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Lens question: Fujinon 10-40mm t3.95 S16 zoom


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#1 Fran Kuhn

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Posted 29 September 2005 - 11:15 AM

I'm considering purchasing the Fujinon 10-40mm t3.95 zoom lens for my A Minima and wonder what sort of practical experience you've had. It's kind of a strange lens, it's a little slower and a shade bigger than I'd like and has a limited zoom range, but it's still smaller and lighter than anything short of a prime and it's a lot easier to carry than a set of five super speeds. What's your experience with this little Fujinon? Any horror stories? Or rave reviews?

I just shot a test with one from Abel Cine Tech. I spooled down a 100-foot roll of 7285 Ektachrome 100D Reversal onto an A-Minima spool and shot it just to see how it looked compared to my Zeiss Super Speed MK IIIs. I set up a 1K tungsten fresnel in the garage, put an 85 filter on the lenses and shot color charts and gray scales pinned to a sheet of black foamcor. I hung a color meter next to the charts and took readings before each shot so I could be sure there was no color temp variation during the test as the bulb warmed up. I shot about a foot of film with each lens at various aperture and focal length settings, then switched to the equivalent length prime at the same aperture settings. I finished up the 100-foot roll by shooting the same test charts and some random footage outdoors without the 85 filter. I had the film processed normal at that Spectra Lab in Burbank, then I clipped the various takes into strips and put them on a 5500K lightbox for a side-by-side comparison.

The particular 10-40 lens I tested is very sharp from t3.95 to t8 and has similar contrast characteristics to the Zeiss lenses but it is also noticeably warmer, like I added an 81 or 81A filter. It's not a bad thing, just different from the Zeiss color. The film will be going to telecine anyway, so a small tweak there will easily bring it back.

Practically speaking, I thought the slow speed (t3.95) and the limited zoom range would be too restricting, but in reality it was actually quite useable, especially since it has a much closer focus capability (25") than, say, the Zeiss 11-110. It also requires no lens support and keeps the camera's profile a little lower than it would be with all the typical lens support rigging. I'd have to say there was no breathing at all, or at least none I could notice.

I like the lens, but I'm also wondering if there's another alternative I won't hear about until after I put my deposit down on the Fujinon. I'd hate to find out that Zeiss decided to come out with a 9 oz., 7-85mm t2 a week after I get this one.
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#2 Robert Edge

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Posted 29 September 2005 - 02:38 PM

There are a few previous discussions about this lens on cinematography.com.

The October issue of American Cinematographer has an article about Cesar Charlone's work on the film version of John LeCarre's The Constant Gardener. Charlone, who also shot City of God, apparently shot a good deal of the film on super 16. In additon to two Aaton XTRProds, he used his own A-Minima together with the Fuji 10mm-40mm and the Canon 8mm-64mm. If he had reservations about either lens, they are not expressed in the article.

My understanding is that Zeiss, if it has not already done so, is about to come out with a 15.5mm-45mm zoom lens for 35mm weighing about 1 kilo/2 lbs. It will no doubt cost a great deal more than the Fuji.
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#3 Fran Kuhn

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Posted 29 September 2005 - 04:30 PM

Thanks for the feedback. I'll check out the AC article. I know this is really one of those "What are you trying to accomplish" kind of questions, but I just wanted to see if anyone had any good real-world stories to share. I heard was that the lens was designed for the A Minima at the request of the Japanese Aaton importer, and I'd be surprised if Fuji made more than a dozen of these lenses. I've never seen one outside of Abel's and when I bought my A Minima, last year, I think the camera's serial number was in the mid 200s. Even if they made one for every camera body that's not a lot. If this DP has one, then now at least I know there?s someone who's used it and apparently didn't register a complaint with Customer Service Desk at Fuji Film Camera Co.

As much as I liked using it, it would be perfect if it were the same size (or smaller) and more like a10-50mm t2.8. I really need something that's low profile because I'm working on a very long-term kind of cinema verite' life-story thing, sort of like a non-sports version of Hoop Dreams, only covering a much longer period of time. I need a rig that won't draw too much attention and that's the primary reason for the A Minima setup: to the average store clerk or TSA employee at LAX it looks like a crappy home-video camera. (I even thought of putting a Sony or Fisher-Price sticker somewhere in plain view on the body). Putting a Zeiss or Canon zoom with support on the body doubles the size and invariably draws nervous glances from homeland-security types. "I'll have to see your filming permit, sir, and please step into this room and remove your pants."

So the search goes on for the perfect lens. And of course I still have to come up with some scheme to convince my wife it?s a worthwhile purchase. Maybe you have a suggestion.
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#4 Stephen Williams

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Posted 30 September 2005 - 02:10 AM

My understanding is that Zeiss, if it has not already done so, is about to come out with a 15.5mm-45mm zoom lens for 35mm weighing about 1 kilo/2 lbs.  It will no doubt cost a great deal more than the Fuji.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>



Hi,

ARRI/Zeiss Lightweight Zoom LWZ-1 is the one!

Stephen
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