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Pro35 with HD cameras?


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#1 Michael Maier

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Posted 08 November 2005 - 05:31 PM

Anybody has experience with using the P+S Pro35 with a HD camera like a Sony F900 or the Panasonic Varicam? How did it hold up? Do you know of any links with footage?
Thanks.
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 08 November 2005 - 09:03 PM

I used it on the Varicam for a music video.

You lose some contrast and sharpness, but you can correct some of that in post or in camera (the black level.)

I haven't tried it for a film-out but I probably would avoid it.
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#3 Mitch Gross

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Posted 08 November 2005 - 11:27 PM

A couple of years ago I tested the Pro35 with a Varicam and posted my results, I think both here and on the Cinematography Mailing List. I was prepared to use the system but found that there were very particular parameters to using it that severely limited it for me, and in the end we went with a set of Zeiss DigiPrimes instead. I'm sure if you did a Google search you could find mine and others' observations on the Pro-35. Again, it is not a bad system, just a very limiting one.
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#4 Michael Maier

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Posted 09 November 2005 - 07:11 AM

Mitch I found the post you are talking about. I also found some of David's. I'm looking now for some online footage done with the Pro35 and Varicam or F900. I always liked footage from the Mini35, but always found it a little too soft in DV. Then I saw footage from the mini35 with the HD100( a HD camera) and I loved it. At least the m2t files were very sharp. Not sure in a film out. So I'm wondering how much better would the Varicam or F900 be with the Pro35, and if it would be worth the extra rental cost. Anybody know of any online footage? Thanks.
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#5 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 09 November 2005 - 08:44 AM

Just did a commercial with that and it turned out fine. In my mind I can still "see" the grittiness of the ground glass in the Pro 35 adapter, but it might all be in my head?

I'm soon going to post it on my website - keep an eye out for the Yasmin Le Bon-spot.

Edited by AdamFrisch, 09 November 2005 - 08:46 AM.

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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 09 November 2005 - 11:20 AM

I think the Pro-35-on-HD is a great look, don't get me wrong - I just think it is (1) too soft for a film-out, to my tastes; (2) too awkward for shooting an entire feature; (3) HD zooms are too practical for shooting a feature. But I'd use the Pro-35 again for an HD commercial, short, or music video.
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#7 Michael Maier

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Posted 09 November 2005 - 11:36 AM

Just did a commercial with that and it turned out fine. In my mind I can still "see" the grittiness of the ground glass in the Pro 35 adapter, but it might all be in my head?

I'm soon going to post it on my website - keep an eye out for the Yasmin Le Bon-spot.



What camera Adam? When can we expect to see something?

I think the Pro-35-on-HD is a great look, don't get me wrong - I just think it is (1) too soft for a film-out, to my tastes; (2) too awkward for shooting an entire feature; (3) HD zooms are too practical for shooting a feature. But I'd use the Pro-35 again for an HD commercial, short, or music video.


You actually prefer the zooms over film primes? Did I misunderstand?
You say too soft for film-out, but how about digital projection from a Windows HD file or some other HD file?
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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 09 November 2005 - 12:09 PM

What camera Adam? When can we expect to see something?
You actually prefer the zooms over film primes? Did I misunderstand?
You say too soft for film-out, but how about digital projection from a Windows HD file or some other HD file?


Yes, from a practical point of view of working quickly, I prefer using HD zooms over prime lenses. In 35mm, I prefer primes because they are lighter, smaller, and faster than zooms, but in HD, the zooms are not as large and they are fairly fast. This has nothing to do with HD zooms being better than HD primes -- I've used the Zeiss Digi-Primes and the quality is wonderful.

As for 35mm cine primes on the Pro-35 versus HD zooms, I still think the better HD zooms would deliver a sharper image with better contrast. Ultimately you are limited, sharpness-wise, by the fact that you are rephotographing a projected image on a groundglass screen with the Pro-35. Now if sharpness is not a major concern for you -- for example, you always shoot HD with diffusion on the lens -- then perhaps it doesn't matter and you'd just compensate by using less diffusion with HD. Personally, since HD has less resolution than 35mm, I try and not be fooled by how sharp it looks on an HD monitor and imagine it looking softer on a big screen, so I am conservative when it comes to diffusion (light to none on wider shots; heavier only on close-ups.)

As far as digital projection goes, there are not many circumstances where you can guarantee that it will only be projected digitally, are there? Unless you plan on ONLY showing it at film festivals yet for some reason, refusing to sell it for theatrical distribution, where odds are high that a 35mm print will be required.

Seems to me that either you have to plan on large screen theatrical projection -- 35mm or digital -- or home video / broadcast / cable distribution for smaller screens. To me, that's the real dividing line which determines how much diffusion you should use, how sharp your lenses need to be, etc. Basically the degree of enlargement planned.

Anyway, the key is to just test things out to your final release format. I haven't personally tested the Pro-35 set-up out to 35mm or large screen digital compared to using HD lenses -- my informal impressions are just based on looking at a large HD monitor, that the Pro-35 set-up acts like a diffusion filter, albeit a mild one. So it just depends on if you are fine with that. I also found some contrast inconsistencies depending on if my subject was very backlit, etc. but that may have also been due to the JDC anamorphic lenses I was using on the Pro-35. Either way, it was correctable in color-correction.
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#9 Michael Maier

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Posted 09 November 2005 - 12:26 PM

As far as digital projection goes, there are not many circumstances where you can guarantee that it will only be projected digitally, are there? Unless you plan on ONLY showing it at film festivals yet for some reason, refusing to sell it for theatrical distribution, where odds are high that a 35mm print will be required.



The particularly project I was hired to shoot and am considering to shoot with the set up, only needs to be projected digitally, on the biggest possible screen, meaning the biggest screen where it will still looks good. I?m hoping for at least a 35 feet screen, since there will be around 400-500 seats in the room. It?s an one time only projection for a presentation. After that, it may end up in a DVD, although in a very small number of copies. Not for sale or anything.
About diffusion, I would use none at all. Not even for close ups. I feel you can always add it in post, but if it?s too soft, you can?t go back.
So basically, I need to decided if a HD100 with a mini35 would be enough for the project, or if the expense of hiring a pro35 + Varicam would be justified. I already own a HD100 and can get a hold of a mini35 for basically free.





I also found some contrast inconsistencies depending on if my subject was very backlit, etc. but that may have also been due to the JDC anamorphic lenses I was using on the Pro-35. Either way, it was correctable in color-correction.



Did you use anamorphic lenses with the pro35? I thought it wasn?t possible because of the 2x squeeze and the cameras are 16:9. How did it come out?

Edited by Michael Maier, 09 November 2005 - 12:36 PM.

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#10 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 09 November 2005 - 12:55 PM

What camera Adam? When can we expect to see something?


I'm waiting for the production company to send me a DVD - which could take lightyears, as you know...

The camera was a F750.

Edited by AdamFrisch, 09 November 2005 - 01:03 PM.

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#11 Mitch Gross

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Posted 09 November 2005 - 02:11 PM

The results from a Pro35 will always be cleaner because the groundglass is far more refined. This is the main reason the device costs three-four times as much as the Mini35. Additionally, a Varicam will deliver a far better picture than an HD100, with better dynamic range and color space.
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#12 Michael Maier

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Posted 09 November 2005 - 02:55 PM

The results from a Pro35 will always be cleaner because the groundglass is far more refined. This is the main reason the device costs three-four times as much as the Mini35. Additionally, a Varicam will deliver a far better picture than an HD100, with better dynamic range and color space.


That's what I thought too, but I saw an Old Navy spot shot on the Varicam with the pro35 and it didn't blow the HD100+mini35 test I saw.
But I'm sure the Varicam+Pro35 is the better set up. I'm just considering my options. Also, considering if I should use one of those adapters at all, or just shoot with a zoom, in case of the Varicam.

Edited by Michael Maier, 09 November 2005 - 03:01 PM.

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#13 Mitch Gross

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Posted 09 November 2005 - 04:55 PM

You can't judge by a spot you wiew because you don't know the conditions of the shoot, what occurred in post and what may happen down the pipe as it is downconverted to SD, duped, sent to various networks or other outlets, encoded for satellite uplink, compressed by a cable system and then spit out to your consumer home television. It is very possible that the JVC HD100 w/Mini35 in the same path would deliver a far worse final result.
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#14 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 09 November 2005 - 05:02 PM

The music video I shot with the 2X anamorphic lenses on the Varicam was left partially squeezed-looking for an odd effect, plus I shot wide-open for the anamorphic artifacts, shallow focus, etc.

You really have to ask yourself why you want to use the Pro-35. If you use the Zeiss Digi-Primes wide-open, you can get the depth of field characteristics of 35mm shot around a T/2.8-4.0 split, so I'd only use the Pro-35 if you needed even less depth of field than that, like the look of T/1.4 to T/2.0.

Now if you're thinking of using a 1/3" CCD camera, then the Mini-35 is the only way to get a super shallow depth of field.

But the real question is what look are you trying to achieve. Why won't a regular 2/3" CCD pro HD camera (like the Varicam or F900) with HD lenses get you the look you want? Do you really need a super shallow-focus look?
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#15 Michael Maier

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Posted 09 November 2005 - 05:35 PM

Client has requested the super shallow focus look. But I may still be able to talk them out, if I have a strong point. But honestly, I think the shallow dof is the way to go for this project. I'm only concerned it will look too soft on wide shots when projected. What's the biggest screen you think I can project 720p without it going soft?
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#16 Mitch Gross

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Posted 09 November 2005 - 05:49 PM

I've seen Varicam footage digitally projected on a screen about 32'x18' and it looked pretty good, but this was subjective viewing of material not necessarily shot in ideal conditions. ome to think of it that makes it a fairly good test.

Shallow depth of field can be a relative thing. Perceived depth of field can often be far more important. The Zeiss Digiprimes open up to T1.6, which is about the equivalent of a lens set to around a T2.8-4 split in 35mm. That's pretty wide open as technically about as wide as I'd ever want to shoot anyway. It can make for a disturbing image when almost everything is out of focus all the time. And with the reduced sharpness of the Pro35 compared to a straight HD lens system (yes, it will be a little less sharp no matter what because of the nature of the rephotographed groundglass image), if the whole image is a little bit less sharp then that means that the circle of confusion (measurement of sharpness) is now larger and the result is an image that looks like it has MORE depth of field. You can open up a Superspeed lens on the front of a Pro35 to a T1.3 and get a very shallow depth of field, but with the resultant loss of sharpness in that taking lens, then through a Pro35 and then into a 720p signal, the result is not just less depth of field but I fear a rather dramatic drop in overall sharpness, which results in not only a muddy image but a still further increase in apparent depth of field as the effective c.o.c. increases.

Hope this all makes some sense. Don't forget that all other things being equal, you'll need about 2.5 times as much light to get the same relative depth of field stop between the a straight HD lens such as the Zeiss DigiPrimes and an equivalent cine lens on a Pro35.
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#17 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 14 November 2005 - 12:43 AM

When can we expect to see something?


It's up now.
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#18 Michael Maier

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Posted 14 November 2005 - 11:30 AM

Looks great! Any diffusion used anywhere? The F750 is 25p or 1080i?
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#19 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 16 November 2005 - 08:40 PM

Thanks. 25P, no diffusion. But detail was turned off, making the image less "bzzzzzzz" and slightly softer.

Edited by AdamFrisch, 16 November 2005 - 08:41 PM.

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