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Old November 20th, 2008, 09:20 PM   #1
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EX1 + Letus; lens choice input needed

I bought a Letus Extreme adapter for my EX1 back in the summer and still haven't used it. I either get side tracked or get turned around by what choices to make. Some of these questions might seem stupid or newbie-like. Sorry.

My Extreme has a Nikon mount so I'm looking for Nikon lenses. What is the criteria I should follow before buying? I'm probably looking at getting two or three used lenses if possible.

Here are my questions;

1) Does it matter how old or new the lens is? If both were in good condition, is there any difference between a used lens from 1977 and one from 2007? Something I should avoid?

2) Do I need a lens that is manual only? I doubt it. It can be an auto/manual combo, just not an auto only lens? Correct? Focusing with the Letus is done manually.

3) What range of aperture should I look for? 1.4 - to what? Should I avoid a lens that doesn't go lower than 2.8?

4) Is it best to go with fixed prime lenses, or are variable lenses just as good. If fixed prime, what suggestions; 28, 50, 85, 100? Would be looking for a range for both indoor and outdoor shooting.

5) Any obvious things I'm not thinking about?

Thanks for reading. Any input appreciated.
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Old November 20th, 2008, 11:01 PM   #2
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Check my latest post at the end of here http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/photo-hd-...d-mk-ii-4.html

The same is pretty much the same for lenses on a 5DmkII and EX-1 plus Letus.

If money is no object then Zeiss ZF lenses or Nikon AF zooms like the 17-35 and 80-200 are the way to go. Phil Bloom's blog has plenty of detail on this.

Dan
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Old November 20th, 2008, 11:31 PM   #3
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I second Zeiss. I use the ZF's only (was using Canon L series) and you cheat by just buying one lens (zoom into glass to cheat 85mm).
-C
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Old November 21st, 2008, 12:27 AM   #4
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Forgot to add, there is a 'cheap' Zeiss option, look at the older Zeiss lenses for Contax SLR cameras, then get an EOS mount for your Letus, then get cheap EOS to Contax mount adapters. Focus on some lenses is not as smooth as the newer ZF lenses but they do have the advantage of turning focus the same direction as on the stock EX-1 lens.

Or just buy ZF!

Dan
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Old November 21st, 2008, 12:28 AM   #5
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Letus Extreme and Nikons...

1) Yes, lens age does matter. There have definitely been improvements to lens design and construction in the past 30 years, and yes, you can tell. Try to get the most modern lenses, as a rule of thumb. Also always try to read at least one professional review of the lens you're considering, since newer doesn't mean better every time;


2) It doesn't matter if you have an MF or an AF lens, as long as there's a focus ring and an aperture ring on the lens itself. If you're planning have some kind of follow focus unit, then it's wise to make sure that the focus ring on the lens can take the type of lens gear that you're considering. Think of the Letus as being a body extension - everything in front of the Nikon lens mount behaves just like a Nikon lens would on a regular Nikon stills camera. You can install anything you want on it - zoom motors, follow focus units, filter holders, etc. Also, if you're thinking of getting a zoom lens, you can theoretically use a one-touch lens (where you have one ring only, turn for focus, push-pull for zoom, but most people use two-touch lenses (two separate rings, one for focus, another for zoom) - much less jerky zooms that way - don't forget that one-touch zoom lenses are built for stills photography, not moving pictures - you do the zoom (jerk) focus (jerk), then press the shutter release (no jerk);


3) On the Extreme you have to go for faster lenses. Apparently everything slower than an f/5.6 or f/8 causes problems in the Extreme. Me, I use the Extreme to get a shallow depth of focus, so I rarely shoot anything slower than, say a 5.6. Mostly as wise as the lens will go, and that's usually f/2 or faster, for me. Most of mine are 1.2, 1.4, 1.8. f/2. If you want to stop down to f/8 or smaller I think the Letus Ultimate works better. Don't have one of those, so I couldn't tell you more about it. So yes, you should avoid the slower lenses;


4) well the fixed prime lenses are usually cheaper than the zoom lenses of the same speed. i.e. a 28mm f/2 prime lens is usually cheaper than a 28-xxx mm zoom at f/2 (and those are rarely constant aperture lenses anyway - they usually only hold their maxiumum speed at full wide - when you zoom in, they get slower (or was it the other way? in either case, it doesn't matter - go for the lenses that say "constant aperture" and not the ones that say f/2.8-5.6, for instance).
However, if you're using zooms over primes, then you'll need to buy less lenses to get all the focal lengths covered.
Me, I run both, but use mainly primes; Zeiss ZFs in 25, 50, 85, 100macro would be excellent. Yes, you can go with high quality zooms, but the aforementioned Zeiss ZFs will set you back more than $4,000, and it's tough to match their visual quality with zooms;


5) yes, you forgot the support system. You'd be needing a 15mm rod system for your kit, probably from Letus or Cavision, IndiFocus or if you're feeling rich, from Zacuto. This setup will support your camera and your Letus, keep those two rigidly locked together, then support a follow focus unit if you need one, and a matte box in front of that.

Also the glass: the reason most people buy matte boxes is because then they can use just one set of filters for every lens. A basic set of filters would include some ND (neutral density) filters, a plain UV protector for protecting the lenses (shooting off moving cars, boats, etc), a polarizing filter (linear or circular), maybe an IR filter and some graduated ND filters. These can work out to be quite expensive. However, as you know, you can also borrow from the stills photography field and get some Cokins or similar, but those are plastic, not glass, and so will tend to scratch easier and not last as long.

Also, as you know, unless you're shooting a series of stills pictures that will be mounted together and viewed at once, matching colors and exposures across those stills pictures isn't really critical. Not so in moving pictures. So it's best to buy one series of lenses from one manufacturer instead of mixing brands, and also to use the same (identical) glass in front of said lenses. That way your 85mm shot will match your 25mm shots, etc. Which is, of course, another argument for using a zoom lens. That way every shot has to match, because every shot was made through the same glass.

And the camera support - a really good tripod and fluid head, please! (Not Manfrotto / Bogen, that is...)

Finally, it's worth getting the better Nikon lens mount from Letus. Much more solid and the lenses don't move around at all with this mount.

HTH
YMMV etc.,
Cheers
Chris
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Old November 21st, 2008, 12:35 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Chung View Post
Forgot to add, there is a 'cheap' Zeiss option, look at the older Zeiss lenses for Contax SLR cameras, then get an EOS mount for your Letus, then get cheap EOS to Contax mount adapters. Focus on some lenses is not as smooth as the newer ZF lenses but they do have the advantage of turning focus the same direction as on the stock EX-1 lens.

Or just buy ZF!

Dan


Dan
The older Zeiss lenses were made for the Contax/Yashica mount cameras and then the plant (in Singapore?) went down when Contax closed. A few years later, the Contax plant reopened to make the ZF lenses, but the new lens designs are apparently different from the older ones, having been taken from the Zeiss cinema lens designs rather than the original Zeiss stills designs.
That's hearsay only AFAIK -- I'm sure more knowledgeable people here will correct my impressions.
Personally I used to run Nikons, Leicaflexes and Contaxes, and now own a set of ZFs and I personally think they're visibly sharper, but, definitely YMWV on this one.
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Old November 21st, 2008, 01:51 AM   #7
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Chris,

That's pretty much about right, and there are plenty of people who prefer the newer ZF lenses. There is some debate on how much each lens in the range has changed but in general I think the new ones have greater contrast. While Zeiss say they draw on their cinema expertise for ZF it is not clear exactly how they have done this other than in the mechanical feel.

The older Contax fit ones were still excellent though and give the trademark Zeiss 'look', in fact there may be some advantages to older lenses, too much contrast can lead to problems when trying to fit high contrast scenes into the limitations of an EX sensor.

There's an interesting read on the topic here new Zeiss ZF 28/2 - FM Forums

Put it this way, pretty much all recent Zeiss glass is pretty damn good.

Dan

(Forgot to add the older Zeiss MM Contax fit lenses were actually made in Germany)
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Old November 24th, 2008, 12:58 AM   #8
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Thanks for all the input guys.
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Old November 24th, 2008, 09:34 AM   #9
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I have the same setup. EX1, Letus Extreme, Nikon Mount. I found Phillip Blooms Forum and Lens thread a great place to start. Bloom's Forum :: View topic - Lenses

Also, Ken Rockwells Nikon Lens site is excellent.

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