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Old July 24th, 2002, 12:11 AM   #1
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Canon 14x or 16x manual zoom lens?

Hi all:
Just to pick up from a discussion I was having on another thread -
I've brought my choices for XL1S lenses to the Canon 14x manual, or the new 16x manual with servo zoom. Just a few clarifications required:
1. I'm used to having the iris ring on the lens barrel itself; I'm informed the new 16x lens has focus and zoom rings on the barrel, but the iris is controlled by the wheel on the camera body. Does the wheel allow the full range of f-stop adjustments (intermediate positions and all) or does it keep going to camera determined pre-sets like the PD150?
2. Are there any compatibility issues with 14x - like, does the camera work with it, but show a no lens indication?
3. Does the 14x come with in servo zoom option, or is everything purely manual?
4. How much of a practical 'reach' difference does the 2x difference between the two lenses make? I can understand the difference between the 14x and say the Nikon 19x available for the DSR-300...but a 2x diff ?
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Ram
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Old July 24th, 2002, 02:15 AM   #2
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Hi Ram.

1) I have to leave this to an owner of the 16x and/or someone more familiar with the PD150. However, going from the 14x manual to the 16x optical (white) lens, I find the iris the hardest thing to get used to. I find it extremely difficult to pull iris on the fly using the wheel, compared to a standard iris ring.
2) The 14x from Canon is electronically compatible with the body, unlike the Optex which forces a "no lens" flag.
3) There is no servo zoom option with the 14x, short of an external system that would be added (I have such a thing adapted from another setup, but it's not what I would call commercially viable). Chris H., any 3rd party mechanical zoom drives for the 14x?
4) Depending on how you intend to shoot--if you are constantly at the telephoto end of the lens, it may make a difference. The 35mm equivalent of the end of the 14x is 574mm: the 16x is 624mm. Not what I would call too significant for most work.
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Old July 24th, 2002, 02:22 AM   #3
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Ram,
One point I'll add to Charles' remarks is that the 14x's iris ring has no click-stops, although the settings are clearly marked on the barrel. That is, the ring rotates completely smoothly. So, for all practical purposes, you can set an infinite number of intermediate settings between the standard stops.
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Old July 24th, 2002, 09:11 AM   #4
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I doubt you would even see the difference between the 14x and 16x, less than 10%. I wouldn't base my decision on that. I also use the 14x mostly for the feel of it over the white 16x lens. I prefer the iris control on the lens.

Jeff
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Old July 24th, 2002, 05:08 PM   #5
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I use the 16x manual lens almost exclusively. The only time I switch over to the standard lens is so I can use my wide angle (it won't fit on the manual lens).

I like almost everything about the 16x. It feels much more like the "Pro" lenses I'm used to...except of course for the iris control on the camera body.

To make matters worse, that iris control rotates the opposite direction of a lens mounted control. I've been using the 16x for several months and still get confused which way to turn the thing.

However, I'd still choose the 16 over the 14 if I had to do it over again. I'm in the habit of using the servo zoom to change and recompose shots and I can't get used to reaching up for that manual zoom lever to do that.

However, one of the guys who works with me prefers to use the lens in a completely manual mode...for him the 14x would seem to be an ideal compromise.

I guess it depends on which features you value most. I can tell you I've been extremely happy with the image quality and ability to hit focus with the 16x though.

mike avery
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Old July 24th, 2002, 09:56 PM   #6
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Charles, Ken, Jeff, Mike:
Thanks for all your comments - I think the votes are going both ways!
I might add that I'm used to shooting on Beta SP with Fujinon and Canon manual/servo zoom lenses (usually the 12x - 12 to 144 mm/f1.8 -f4)with Sony D-35s/Hyper HAD 637s/Hitachi Z-1Ds. These lenses can go into pure manual mode, but invlude with Auto iris functions and a smooth iris ring movement.
Mike, I'm used to recomposing shots with the servo zoom as well - I mostly shoot docs, and it's useful to work with the zoom on the fly like that - but i have seen a lot of colleagues go purely manual with the zoom to save battery time.
Ken: Like I said, the iris wheel on the camera gives me pause - I can't spend very much time initially getting used to the concept, because I will probably be shooting a full project quite soon after I get the lens. But the lenses I'm used to have smooth iris rings without click stops.
Jeff, I guessed as much - I don't think the 2x difference is enough cause for concern, either.
Does the Varizoom grip controller work with the 14x Canon manual through the LANC connector? Chris? Anyone?
Best,
Ram
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Old July 24th, 2002, 10:35 PM   #7
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Re: "Does the Varizoom grip controller work with the 14x Canon manual through the LANC connector?"

No, the 14x is truly a strictly-manual lens with no servo capabilities whatsoever. When using the 14x lens the Varizoom controller only runs the start/stop record function.
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Old July 25th, 2002, 01:47 AM   #8
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Ram:

If you are used to working a broadcast servo, you may have a hard time with the 16x manual lens in servo zoom mode. The fact that it (as well as the standard 16x) has only four speeds rather than a continually variable motor (activated as you know by variable pressure on the rocker) personally drives me up a wall. It's like driving a car with really clunky automatic transmission; you never quite know when it's going to shift and it it's noticeable when it does. It's certainly better than nothing, but if you have spent the time getting proficient at feathering in and out of zooms, it's a definite setback.

I have opted for the 14x manual as I am using a zoom control with an outboard motor, which does allow for fully variable speed. Fortunately I already owned it for other uses, so I didn't have to consider it an XL1 expense. To me, the mechnical looking action of the "prosumer" zoom can be a serious detriment to the look of the production (I am admittedly picky!).

Ram, in thinking about what would be involved in performing a manual zoom and still working focus, it would take some getting used to but I feel it could be mastered since the throw of these barrels is not that great (i.e. it doesn't take many turns of what is already a small diameter lens). I could see zooming in with the thumb and forefinger and rotating the focus with the pinkie and ring finger. Very sexy. For subtle zoom work like on an interview, there is always the old trick of extending the little zoom lever by attaching a rigid tube or stick (I used to use a ballpoint pen with the ink and nib removed, it fit nice and snug over the lever on the lens). This gives you a lot more leverage and allows you to make very smooth and controlled zooms.

And if in your doc work you are used to riding the iris a lot, I think the electronic iris knob is very funky compared to a manual iris ring. Just like the zoom and focus functions on the standard lens, there is a little delay when operating the iris knob before the iris actually stops down. Let's imagine you are following someone from a dim hallway into a brightly lit room: with the manual iris, you simply reach up and dial the iris down a couple of stops, judging exposure from the image in the viewfinder (and if you are like me, you have removed most of the displays in the viewfinder so you can actually see your subject!). With the iris knob, you need to have these displays active so you can tell just how far you are taking the exposure, since if you wait to see the effect you may have gone too far or not far enough. Plus, for a substantial iris pull you need to make several spins of the knob rather than the instant action of the iris ring. I think it's a bit of a pisser for doc work, meself.

OK, enough blabbing. I've done one of my marathon posts again. Sorry!
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Old July 26th, 2002, 12:46 AM   #9
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Charles, thanks for the 'marathon post' - they're always welcome, believe me! :-)
You're quite right, having a non-continuously-variable motor for the servo zoom function would be a real no-no for me - I hate it when the zooms are jerky/variable speed-ed/unfeathered! I'd much rather go fully manual and control the whole thing by hand. Interesting about your outboard servo motor though - what is it, and where did you adapt it from?
I'm also used to judging the image thru the viewfinder when I adjust iris on the fly - a lag between adjustment and result could be a serious issue for me, since I tend NOT to consult viewfinder displays except for 'low batt' and 'tape end'!
I am used to adjusting iris and pulling focus with forefinger/thumb and pinkie/ring finger respectively, as you've mentioned...but not all lenses have barrels with enough traction to carry out the really slow zooms I sometimes use. Some of the Fujinons move soooooo smoothly and freely that you tend to overpull, and that's a real bother....
The ballpoint pen zoom stick is a cool idea :-) - I used to use a plastic straw cut to size - one of the stiffer ones, like the McDonalds guys use. Gives you a custom-made zoom lever that you can change as you change lenses (I carry a supply of straws), especially if you're asking someone to pull focus.
Ken, any inputs on the kind of outboard servo that Charles is referring to?
Best,
Ram
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Old July 26th, 2002, 01:06 AM   #10
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Re: Charle's lens servo for the 14x manual lens, I believe it's gizmo originally designed for use by focus-pullers on film productions. I think it attaches to the barrel ring and uses a friction wheel to turn the ring. I've no idea where you'd get one. (Am I close to right, Charles?)

Interestingly, however, the 14x has what appears to be a servo motor housing on the barrel. I suppose it's empty but it's there.

Re: getting a continuously variable movement with the 16x auto lens, and perhaps the 16x manual, you might consider a Varizoom Pro controller. It enables you both to dial-in a fixed zoom speed and to smoothly vary the speed during a zoom. (It takes a bit of manual dexterity and practice but, the, what doesn't.) It works perfectly with the 16x auto on both the XL1 and XL1s. I don't know about the 16x manual.
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Old July 26th, 2002, 04:13 AM   #11
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I know the item you are referring to Ken, but I don't have one of those. I use a Preston Microforce DMF with their DM2 motor which mounts on the mattebox rods. The Microforce zoom control is sort of the equivalent of the Varizoom, you can mount it on the panhandle & I am having a bracket made to use it as a front handgrip for handheld. There are pictures of the components at www.prestoncinema.com/products.html if anyone is interested. As I said, I already own this as part of my Steadicam package (the FI+Z pictured on that page is the wireless lens controller I use) & it's not a practical setup to purchase for DV use--the Microforce with motor and cables will run over $5K! But it is silky smooth, extremely responsive and precise and has nifty features like the ability to temporarily program limits onto the travel of the motor so you can do a snap zoom to a specific focal length, every time.
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Old July 28th, 2002, 09:45 PM   #12
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Canon 14x or manual16x lenses sharper than stock XL-1 zoom lens

I primarily use my Canon XL-1 to do stop-motion animation. I use it to capture individual frames directly to a Mac computer using Firewire and a neat little program called BTV pro. Workes great as it has a feature called frame averaging which you can choose how many frames it averages. The results are very clean nosie free frames. I create a quciktime movie by using Adobe AfterEffects. I add effetcs, add blur to the stop motion, do green screens using Primatte Keyer and Composite Wizard ( I get good results as I've always read that MiniDV does not have the color depth to do good green screens) use Magpire Pro to read voice sound tracks and create exposure sheets and edit, add sound FX etc. in Adobe Preimere. I'm not listing all this to brag but to let you know I am serious about what I'm doing and am at a fairly high level of professionalism. Always trying to improve what I love to do my question is this. I use the 16x zoom lens that came with the camera and have read that the manual 14x or 16x is much better. I've read the messages on this board with great interest. But I have not read ( or maybe I have just not found it) do these 2 manual lenses produce a sharper image? Oh, yeah I've also produced a few live action videos for companies using my XL-1 it does get out in the field once and a while. Any feedback would be great as I am chomping at the bit to buy a 14x lens!!
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Old July 28th, 2002, 10:09 PM   #13
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I own the 14x Canon lens and my subjective opinion is the 14x is sharper than the 16x XL lens (white). I come from a film background and believe there is more to an image than the specs. The color accuracy, rendition of skin tones, sharpness, contrast etc. all combine to make the image. I have not measured the performance of this lens with a waveform monitor or resolution charts. But, rather compared side by side images on very high resolution broadcast monitors. I can see a difference.

Jeff
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Old July 29th, 2002, 04:24 AM   #14
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To Dan Anderson: I'm doing my first and possibly only stop motion piece, using clay models with armatures. Someone pointed me to animateclay.com, which helped with some of my issues, but I have more questions and I'm wondering if you'd be willing to help.
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Old July 29th, 2002, 07:25 PM   #15
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Dan,
I have the 14x. I think you will find it enables you to be more creative. It's really nice to really see and control (easily) depth of field. The 14x is a very smooth lens.

Bruce
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