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Old March 14th, 2004, 09:18 AM   #1
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lens confusion.. film vs video.

Hi!

Visited a filmset the other day. They were shooting 35mm with an arriflex cam and had 8 lenses with them I think.

My questions is.. What's the difference between video and film that you can't use zoomlenses? Do you lose resolution somehow or what?


Thanks.
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Old March 14th, 2004, 10:27 AM   #2
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Zoom lenses lack the resolution, contrast and control of prime lenses. That's why professionals and movie productions shun them unless there is no other way or for an effect.
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Old March 14th, 2004, 10:34 AM   #3
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I had no idea.. Thanks! What do you mean by "control"?
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Old March 14th, 2004, 10:50 AM   #4
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Alfred,

Eight lenses is actually not a huge amount for a film shoot.

Here is a common 35mm package lens order that I typically work with:

All of the following are in mm's.

10, 16, 18, 24, 28, 32, 35, 50, 60 macro, 75, 85, 100, 150, 300, and sometimes higher depending on the job.

Also a 5-1 zoom and a 10-1 zoom.

You can and do use zoom lenses. While on Miami Vice as well as on most TV shows we pretty much relied on our 5-1 (20-100mm) zoom lens as it was fast to use when you are working 50-60 setups a day, which was not uncommon in a typical 12-16 hour day!

Check out a couple of pictures at: http://home.mindspring.com/~ricks-pics/zoomsonset/

Rob, the lens is not necessarily shunned. Like everything else, it is just another tool that has its place in the scheme of things. The loss of resolution is not a big deal for TV and the speed of changing focal lengths make it ideal for this use.

For film projection the Primes are the way to go. We have used mostly primes for feature work.

You'll find that Prime Lenses not only have better resolution but generally have faster apertures making them more adaptable to working in low light. Murder on the AC for pulling focus, nothing like a 150mm dolly shot from 15 feet to 5 feet at a 2 stop to get your heart started!

Ultimately, it is up to the DP. I have worked with some that use Primes exclusively and some that never take off the zoom lens.

RB
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Old March 14th, 2004, 10:59 AM   #5
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Thanks for the info!

The lower mm the wider, right??

Did you work on "Miami Vice"?? I was hooked on MV when I was younger.. (Saw all the reruns too..) :-)
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Old March 14th, 2004, 11:04 AM   #6
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Correct,

The smaller the number, the wider the field of view.

Yes, I was the A Camera First Assistant and my Dad was the A Camera Operator for the first 2 years of the series.

Very cool stuff!

RB
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Old March 14th, 2004, 11:04 AM   #7
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Nice pics there!! (Are you sr. or jr?)

"Faster apertures" ? As in adjusting them faster..? What does it mean?

Sorry to bore you with all the basics..

sorry didn't see your reply.. you're jr..
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Old March 14th, 2004, 11:07 AM   #8
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I'm Jr.

Sr. passed away in 1992.

Faster as in wider.

The lower the F or T-Stop, the more light that is allowed to pass through the lens.

The higher the Stop, the smaller the iris thus letting less light to pass through the lens.

The smaller the Stop, the less DOF and the higher the Stop, greater DOF.
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Old March 14th, 2004, 11:20 AM   #9
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Yes, Rick. I forgot about television. He was asking about a film production, though.
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Old March 14th, 2004, 01:04 PM   #10
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Most features I've been on use zooms at some point or another for the convenience factor. Modern zooms are a lot better than they used to be--but so are the primes. The speed of being able to take a few millimeters on the lens rather than move the camera to get an exact composition can be very useful. For night exterior work it is much more comon to use primes exclusively as they are faster (as Rick defined above, can open to wider apertures).
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Old March 14th, 2004, 02:15 PM   #11
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Thanks for all your answers! very informative.

I was told that it's common to use the same lens all through a movie to create a "look" and not confuse the viewer with several different ones.

Is that correct? If it is, can you really tell the difference. (Except in extreme varaiations due to DOF.??)

Thanks.
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Old March 14th, 2004, 04:50 PM   #12
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Maybe not so much to avoid "confusing" the viewer, but rather to establish a "look" for a film. For example, Ridley Scott and Tony Scott were commercial directors, known for their use of long lenses, before they established their motion picture credits. A long lens tends to compress the picture, to give a sort of "layered" effect. Think some of the scenes in Ridley Scott's, "Blade Runner." Or Tony Scott's, "Top Gun."

Then, in 1987, as almost a rebuttal to the "long lens look," Ridley directed the stylish drama, "Somone to Watch Over Me," in which he switched to wide angle (or, "short lenses") for an entirely different look (and "feel").
(For more wide lens movies, check out "Citizen Kane" and the recent "Signs.")

In making these films, the cameraman doesn't stick to one lens to the exclusion of all others, but will favor those which compliment the "look"(feel) he and the director are after.

I could go into greater detail about the difference in long lens versus short lens, but I think it would be of more value if you would check out some of the films for yourself, and form your own opinion.

For additional information on long versus short lenses, you might want to check out a couple of photography forums on the net. Lots of great information to be found there.

Wayne Orr, SOC
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Old March 14th, 2004, 07:52 PM   #13
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Good for the budget, bad for the picture!

No problem Rob,

When I saw "film set" I wasn't even differentiating between TV or Theatrical.

Alfred,

I've never heard of a picture being made with just one lens, and when I say, one lens, I mean a prime, not a zoom.

Some DP's idea of a wide lens, and I have worked with them, is a 75mm! Nerve wracking for the focus puller, especially at wider apertures. My personal preference when I shoot is long lenses. I like the compressed feel of the shot, especially when working at the wider end of the scale.

Most viewers wouldn't know a 100mm from 1000mm so I think that wouldn't be much of a factor.

If anything confuses the viewer, it is bad continuity and / or screen direction. Most people that don't know the difference between Right to Left, and Left to Right, are confused by the lack of screen direction, but don't actually know why because it is not readily apparent to the average person.

This happens all of the time in films, regardless of how big the Director or the DP.

One of my favorite films is GoodFellas and it is rife with continuity flaws!

RB
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Old March 14th, 2004, 09:45 PM   #14
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Maybe he read using the same lens so the background stays the same.
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Old March 15th, 2004, 12:58 AM   #15
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Rick - just wanted to say - great explanation and more so - great work on Miami Vice - used to love that show.

Cheers
Paul
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