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Old July 31st, 2008, 01:00 PM   #1
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How good/bad is the 16x5.5 lens really ??

There are all these conflicting stories. My dealer calls it a "wine-bottle lens". True, I've occasionaly seen CA in some takes and hated it. But there's also splendid work like Mark Silva's post below (HD100 Food Reel). And some of my docu work has been fine with this lens. With some tricks I've even been able to get decent film-style scenes out of it.

There have been dozens of threads containing opinions & views & tips about this lens.

Could we sum them up so we all know exactly what we're doing when using the standard lens ?
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Old July 31st, 2008, 02:20 PM   #2
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Opinions of this lens really depend on the user's prior experience with lenses.
If you are used to professional quality ENG lenses then you will find the bundled 16x5.5 to be sub-standard (it is only worth about $1000 after all.)
If your prior experience is built-in lenses on handheld cameras then you will probably love the "pro" features of 16x zoom and may not even notice its faults (or you may only be concerned with pro lenses' lack of autofocus... who knows?)

The best approach to this lens is to consider it a "starter" so you can get shooting out-of-the-box and then take your time deciding on what other lenses or adapters fit your specific needs. The 16x5.5 may be all you ever wanted. The whole point of buying a camera with a lens mount is the ability to choose whatever lens works best for you.

If you understand the limitations of the 16x5.5 and avoid the conditions that cause the most CA & vignetting you can achieve excellent images.

Ideal shooting "zones" for the 16x5.5 Fujinon:
-Aperture set between F/2.8 and F/5.6 to avoid all forms of CA.
-Zoom between 5.5mm and 45mm to avoid vignetting and some CA.

The lens breaths quite a bit so rack focusing for drama isn't really that feasible.

I also highly recommend the wide angle adapter which widens the lens to the equivalent of 4.5mm.
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Old July 31st, 2008, 03:20 PM   #3
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I posted some comparison stills a while back you may find useful. Image 5 for the HD100 shows the drawbacks of using the lens at 88mm.

http://www.neopics.com/gl1-hd100/
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Old July 31st, 2008, 04:54 PM   #4
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To over state the obvious, at full telephoto, which I've had to use a couple of times already, the CA is readily apparent to me (and my significant other who ISN'T in the industry). The ability to have a "real" lens after finally discarding my PD150 after 8 years though far outweighs the negatives. Having said that, a new lens is on my SHORT list (ie as SOON as I can find $8k to rub together all at the same time). I'm a doc shooter tho so I don't always have the luxury of controlling my environment as far as focal length goes.

I should add that I have 10 years broadcast experience so I've used everything from the VX1000 to Sony Betacam SP/SX to studio cameras with lenses to match. I've shot an 80x box lens, $40k Fuji wide angle, the works so take my opinions with the obvious grain of salt.
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Old July 31st, 2008, 07:59 PM   #5
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Here is my thread for the best I got out of my 16x. Click on the thumbnails and you get a fulls sized png.

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=123408

when comparing to my old DV/DVCAM's 1/4 to 1/3 3CCD's, it's a better lens hands down. When compared to the $20,000+ lenses hung off the end of the Panaflexs we used in Mexico for TITANIC, it doesn't compare. I think most people when they badmouth it are people who have been useing 35mm, 16mm zoom/primes as well as people using HD (any flavor) with 1/2 to 2/3 3CCD's and yes it still doesn't compare across focal range. However it's quite good in the middle 70% if you keep the aperture f4 - f5.6. Or at least that's what I keep telling myself so i don't drop $6,000 on a 13x that I want very much.

So use ND2 and maybe even have a ND screw in filter handy. It will get you working till you can afford a 17x or 13x or find some old 16mm Ariflex primes on ebay. I compared a Pansonic Hpx 500 with stock (which one?) lens next to a JVC HD200 with the 13x and had them both ouput to matching JVC studio monitors... and the JVC 13x threw the Panasonic in the mud and stomped on it. Of course the Panasonic has more format options etc, but the JVC with a 13x can certainly compete with the $20,000 rigs. I don't know about the 17x. I was given some footage and I wasn't terribly impressed. I do NOT know what aperture was however, and that makes all the difference. All lenses generally give the best sharpness and contrast corner to center through the middle of the aperture range, usually a little more open than closed. With the 16x it is more apparent and you have to watch what you are doing closer... but you still with a little effort footage that is more than good enough to go to DVD for sale at amazon.com and no one in the world will question it.... just don't zoom past 50mm or 60mm if you can help it, and keep your aperture at f4 to f5.6.

Also the movie GABRIEL I believe was shot with the 16x lens since they shot the movie a couple weeks after the FIRST JVC HD100 came out. There wasn't even a way to edit yet when they shot the picture. That film ("PICTURE" ... going back to old Hollywood jargon since it's not shot with film anymore) was bought by Sony Pictures and shown in limited release at the theaters and now is on DVD. Not bad for a new unproven camera, no editing software and a lens that everyone says stinks. No the pictures wasn't a BLAIR WITCH type that relied on bad camera work, it was shot traditionally, so the image HAD to hold it's own.

Now if you can afford a JVC HD200b with a 13x, (still less than half the money of a Pansonic HPX-500 with lens and P2 cards) then do it and don't look back. If not, get what you can afford and start working, but plan on replacing the 16x a year or two down the road.

Right now I'm comparing some footage I shot with a Canon A1 both at 24f and 1080i. Nice footage. I think between the 1080i (24f) and the lens it looks a wee bit sharper, but not as much dynamic range, and I still hate the handycam units to use... so it was the JVC for me, and I'm still happy.
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Old August 1st, 2008, 02:19 AM   #6
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I think the user

of this lens will work basically within 20 metres (66ft) of his subject, beyond this you need to look at another lens. Softness and CA, which is typical of any lens at an extreme, but maybe lock into you mind what sort of range you think your work falls into. It's also true you reduce CA by stopping down, but often the case, especially only with a 1/3inch behind the lens, you need all the iris you can grab, and it's hard to then ward off those soft CA gremlins. A longer throw lens should help reduce this.
Also don't expect to shoot tight and get everything in, often I'm moving back to try and frame subjects completely. The 17x and 20x are only like 7%wider, but at least the 20x gives you an extra 12mm to play with at the long end.
If tight shooting is your thing, 13x hands down, if multifunctionality is necessary, as most of us fall under this, the 18x BERM is the beast, just has a beast of price.
My attached pics show what I mean, I'm shooting from on top of a clift over a dry river bed, so that's dictated how close the subject is, it's quite soft and heaps of CA. And again at a racecourse, same deal, but when shooting some cutting within the 20m, things are pretty sweet. (shot with the 16x of course)
(Edit: actually I just blew up the cutting pic, and that has a slight green CA on the back of the calf and the horse behind it. Oh well)
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How good/bad is the 16x5.5 lens really ??-vlcsnap-247320.png  
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Old August 5th, 2008, 05:56 PM   #7
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Thank you very much, guys.

I'm trying to figure out what the next step should be on my 251. All my recent fiction was done with mini-35 and hs cine primes. But for docu work that's not practical all the time and so I need a zoom solution which can hold up for later transfer to 35mm.

Before buying a Fujinon video lens I just wanted to have the full opinion on the standard lens.
I've had threads on the subject of 16mm zooms http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=107480

I don't have any video background so I'm not really at ease with servo video zooms of any format. When I shoot myself I like things manual. So I also wondered if it would be feasible to adapt the Canon cinestyle HDV manual zoom lens (I forgot the exact reference) to the JVC 251 since it's supposed to be great optical quality and around $3k.

I've used the JVC HZ-CA13U adapter with cineprimes, though not with a zoom.

From reading through other posts, I gather that using Nikkor zooms will just yield too long focals unless you're doing wildlife films - or am I wrong ?
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Old August 5th, 2008, 09:45 PM   #8
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A couple of samples from a 200 with the 17x

Alex asked me to post a some images with the 17x. These are two where I was zoomed in pretty far. For my neice's wedding I was back about 125 ft. maybe a little more and I think I had about a 4 f/stop.

The lighthouse was a good 200 yds. distance and I had some zoom left to give. I 'm pretty sure the f/stop was around 11 with the ND2 filter.

My issue with the stock 16 may be the camera that the JVC replaced, a Sony DSR-300, had a nice 18x Canon lens that I was very familiar with and the look to expect. I do among other things quite a bit of 'live' video and I just couldn't get confortable with what I was shooting and even had a camera tech friend of mine check out the backfocus as detail just seemed to soften when zoomed back
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Old August 6th, 2008, 11:24 AM   #9
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can someone tell me how to induce breathing on this lens?

I've never seen mine do that and never quite understood
that claim. But I'd like to be proven wrong! :)
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Old August 6th, 2008, 11:30 AM   #10
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Thanks for posting those John. Still some CA but significantly better than I'm getting out of my stock 16x. Now my internal argument begins on the 17x, the 18x or the 13x...
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Old August 6th, 2008, 03:33 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Silva View Post
can someone tell me how to induce breathing on this lens?
On the 16x5.5? Just turn the focus ring.

A couple years ago I shot a breathing comparison test between the 16x and 13x.
http://timdashwood.com/.Movies/Breathing.mov
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Old August 6th, 2008, 04:45 PM   #12
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is that quicktime supposed to be 400k? says its unrecognizable.

If I turn the focus it stays where it is, I don't see any pulsing
or "breathing" at all, never have on this camera and stock lens.

I thought this was a phenomenon of auto focus systems only?

A manual lens should never do this right?

This is one area I don't know a whole lot about as you can tell,
but I always wondered what people were talking about.
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Old August 6th, 2008, 05:15 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Silva View Post
is that quicktime supposed to be 400k? says its unrecognizable.
Right click and save as.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Silva View Post
I thought this was a phenomenon of auto focus systems only?

A manual lens should never do this right?
Any zoom lens will have some level of breathing, however small. Even some high-end prime lenses breath.
It all comes down to the lens' design, auto or manual focus is irrelevent (unless you are referring to internal focus systems.)
The 16x5.5 does breath quite a bit compared to more expensive ENG lenses.
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Old August 6th, 2008, 05:26 PM   #14
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I was just talking to my DP and he explained it to me and
thats what the quicktime is, a subtle zoom in that occurs
instead of staying in place.

interesting.
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Old August 6th, 2008, 05:51 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Silva View Post
I was just talking to my DP and he explained it to me and
thats what the quicktime is, a subtle zoom in that occurs
instead of staying in place..
Yes and you'll see in the example that the 13x3.5 barely breaths while making the exact same focus pull at the exact same time.
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