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Conflicted about Sigma art series and true cinema lenses

sigma cinema lenses

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#1 Philippe Orlando

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Posted 25 March 2018 - 06:56 PM

Hello everybody,

 

I have a GH4 and I've recently rented several lenses

 

 

Sigma 20mm f/1.4 DG Nikon mount used on speedbooster on my GH4

Sigma 18-35  1.8 Nikon mount used on speedbooster on my GH4

Veydra 16 mm MFT native mount

Rokinon 24 mm cine lens,  Nikon mount used on Speedbooster on GH4

 

I understand the point of cine lenses, such as the veydra and the rokinon as far as follow focus is concerned. They do behave like true cine lenses. But unfortunately after an intensive 3 day testing, I can testify that the two Sigmas are superior in image quality, in any aspect of image quality, to the Veydra and the Rokinon.

So for somebody who simply can't buy a set of cine lenses at $ 3000 per lens, if I'm going to spend less than $ 1000 per lens I simply can't justify to by a Veydra or a Rokinon after discovering how amazing the Sigmas are!   Sure, they don't have a focus system that allow the hook up of a follow focus system,but at my level in my game and finance I must go for the better image quality and just adapt as far as focus.

Do you agree with me that the quality of the image is much more important that how the lenses focus?  I must say that it's very easy to manually focus with the two Sigmas, you just have to do it by hand and it doesn't look professional but I simply can't give up the quality I've seen in the Sigma 20 mm 1.4 for a lesser lens that would have a more "cine" look.

 

Any suggestions anybody?

Thanks

Philippe

 

 


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#2 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 25 March 2018 - 07:24 PM

It depends what you're trying to do, and under what circumstances.

 

Often, full blown cinema lenses can be a bit tricky if you aren't working with a focus puller, because their rotation can be excessive and make it difficult to achieve long pulls without shifting your grip on the barrel. The long focus rotation of cinema lenses is not always a good thing; in fact, it is only a good thing in the sole circumstance that you are working with a focus puller in a conventional single-camera configuration. To be completely fair, many modern stills lenses have absolutely microscopic focus rotation and horrible ergonomics, simply because modern stills photographers will invariably use them with electronic, servoactuated autofocus. If that isn't an issue on the lenses you're considering, well, it isn't an issue. Probably what you're considering has proper manual focus, in which case the ergonomics may be better.

 

The two other concerns are matching and breathing. Stills lenses, even members of a "set" such as the Sigma Art series, are not always built to match in the same way that cinema lenses are. Some manufacturers like to pursue matching more than others. Also, breathing, which causes the image to change size when focusing, is not often a major consideration in stills lenses because there is intrinsically no pulling of focus in a still image. Some stills lenses breathe appallingly - often zooms at one end of their range are particularly bad.

 

Other issues include things like consistent sizing with the iris and focus gearing in the same place on each lens, and for more convenient changes and internal focus so that certain types of round, screw-on filter are easier to use.

 

The only real technical issue is that stills lens mounts are generally not built to do the same job as motion picture mounts. A bayonet (insert and twist the lens) mount is not as stable as a breech locking mount (insert the lens and twist the locking ring.) A PL lens mount allows you to place the rear of the lens flange against the front of the mount and then clamp the lens in place by rotating the locking ring over the front of the flanges. This avoids causing mechanical wear on the parts of the mount which control the precision positioning of the lens. Conversely, in, say, Canon's EF mount, the entire mount and flanges are effectively ground against the inside of the mount as they're twisted, which will eventually affect their precision.

 

This is generally not a big deal for stills lenses which don't have distance markings, or which don't have markings which are intended to be very precise. It can be a big deal with cinema lenses. I have used cinema lenses which had been manufactured with the popular EF mount for compatibility with all the world's Ursa Mini EF cameras, and sure enough, the distance markings on the lenses didn't really match up to the distances measured by the focus puller with a measuring tape. However, if your stills lenses don't have precision distance markings, and most don't, it's a fairly moot point. Stills lenses are generally built to focus some way beyond infinity so that it's hard for wear in the mounts to make it impossible to hit infinity.

 

P


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#3 Philippe Orlando

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Posted 25 March 2018 - 07:50 PM

I understand and I know what you say. My point is that I'm realizing that a decent cinema lens will cost close to $ 3000 and nothing less than $ 1000 will be able to compete with the Sigma Art Series.


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#4 Dom Jaeger

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Posted 25 March 2018 - 08:29 PM

Yes, it costs a lot to properly house a lens for cine use.  As Phil said, whether you need a cine lens depends on what kind of work you're planning to do.

 

You can often attach a focus gear to a stills lens in order to use a follow focus, but the issues of small focus throw, mechanical instability and lack of accurate focus marks will remain. You might find it more useful to buy the Sigma and rent a cine lens if the job requires one.


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#5 Philippe Orlando

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Posted 25 March 2018 - 08:55 PM

I now fully realize that there is a place and time for renting and raising a budget to be able to rent. Yes, I will not buy a Rokinon Cine lens that has half the sharpness and the quality of a $ 1000 Sigma Art Lens.


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#6 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 25 March 2018 - 10:15 PM

For me personally, if I only had a choice between those two options; a functional cinema lens with middling image quality, or an autofocussing stills lens with superior image quality. I would choose the functional cinema lens EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

Image quality is obviously very important to the art of making images, but being physically capable of creating those images in the first place (which requires manual control of the lens, and the ability to make precise, and often repeated focus and iris pulls) supersedes all other criteria in my mind.

Inferior image quality may yield a less pleasant optical rendering of a particular composition, but it won't (in and of itself) change the nature of that composition. By comparison, not being able to precisely control the lens to repeatedly achieve the compositions and focus pulls that you need within them - WILL violently compromise your work.


Edited by Mark Kenfield, 25 March 2018 - 10:16 PM.

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#7 Samuel Berger

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Posted 26 March 2018 - 12:00 AM

I'm going with the Sigmas. No point in spending more.


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#8 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 26 March 2018 - 03:55 AM

 but being physically capable of creating those images in the first place (which requires manual control of the lens, and the ability to make precise, and often repeated focus and iris pulls) supersedes all other criteria in my mind.

 

I agree - if you are working in a conventional single-camera situation with a focus puller.

 

If you aren't, and most people aren't, it's much less clearcut. Cinema primes can actually be a profound negative if the operator is pulling.

 

Again, I don't disagree, and I fully recognise all sides of this debate, but it's very important to realise that not everyone works in the same circumstances.


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#9 Philippe Orlando

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Posted 26 March 2018 - 05:59 AM

I need to say again that the Sigmas have a button to disable the AF and they become fully manual and focusing manually is very easy. You can't hook up a follow focus gear to it , that's all and it doesn't look like a cine lens.  


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#10 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 26 March 2018 - 06:08 AM

 

I agree - if you are working in a conventional single-camera situation with a focus puller.

 

If you aren't, and most people aren't, it's much less clearcut. Cinema primes can actually be a profound negative if the operator is pulling.

 

Again, I don't disagree, and I fully recognise all sides of this debate, but it's very important to realise that not everyone works in the same circumstances.

That's a fair call and an important distinction. My advice is tied to the perspective of a DP working with a camera team. For solo operators, requirements are different.


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#11 Philippe Orlando

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Posted 26 March 2018 - 07:47 AM

I think it's been helping. In the frame of a production with a DP and a camera operator and an assistant cam operator, cine lenses are mandatory. But with small or no budget productions quality must first come from what the lens is capable of producing and most sub 1K cine lenses, such as the Rokinons and even the Veydra, are totally destroyed by manually operated Sigma Art lenses.


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#12 Samuel Berger

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Posted 26 March 2018 - 08:55 AM

I need to say again that the Sigmas have a button to disable the AF and they become fully manual and focusing manually is very easy. You can't hook up a follow focus gear to it , that's all and it doesn't look like a cine lens.  

 

Maybe on your other lenses, but on my 18-35mm I do have a Follow Focus gear that I can use with it. But mostly I choose not to use it.


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#13 Philippe Orlando

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Posted 26 March 2018 - 08:57 AM

Are you talking about one of those plastic ribbons that can wrap around the lens?


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#14 Samuel Berger

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Posted 26 March 2018 - 08:58 AM

Are you talking about one of those plastic ribbons that can wrap around the lens?

 

Yep.


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#15 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 26 March 2018 - 09:05 AM

I 3D-printed the gears for my Nikons. Pretty good - better than the wrap-around, I think.

 

P


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#16 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 26 March 2018 - 09:23 AM

One other thing, for $1000 or so you can get a small-ish set of Rokinon "Cine" lenses, which personally would edge me towards them to pick up. But there is a certain degree of personal preference involved in such choices.


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#17 Bruce Greene

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Posted 26 March 2018 - 12:49 PM

If you're making a movie with actors that move and need to be in focus, get the lenses that allow follow focus by focus puller.  Even if you are pulling the focus yourself, the cine lenses will be much easier to eye focus with and follow the action.

 

If it's some kind of experimental film, use what ever you like.  But, if actors are giving a performance, you'd better not miss the performance and keep asking them to go again for better focus.

 

And in the end, you might like the "character" of the inferior lenses better if they hold focus in the middle and drop off towards the sides of the frame!  


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#18 Philippe Orlando

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Posted 27 March 2018 - 08:33 AM

I guess I might have found a decent compromise that let me use the Sigma 18-35mm 


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#19 Samuel Berger

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Posted 27 March 2018 - 11:18 AM

Yeah I'm getting those Cool-Lux gears as well soon. The Sigmas are an amazing thing.

 

Right now my Sigmas are on the BMPCC, but that camera is one I use outside a lot. Adding the rubber strip gear and follow focus would draw too much attention to it.

 

But when I get a Canon C300 Mark II or a C200, I will use the Sigmas on it exclusively and then I'll add proper Follow Focus and gears.


Edited by Samuel Berger, 27 March 2018 - 11:23 AM.

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#20 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 27 March 2018 - 03:40 PM

When working with my Rokinon lenses, I find I have to use a follow focus with a gear designed to reduce the focus throw of the lens. The standard throw is fine for a focus puller, but hell when trying to pull and operate. I also find the Rokinons to be less sharp overall than some of the more modern still glass --- but then I actually like that quality about them.


Edited by Landon D. Parks, 27 March 2018 - 03:41 PM.

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