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Old June 25th, 2008, 09:05 AM   #1
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wide-angle lens question (Sony, Zunow, Schneider?)

Hi there,

Here's my situation in a nutshell: after twenty years as a producer, standing next to a cameraman who always shot with a beautiful wide-angle lens on his Sony betacam (he was often just a foot from the subject, so a face would almost fill half the frame), and who got the most wonderful footage - - now I'm operating a camera myself (the EX1), and I want the same look...

The problem is... whenever I myself right next to somebody, wanting the kind of shot my ex-cameraman would get, I'm too close to focus, and have to back off.

I guess I'm hoping a wide-angle lens will solve this problem... what do you think?

Maybe the Sony would be as good as the Zunow... especially if I have no intentions (now, anyway) of adding a matte-box? Neither is particularly wide, so I don't know if I'll be able to do what I want. The Schneider wide-angle lens might be wider... but I was told (I phoned them the other day) that it might be four or five months before they get it fixed and released.

Any suggestions?
Thanks, Malcolm
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Old June 25th, 2008, 09:54 AM   #2
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At Alex Kubalsky's suggestion, I'm wondering if I might be better off with a wide-angle adapter, such as the Red-Eye (which I think comes in a .65x).
This isn't a zoom-through lens, though, so I'd like to know how versatile it is. Could I, for example, with it on, still use macro, and get a really tight shot (someone writing some letters, for example)?
Thanks, Malcolm
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Old June 25th, 2008, 12:55 PM   #3
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You should turn Macro on. That way you can focus on really close objects - like, say, your hand up against the lens hood.
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Old June 25th, 2008, 09:31 PM   #4
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thanks for the note, Gabriel.
Here's my worry about using a wide-angle adapter... a note I got from Ryan, kindly explaining its strengths and weaknesses: "you can gain a very close focus. Shooting a piece of paper will technically focus at certain distances but it will appear very small and the page will be distorted in the sense that the vertical lines and words will curve inward. If you shoot a page with this the edges of the paper will not appear straight"

I don't want a wonky-looking shot. I want to do what my old cameraman used to do: have the camera close to someone's face, with the face in perfect focus, and no distortion.
When I put my EX1 where I want to put it, I can't get focus, so I have to back off. I was hoping a wide-angle lens or perhaps a wide-angle adapter might help, but now I'm not sure.

Would someone who knows lenses mind suggesting what route I should take?

Thanks, Malcolm
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Old June 26th, 2008, 11:33 AM   #5
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Hi Malcolm, I worked with another EX1 owner today who has the Century .6 Wide Angle we spoke about. I think it is just what you need. He uses it for interviews in places like passenger seat of a car and he says it works great. You can get up close, don't know exactly how close though he said right up to macro I didnt check this. Very short zoom through ability but I don't think it matters. The wide is better than my Sony one. Think I would have got it if I'd known.
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Old June 26th, 2008, 01:00 PM   #6
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I use the Sony 0.8 and it works very well for me. I have had no issues with the lens at all. As the EX1 is pretty wide anyway adding a 0.8 adapter gives a surprisingly wide view. There is some barrel distortion, but then almost all wide angles will have some, it's the nature of wide lenses.
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Old June 26th, 2008, 01:23 PM   #7
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Thanks for the note, Alexander - - I'll see if I can try out the Century or the Red Eye... I want to be really careful about making the right decision, because I've pretty well used up my budget at this point, and this wide-angle whatever will be my last purchase for a while.

and thanks for your reply, Alister. I might see if I can take the Sony w.a. for a test drive too. I guess the appeal with this option is that I'm not stuck in macro mode, as I think I am with a w.a. adapter on. In other words, is the adapter good ONLY for shots where you want to be really close? (and then you have to take it off for all your other shots?)
... whereas with the Sony w.a. lens, you can just leave it on, permanently?

Cheers everyone, Malcolm
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Old June 26th, 2008, 06:50 PM   #8
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Quote:
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Thanks for the note, Alexander - - I'll see if I can try out the Century or the Red Eye... I want to be really careful about making the right decision, because I've pretty well used up my budget at this point, and this wide-angle whatever will be my last purchase for a while.

and thanks for your reply, Alister. I might see if I can take the Sony w.a. for a test drive too. I guess the appeal with this option is that I'm not stuck in macro mode, as I think I am with a w.a. adapter on. In other words, is the adapter good ONLY for shots where you want to be really close? (and then you have to take it off for all your other shots?)
... whereas with the Sony w.a. lens, you can just leave it on, permanently?

Cheers everyone, Malcolm
Yes, I think that's about right. The Sony one lets you zoom through all the way but it is only 11x zoom instead of 14x without it. The .65 is fixed at the widest (although you can zoom in a little then suddenly becomes blurry beyond a point) but Im not sure if you have to switch to macro mode, I think it just allows you to get closer than the 80cm limit of the naked lens. I'll ask the guy today.

Alister, I have and like the Sony one too but I think the Century one may be better for real close up shots.
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Old June 26th, 2008, 10:17 PM   #9
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Hi Malcolm,
I own & shoot with the EX1 here in NZ and I very rarely take the Sony 0.8 off the camera! It's an extremely versatile lens and while there's certainly some barrel distortion it's part & parcel of the W/A look. In my opinion the Sony 0.8 is a very good compromise. It's zoom through - meaning it will hold focus throughout it's range so you can zoom in and focus on far away objects, and you'll find it wide enough for most applications. With the macro on you can get very tight indeed - maybe too close as you'll see every detail & imperfection on your subject's face very clearly! For some reason the macro can focus closer when the lens is switched to autofocus than when switched to manual on my camera? It's downside is the stupid fixed lens hood which stops the use of any mattebox without some DIY surgery.
In contrast you'll find you have to take the Century 0.6 off your camera repeatedly as it will not allow focus on anything far away. I tried this lens for the Z1P and it drove me nuts.
There's nothing wrong with Century optics of course - they're awesome - it's just the nature of the 0.6 lens. I'm waiting for the re-release of the Century 0.7 and then my Sony 0.8 will be for sale on eBay if you're interested!

Cheers

Mal
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Old June 26th, 2008, 11:26 PM   #10
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Hi Mal,
that's very useful information for me. I'll pop into a shop in town that carries the Sony w.a. and give it a try. I'm curious, though, that as happy as you seem to be with it, you want a .7 instead of a .8. Does it make that much of a difference?
Now, about that Century/Schneider .7 (or .75): Ryan Avery told me in an email (I can't think he'd mind me passing this on; it can't be a secret) that their w.a. zoom-through has been "discontinued" and, if it does come back into general release (which he said was "not likely"), it would be at least 6 months and more likely a year. He added that if and when it reappears, it will likely be a new design for other cameras that could be made to fit the EX1.
Given that, would you maybe be interested in the Zunow that Alexander has tried? Did you see his pix, comparing the Zunow with the Sony?
Regards,
Malcolm
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Old June 27th, 2008, 12:52 AM   #11
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Hi Malcolm,

The main reason that I'd go for the Century 0.7 over the Sony 0.8 is the mattebox attachment issue. It may not be a problem for you now but later on down the track when you're trying to shoot that glorious sunset this post will come back to haunt you :-)
Also I have to admit I'm a Century fan - we did extensive testing of w/a lenses for the PD & Z1 cameras and the Century 0.7 was by far the best. In particular the Z1P image quality was miraculously enhanced by the addition of the Century. Some of the other w/a adapters were so bad I don't think its fair to name them. Quite awful and noticeably soft in all conditions. The problems that Century are having with the EX are very real though and I'll need to do some thorough testing of any Century lens before purchasing, especially as Century are always at the top end of the price scale so I want them to outperform the competition. It would be a shame if they never released a lens to suit the EX series.
For me the difference between 0.8 and 0.7 is not a big issue. If you have a look at the pics that Alex posted of the Zunow I can't see much difference. I don't imagine that you'll find it too much of an issue either. Barrel distortion is the main thing to look for and here the Zunow wins by the looks of things. There's always some with w/a lenses and sometimes it can add to an image. I love the look of Fujinon's 4.5 on the DSR570 - sometimes I swear I can see my own ears while I'm shooting! It's a matter of personal preference. Most of the 'Reality' shows I shoot here DEMAND the w/a look but a less distorted look is better in my opinion. Also if you're shooting hand held a lot then a w/a really helps. It smooths out all your moves a lot - actually the complete opposite of zooming in of course. You just need to get closer to the action :-)
I'd really need to have the Zunow in my hands and test it out myself before I parted with my cash though. The pics Alex have posted don't show enough detail for me so I'll be sticking with the Sony for now.
I guess my main message would be if you're after some flexibility you need zoom through otherwise you're going to be screwing lenses on and off the camera the whole time, which loses it's appeal very quickly.

Cheers Mal
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Old June 27th, 2008, 01:07 AM   #12
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Mal makes a good point with the zoom through factor and the leaving it on all the time. Also, I have some doubts about the sharpness of the Zunow. Maybe you shoulod get the Sony. Thats what I use too and rarely take it off...although I think I sometimes miss the 14x zoomed shallow depth of field look that is not as pronounced at 11x zoom.

That Century .65 was way wide though. Aaah, I want them both.
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Old June 27th, 2008, 08:19 AM   #13
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Hi Malcolm,
..In contrast you'll find you have to take the Century 0.6 off your camera repeatedly as it will not allow focus on anything far away.....
I'm not sure what you mean Mal, you can focus on distant objects fine with the 0.6x. Do you mean you can't zoom much with the lens adapter on? If so that is true, but it is also the case with all lens adapters. Whether that is an issue or not is going to be very much down to your shooting style. The 0.8x Sony is a converter rather than an adapter so you can zoom through it, but it doesn't increase the field of view by that much.

I would favour the Century 0.6x over the Redeye. I tried a Redeye on an FX1, it was nice and light but lots of distortion and CA. The Century isn't perfect but it is pretty good considering the cost. The Sony 0.8x is probably the best choice if you don't need to go that wide, for me it wasn't quite wide enough though.

M
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Old June 27th, 2008, 09:44 AM   #14
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I'm not one (and neither is Krubrick) who thinks that: 'There is some barrel distortion, but then almost all wide angles will have some, it's the nature of wide lenses.' We've just been taught to think this way Alister because so many lenses are barrelling the world we see.

In my book, having the door frames bow outwards as you track room to room is just so amateurish, and having barrel-distorted brides is just not on.

I have a Bolex Aspheron which at 0.52x takes my Z1 down to the equiv of a 17 mm lens, so is seriously wide and is almost devoid of barrel distortion. I say almost, because the Z1's Zeiss lens barrel distorts quite noticeably down the wide end, and the Aspheron simply passes this on to the chips.

It's just such a pity that the EX1 and Z7 don't take kindly to this Aspheron lens - and of course Century have found out that making a wide-converter that works acceptably with the Fujinons is pretty difficult.

The Red-Eyes (a 0.7x and a 0.5x) I tested were beautifully coated and light, but the barrelling was awful. Sony's 0.8x is pretty mild for such a lump, but at least it works ok - though of course exaggerates the barrel distortion yet again.

So Malcolm - for now there's no add-on wide-converter for the EX1 that's worth buying. Sony's 0.8x gives the equiv of a 25 mm lens, so-so wide, but not startlingly, frighteningly, excitingly wide.

tom.
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Old June 27th, 2008, 10:46 AM   #15
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I can't seem to find frame grabs from the Century .6x with and without adapter to compare. I do not have a problem taking the lens off so I am interested in the wider lens.

Also it would be nice when the people receive the Century fisheye if they could review the lens.
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