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Old May 8th, 2004, 01:03 PM   #1
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Mini 35 adaptability

Hi Guys,

Am kinda new on the forum, would be interested in knowing a few things concerning the Mini 35 converter:

- I am presently shopping for 35mm SLR lenses. I am looking at some PLs and Zooms from Contax Zeiss, Leica and Nikon. Disregarding the obvious disparities in their price range, which of these three products would give me the best picture quality, adaptability and ease of use, especially with focus racking on the zoom lenses?

- Which feature in the Mini 35 (400 series) distinguishes them from the earlier models?

- I am presently starting work on a short, using the Mini 35, I need to know form all of you guys that have been using it, what are the de-merits when it comes to blowing up to 35mm prints, is there a drawback in assuming footage shot in this manner equates to film?

Your suggestions would be most welcome.

Thanks.

Onomen A. Asikele
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Old May 8th, 2004, 03:04 PM   #2
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you can use non-ai nikon lenses and they're cheap! Nice glass!
Vivitar Series 1 lenses are pretty nice too...
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Old May 8th, 2004, 09:59 PM   #3
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Regarding lenses, better glass = better picture, of course, but considering that with the mini35 you're resolving it all down to a standard-def image, it won't make THAT much difference. Get good lenses and you'll be fine.

Regarding film blow-up: I've done this, and the mini35 footage is definitely softer than non-mini35. Rephotographing the image off the ground glass involves a sharpness compromise. It wasn't overwhelmingly softer, but soft enough that I would think twice before committing an entire project to that process.

Depends on what camera you're using too. If you're using a DVX, or PD150, the sharpness issue may be borderline acceptable to you. If you're using an XL1, there's no way it'll be sharp enough to survive a film blow-up. I thought "28 Days Later" was unacceptably soft in the theater, and if you add the additional step of rephotographing off the ground glass, I just don't think you'll get a satisfactory image.

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what are the de-merits when it comes to blowing up to 35mm prints, is there a drawback in assuming footage shot in this manner equates to film?
It won't in any way equate to having shot on film in the first place...

In my experience, DVX footage (without the mini35) and blown up to film, was fairly comparable to 16mm blown up to 35. Not Super16 on Vision2 stock, but standard 16mm, standard EXR stocks. Like I said, the mini35 was softer still. DVX/mini35 footage blown up to 35mm still looked better than "28 Days Later" in the theater, but it won't look at all like 35mm origination.
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Old May 9th, 2004, 03:45 AM   #4
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Mini 35

Thanks so much Barry, appreciate the insight. On a further note, I am using an XL1S and like I sais, thinking of getting high speed (f1.4 or more) PL and zoom lens set, will this make any difference in my final blown up 35mm prints?, I am concerned because I intend on going the whole festival route, and I know some of them would eventually want theatrical prints handy especially when they really like the film.
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Old May 9th, 2004, 04:59 PM   #5
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I don't know of any festivals anymore that REQUIRE a film print. Most every festival will let you project from your digital source.

Regarding the sharpness issue, and high-speed/PL, the answers you're seeking are to look at "28 Days Later" in the theater. There they used high-speed high-definition prime lenses, glass that is far, far superior to anything the camera could resolve on its own.

And the results were just not satisfactory. The chips just don't have enough resolution to hold up to blowing up to theatrical size. Even with the best glass they could find, it just wasn't enough. If you then compound that by adding a piece of ground glass in the middle of the process, I just don't think you're likely to be pleased with the results.

And if you're using an NTSC XL1s, then you're going to be losing even MORE resolution due to the frame-blending process necessary to convert 60i to 24P.

Let's clarify where I'm coming from: I LOVE the mini35. I think the footage looks absolutely 35mm-like, on the small screen. All I'm saying is, when you blow up to film to show on a big screen, you really need all the sharpness you can get -- and the mini35 doesn't add sharpness, it softens everything. It adds a luxurious filmlike glow and softness to overly-sharp video footage, but when you start blowing something up to fill a 30-foot-wide screen, you NEED that sharpness.

But, these are based on subjective observations. You may very well find XL1s/mini35 footage satisfactory to you, on the big screen. But the only way you'll know for sure is to run your own test. Contact a lab (like DVFILM or Digital Film Group or Swiss Effects) and ask them if they have demo footage you can view, or if they'll let you run a test. DVFILM has a demo reel they'll send you, and the footage I shot with the mini35 is on it, so you can see what DVX/mini35 looks like blown up and decide if you think it'd be adequate for your purposes.
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Old May 10th, 2004, 08:09 PM   #6
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Wasn't 28 Days Later shot using the XL1s' Frame Mode?

That would soften the image even more..
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Old May 10th, 2004, 08:13 PM   #7
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It was indeed.

So you start with a fairly soft image... then put it in frame mode, which softens it more... then crop to 16:9 and blow that up, which results in more softening...

By my calculations, they got about 240 lines of resolution on the screen by the time they were done. That's about VHS resolution. Put it through a mini35's ground glass, and it's going to be softer still.

Which is why I said, in my estimation, it won't be satisfactory. But, hey to each his own.

One thing I did find, when doing a DVX & mini35->film blowup, is that the farther back you sit in the theater, the better it looks! I didn't think it'd make that much difference, but sitting in the back row, it looked phenomenal.

Lesson being, if I ever see a DV->film blowup in the theater again, I'm sitting in the back...
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Old May 13th, 2004, 01:42 PM   #8
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To answer Oneman's second bullet point: the new features on the 400 series are:

The ground glass oscillates, rather than spins, thus the nickname for the 400 series: The "Oszi"

It's quieter to operate.

It has simultaneous start/stop of camera and Mini35.

I'm told it's easier to maintain.

BTW, I've heard that Nikon lenses with the Mini35 give you a really great image -- besides that if you already have them on your shelf and don't have to pay to rent any 35mm lenses, it's an even better choice, right?
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Old May 18th, 2004, 06:06 PM   #9
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I didn't want to create a new thread because it should be a simple answer:

Can you just use normal 35mm SLR lenses on the mini35 like this:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=productlist&A=details&Q=&sku=800361402&is=USE

I really don't feel like renting lenses for 80+ dollars a day to shoot.
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