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Old April 27th, 2009, 04:04 PM   #1
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What do you have/recommend?

I'm planning to purchase the Letus Extreme in the next few months to accompany the gear I already have, Canon XH-A1 and my Nikon 18-135mm lens. I have the two ends of the spectrum already, what does everyone have/recommend for the middle, specifically on the cheap (from size/type of rails to mounts). The theory of what to have is nice, but I'd prefer to hear what people are using everyday and what you can get away with for shooting.
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Old April 28th, 2009, 07:56 PM   #2
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I have a Zeiss 50mm 1.4 (around $500), Sigma 28mm 1.8 ($300), and Nikon 85mm 1.8 ($400). If I could afford to have all Zeiss I would, but as it is I just use the 50 as much as I can. The image quality isn't that much different, it's more the focus ring. A lot more play in the Zeiss (since it's full manual), plus a rack focus doesn't zoom more than a hair--the Sigma and Nikon zoom quite a bit and are pretty useless for a good rack focus shot.
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Old April 30th, 2009, 10:09 PM   #3
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I'd recommend the Nikon 50mm f/1.4. Great lens that's both inexpensive, fast (low f-stop for very shallow DOF) and small/light weight. But after that, you've got lots of options.

Personally I think you could have a lot more success with something other than the 18-135mm lens. If I remember correctly, that's not a very fast lens and you need a fast lens to get shallow DOF and good low light performance. But maybe you're shooting outdoors with plenty of light, then maybe you're 18-135 will be fine.

We also own a 17-35mm f/2.8 and a 80-200mm f/2.8. These are both internal focus lenses with f-stops that won't change when you zoom in/out. I've been very happy with them. Of course Zeiss lenses would be even better if you can afford them. (I'm very jealous Rob!) We bought ours used from KEH. Total cost was $2100 for all three lenses. (KEH Camera: Used Cameras, Digital Cameras, Film Cameras, Laptop Computers and More.)
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Old May 1st, 2009, 12:58 PM   #4
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what are the thoughts on the kit BH put together for the letus bundle?

Letus35 | LELT35UCEX1 Ultimate Cine Kit for Sony PMW-EX1/EX3

are those lenses decent?
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Old May 1st, 2009, 08:25 PM   #5
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ian,
You should ( as has been said) try to stick with fast lenses ( 2.8 or faster). On zooms, you should stick with lenses with constant f stop,
I started with a Nikon 50 mm f 1.8, and then lucked out and found several older manual nikon primes at a great price. I already had a beautifull nikon 85mm f 1.4 from my photography rig.
I found a Tokina 28-70mm f 2.8 at b+h used for under $200, and it's pretty handy. I have a friend who lends me his nikon 80-200 f2.8 when I need it.
So here's my arsenal, all Nikon manual primes except the Tokina:
24mm f2.0
35mm f2.0
50mm f 1.4
85mm f 1.8 ( manual and auto...incredible bokeh)
105mm f 1.8 ( beautifull lens).
135mm f 2,8
135mm f2.8 with a teleconverter.
Tokina 28-70.
nikon 80-200 ( when i need it).

I've heard great things about Zeiss lenses , but have n't had the opportunity to test any ( and don't have the $$ to buy any).
Bruce yarock
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Old May 6th, 2009, 07:25 PM   #6
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If you can afford it, that B&H Kit would be awesome. VERY nice lenses with that kit. I have the 80-200mm zoom and love it.

The only thing I might recommend is the Nikon 17-35mm zoom instead of the 25mm. They both have the same f-stop, so you might as well have a zoom that goes even wider. The 50mm is great and the 85mm would be awesome!

Realize that the less you have to change lenses the better. So having a 17-35mm, 50mm and 70-200mm pretty much covers all the bases. A dream lens would be a 17-200 f/2.8 but there's no such thing unfortunately.
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Old May 6th, 2009, 08:03 PM   #7
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Mitchell:

How's the focus on that 17-35? Can you do a good rack focus without zooming? Also, how much are you using the long lens? When I need to use that kind of focal length I just take off the Letus--or are you using it for distances the stock lens can't do?

Thanks. I'm working on engineering a 10-600 f/1.4 that will solve all our issues.
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Old May 6th, 2009, 08:26 PM   #8
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Hmmmm....sorry, I can't answer that Rob, except to say I "think" I can. It's an internal focus lens, and it doens't change physical length when you zoom or focus. But like all the Nikon lenses, the focus ring doesn't have a wide spread like a film lens does. I've done some rack focusing with our 50mm f/1.4 with great results (no follow focus.....yet).

I use the 80-200mm mostly for interviews where it looks great (I'm guessing around 120mm, but honestly I've never looked). The talent looks nice (face slightly compressed) and the background is out of focus like you would expect. In fact my only issue is that I frequently have to shoot wide open with it so when the talent moves around they come in/out of focus, but it hasn't been a major problem. I'd love to try that 85mm f/1.4, expect that it would even make the DOF more shallow. (from 5.3 inches to only 2.6 inches)

Here's a couple of screen grabs of interviews I've done using the 80-200mm and Letus Ultimate. One is outdoors and one indoors. (This is non-color corrected footage that's been compressed to WMV from which I took a screen grab. I'm at home, so I don't have access to the original footage)
Attached Thumbnails
What do you have/recommend?-indoors.png   What do you have/recommend?-outdoors.png  

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Old May 6th, 2009, 08:37 PM   #9
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That's really interesting. Looks good. You're how far back for those shots? I'm often the one asking the questions, so 50mm is about as far back as I feel comfortable.
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Old May 6th, 2009, 08:55 PM   #10
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"But like all the Nikon lenses, the focus ring doesn't have a wide spread like a film lens does'

Do you mean that the in focus point on the film lenses are larger than on the Nikons, for example? I've often noticed that the in focus space on the ring is so tiny that if I move the ring the least amount, I'm out.Or sometimes it's almost impossible to pull focus. Do the film lenses give you more leeway, or a a larger area of play where the lens is still in focus?
also which specific lenses are you talking about?
thanks
Bruce yarock
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Old May 7th, 2009, 09:08 AM   #11
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ROB: I'm about 10-12 feet back. I've found (by testing and researching) that when shooting people, you want to use a focal length around 85-105mm. This compresses the subjects face and makes them look more attractive. The worst thing you can do is shoot people with a wide angle. (you probably already knew this) This will stretch out their face and make their nose look bigger, etc... This is why I'm shooting with my zoom, so I can utilize those focal lengths.

BRUCE: Honestly, I'm passing on information that's been told to me. I have no hands on experience with film lenses. I've been researching buying a follow focus. I've learned that they all work well with film lenses, because film lenses have a much wider spread for the focus ring (from min to infinity) than 35mm SLR lenses. As a result, you need a different gearing for your follow focus to not be so sensitive. I don't know if this means that you'll have a larger area of play where the lens is still in focus. That sounds like your talking about DOF. With a shallow DOF, you'll have a very small area that is in focus. Could this be what your talking about?
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