern-day details to be excluded from the frame.  French Lieutenant's Woman and maybe Alfred the Great (?) come to mind. Also they are useful for bunching up people in crowd scenes to give an impression of larger numbers.


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#10 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 01 March 2017 - 04:03 PM

Tony Scott obviously a famous user of very long lenses.

 

But for me, I agree a lot with what director Jean-Jaques Annard once said: "Do the close up's with wide lenses and the wide shots with the long lenses". He has a good point - a close up would mimic the field of view of another human being close to them and a human's vision is never a telephoto lens, it's in the 25-35mm field of view region. A close up with a 32mm for instance, will yield a very intimate feeling, as if you're sitting right in front of that person having a conversation. With a more traditional CU lens, let's say a 75mm, you're much more removed from them and it feels more distant. On a wide shot, photographically, a longer lens would tend to "tableau" and make things more 2-dimensional and compressed, which, although not consistent with human vision, does have a long tradition in painting and art of looking that way. 


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#11 Doug Palmer

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Posted 02 March 2017 - 04:45 AM

Tony Scott obviously a famous user of very long lenses.

 

But for me, I agree a lot with what director Jean-Jaques Annard once said: "Do the close up's with wide lenses and the wide shots with the long lenses". He has a good point - a close up would mimic the field of view of another human being close to them and a human's vision is never a telephoto lens, it's in the 25-35mm field of view region. A close up with a 32mm for instance, will yield a very intimate feeling, as if you're sitting right in front of that person having a conversation. With a more traditional CU lens, let's say a 75mm, you're much more removed from them and it feels more distant. On a wide shot, photographically, a longer lens would tend to "tableau" and make things more 2-dimensional and compressed, which, although not consistent with human vision, does have a long tradition in painting and art of looking that way. 

I think mixing focal lengths too much in a scene or sequence is not good, unless  it's done for effect.  

That "tableau" approach is well suited for period dramas where we are so used to seeing the past through paintings and so on.  And I like the flattened effect. However, I'm not sure that very long lenses have been used that creatively in shooting landscapes.   Obviously exceptions, but I feel there is much that could be done.  A sort of antidote to drone footage :)


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#12 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 02 March 2017 - 11:59 AM

There are a number of strong long-lens shots in westerns, from "The Good, the Bad, the Ugly" (the "Ecstasy of Gold" sequence) to the posse chasing shots in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and of course endless sunset shots.  Composed landscape shots done with long lenses appear now and then throughout that time, there are some that begin "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" and Walter Hill used them a lot in "Geronimo", there are some in "Heaven's Gate" -- almost anytime you want to make mountains loom larger behind something.  

 

I think they get used about as often in landscape movies as still photographers do them, and for similar reasons -- some landscape formations lend themselves to longer lenses and some are better shot with wider lenses.  There are a lot of issues with haze and image bounce when doing landscapes on long lenses.


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