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Old June 23rd, 2006, 03:03 AM   #1
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PL lens choice


I will be shooting an indie feature this July. One of our sponsors gave us an opportunity to shoot on Sony HDCAM camcorder with Fujinon HD broadcast lenses, including follow focus, matte box and other crap. The latest news from the producer are that he was forced to switch the camera to JVC GY-HD100 with mini35 (PL mount). Since this would be my first film shot with this setup and with PL lenses, I would like to run a few test first.

Unfortunately, the mini35 isn't available at the moment and will be available one day before the production starts - and there won't be enough time to do any tests on that day. So I will have to choose my lenses blindly. I can choose between two sets of lenses:

Zeiss Planar Distagon - F16, 20, 24, 32, 50, 85, 135mm, T2.1
Zeiss Opton HS - F18, 25, 35, 50, 85mm, T1.4

The Planar Distagon set is cheaper to rent, has higher range of focal lenghts, but is more than one stop darker. The HighSpeed Zeiss series would probably fit me more because of the T1.4, which together with light loss from mini35 (BTW how much stops does mini35 take?) would suit more. But I heared that they are pretty soft..

I talked to my cinematography teacher today about these lenses and he told me he would choose the Planar Distagon because of the softness of Opton HS etc. Also the Planar's seem to be his favourite lenses. Unofrtunately, he has no experience shooting on digital with 35mm adapters.

Our production is tight on schedule, sometimes we have to shoot 120 good takes a day, so I won't have that much time and manpower to light up every shot. Even more, in some tight interiors, I will be more dependant on the natural light than on HMI sources. This is another reason why I would choose lenses that can opet up one step more. What are your options?

Any additional tips for shooting with mini35 and my camcorder/lens setup?

Thanks! Martin
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Old June 23rd, 2006, 04:19 PM   #2
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You lose a LOT of light. I would guess you're shooting 50-100 ISO.
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Old June 24th, 2006, 01:22 PM   #3
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You lose up to 1.5-2 stops of light with the mini35, I suggest the brighter lens.. especially since the ground glass of the mini35 will likely contribute more "softness" to an image over the lens itself. Also take in account the lens may be soft for 35mm film, but not for DV.

You really should try and arrange a cameras test in advance, especially to give time to the people who will be responsible finding out and configuring the optimal settings on the camera for your film.

Good luck on your project, be sure to post some stills!
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Old July 21st, 2006, 11:44 AM   #4
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both sets of Zeiss are good ...
both are sharp wide open ...
in general i usually go with the T2.1 set because of price and # of lens .. T2.1 is FAST when shooting 35mm and you'll find that very few shots are ever at T1.4 in 35mm ( think i've done 1 shot since 1982) ..

however in your case drop 1 1/2 - 2 stops for mini 35 = your T2.1 could become T4 and if it only has a ASA of approx 100 you'll need to pump in some light ... your 1.4 become T2.8 ( at asa 100) and IMO that is still sloooo.
if the camera is ASA 50 IMO forget using the mini 35 ... infact with the # of setup you are stating , not much manpower , dependent on natural light i say FORGET the mini 35 and go with a adaptor tha doesn't eat up so much light ! and/or just forget the adaptor all together ...
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Old July 21st, 2006, 04:29 PM   #5
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you need the light

I'm on my second production using JVC + mini35 with Zeiss High Speeds. I emphatically recommend that you get HS set, and then add on the 100 and 135 2.1s for the additional flexibility. When you're inside, even using tungsten 2K's and 1.2K HMI lights (we have about 7 of them running on set for window key lights in our 1-2 rooms, then a bunch of 150/350/650/1Ks giving pools of light) we have to stop open to T1.3, and it still seems dark to me. The ground glass is the culprit when it comes to softness. It seems that they should make a mini with a finer grain ground glass for HD, which would be lovely. You do get a lot of noise when you're shooting underexposed, but the pictures sure are pretty when compared to the stock lense. Even better would be a set of Cookes... super sharp. I don't know how much of a difference it makes with sharpness of the lens, but we did have a Canon 200mm on for a few shots, and it looked sharper to me. Need to do more tests. Too bad you're not in LA, you could rent the set up for a weekend. It takes some getting used to, playing with the different exposure setting options. The mini35 has it's own iris between the ground glass and the relay, and there are possibilities to use ND in front of the primes, or in front of the sensor on the JVC. Each has different behaviors-- and exposure is also a big factor in how much you can see the grain of the vibrating ground glass.
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