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Old March 11th, 2010, 10:58 AM   #1
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smoothest silky damped photo zoom lenses for smooth zoom video

which photo zoom lens can do a smooth movie zoom like this?

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Old March 11th, 2010, 04:38 PM   #2
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Here is the deal, you want a really smooth zoom you need a servo lens or have a REALLY steady hand. Zooms are pretty rare in films.... yeah I know there are films out there that will zoom (I know Wes Anderson is a big fan of the 'crash zoom'), but when a zoom is used in a major film it is usually a gag of some sort or is very rare. In the film industry when a DP wants a 'zoom' effect they will physically move the camera... not because it's hard to get a smooth zoom by hand, but because when you zoom your are only changing the focal length and as a result changing your field of view... nothing more, but when you move the camera "push in or out" you are changing your perspective. Objects in the foreground and background MOVE, not just get bigger or smaller. It contributes to a CINEMATIC effect. Zooms scream VIDEO, moving the camera gives you a cinematic look. I'm assuming that is what you are going for based on your description of a 'Movie' zoom.

One zoom technique that has been used a lot in films that I love is combing a zoom with a camera move, but in the opposite direction.... so either zooming out as you move the camera in or zooming in as you move the camera away. It creates a really unique effect often referred to as a monster shot or jaws shot as it was used in Jaws.
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Old March 12th, 2010, 02:07 AM   #3
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I think you would probably have to use a micro-force on the zoom ring of your lens. or modify the hdslr body to accept PL mount zooms... which would also need a mirco-force to get it just right.
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Old March 17th, 2010, 06:16 PM   #4
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As previously stated, when you say "smooth movie zoom" you are already asking the wrong question. Other than quick zooms to make the film look like it was shot by an amateur on video or by a documentary team (Cloverfield, and District 9) you will NEVER see a zoom in a movie. It is a camera either: 1. On a dolly. 2. On a crane. or 3. Using a professional steadycam and highly skilled professional operator.

Now if you really do want a slow zoom on a DSLR, there's really nothing out there that I know of for the GH1 (I know you posted a link to this thread in the GH1 forum). As far as I know, there is no way to adapt a servo zoom enabled detachable video lens (say, for something like the Canon XL-H1) for any DSLR as the lens's servos get their power from the camera body.

I can't stress enough, however that if you're shooting something to look like film, just do not zoom. Worst case scenario, build yourself a $14 steadycam and practice holding her steady as you walk. It gets some pretty decent results.
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Old March 17th, 2010, 10:09 PM   #5
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There has long been a stigma attached to zooms--about 30 years now since they were prevalent, in fact. However, quite a few filmmakers have brought them back into vogue albeit usually more subtly than their heyday in the 70's. Just because common wisdom says "don't use zooms, they look video" doesn't mean this is actually still true. Certainly in the rough handheld action mode you will see a lot of snap reframing, but even the slow push-in via zoom rather than dolly is more common now than it was a few years ago--it's almost becoming cool again simply because it's been "out" for so long. I myself have done quite a few shows with the Microforce on the panhandle and been encouraged to dial the zoom in and out as I "feel it", and that for directors as successful as Frank Darabont (Shawshank Redemption) and Andy Tennant (Fool's Gold and the new release Bounty Hunter).

Not to say everyone should zoom wildly, it's a choice like everything else. But I would no longer discourage it out of hand.

As far as still lenses that have acceptable zooms, I haven't found one yet myself and am starting to look into having conversions made, although I'm sure they are being hatched in various secret labs in Japan and Germany as we speak!
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Old April 8th, 2010, 02:49 PM   #6
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Still lenses simply are not designed to do this. They're designed for quick use in shooting stills, so the zoom rings turn something like a quarter or maybe a half turn. to get this type of movement, a zoom ring would have to turn nearly completely around the lens barrel.

Maybe you could find a 20 or 30 year old zoom that was of the push-pull type, and maybe you could learn to use that this smoothly. But those lenses would be softer than modern zooms, and they would probably be single rather than multi coated, so they'd have more flare, and they would not hold their aperture as you zoom, so the exposure would change.
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Old April 20th, 2010, 11:09 PM   #7
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zooming ...

While many knock zoom in film I find that it can be useful and ad to a piece and yes, a dolly would be best but certainly not practical in run and gun situations for example. I recently used zoom on my old 70-200 vivitar (SGBlade) which turned out quite well.
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