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Old May 12th, 2011, 07:57 AM   #1
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Zoom lens questions

Hi everyone,

I'm just curious about some information, and thought I would throw it out here, and see what I get. Thanks in advance for any replies.

I'm a video hobbyist, Saving for a 5D (hopefully a MKIII, but if that doesn't happen in the next couple of months, definitely a MKII), for use in narrative film making. I've been studying which lenses I'd like to buy, and wanted to ask a couple questions. The range I'm thinking includes mostly primes, and a couple of zooms. My question is about 2 zooms. The 2 zooms I am thinking about are the 24-70L 2.8, and the 70-200L 2.8 IS

With regards to narrative filming, how is the 70-200L a benefit. I'm wondering what situations the 200 end would be useful? It may be very useful, and I'm just so green, that I don't know it.

Also I am curious about the 5D kit lens, the 24-105L 4.0, Ive read and heard its a very nice lens, I'm just wondering if its a bit slow, for what I'd like to do, and sticking with the 24-70L 2.8 is a better option?

That's really all I'd like to ask, and hope to hear what anyone else has to say.

As always, Thank you.
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Old May 12th, 2011, 11:03 AM   #2
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Re: Zoom lens questions


I've used the 24-105 f/4 L quite a bit. It's a very nice lens. Solid as hell and a good performer in daylight and toward evening. It's too slow for night shooting though, even on the MK II, unless you're lighting all your shots.

If you have the option, I'd go with the 24-70 f/2.8 and the 70-200 f/2.8 IS.

The 24-105 f/4 has IS as well, which is great for shoulder rigged and steadicam shots, but when you're wide you don't really need IS as much.

The benefit of IS when you're rigged or steadicamming really kicks in at the tighter focal ranges, 70-200mm.

If you had the 24-70mm f/2.8 you'd be able to rig it up to about 50mm no problem without IS. Then you'd also be able to go up to 200mm on a rig with the 70-200mm f/2.8 for certain shots. The tightest I can get with a non-IS lens on a shoulder rig is 105mm, and that's pushing it. The 70-200mm IS rigged comes in handy if you want to do closeups where you're building a suspenseful scene, for example, and having the IS will keep it from being so bouncy and full of shutter roll that you make your audience nauseous.

Depending on your shooting style and cinema aesthetic that is a very nice option.

If shoulder rigging and steadicamming aren't your bag, you still have two lenses with incredible light collection that allow you to use minimal extra lights in your scenes. Ambient light is great and these cameras are amazing at it, but it's still nice to light to get a mood, set a tone, or get your exposure spot on.

On the MK II f/2.8 really pops. You'll be able to film in all but the darkest conditions, for which I'd keep a 50mm f/1.4 prime and 20mm or 28mm f/1.8 in the bag so you can film anytime, anywhere.

Get a good set of ND and Polarizing filters too.

In daylight, they will make a world of difference in how your footage looks, and give you latitude to use thin or deep DoF so that you have range in the way you're communicating the story. Having to close your aperture down all the way and go to infinity focus and losing the blues in the sky during daylight sucks and looks very video. Filters will also make your evening and morning footage pop. It's nice to add a deep DoF to certain shots, especially wides and mediums, so you can still see revelvant structures or action in the background - just slightly blurred - which saves you from aliasing and moire and also concentrates the focus of the shot on your subject. Going thin in broad daylight is a nice option as well.
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Old May 14th, 2011, 04:37 AM   #3
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Re: Zoom lens questions

Thanks Torrey, I appreciate you taking the time to reply.
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Old May 14th, 2011, 10:44 PM   #4
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Re: Zoom lens questions

If I owned the 5DmkII the first (possible only) 2 lenses I'd want would be the 24-70 f/2.8 and 70-200 f/2.8 IS. But I shoot events, so my needs are a little different.

Even so, I think these would be 2 excellent lenses to own for narrative film-making. You'll be able to cover 95% of situations with these two lenses alone.

The 70-200 is great for isolating one person in a crowd or for shooting long perspective shots - one great example in a movie I saw lately is a guy sitting at a cafe and the antagonist pulls up in a car across the street. They showed a head and shoulders close-up of the guy in the car, but because it was shot with a longer lens the flattened perspective and narrower angle of view still gave the impression that he was a long way away.
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Old May 15th, 2011, 12:42 PM   #5
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Re: Zoom lens questions

I use mostly primes but have the 70-200 f4 for my interview lens. I do a lot of documentary type work as well as corporate and shoot quite a few interviews. I like to use a zoom during interview shooting so I can change focal length quickly. The 70-200 is wide enough to get a good medium shot and long enough to zoom in for that tight eyebrows-to-chin shot for emphasis. Unless I'm looking for an effect I nearly always light to around a 5.6 to maintain enough depth of field so the person doesn't go in and out of focus if he leans forward or backward, so the f4 is fine.

As a result of a lot of run-and-gun type shooting for a recent documentary, I think I'm going to get the 24-105 soon. I did a lot of shooting where I'd jump out of the car, slap the camera on a tripod, get a shot or two, put the camera back in the bag, move on to the next spot. Sometimes I'd have to park and walk a ways. Switching lenses is not a problem since i have follow focus ring gears on all the lenses, but what takes time is switching ND filters. Also, that 24-105 has a nice range, so if I just want to carry the camera and one lens, it would work for most things. A good example would be a local car show I shot for a website video. I had to carry a separate lens bag with all my lenses ,while the local newspaper photographer only had the 5D and the 24-105 lens.

Since I have faster primes for more narrative type work and low light shooting, the f4 is not an issue for me. Again, with the 5D you're going to shoot at at least an f4 most of the time anyway if there's any action involved. The downside to the 24-105, from what I've read and personal experience with one, it's not really an f4 lens all the way. When you zoom in most of the way, it will drop down close to one stop. That's not a problem for me but it could be under some circumstances--for example if I lit something to an f4 and then wanted to zoom in tight and there suddenly wasn't enough light. So that's something to consider, depending on the type of things you do.

For me, zoom lenses have their place, as in run-and-gun shooting. But for normal use, I prefer primes. Also, for hand-held shooting I use primes. The rig is already nose-heavy enough without adding the weight of a zoom. One thing I've noticed about the f4 70-200 is that it intercuts reasonably well with my Zeiss ZE 50, but not as well with my old Nikkors. The Zeiss is, of course, sharper, as are the Nikkors, but the color and contrast of the Nikkors is different enough to make more color correction necessary. Also, on all still camera zoom lenses I've used, the f-stop is significantly different from a t-stop. A f4, for example, on the Zeiss lets in more light than an f4 on the zoom.
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Old May 16th, 2011, 06:52 AM   #6
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Re: Zoom lens questions

I have both the 24-70 2.8 and the 70-200 2.8 IS and like them in all kinds of situations.

I have shot quite a bit of theatre work with them and they always come out well.

My mate who helps sometimes, has the 5D2 and the 70-200 F4 and he gets great shots too in the low light of the staging area. I would also argue that his shots are actually slightly sharper than my 70-200 2.8IS. Not sure why. We usually shoot at somewhere about F7.1 or F8 because the actors mover about quite a bit, and have the ISO at 1250.
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Old May 16th, 2011, 08:00 AM   #7
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Re: Zoom lens questions

I have the 24-70 f2.8L, the 24-105 f4L, and the 70-200 f2.8L Image Stabilised among other lenses and these are used on a couple of 5DII's.

I would choose the 24-105 over the 24-70. The former has Image Stabilisation of around 3 stops whereas the 24-70 has none. That can make a huge difference when trying to handhold even on a rig. The difference of one stop between f4 and f2.8 is OK but bear in mind that at f2.8 your depth of field starts to get very narrow and therefore critical focusing all the more difficult.

The 24-105 is often available as a kit lens with the 5DII at a much cheaper price than if bought separately.

If you really need the occasional very wide aperture just get the 50mm f1.8. Its cheap and plasticy but it works well.

The 70-200 would appear to be a bit of an indulgence in the circumstances you've described. Very hard to hold alone, but you can get away with it on a monopod, including bracing the collapsed monopod against your waistband. The Image Stabilisation is desirable.

Image Stabilisation can be switched off if needs be. It makes a noise which is picked up by the internal camera mic.

Its easy to carry extra lenses in Think Tank pouches on your belt. The Lens Changer 50 will take the 24-105 with its hood on. The 75 Pop Down will take the 70-200 and with it extened you can drop in the lens with its massive hood on. So the 75 can be used for both these lenses. There are many other manufacturers; I switched from Lowepro to Think Tank partly because the pouches I mention are not padded so they are less cumbersome.

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