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Adding Utility To Alexa Via Zoom

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chris magid
Adding Utility To Alexa Via Zoom
on Mar 11, 2011 at 4:04:57 am

Really interested replacing our present cameras with an Alexal but was hoping to find a way to add some flexibility to the camera by adding a video style EFP/ENG zoom lens.

Was thinking of pursuing two options.

Trying to find a servo driven 35mm zoom lens that would match the millimeter range or a mid-level fujinon TV zoom. Is there such a thing? Hoping to find something in an ENG price range (around or below 20k). I understand image quality and performance is going to suffer. But I am only looking for something that approximates an ENG lens.

The pricer Alexa zoom has the range, but is manual and too expensive.

There is a cheaper RED zoom with not a lot of range...once again...think it is manual.

The other possibility is a PL to B4 adapter. Any comments or experiences from anyone putting and powering a ENG video lens on 35mm cameras.

Primes aren't the right thing for our work flow all the time. Although we would use them predominantly with Alexa but it would be great to get a tv style zoom on the camera for documentary, corporate and run n gun type work.

Options?

Chris Magid
RTVF

chris magid
chris@gortvf,com
Renaissance Television & Film
http://www.gortvf.com


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Fred Jodry
Re: Adding Utility To Alexa Via Zoom
on Mar 12, 2011 at 6:18:46 am

Chris, much of the problem of ailments of both manual and electric zooming can be avoided by having your lens man clean up its insides and the cabling outside often enough. To get satisfactory results out of a slightly cheap style zoom avoid the most telescopic reaches. They dim the picture excessively. Fortunately the Alexa doesn`t have as long a back distance from the rear of the lens to the photolayer as does a prism or mirrors color camera but you should still choose a reasonably stubby lens. I have my own favorite zoom lens but I know that everybody has their own area of what they think matters so that if I named mine there would just be a war of words in this topic between all parties. Visit an Alexa in production with a sensible lens user with you. You`ll soon have your answer.


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chris magid
Re: Adding Utility To Alexa Via Zoom
on Mar 14, 2011 at 7:12:46 pm

Completely understand your reluctance. And I think I know the lens of which you speak.

Now what about configuring with a 2/3rd inch high end ENG/EFP video lens?

There are a few adapters to do such things with. But you never really hear too much about them. Can anyone recommend hardware?

Anyone have any comments or opinions on such a configuration. What sort of problems will I encounter?

What I am envisioning is using Alexa in a documentary/reality type workflow much like an old CP-16 news camera.

Only hopefully with prettier results.

With the explosion of 35mm sensors in lower end cameras, time will solve the problem as manufacturers create mid range or low end EFP type zooms.

This is not my main goal with Alexa. But a workflow which would let me use the camera more in lieu of our Varicams and such.

Chris Magid
RTVF

chris magid
chris@gortvf,com
Renaissance Television & Film
http://www.gortvf.com


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Fred Jodry
Re: Adding Utility To Alexa Via Zoom
on Mar 14, 2011 at 8:47:53 pm

A 2/3 inch ENG lens is disciplined to make a good image on the photosurface that`s at best, only 7/8 of an inch wide from circle outside to circle outside, or corner to opposite corner; much too small for the Alexa`s photosurface. It needs twice that diameter. Putting a relay lens between the Alexa and a small zoom would work hopelessly poor. If you need an anamorphic zoom, my lens man says a brand new Hawk will purr. If you need a cheap regular zoom just steal a stubby zoom off a 35 MM or 126? 127? I forget, roll film camera. If you need my type of zoom you can`t afford it much though I wish they grew on trees. What`s the source and final picture aspect ratio by the way?


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chris magid
Re: Adding Utility To Alexa Via Zoom
on Mar 14, 2011 at 10:57:24 pm

Well. Not sure if it is an issue about affording it. It is really an issue for versatility.

I would like to predominately use the Alexa with Ultra Primes, Master Primes, Superspeeds or other nicely matched sets. These rental lenses would be chosen on a job by job basis, making sure I always put the right set on the right project. Has some financial flexibility too. And some of those jobs may require Optimos or Aluras too.

However I would also like to put the camera on jobs with just a single ENG/EFP zoom lens or a single low end cinema zoom lens. Those would be owned...as we do now with our ENG lenses. It can't be too expensive or else I can't bill the Alexa/Zoom package close to what we bill something like a Varicam package.

There aren't many long zooms anyway...the 250mm of the Alura is about right.

The 150mm of the other lens we may both thinking about is a little too short.

Just trying to figure out a reasonable way to stretch our use of the Alexa into lower budget projects which we now shoot high end video on.

So. It is very much a video like application 1920x1080, pro-res 4:2:2 to SxS cards.

Your thoughts about using still photographic lenses is interesting. Always been a little hesitant to do so. And I was hoping to figure out a solution with a servo. So thought I would ask about the idea of using a relay lens. Others have tried it but haven't found much info other than that.

Chris Magid
RTVF

chris magid
chris@gortvf,com
Renaissance Television & Film
http://www.gortvf.com


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Fred Jodry
Re: Adding Utility To Alexa Via Zoom
on Mar 15, 2011 at 8:06:31 pm

A relay lens behind your zoom (or prime) field lens will turn your ARRI Alexa into a NEC/Ampex BCC4 camera in the blink of an eye. Also, Chris it looks like you haven`t picked up the concept that the most successful (flexible) cameramen use their zooms for their wides and middles and their primes for their most telephoto shots regardless of lens budget. Also, BUY your Alexa or two, BUY your lenses, (even if it, they, have to shoot 19 hours a day to get back the costs practically).
educationalbroadcasting@hotmail.com


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chris magid
Re: Adding Utility To Alexa Via Zoom
on Mar 16, 2011 at 3:45:10 am

Fred.

Appreciate your candor and your answers. I do not have a great wealth of knowledge about cinema zooms and assorted lens accessories.

The relay lens sounds like something to avoid. But they are sold. Never used one and on your advice I am skeptical. Able has some other sort of adapter they use to put B4 lenses on Phantoms (which have a slightly smaller sensor). So just wondering about options and results.

Time will deliver more solutions. Curious to see what sony and others coms up with for the F3 and yet to be released lower end 35mm cameras. Perhaps used affordable cinema zooms with a fair amount of range are also worth searching for. Need to get close to 250mm.

There is a way I want to use the Alexa with only a flexible zoom attached. The majority of my shooting is documentary style or infotainment style shooting. Recently some of this work was in war zones, on aircraft carriers, on board aircraft, around military bases, quick moving sports events, concerts and other unfriendly environments where primes are unworkable, asking for trouble or even camera damage. I also have to occasionally deal with cargo restrictions and limited crew sizes. On tamer reality based run-n-gun productions the goals of the schedule or nature of the content can prevent a prime lens friendly workflow. Zooms would also come in very handy for interviews.

Even though this may be dumbed down and not optimum I do think it would produce superior results to the Varicam / EFP video zoom combination I use now. There could be lots of benefits due to Alexa's great imager and extended latitude in a broadcast/docu sort of application.

When my company does narrative or advertising style work we hire DPs because I am more of just a "shooter". Like Clint Eastwood said "a man has to know his limitations" and my skills are not sharp enough nor is my knowledge thorough enough for me to meet my own qualifications to hire myself as a DP on some jobs. I've learned to just make sure you use the right folks.

Those jobs acquire via HD with Pro35 adapter these days. We typically spec with primes only because in many configurations putting a zoom on front on a P35 adapted Varicam is a bit of a monster. P&S cautions on their use to due to vignetting too. Otherwise surprisingly nice results from their relay lens system going the other way from big to small.

I understand why you suggest using a zoom for greatly flexibility and look forward to doing so on a 35mm native camera...or at least equipping the DPs we work with as such.

We only do up to 24 days a year as such so it gets hard to justify buying a set of ultra primes that would include a 180mm and a zoom. That's why we rent. My rule is not to finance anything so cash flow becomes an issue. And I try not to buy gear that doesn't pay for itself in 2 or 3 years. Probably why I am finally debt free.

Alexa could be a great fit for both styles of work.

Again. Thank you for the education and opinions.

Sounds like you are frying bigger fish and at a faster pace than I.

Chris Magid
RTVF

chris magid
chris@gortvf,com
Renaissance Television & Film
http://www.gortvf.com


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Fred Jodry
Re: Adding Utility To Alexa Via Zoom, note for ALL
on Mar 25, 2011 at 5:49:35 am

Helpful note for all,
Choosing the wrong lens for the Alexa could mean that you might easily find a lens with a back focal distance that is too short. I am now suspecting that the distance from the PL mount or rearmost part of the lens barrel, both near each other, to the photosurface located inside the camera body might be the long, very usual 105 MM or 4 inches, approximately. This means that some lenses could be made to work but would suffer from the fact that the rearmost barrel zoom and iris adjustments could accidently be an inch or more inside the camera body where fingers would find fumblesome. -Or other lenses would not be able to fit in.


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gary adcock
Re: Adding Utility To Alexa Via Zoom, note for ALL
on Mar 25, 2011 at 11:48:01 am

[Fred Jodry] " am now suspecting that the distance from the PL mount or rearmost part of the lens barrel, both near each other, to the photosurface located inside the camera body might be the long, very usual 105 MM or 4 inches, approximately"

Fred,

I do not know where you get this stuff, and that is a totally incorrect and inaccurate pronouncement.
Arri invented and owns the technology behind the PL lens mounts and there cannot be more than the prescribed 52 mm of flange focal distance from the rear element to the imager/ film plane with a 54 mm diameter.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arri_PL

gary adcock
Studio37

Post and Production Workflow Consultant
Production and Post Stereographer
Chicago, IL

http://blogs.creativecow.net/24640



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Fred Jodry
Re: Adding Utility To Alexa Via Zoom, funny.
on Mar 25, 2011 at 4:13:57 pm

Thanks, Gary. (That means I could borrow an ARRI lens for my 2/3 - inch camera almost without touching back focal distance, pretty funny!)


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chris magid
Re: Adding Utility To Alexa Via Zoom
on May 8, 2011 at 12:40:51 am

This is the type of device I was speaking of.

Perfectly suited to adapting 2/3 eng zoom to Alexa for documentary or reality style shooting. Seems very useful in a kit alongside 4 or 5 primes.

Results are more than adequate. Even with the loss of light the Alexa should still have more range than F900s & Varicams.

ENG/EFP zooms also have great range and utility.

http://blog.abelcine.com/2011/04/20/nab-11-hdx-optical-adapters/#more-11736

http://blog.abelcine.com/2011/04/29/footage-from-the-hdx35-and-sony-f3/

C.A. Magid
RTVF

chris magid
chris@gortvf,com
Renaissance Television & Film
http://www.gortvf.com


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