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Old September 16th, 2011, 06:36 PM   #1
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Natural Light and "Kit" lens

There's tons of examples out there of people shooting with SLR, cinema and just about every other lens on the planet (since we're all just nuts about using "film" glass on our rigs) but I hardly ever see imagery from the "kit" 14-140mm Panny/Leica lens.

Today I helped a friend shoot some "talking heads", very quick-n-dry. In fact I needed my rig to be very small & light; no matte-box, FF, ext monitor or any other stuff. So I took just the camera body, sans handgrip (comes off with screws), the kit 14-140mm, battery and memory cards and nothing else.

No adjustments made to detail, coring, gamma/color etc - all factory default.

Camera settings were 1080/30p, 60th shutter, VID CAM mode (to more closely match the Sony HVR-S270 that was the main camera) and Scene File 1, ISO 1600. 100% percent natural window light, no fill or reflectors. Camera manually white-balanced to a white facial tissue sitting on the desk - totally the quick-n-dirty method.

The often lowly regarded "kit" lens performed flawlessly. Very sharp, and having it be able to autofocus on-demand was very helpful since the subject kept bouncing around in-frame as he spoke.

Surprisingly the AF100 did much better than expected at 100% default settings. Once a WB & BB was made skin tones were very natural and organic (helped by natural window light) and quite honestly, this is the best RAW, unedited in-camera footage I've seen from any AVCHD/CMOS type camera. Far and away more natural-looking than any DSLR (Canon's imagery is always shifted to the yellow-greenish side of things - very similar to the Thomson Viper) and Panny's version of AVCHD compression didn't steal anything away from detail in the eyes.

Admittedly, the DOF from the kit lens is, well... not very dramatic. In fact, it looks *very* similar to the near infinite DOF that was on the HVX200's built-in lens. And rightly so with a max aperture of f/4 only at the wide setting, it doesn't lend itself well to the "film look".

However I highly recommend the lens for several reasons:

1. AF: While the AF100 is designed for "digital cinema" with AF lenses about it does lend itself well to ENG work quite nicely. In fact, Abel Cine in Burbank has created and ENG conversion kit, allowing you to mount 2/3" inch ENG power-zoom lenses to the AF100.

2. Color/Sharpness/Contrast: It's not a high-end lens by any means but it does have near-APO qualities in it's color rendition and sharpness.

3. The zoom range is totally usable and well-rounded for just about any kind of shooting style.

4. It's a perfect test-bed for focal length. Choosing which lenses to purchase is a critical decision since a well-rounded set of primes or zooms will cost several times more than the camera itself (ain't that always the case!) So if you want to see firsthand what a 14mm, 50mm up to a 140mm lens looks like on a 2x crop sensor, this will give it to you. (strictly from a field-of-view perspective, not DOF) So it could save you a lot of money in the future from purchasing a lens that might or might not be what you're looking for.

5. Price. For all it's capabilities and overall imaging qualities you can't beat the sub-$800 price range it currently sells for.

I was originally going to sell my "kit" 14-140mm lens and instead get some nice primes to replace it, but after using it today it's going to become a permanent item in my toolkit of lenses.

Enclosed are some stills taken from todays shoot clearly showing the characteristics of this lens - and the AF100 imagery at "factory default".

I've seen many a vid-cams RAW output and so far this is my fav. UPDATE:

This is just "normal" PH-mode AVCHD straight to the card; had this been HD-SDI out with 8-bit 4:2:2 color skin tones would have been noticeably more organic and natural.
Attached Thumbnails
Natural Light and "Kit" lens-1.jpg   Natural Light and "Kit" lens-3.jpg  

Natural Light and "Kit" lens-8.jpg  

Last edited by Robert Lane; September 16th, 2011 at 10:40 PM.
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Old September 19th, 2011, 07:04 AM   #2
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Re: Natural Light and "Kit" lens

Set to 320-400 ISO, the AF100/14-140 combo handles very much like a good old HVX200 in terms of sensitivity and IQ, albeit with far more fiddly zoom and focus control. However, start kicking up the gain and the AF100 benefits become clear. I often work in (quite literally) laboratory conditions, under tight time limitations, and for the most part, this is the only lens I use on those shoots. I may haul out the 20/1.7 or a 50 of some flavor for interview and low light shots.

Running around in daylight, there's scarcely a better single lens.
Freelance pudgy bearded lighting camera operator
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Old September 26th, 2011, 09:28 AM   #3
Go Go Godzilla
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Re: Natural Light and "Kit" lens

Very soon - as in later this week - you'll be able to see the "kit" lens in action for a commercial gig. I'm finishing up a spot for an aviation client and the Panny 14-140mm fit the bill exactly as I needed a compact package & zoom capabilities since there wasn't time for switching out PL mount primes.

This might be the first time this lens has been used on a commercial production - as far as I know.

Once the client has approved it for release I'll post a link to it.
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Old October 30th, 2011, 12:41 PM   #4
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Re: Natural Light and "Kit" lens

Rob, very curious about your spot
where is it?
Marcus Martell is offline   Reply

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