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Is 18 mm lense wide enough?


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#1 sophia olsson

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Posted 19 August 2005 - 11:58 AM

I´m shooting a short film with a pro35 adapter and 35 mm lenses and one picture will be shoot from the front of a car (from the hood(?), I think that´s the word in english). I want both of the actors (the driver and the passenger) to be in the picture at the same time and the widest lense I will have is 18 mm.

Now I don´t have the possibility to check this before with the actual lenses to see if its´s wide enough, so does anybody out there know if it´s wide enough with 18 mm or should I have an even wider lense also (and then how wide) just to make sure?

Thank you!

Best regards,
Lisa

(The car is a regular car, it´s not that wide)
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#2 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 19 August 2005 - 02:52 PM

Don't take my word for it - look it up in a filed-of-view table, but instinctly, yes, I'd say an 18mm would just about be wide enough, depending on where you place it.
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#3 Paul Bruening

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Posted 19 August 2005 - 05:04 PM

Hello,

Keep in mind that wide lenses look funky. It warps the image as well as makes objects seem farther away from each other. If you put the car on a dual-axle, car-hauling trailer, then you can tow it safley behind a pickup thereby relieving the actors from having to operate the vehicle and do lines at the same time. You'll have room on the tongue of the trailer to mount the camera and can use a lens closer to normal. The trailer also gives you side points to mount the camera for side shots. That will make your editor happy (having something else to cut to).

Just an idea.
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#4 sophia olsson

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Posted 20 August 2005 - 01:35 AM

Thank you!

We talked earlier about using a trailer, but in the end there wasn´t enough money for that. But I agree, that would have been the best way! I´ll have a directors viewfinder tomorrow to look through and then I´ll see if we need something wider (if I can trust this viewfinder). But I´ll look it up in a filed-of-view table. We´ll probably be using 25 mm and 35 mm lenses quite a lot in this short film, so it might not look to strange going to an 18 mm.

I´m also thinking about making a budget version of something that reminds of a trailer. We have a small bus were you can film from the back of the bus and "drag" the prop car behind. Then we´ll have the same distance and I don´t have to have such a wide lense. Hopefully we´ll be able to try if that works tomorrow.

Thank you for you help once again!
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#5 Max Jacoby

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Posted 20 August 2005 - 01:52 AM

I think modern spherical lenses like the Ultra-Primes, Cooke S4s and especially Master Primes do not really bend the edges that much anymore. On the film I'm currently on we carry a 16mm Cooke S4 and although the edges bend a bit when one looks through the viewfinder and on the monitor, that is only a result of the viewfinder optics, the image on the negative is absolutely fine, as evidenced by the printed rushes that we project on the big screen. I've noticed the same effect when shooting with a 50mm Hawk lens as well. At first I was a bit hesiatant to use it, but once I saw the rushes, I knew that it would look good.

Another thing to keep in mind is that for wide exterior shots without vertical lines at the edge of the frame, one can use a wide-angle lens much more easily, since any distortions won't show up as much. It is a different game to do a close-up of a person with such a lens though, that needs much more care. Also each person'a face is different, some people look good with every lens, some only with a very specific lens.
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#6 Paul Bruening

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Posted 21 August 2005 - 12:19 PM

Hey Audiris,

While I am aware that you have much more cine experience than me and that I have grown to have a great deal of respect for you, I must beg to differ. I cut my teeth on film doing still portraiture and expanded to other subjects. Lens lengths and their particular characteristics are often overlooked by cine-folks because of the pressures and limitations of the director who only gets storytelling. I hate getting boxed in by a director so that I have to use a wide lens just to fit his angle requirements and tight locations.

There are a few technical hallmarks of "cheap" in movie making: Bad sound; bad lighting; too-wide lenses, being just a few. You can't always control those first two since they are so intimately tied to the budget, but avoid going with the overly wide lens. See if the director will do the scene with closer, intercut shots if the shooting space is tight. Long takes with a wide lens just stink of cheap in my book.

Lenses have a long established language of their own. Old time DPs shot on stages for little more reason (sound being one) than having the room to use the best lens for the take. They insisted on this so that viewers would not be taxed by odd images. It was felt that lenses which altered the sense of normallicy would compete for the attentions and harm the success of the story and suspension of disbelief (even though that's a modern term). While we work under an "anything goes" creative wolrd these days, I cling to the old world notions of lenses serving the story- not the other way around.

For these reasons, the tried and true set of three has been set: Rarely wider than 35mm for wide, 50mm on everything except close-ups, and a 75mm to 100mm for facial close-ups (depending on DP's preferrence).

I know I sound like a stick-in-the-mud. But, I love the language of lenses and delight in the wisdom of those who have preceded me.
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#7 Max Jacoby

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Posted 21 August 2005 - 01:22 PM

That is actually what I said in my post as well, you cannot use any lens on any face (or shot). Just because a 16mm lens does not distort that much anymore doesn't mean you should use it all the time. Personally I am not a fan of wide lenses anyway, I like to use longer lenses in my work to guide the viewers eye. Rather than doing an establishing shot, I'd rather track to reveal space gradually, so that the audience can piece the surroundings together in their mind.
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