Lenses 101!? 28mm, 100mm? M2 35mm lens converter questions.
Can anyone explain all the different sizes of lenses, and in what type of scenario one would typically shoot using each different lens? P.S, in my case this would be shot on a p2 hvx-100, 1080pa,
28mm, 100mm, 35mm, and so on.
Also I am going to purchase an M2 35mm lens converter,
And I would like to know what lens brands may be best, I heard Nikkon is a good one. By best, I mean give me the image closest to look like film, even though Im shooting in 1080p.a,
I plan on buying a still photography lens and using on my feature film, which I heard gives just as stunning results as the much more expensive PL lenses, though please correct me if I am wrong.
Thanks so much.
Clint Nitkiewicz Hern
Sometimes you just have to be the bad guy (not a role that I enjoy)....
No offense at all intended Clint... but you are very definitely diving headfirst into the deep end in one big ill-prepared jump there.
I say that because you first ask a very basic question about lens focal lengths. Not that there is anything wrong with basic questions and learning from the ground up... my sister couldn't tell you what a 28mm lens is, and there was a time that I couldn't either. There is nothing wrong with lacking knowledge early in one's craft, especially when one desires to fill that void.
Your question is a bit like asking "I need to find out what the difference is in a paint brush and a paint roller because I'm planning to copy the Sistine Chapel ceiling."
I'm not trying to be a smartass or condescending to you, honestly I'm not. But you propose some things which are more than a little bit advanced with apparently not a lot of background experience yet. Planning to shoot a feature film with a DoF converter and getting "stunning results" would be someone unrealistic expectations for someone who is just beginning the craft. Lens converters such as the M2 (or the more advanced ones like the one made by P+S Technik) are not something a novice can slap on the front of a camera and suddenly expect to shoot like Roger Deakins. Cinematography is a real craft, and one that takes years to learn (I won't say years to perfect, because we are all continuously learning).
I could try to answer your question (a 28mm is a medium wide, a 100mm is a medium telephoto, etc.), but your questions really cover much much more than can be answered in a forum like this.
You need to learn and master not only focal lengths, but f-stops, T-stops, depths of field, and a dozen other things... plus that many things and more about lighting. A good start would be to hit the library or bookstore, and just start reading and reading and reading some more... there are countless books about cinematography (and many more about still photography). I think you will learn a lot.
Then keep on learning. Take a class. Take another one. Pester a cinematographer (someone who shoots film, or at least used to and still knows how) to let you watch him work. Get him coffee. Wash his car. Whatever it takes. I learned more about cinematography on my first day on a real film set than I did in four years of film school, just by watching a real master.
The use of lens converters is a narrower specialty. I'm not aware of any books on the subject, but you might read an article that I wrote in the current issue of Creative COW magazine which will tell you just a little more about them and their use.
I'm not trying to rain on your parade, and I truly hope you learn the craft of cinematography and I see your credit on a big-budget feature someday (with an ASC after your name!). But I think step one is to realize that it is a true craft and an art... and that just learning the difference in a 28mm and a 50mm lens does not nearly equip one with the chops necessary to grab some cine lenses and stick them on your video camera and expect feature-quality results.
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
I simply am looking for someone to tell me the glossary definition of the following lenses;
If not for all, ones favorite? If one had to buy only 2 for a feature which ones, which ones would they be? Or if it had to be three then so be it. Please help.
I simply dont want to end up buying a 135mm and a 105mm for a film shot mostly indoors, so perhaps one can clear up the different options available.
What is ones favorites, and why for certain shots.
note: I am shooting for a film look on HD.
And thanks Todd for the great detailed response. I know that cinematography is an art of its own and should really dive into it as you suggest as I have done with directing so far. I dont have experience at all as a cinematographer, only as a operator, though I would like to take the role of both now. I am simply trying to be a great cinematographer and I guess your right, there is no definition of what a 28mm lens, and a 100mm lens would do for you, but I still want a rough idea, as I need to make a purchase soon so I can start experimenting, no time to read books or classes unfortunatley. I just thought some one could bring their "library" and field expertise to the forum, hense the purpose of the forums, but if no professionals can recommend certain lenses for certain shots, then diving into the art is what I shall do it will be the best way to learn Im sure, and Im quite excited cant wait. Though I still need a recommendation for 2 lens purchases.
Clint Nitkiewicz Hern
Basically, the lens lengths are like the zoom on your camera. A 24mm lens gives you a wide angle, like zooming all the way out. A 200mm is telephoto, like zooming all the way in. The others are somewhere in between.
To get an idea of what exactly these lenses look like, try out a full frame SLR still camera with a bunch of lenses. A local photo store with REALLY nice staff would be able to walk you through what each lens does.
It's hard to say what lens you should get because each production has different needs. If I was forced to answer, I would say for the greatest versatility you should have a 24mm, a 50mm, and 80-200mm zoom lens.
Todd is right, this is a big step for someone and if you have to ask, you probably shouldn't be doing this. If you are spending money on this, I would say your production would be better served with more budget for lighting, art direction, better crew, etc.
I have to jump on the bandwagon here with Jeffrey and Todd, also without the intent of saying anything disparaging.
But realistically, Clint, you even titled your post "Lenses 101," for crissake. Someone in that position simply has no business shooting a "feature film" and expecting anything less than poor to marginal results.
If you went to an auto repair shop and saw the mechanic reading a book called "How Cars Work 101" would you trust your car to him? If you were wheeled into the oprating room and saw the doctor reading a copy of "Surgery 101" what would you think? Same thing.
I'm sorry, but there are no shortcuts. Any art takes skill to perfect and any craft takes times to learn. I can appreciate your "excitment" for your project but that doesn't forgive the lack of your expertise or experience, or your refusal to take the steps to learn such. No one is going to watch your movie and say, "Well it looked like crap, but I can tell the DP was really excited."
We've all seen it a thousand times-- a low budget project where the photography direction was really done by a "videographer" pretending to be a cinematograher for the day, but in the end the thing that he shows most clearly is that he doesn't know what he is doing. Some things can save a project like that: great acting. An unbelivably engaging story. Inspired direction and editing. But visually, it will still look like crap. I'm going to assume you don't want to be one of those guys.
Again, there are no shortcuts. If you simply "don't have time to read" or time to learn but instead hope this forum will give you the magic secret in 100 words or less, I'm afraid you are not going to find it. You are fundamentally saying that "I'm going to do this project in a hurry, because I don't have time to learn to do it right." That is either ignorance or arrogance. No one gets any points for doing it quick or trying to cut corners.
I'm probably coming across like a mean jerk and I certainly don't mean to. I'm just trying to give you a dose of reality. If you don't believe me, post your query over at cinematography.com (where the ASC shooters hang out) and sit back and watch the fireworks.
Best of luck,
Excellent information Jefferey, that is exactly the basic info I was looking for, I will go to the camera shop with my still camera and figure stuff out. Wow excellent comments Alex, so funny, I have a good sense of humor so I take nothing of your words offensive, because it is practical information. I have been in a hurry for this shoot, but you are right about going things right. But this is my first feature, and I plan to learn along the way, Iam a hands on learn as I go type of guy, never believed in film school, but always belived in sharing information as we are now, this is the best school I believe, talking with people, helping others. I had good luck to have you guys give me the basic info I needed to keep moving forward to the next steps. Perhaps in the near future you will find me blogging on my expertise on cinematography, haa. I think its great that we can walk around on the web with no pride, and ask the most basic questions and not be judged because we are all learning artists. Take care guys, my journey has begun. Thanks Jeffery for your suggestions, and thanks Todd and Alex for letting me see the bigger picture.
Buy your camera. Get the lens adapter. Go to a good camera rental store. Tell them that you want to try a bunch of lenses to see what accomplishes your goals.
We have a 4.7 Canon lens on our 2/3" HD camera. Zeiss has a conversion chart for their primes and it goes like this.
(HD) (Academy 35) (Super 16)
5mm = 12.5 mm = 6.4 mm
7 mm = 17.5 mm = 9.0 mm
20 mm = 50 mm = 25.6 mm
70 mm = 175 mm = 89.6 mm
You would have to figure out what your chip size would do but I would start with asking the fine people who make the adapters.
You might even start right here: http://www.redrockmicro.com/
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[Todd at Fantastic Plastic] "Your question is a bit like asking "I need to find out what the difference is in a paint brush and a paint roller because I'm planning to copy the Sistine Chapel ceiling.""
My analogy is the guy who wants to set a new "Land World Speed Record" but he only has a Pinto and $187 that he stole from Aunt Minnie's purse, but, he knows it can be done because Bob said so.
[Steve Wargo] "My analogy is the guy who wants to set a new "Land World Speed Record" but he only has a Pinto and $187 that he stole from Aunt Minnie's purse, but, he knows it can be done because Bob said so."
Yep... and the guy is welcome to try to set that land speed record. I just don't want to be in the passenger seat with him.
That's why I think if one were going to try this route, it would be incumbant on the fellow to inform his cast and crew that he doesn't know what he is doing yet, and long before he pulls trigger so they don't sacrifice any jobs with professionals in the meantime. People give of their valuable time, attention, and resources to help make a film, and most of us do projects where we have some expectation of good results. I know personally if I were involved in a project and then some time into it discovered that the DP didn't know the difference between a T-stop and a T-bone steak, well, I would be pretty pissed to say the least.
Fortunately, I think it will be evident pretty quickly.
Be nice to Clint...we may be working for him one day.
I for one am thankful for the kind people in my career who took time to answer open-ended questions I already knew would take a lifetime to answer.
I wanted to hear their opinions.
Many of these patient saints gave valuable time...and suffered more imposition than pixels on a bulletin board that no one forced them to respond to.
And yes, many of the folks even rode shotgun in my metaphoric Pinto that -- many times -- barely sputtered out of the driveway.
(cue patriotic music)
So go for that landspeed record Clint. I bet you learn much more pushing your Pinto than if you sat at home reading all the "right" articles in the sports car/cinematographer magazines. Wait...did i mix metaphors??? i'm confused...
(Music builds to stirring finish, then stings out.)
Excuse the rant, but you gotta start somewhere. Like I'm starting here...
From lurker to ranter in one fell swoop...
Turner Classic Movies
[kfrogg] "Be nice to Clint...we may be working for him one day.
I for one am thankful for the kind people in my career who took time to answer open-ended questions I already knew would take a lifetime to answer."
That's what I was going to say. There'd be no Cow if people didn't feel safe asking questions, knowing they'd get the answer from people more experienced than they are.
Here are some reasons why Clint is my favorite poster among the thousands at the Cow this week:
1) He knows he's a beginner, hence the 101 in the thread title. Bonus points for a descriptive title.
2) He came in asking, not telling. You know how rare that is.
3) He's asking in the right forum. Also all too rare. Where else to get an answer about lenses than this forum?
4) He's asking before he makes mistakes in buying or shooting that can't be fixed later. How rare is THAT?
5) He's specific about his plans, including brands, and, again, ASKS to be corrected if his assumptions are wrong.
6)Crazy, mad bonus points for even WANTING a lens adapter, for getting that depth of field is worth paying attention to. This alone might have earned my "favorite poster" status. How many posts like this at the Cow this week? This month?
7)[Clint Nitkiewicz Hernandez] "I have been in a hurry for this shoot, but you are right about going things right."
What?!? He asked for advice, read the answers, and THANKED you? I'm getting teary-eyed, no kidding.
8)Best of all? Diving into the deep end. Dive into the shallow end and you can break your neck. Important advice because not everyone's bones heal as well as Wargo's.
To throw in another metaphor just because I'm so happy: Clint's swinging for the fences. He's daring, and yeah, maybe reckless. Reckless almost never means wreckless, but it can sometimes mean greatness.
To Chuck's point, we may someday WISH we were working for Clint.
[kfrogg] "Excuse the rant, but you gotta start somewhere. Like I'm starting here...From lurker to ranter in one fell swoop..."
Which is why you're my second favorite poster this week. :-) Gotta love a supportive rant.
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I applaud Clint's enthusiasm... I myself never intended to pick on him, and hope I wasn't perceived as such. I generally try to be very helpful...
In fact, I probably wouldn't have responded at all, except that the dropped the F-bomb. F as in FEATURE. As in, "I don't know one end of a lens from another but I'm going to go out and shoot a FEATURE now because I'm in a big hurry and I don't have time to learn anything about it but it's alrght because I'm really excited and that makes it ok."
There is nothing wrong with learning-by-doing... we all do that. But a FEATURE is probably not the best place for it. They are just too hard. There's too much going on. Too many things to think about. He needs to get his new camera, go out an play with it a while... shoot some neighborhood kids doing a skit. Make a couple of shorts. Goof around and learn it. But don't try to shoot a feature film 10 minutes after you take the bubble wrap off the first camera you've ever shot with. It's just not a good recipe.
Why am I semi passionate about this? Because I used to be Clint. I was a young, eager, very ethusiastic guy... I thought I knew a lot about film and set out to make a feature. I'd never owned a camera before. People considered me a wunderkind, but actually I didn't really know the difference in a 28mm and a 100mm either. It got me a lot though... it got me about 10,000 feet of crap negative and a film that was never finished.
Looking back 20 years, I wish I had somebody who knew what they were doing to say "Hey son, slow down just a little... learn at least a little bit first, maybe make a short first thing out of the gate." I didn't even have the COW to tell me those things back then. There's nothing wrong with walking out of the kiddie pool and diving into the deep end I suppose, but in hindsight sometimes you might wish there had been a fatherly lifeguard who at least said "Ummm, hey kid can you swim?"
But again, I applaud Clint's enthusiasm.
ALSO... Tim made some great points. He posted in the right forums. He was polite. He said THANK YOU. Sadly, that's getting rare. There are a number of frequent posters on the COW (resisting the urge here to name 3 or 4 names) that I simply no longer answer, even if I have the perfect solution for their problem. Why? Because they never even acknowledge that you took time to try to help them. Five people might write five pages of responses, but you never hear a peep back out of the original poster. I don't have to be "thanked" to death (or even at all), but even a simple "Hey, I'll try that..." or a "Good idea, but won't work in my case because..." is enough to let you know that your efforts to find them a solution was at least read and that you didn't completely waste your time. Oh well, I'm beginning to sound like a crank here. I wonder if I should grab Wargo and Zelin and we all get matching jackets?
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
[Todd at Fantastic Plastic] "Oh well, I'm beginning to sound like a crank here. I wonder if I should grab Wargo and Zelin and we all get matching jackets?"
They're a slimming shade of off-white, with long sleeves that lock in the back. One size fits all.
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