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Nikon still primes or a Nice cine Zoom?


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#1 Michael Maier

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Posted 27 August 2005 - 04:36 PM

I'm researching for lens puchase for using on a 35mm adapter with the new JVC HD100 HD camera. I was/am basically set on buying some nice Nikon 35mm still primes. But since the nice ones are in the range of 150-200 dollars each, and I would probably need at least 4 or 5 of them, I thought if it wouldn't be better to get a Zeiss or Cooke or even an Angenieux or Schneider cine zoom. I have seen some of them going for not too over $1,000, which would be the cost of 4 or 5 Nikon still primes AI or AIS, which was what I was recommended over the other thread, thanks Paul, Jan and Tim. ,
I know primes are better than zooms. But the zooms are Cine and the primes are still lenses in this case. So what would be the best way to go?
Remember that no matter what, my relay lens behind the adapter will be a Nikon prime.
Thanks.
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#2 Michael Maier

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Posted 28 August 2005 - 04:42 PM

Nobody has any advice on that?
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#3 andrewbuchanan

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Posted 30 August 2005 - 12:43 PM

Michael,

Just a couple of thoughts... First IMHO, the Zeiss and Cooke zooms (especially the Cookes) around very difficult to find in the $1K price range. I'd watch what you get on ebay (I've been burn to the tune of $1200 before and it hurts). If you do find one of them, it will be a 30+ year old lens, may need service and so forth. Angenieux and Schneider, were passable lenses in their day, but never really compared well with Zeiss and Cooke and certainly would not be ideal for HD resolution.

Also, these lenses are slow. Most of them are in the t3-something range. When you take into consideration that all adapters lose some light to the ground glass and front lens, this could make you really use a lot of light to film anything at night or in a dark room. Also, at the higer stop you lose the critical focus your adapter is supposed to give you DV. t3 depth is a lot different from t1.4. I know some people say that the lenses are less snappy at this stop, but I use it a lot. Also, you have problems with drift, focus during zooms, and weight and size (have you ever carried the Angenieux 25-250 around?).

You can get good Non-Ai Nikkors (or the series E are great) for well under $100 at your local used camera store. You can also look at them before you buy them to boot. They are light, strong, and will give you the speed and resolution you will not get from a zoom. Also, when used on an adapter the larger 35mm still frame (large than 35mm cine frame) will give you more image to zoom in on and lower your chance of light fall off. Good luck.
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#4 Michael Maier

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Posted 30 August 2005 - 04:07 PM

Hey, thanks Andrew. I was beginning to think I would not get a reply, since after 137 views, not a single person bothered to post a reply. I was begenning to think it was a really hard question and nobody knew the answer, or a very dumb one (which in my opinion, there's no such a thing as a dumb question. The dumb questions are the ones which go unasked).

Anyway, thanks a lot for the advice. So you think the Nikon still primes will be better than the zooms. That's great news since I was kind of leaning towards them. But I would think a top notch/better quality Zeiss or Cooke zoom would beat the Nikons, wouldn't them? Well, anyway, I can't afford the top notch Zeiss or Cooke stuff.

I was advised not to get the nikon E series because they were not very good. I was advised to get AI and AIS lenses at f1.4 or f1.8. I think I could afford the AI/AIS since they seem to be better. By the way, what AI and AIS stand for? I have been seeing some of them for sale which say AI mount/AIS mount. I thought all Nikons were F mount. Also is Nikkor just another name for Nikon. I see that a lot with used lens descriptions.
Good point about the larger 35mm still frame.

Thanks for all the good advice. I'm basically a video guy and all this 35mm stuff is brand new for me.

Thanks Andrew.
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#5 Patrick Neary

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Posted 30 August 2005 - 05:00 PM

Hi there-

Nikon primes are great lenses for the money- don't discount the series e lenses, they were lightly built, but some had great glass- I had a 135mm series e that i really liked, it was very lightweight and sharp as anything. Like any old lenses though, you'll have to just look at individual samples and see if they've been abused or not.

All Nikon lenses are F mount. AI and AIS are just part of Nikon's evolving auto-indexing system, it's just mechanical linkage, and it shouldn't make any difference for your use, except that generally the AIS lenses are newer than the AI lenses, which are newer than the non-AI lenses.

Not sure about what you mean about your converter/adaptor ( "Remember that no matter what, my relay lens behind the adapter will be a Nikon prime" )...maybe you could specify which brand/model adaptor you're using.

hope some of this helps!
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#6 Robert Edge

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Posted 30 August 2005 - 11:51 PM

If you do a search, you will find a couple of previous discussions about the choice between Nikkor lenses and cine lenses, including a discussion within the last three to five months. If you look at these threads, you will find that some people have a lot of reservations about using still photography lenses, reservations that have not come to the surface in this thread or the other one that you started on this subject.

These reservations are not based only on issues relating to change of focus during a shot, but on a belief that cine lenses are optically better, including cine lenses that were designed 15-20 years ago. It is unclear to me whether this belief is based on objective data or on the assumption that a 15-20 year old design that costs US$6,000 (give or take a grand or two) must be optically better, presumably better by a rather large margin, given the cost, than a current Nikkor that costs $200-500. Complicating the discussion is the assertion of one apparently knowledgeable person (can't remember now whether it was on this site or cinematography.net) that the lenses on Contax cameras are the same lenses sold as Zeiss Superspeeds. The fellow who said that, and who works as a cinematographyer in New York, apparently got his hands on some Contax lenses and had them modified for his motion picture camera. I would have thought that it would be demonstrable, beyond any doubt, that a lens that costs $6000 is significantly better, from an optical point of view, than a lens that costs $500, but if that is true, nobody seems to have the data to back it up.

If you go the the cinematography.net site, you will also find a recent exchange about the performance of the current Nikkor 17-35mm constant aperture zoom on a 16mm camera. While the individuals who participated in this exchange were very enthusiastic, the exchange was so brief that there was no discussion about the basis for that enthusiasm.

One other thing. I may have misread the other thread that you started on this subject, but I seem to recall a suggestion that AI and AIS lenses are what you want on the ground that current Nikkor D-lenses don't focus manually. IF someone said that, it is incorrect. If I were going to use a Nikkor lens on a motion picture camera, I would go with a D lens provided that I was satisfied that (i) it would work manually without any electrical connection (my recollection, although I stand to be corrected, is that it will) and (ii) that there was sufficient focus rotation in the barrel for my purposes (current Nikkor and Canon lenses have less rotation than older lenses). If changing focus during a shot was not an issue for me, barrel rotation would also not be an issue. If changing focus was an issue, then I think that there is a legitimate issue about the appropriatness of still camera prime lenses. If you do a search, you will also find a suggestion that Nikkor zoom lenses are not constant aperture. That is a potentially important issue, but the statement is not true of several current Nikkor zooms.
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#7 andrewbuchanan

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Posted 31 August 2005 - 07:32 AM

D series lenses have iris control from the camera body, thus they can't be contrllled on the lens. Other brands suchs as Contax do offer great glass but can be very expensive, and some adapters don't have a Contax mount (they are great in m42 for a K3 though). Nikkor lenses are Nikon-mount lenses made by Nikon (series e never got the Nikkor designation for some reason). Nikon makes some rangefinder, enlarger, and other lenses but almost all you will see are Nikon F. AI just means you can set the photo up with the iris wide open then it will adjust to the proper f-stop when you shoot a photo (it is useless for moving pictures, and wouldn't work with movie cameras anyway). Visit Ken Rockwell's AMAZING site at www.kenrockwell.com for any info about Nikkors.

I have a full set of Optar and Zeiss primes for my S16 and a set of Nikon for my 35 adapter and when you get a good Nikon (and some are better than others as Patrick mentioned) the sharpness is indeed quite impressive (but at 1/50th of the price, not quite as good as my Zeiss and Optars). I agree with R.Edge, the reputation of these low cost primes isn't any accident.

A few more thoughts, Nikons are definitely the cheapest way to get a good set of primes on a 35mm adapter. The bad thing is they don't have follow focus gears, and mounting filters is hard (sure you can get a 52mm polarizer, but look for a graduated ND filter or a sunset). The 35mm adapter is supposed to help make thing more professional, and using Nikkors removes some of the professional support equipment. On the other hand, I have 20mm, 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm, 135mm, 200mm mixed from 3 different generations of Nikkors and have less than $400 in the whole set. They take great pictures, but make pulling focus and using my 3x3 filters and my matte box very difficult.
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#8 Michael Maier

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Posted 31 August 2005 - 07:49 AM

Yeah, the Nikons look very attractive. But I would like to get more information on the Zeiss Contax. I did a search here and found the post where the poster says the Zeiss Contax lenses are actually the same as their cine SuperSpeed counterparts except for the housings. But is doesn't seem very easy to find info or used ones to buy. An Ebay search turned out many planars but are they the same as the SuperSpeeds as well?Or are all still Zeiss? It seems the Zeiss still might be a better route tha the Nikons?
Frankly, follow focus doens't worries me, since I think a follow focus when having to change primes on set, would just slow me down. I also pull my own focus. What worries me the most about using still primes is the varying color rendition, contrast, exposure and lens breathing issues I have been reading around this forum. It is making me wonder if I wouldn't be better served with a cine zoom, even if older? I will be shooting HD(720 24p) if that matters. The camera will be a JVC HD100. The problem with zooms will be speed. When using a mini35 adapter, you lose light. I'm afraid a fast enough 35mm cine zoom will be expensive.
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#9 Robert Edge

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Posted 31 August 2005 - 08:31 AM

Andrew,

If you are looking for graduated neutral density filters with a 52mm thread, B + W, Heliopan and Tiffin make them. Both Adorama and B&H have them in stock. There's also a store in New York, which I discovered courtesy of a thread on this site, called the Filter Gallery, that has, or can get, any filter that is made.

Michael,

I don't mean to sound like a proponent of still camera lenses. It's just something I'm thinking of tryiing with my own camera. My sense from earlier discussions on this issue is that few people have actual experience doing this, and that you won't know whether it works or not, for the kind of photography you have in mind, until you try it. On the question you raise about the fact that cine lenses are matched, my sense is that a lot of films have been made with lenses that aren't matched. One thing I'd like to know, independently of the issue of using still lenses, is when the phenomenon of matched lenses arose, whether the concept is about substance or marketing and what the consequences are, in the real world, of using unmatched lenses.
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#10 Stephen Williams

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Posted 31 August 2005 - 10:02 AM

  One thing I'd like to know, independently of the issue of using still lenses, is when the phenomenon of matched lenses arose, whether the concept is about substance or marketing and what the consequences are, in the real world, of using unmatched lenses.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



Hi there,

Nikon lenses are ok for background plates, but mechanically are not that useful for pulling focus.
The great advantage of matched lenses is color grading. The color and contrast will match when you change lenses. Less of an issue if you can afford scene by scene grading.

Stephen
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#11 Michael Maier

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Posted 31 August 2005 - 03:23 PM

Althought talked about, the main question of the thread stills somewhat answered. Will a Nikon still prime set( even if unmatched) be superior to an affordable and or older cine zoom lens when using with the mini35 and a JVC HD100 HDV camera?
I can't afford a set of UltraPrimes/DigiPrimes or S4's. I probably can't afford a nice Cooke zoom either. So I have to work with the best I can afford. I could afford a nice set of Nikon primes with 5 primes or so. Or I could try to get the Zeiss contax or planar(whatver they are called) if I could find them, and if they would be a better option and or would color match better. Or I could afford an older 35mm cine zoom lens.
So what you guys think? What level of zoom would beat the Nikons? If I can't afford the zoom lenses which would beat the nikon still lenses, would the Zeiss be justified? Thanks for the input.
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#12 Stephen Williams

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Posted 01 September 2005 - 02:45 AM

So what you guys think? What level of zoom would beat the Nikons? If I can't afford the zoom lenses which would beat the nikon still lenses, would the Zeiss be justified? Thanks for the input.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



Hi,

The only older 35mm zoom I would recomend is a Cooke 20-100. Its a bit heavy so I think you should go with the Nikons. The Zeiss still camera lenses are better optically IMHO, but mechanically are not very different to the Nikon, so I guess the extra cost is not justified.

Stephen
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#13 Paul Bruening

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Posted 04 September 2005 - 04:28 AM

Hey Michael,

At first, it can seem like zooms will save you trouble. However, they are typically two to three stops slower than primes. If you have the gear to light the set to compensate, then, no sweat. Remember that every stop slower a lens is, you need twice as much light. Let's say that you use a zoom that can stop to 4.0. It will need three times more light than a prime that stops to 1.4. That's a hell of a lot more light to set up and power just for the luxury of a zoom. Plus, zooms have other hassles like back focus, weight and more glass elements, as well as greater cost compared to primes at the same quality level. In my experience, they go out of whack easier revealing chromatic abberations if accidently thumped too hard (which can happen) on a door jamb or similar.

While directorial and DP styles vary, few things stink of cheap more than a zoom shot. That's just an opinion, though.
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#14 Michael Maier

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Posted 04 September 2005 - 05:37 PM

Thanks guys.
I have pretty much set my mind on primes after all the good advice I have been gathering around.
Now, would the extra expensive be worth in getting cine primes rather than still primes? What are the affordable cine primes out there? How they compare to the still Nikons in terms of quality?
Also, are the Zeiss Jena sill primes really much better than Nikons? Do they come in other mounts besides M42 and contax? Or is contax and M42 the same actually? I heard the still prime Zeiss are the same as their superspeeds cine primes. But when searching on ebay, a lot of them seem to be very old lenses.
Thanks guys.
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#15 Stephen Williams

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Posted 05 September 2005 - 11:11 AM

Thanks guys.
I have pretty much set my mind on primes after all the good advice I have been gathering around.
Now, would the extra expensive be worth in getting cine primes rather than still primes? What are the affordable cine primes out there? How they compare to the still Nikons in terms of quality?
Also, are the Zeiss Jena sill primes really much better than Nikons? Do they come in other mounts besides M42 and contax? Or is contax and M42 the same actually? I heard the still prime Zeiss are the same as their superspeeds cine primes. But when searching on ebay, a lot of them seem to be very old lenses.
Thanks guys.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



Hi,

The Zeiss Superspeeds are from memory about 1980. The Contax stills camera used them.
IMHO the old Zeiss Jena lenses are not what you are looking for. Stick to the Nikon unless you want to spend a lot of money!

Stephen
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#16 Paul Bruening

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Posted 05 September 2005 - 11:26 AM

Hey Michael,

I goofed on the lights statement. Three stops difference is actually EIGHT times more light.

As for the lenses... What can you afford? If you've got the money, then get the best. You're already plunking down $10,000.00 on the Mini35 system.

What I am compelled to ask is: How good of a lens do you need for a digital image? Cine film (35mm) is, roughly, a 5K wide resolution image. HD is roughly 2K wide. DV is from 1.2K to .75K wide.

Good Nikons are made to precisely cover a 10K wide image (35mm still frame is, roughly, twice as wide as a 35mm cine frame). While cine lenses are made with features appropriate for cine work, especially the focus systems, cheaper ones that can compete in price with good Nikons are going to be of a much lower glass grade than the Nikons. To get Nikon quality grade glass in a cine lens will cost you a lot more cheese. Then again, if you make the plunge on some PL mount cine lenses, then you can upgrade to film and already have the lenses.

Will you move up to film? Can you afford the good cine lenses? Otherwise, the Nikons are ABSOLUTELY good enough for Digital.
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#17 Michael Maier

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Posted 05 September 2005 - 02:50 PM

Hi,

The Zeiss Superspeeds are from memory about 1980. The Contax stills camera used them.
IMHO the old Zeiss Jena lenses are not what you are looking for. Stick to the Nikon unless you want to spend a lot of money!

Stephen

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Thanks Stephen.

So every Zeiss lens for Contax cameras are SuperSpeeds? I had the impression the Zeiss Jena lenses were the same as the Zeiss Contax, because I thought Contax cameras had M42 mounts, like Pentax. and the Jena seems to be made for pentax. So they Jena are actually worse than the Nikons? And they are not the same as the Contax Zeiss? Which mount do the Contax Zeiss fit? Isn't it M42?

So your advice is to stick with nikons over contax Zeiss (Superspeeds)?

Thanks Stephen. All this 35mm lens deal is very new and confusing for me. So many options, with so many variations. I appreaciate the help I'm getting here.
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#18 Michael Maier

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Posted 05 September 2005 - 03:09 PM

As for the lenses... What can you afford?


Money is always a concern. I'm just trying to educate myself about the options out there. So I can make an educated decision as to best invest my money and get the best quality lenses I can afford. For example; I learned a 1000-2000 dollars cine zoom won't produce the same quality as a 5 prime set of the best Nikon still glass out there, which can be had for 500 bucks. I could probably afford the 2k zoom, but why should I buy it when the nikons cost a quarter and are better? But then some say the Zeiss SuperSpeeds used by contax cameras are better than the nikons. They seem to cost a bit more. Again, I could afford a set of Zeiss Contax primes, but will them produce really noticeably better results? Or should I invest my money on something else and go Nikon? Or maybe the Contax Zeiss really kick butt and will be more than worth the extra cash over the nikons? It's all about making an educated decision. That's what I'm shooting for.


Good Nikons are made to precisely cover a 10K wide image (35mm still frame is, roughly, twice as wide as a 35mm cine frame). While cine lenses are made with features appropriate for cine work, especially the focus systems, cheaper ones that can compete in price with good Nikons are going to be of a much lower glass grade than the Nikons. To get Nikon quality grade glass in a cine lens will cost you a lot more cheese.


That's what I'm talking about. but the only way to know that, is educating oneself. Most would automatically assume because it's a cine lens, it's better than any still prime.

Then again, if you make the plunge on some PL mount cine lenses, then you can upgrade to film and already have the lenses.
Will you move up to film? Can you afford the good cine lenses?


Not in the foreseeable future.


Otherwise, the Nikons are ABSOLUTELY good enough for Digital.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


But is there still room for improvement? Or do the Nikons push the 720p to it's quality edge as far as the format will go? Not only in resolution/sharpness, but also in color rendintion, color balance and color matching between the different individual lenses of the same brand. Maybe the Contax Zeiss are more uniformly made and will match each other better? I heard nothing but good things about them. But so did I about Nikons. I guess I'm just trying to make sure I'm getting the best out of my money before committing .
Thanks for the reply Paul.
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#19 Paul Bruening

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Posted 11 September 2005 - 02:26 PM

Hello again, Michael,

There is a lot of good recomendations about matching lenses. Assuming you buy new Nikons, the matching won't be such a big problem. If you buy lenses off of ebay, then the aging variations as well as material (the sand they buy to start the process of making the glass) may come in to play. My experience is that you have to go through a few rounds of color timing on the computer anyway. Just changing the camera angle under the same sunlight circumstances can yield shockingly different color results. Lens matching may not be as big a hassle as other things that change the color of your image shot to shot.
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#20 Jun Tang

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Posted 27 October 2005 - 07:46 PM

So Michael,

What was your finally decision?

I'm thinking of the same setup, but with a Micro35 adapter.
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