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Panasonic DVX / DVC Assistant
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Old May 9th, 2005, 01:40 AM   #1
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Anamorphic confusion

I've always been an advocate of the anamorphic lens, but lately I'm eating my words, and I'd really like your guys' opinions on the matter.

I actually was considering switching to an XL2 so that I could get the best of both worlds - 16:9 and great lenses. However, that's a mighty big expense for not a lot of difference.

Here's my dilemma. I have the anamorphic lens, and I personally find the increased reasolution DRASTICALLY noticable when played on a DVD or television. However, I absolutely HATE the fact that I can't get a shallow depth-of-field, or zoom past about 85%. I've always tried to just take it with a grain of salt, but given the fact that I [try to] shoot actual dramatic films, always having a deep DOF no matter what is simply not good. It actually seems to take away from the quality, even though it's more resolution, because having everything in focus looks amateur.

Here's what I notice: The adapter DOES look much better on a DVD than without in terms of sharpness and resolution. However, I am also pretty sure that in the festival scene, DV looks like crap no matter what on the big screen, so I might as well not use the anamorphic lens since it's stealing the DOF and zoom capabilities I want to use.

So... I'm not just asking which one is better. I do have vast experience with both. I'm just unaware of which of the two specs matter in the INDUSTRY: resolution or DOF, since I obviously cannot have both in this case. So... which one is more suitable for an indie filmmaker who wants to be taken seriously? More res or better DOF?

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Old May 9th, 2005, 02:14 AM   #2
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My reply is very simple:
- less resolution will be a technical limitation when blowing up your SD footage, especially with NTSC, it will show and it gives your production a "video" like quality.
- less DOF is just a matter of style, I think you can get away with that without people thinking "this is video". As long as your compositions are cinematic and look good.

So keep using the anamorphic adapter if you like the resolution.
Peter / Orphic Film and
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Old May 9th, 2005, 07:05 AM   #3
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Do you really feel that the depth of field is wider? In my experience with the Century adapter it seemed that at wider angles the DOF was shallower than with the WD58. Maybe I should do more tests. Perhaps you mean that you can't get the shallow depth of field possible with telephoto shots, since the zoom through range is limited. (I actually didn't know that was a problem with the Panasonic. I thought it was zoom through.)

To answer your question -- it's just an opinion -- I'd go for the higher resolution. The main reason to pay attention to the depth of field at all is to call attention to specific areas of the frame. You can do the same thing with lighting for the most part.

By the way, I have three Schneider achromatic diopters that when used with the century adapter can give you an extremely narrow depth of field -- as narrow as a centimeter on extreme closeups. They also seem to extend the zoom range somewhat. It's a bloody pain to focus, and I've never used them in the field. I'm just throwing it out there as an interesting, but possibly useless bit of trivia. They only work at specific distances with the lens set at infinity. You actually have to move the camera to focus!
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Old May 12th, 2005, 10:19 AM   #4
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Here is a topic that talks about the DOF with the anamorphic adaptor. I don't know if it will help.

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Old June 2nd, 2005, 09:58 AM   #5
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Yes, the anamorphic lens limits your ability to acheive shallow depth of field. Only in the sense that you lose the longer focal lengths. However, from a cinematography standpoint, shallow depth of field is usually going to be used for the closer MED's and CU's. If you're shooting a CU, then you shouldn't be stressed over resolution. DV holds CU's very well. So I would suggest that you scrap the anamoprhic ONLY when shooting a MCU or CU and use the in camera squeeze mode. This will give the anamorphic aspect ratio, matching the anamorphic lens, as well as allowing you to push to the end of the lens to acheive shallower depth of field.

So, continue to use the anamorphic lens. The superior resolution IS worth it. And whenever you need a shot that requires shallower depth of field (my rule of thumb with the DVX is any focal length beyond Z70), remove the anamoprhic lens and switch the camera to SQUEEZE in the ASPECT CONV section of 2.CAMERA SETUP of the menu.

In regards to your question about "the industry"... there's no such thing. If you're concerned with "the industry" be an exec. If you want to be taken seriously as a filmmaker, then make films that you care about and get them out in front of an audience. Yes, more resolution is better than less resolution. But depth of field is a cinematographic choice. And not something that anyone has grounds for judging you, or your work on. Production value derived from what's in front of the camera is far more valuable in terms of a professional looking product than how much depth of field you have in a shot.

And as far as the festival scene goes, DV films look beautiful when shot well, and projected well. The quality of any project screening at a festival is only as good as the master and the projection system. Well shot DV projected from a DV (or better) master through a quality DLP projection system will look superior than American Beauty screening off VHS through a "sports bar" video projector!
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