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Old March 10th, 2008, 12:26 PM   #1
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35mm adaptors and cine lenses

Anyone know if it's true that attaching cine lenses via adaptor to an HD camera is no better than attaching an slr still lens? I heard somewhere that the imaging elements in 35mm adaptors aren't good enough to pick up the quality differences between slr and cine lenses.
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Old March 10th, 2008, 12:48 PM   #2
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The real issue is whether a particular cine lenses has better optics than a particular 35mm lens. There is a difference that is obvious between better 35mm lenses and low end 35mm lenses. Not having used Cine lenses, I still would assume similar issues are involved.
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Old March 10th, 2008, 12:55 PM   #3
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Another advantage is that cine lenses do not breath as they are designed for the moving image.
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Old March 10th, 2008, 01:18 PM   #4
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Bourne Ultimatum was using repacked Nikon/Nikkors for much of the shooting (think multi-cameras) and from a trusted source, I've been told that the RED lesnes use Sigma-made glass.

Coatings play a big part of the price of a lens too.

Usually the 'imaging-elements' in 35mm adapters are rather simple, and they're supposed to be transparent. I'd say it depends more on the native resolution of the HD camera you're using.

I've seen shots with the EX1 and a Cinevate Brevis - not an ounce of grain to be seen, tack sharp shots. And the EX1 has incredible line-resolution. If one can afford to buy/rent Cine lenses, I say all the power to him! SLR lenses tend to be less expensive.
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Old March 12th, 2008, 10:57 PM   #5
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There are several quality points that should be considered in lenses...flare, chroma aberration, breathing, "lines" of resolution, adaptability to follow focus...sure, with cine lenses you are covering your bases. Keep in mind even cine lenses breathe.

To date, I have not seen footage from cine lenses that have impressed me any more, in terms of optical quality, than footage with still lenses, even the stuff shot on XDCAM or the like of high-end HD professional cameras.

In terms of the adapter, the P+S footage I have seen does not impress me at all, compared to that of the Brevis and SGpro, for the simple fact that (I think) P+S is scared of complaints of grain so they manufactured the ground glass with minimal diffusion and thus out of focus areas are "greasy" and not completely diffused. It does not look like "film" at all, not nearly as much as the SGpro renders backgrounds. I think it's a circular logic thing: "this adapter is expensive, so we must manufacture it to be durable and easy to use, which is going to make it expensive, so we have to make it durable and easy to use, which is..." etc... There is a thread on this board with the title along the lines of "P+S Technik footage....WOW!" In terms of adapter footage I have seen it is fairly lacking, and overall, simply unimpressive.

So it really depends on a multitude of things, is my point. In terms of looking at it objectively, the worst lens is your weakest link, so if you think your built-in camera lens is better than quality still glass, then perhaps cine lenses are worth it. In my opinion, they are not.
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Old March 13th, 2008, 04:13 AM   #6
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Groundglass transparency.

The current Mini35-400 groundglass looks to be slightly more dense than the Letus Extreme, subjective opinion not based on testing, seems to be just under 5 micron grade of texture.

P+S have restricted their product to faithful reproduction in scale of the traditional motion picture frame. On some of the alternative adaptors which are intended to use more of the larger available image area of stills lenses, some cine lenses may vignette or have edge falloff issues.


I've seen it writ here previously that good still-camera lenses are not inferior to cine lenses in terms of image sharpness.

Many have deficiencies when it comes to breathing as mentioned.

Inconsistent colour rendition can occur across a range or a brand of stills lenses.

Steadyness in the mount (P+S are bringing out out an entirely redesigned positively locking and non-moving Nikon mount to deal with this issue),

Steadiness in the focus mechanism so that the image does not jump when focus is pulled, (a version of Sigma's 28mm f1.8 is sharp but dreadful for hopping about).

Click latches in the iris control versus smooth movement for the cine lenses,

Much larger arc of movement and finer controllability of the focus ring or focus barrel on cine lenses.

Cine lenses often have a geared ring built on whereas it has to be added to stills lenses.

My own big think on this subject is that a groundglass tends to amplify any inherent softness or flare in a lens. The sharpness of a better resolving lens might not be readily seen via a groundglass but the contrast and "apparent" definition will be.

A finer groundglass tends not to amplify lens softness as much as a coarser more filmlike groundglass. As with all good things there are balances and choices to be made. With nearly all the 35mm devices the choice has been made by the builder.

Dennis Wood's Brevis is the only appliance which enables any control at all over this feature.

As for comparisons, I don't know if anyone here has included a P+S product in the mix.

It would be educational to see one included in the next shootout should anyone conduct one.

Last edited by Bob Hart; March 13th, 2008 at 04:14 AM. Reason: error
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