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Will the Lens adapter degrade the Film Out?

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zhuang mu
Will the Lens adapter degrade the Film Out?
on Dec 30, 2007 at 7:13:21 pm

35mm Lens adapter( high or low end) will all add grain to the picture, how much will this affect the final print out to film?

About the lens adapter, what are the differences brought by the Money, what do I really get if I go for the high end?

Thanks!

Zhuang Mu


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Todd at Fantastic Plastic
Re: Will the Lens adapter degrade the Film Out?
on Dec 30, 2007 at 7:50:32 pm

It shouldn't have a degrading effect. If any, I would say it is more than offset by the improved DoF control that you have when using a converter, as well as the use of primes which can be (depending on which ones you use) much much better than the stock video zoom that comes on your camera.

I have never found increased grain to be a factor. I would say that with the higher-end units, grain is pretty much invisible. The better units have an osscilating groundglass rather than a spinning one so you don't get the "grain swirls" that were prevelant in the old days. Better units also have infinitely adjustible osscilating speeds so that if you happen to choose a shutter speed which reveals the grain (they just happen to sync up unpleasantly) you can adjust the groundglass speed so that the grain disappears. I believe some of the older and/or cheaper units just have a single speed, or maybe two speeds. Even the P+S Technik unit only had two speeds on the older models, but now they are continuously variable.

As far as the higher-end units go, I can only speak for the P+S Technik Mini35, which is the one I use daily shooting. It is simply one of the best designed and best built pieces of cinema gear we have ever used. The design, fit, finish, and operability is all just flawless. It works perfectly, is ruggedly built, and is truly a high-end professional tool... even though they all work on basically the same principal I can't say that about all others, especially some of the very lower end units seem to fall into the kinda "homemade" category. The only, and I do mean only downside I have found to the Mini35 is the pricetag. Depending on what you use to shoot with they can easily be much much more expensive than the camera itself. But you get what you pay for and they are definitely worth it... I have never regretted it for a second and it has been one of the best investments we have ever made.

Lower end units also record an "upside down" image that you have to flip in post... which can also pose a challenge when shooting. People have found all sorts of solutions to this on location, from mounting the camera upside down, to putting magnets on LCD screens to flip the picture, to turning monitors upside down. Those all work, but just aren't very elegant solutions in my opinion.

Some of the less expensive units (Letus) and those a click or two higher (Redrock) now do offer "flip modules" that re-orient the picture correctly. I believe (although I could be wrong) the only two units that natively record a correctly-oriented picture without any add-ons are the P+S Technik and Movietube. Movietube looks like a pretty neat product, but it is somewhat limited on the cameras that can be used with it.

If your camera has a removable lens, the higher-end units can be connected directly to the DoF converter without using the native camera lens at all. I think this is a better optic path... and it certainly is a better mechanical path... with one of the cheaper units by the time you have your camera body PLUS the original lens PLUS the DoF converter PLUS the cine lens you can literally have a rig that is more than three feet long. That is not an exaggeration, it can happen. Pretty unweildy.

Higher-end units usually have a fairly easy-to-use backfocus adjustment. With the P+S Technik, for example, there is a simple ring you turn. With some of the "bottom end" units, there is no provision, or you have to use shims. I think the Redrock has some provisions, but I know of one guy who has been struggling with getting his backfocus correct for a while now.

My suggestion is always that if you are a full-time daily shooting cinematographer with fairly high-end projects and paying clients... that the P+S Technik Mini35 is the way to go, hands down. If you are just an occasional shooter, then you might get one of the cheap units and experiement with SLR lenses. But keep this in mind, you will find tons of the cheap units for sale on the used market, and they are there for a reason. As my friend's father says, "No one ever sold a car because it ran too well." I think there is a lot of truth to that. For someone who shoots somewhat regularly, or has an indie feature that they are trying to shoot without much of a budget, then something in the middle like the Redrock unit might fit the bill perfectly.

Keep in mind that there is an available (although somewhat limited) rental market for DoF converters... especially the Mini35. A rental house in your area might have one that you can test drive before jumping into the pool.

Also, I have to go back to the original question, as to whether they would have a negative effect on a film-out. IF you are planning to strike a real film print of a feature-length project, that's big money... probably somewhere in the $30-40,0000 neighborhood for the print. If you plan on spending that kind of money, I'd make sure I had a high-end converter....I sure wouldn't try to cut corners on the second link in the image chain (and certainly not on the first link either, which would be the lenses).



T2

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Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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zhuang mu
Re: Will the Lens adapter degrade the Film Out?
on Dec 30, 2007 at 8:49:31 pm

Thanks Todd! That explained all!

I guess I have to go for a homemade, with the Achilles heel of rear focus or whatever, as long as it holds the picture quality at some level. Was thinking of using my Leica lens, but none offer a mount for a Leica M lens.

Hope the distributor will pay for the film print, if that day comes!

Cheers!

Zhuang Mu
http://www.youtube.com/zmupicture


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Todd at Fantastic Plastic
Re: Will the Lens adapter degrade the Film Out?
on Dec 30, 2007 at 9:13:00 pm

[zhuang mu] "Was thinking of using my Leica lens"

If you can make that happen, I think you will be happy.

I have a nice set of superspeed primes, and three of them (35mm, 50mm, 80mm) actually started life as Leitz (Leica) still camera lenses. They were rehoused by Panavision so now they have proper cine housings, gear rings, PL mounts, and all that jazz... but the heart of them is still that great Leica glass.

It's possible that you could have your lenses rehoused. That might be fairly pricey if even doable... it however is probably far within reason that they could be remounted... I would vote for PL mounts since they are one of the "cine standards." Those come with a price too, though... Redrock for example offers a PL mount... but they kinda hide it and I believe it is pushing $500... whereas their other mounts are in the sub-$100 range.

At any rate, the Leica lenses can be great.


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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zhuang mu
Re: Will the Lens adapter degrade the Film Out?
on Dec 31, 2007 at 1:16:25 am

Hi Todd, I can only dream for my Leica lens.
I may want to use one of the lens adapter for my still on the way Sony EX1, it is 1/2 imager, and 77mm mount, don't know which one will match it best.


cheers,

Zhuang Mu
http://www.youtube.com/zmupicture


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aaron zander
Re: Will the Lens adapter degrade the Film Out?
on Dec 31, 2007 at 6:44:17 am

first time posting in this forum, and let's get this straight I'm a post guy, but before that, I was a Photographer, an experimental one at that, So i know some things about lenses.

but what are you tossing this on, you say a film out, but are you going from HD, something like an HVX?

I've seen A LOT, and i do mean that. Like hundreds of hours of hvx/hdx footage, been on set and messed with these things too.

Yes they add amazing DoF, but they DO add a lot of grain. to the point of issues with chroma keying in several incidents. Part of the problem is adding a length after your lens, and what ever any one says about back focus, the lens on the camera isn't putting the image at the exact point it was manufactured to put it.

Any one whose taken basic physics will tell you the more objects light passes through the darker the light. And with the lower end, like the red rocks etc (less so on the psT) it's pretty severe. So much so that I've shot wide open an entire shoot running a FULL grip truck. low light ADDS grain. So if you are using a lowend/home brew version good glass will help, but these issues are all things that cause grain.

Adding length to a lens further distends the light, further creating a darker image. Not to mention the ground glass which is made to 'distort' the image.

All of these factors add up to noise on a ccd. Whats really interesting is tossing a adapter on say an SI camera, something that is nearly grainless, and seeing what it does. it does add grain in a filmic way, but it adds noise too. I had a test clip shot on a set with the exact same camera and lens set up matched frame for frame, the amaount of actual noise on the 1080p image is rather astonishing.

A lot of it is just adding something in between 2 perfectly calibrated pieces of tech. 2 items which are never identicle to any 2 others, though still being calibrated perfectly to work together, so adding something (say a psT) is just adding so many variables into an equation thats already full of them.

In short, there will be a noise difference between a normal hd transfer, and one with a GG adapter. that amount really depends on your ccd, your camera, the adapter, the glass, and about a dozen other things.

the best way to know if it will effect you is to try it.



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Todd at Fantastic Plastic
Re: Will the Lens adapter degrade the Film Out?
on Dec 31, 2007 at 7:31:59 am

[aaron zander] "Yes they add amazing DoF, but they DO add a lot of grain."

Do you know which DoF adapter was being used? I'm sure it has happened many times, but personally I have never gotten any noticable grain if the speed on the converter was set correctly.

[aaron zander] "the lens on the camera isn't putting the image at the exact point it was manufactured to put it."

Ummm... not sure what you mean there. In my particular setup the image is most definitely being put at the exact point that the cine lens was manufactured for.

[aaron zander] "the more objects light passes through the darker the light. And with the lower end, like the red rocks etc (less so on the psT) it's pretty severe."

VERY true... all DoF converters are light-hungry to a degree. The ones that correctly re-orient the images even moresore, as there is a prism block that rights the image. My P+S Technik Mini35 eats up about 1 stop. This is why I highly recommend superspeed lenses whenever possible. I will only use my basic primes indoors (all T1.3), although I have some longer lenses (T2.0) and a zoom (T3.0) that I will use for exteriors, and they are fine for that use. Interiors though... no, I stick with the superspeeds.

The trick to getting grainless images is to make SURE you are monitoring on a good full-resolution monitor so you can tweak the speed to make sure it is absolutely perfect. There will be different optimal groundglass speeds for different shutter speeds and iris conditions. And DON'T stop down too much... more than about 3 stops down from wide open and you will show the groundglass grain no matter what you do... the P+S Technik has a separate rear iris that you use to stop down, with other units you need to be prepared to throw ND filters in the matte box, so make sure you have at least a .3, .6, and .9 handy at minimum. And for goodness sake resist the urge to ever crank the gain up on the camera.


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Aaron zander
Re: Will the Lens adapter degrade the Film Out?
on Dec 31, 2007 at 10:23:24 pm

[Todd at Fantastic Plastic] "[aaron zander] "the lens on the camera isn't putting the image at the exact point it was manufactured to put it."

Ummm... not sure what you mean there. In my particular setup the image is most definitely being put at the exact point that the cine lens was manufactured for. "


sorry, heres what i mean.

A lens is made to put an image exactly on a film plane. And by exactly, i mean to the nanometer now-a-days. These devices are SO precisely calibrated to do that, putting anything in there is just throwing off the image, in the same way breathing film would. Not in the sense that your image will be breathing, but the defocusing/soft image effect when your film is say, pushed forward a bit too much, or if you have a CCD in need of back focus calibration. It's not to say it's throwing everything out of whack. It's more like driving a race car, and having some of your steering linkage miss calibrated, so on a straight your wheel is just so ever slightly turned say, left to compensate. Sure the car still drives, but not as precisely as it could be driving. This causes a warp in your DoF Calculations, can create some funky results in cropping with odd lenses like fisheyes, or gigantic telephoto's. Now not every one uses these, but it's something that can happen.


And As far as DOF adapter we were using, I can't even recall, I've used literally a dozen completely different set ups. My friend went through three before he got rid of his HVX for a red.



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Todd at Fantastic Plastic
Re: Will the Lens adapter degrade the Film Out?
on Dec 31, 2007 at 10:38:02 pm

Sorry Aaron... I guess I'm thick, but I'm waaaay confused about what you mean...

I know that there are no focusing errors on my lenses. They were very precisely housed and mounted by Panavision and after that they were collimated by one of the very best lens guys in the business (Paul Duclos). The lenses are focusing exactly on the groundglass at the precise point they should. And the groundglass of course does not breathe like film does (and I've shot a few zillion feet of film, so I know that when I see it).

I have complete confidence in the mount on the P+S Technik converter. It is built with incredible precision and tolerances... probably as much or moreso than the majority of the 35mm film cameras that I have used (and definitely as good as the one that I own). I'm completely sure that if I were to start questioning the focal plane on my rig I would be looking for a problem that isn't there.

The backfocus adjustment on the Mini35 is not a traditional backfocus... they probably actually have misnamed the adjustment a bit. It has nothing to do with the focus or backfocus of the cine lens itself. It is actually used to minutely tweak the adjustment between the camera body and the small relay lens on the converter... not the cine lens itself.

Or maybe I'm just confused on what issues you are talking about.


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Aaron zander
Re: Will the Lens adapter degrade the Film Out?
on Dec 31, 2007 at 11:39:05 pm

I'm not saying focus will be off, because what u see on your monitor is what you ARE seeing on a hd camera, (or dv for that matter)


What I'm saying is that if you have a lens, say a panavision (love their glass btw, if you want some fun go shoot some stills with their prime's it's amazingly crisp) that is supposed to be putting an image the size of a piece of 35mm film on an exact plane, and you are instead putting it onto a ground glass, and then translating that onto the film, you will then have image distortion. A good way to see this is grab the demo of Monet from Imagineersystems.com, it has a lens aberration calculation in it, that allows you to map out straight lines in a shot and see the distortion, makes for great compositing, and also shows you whats going on in your lens. Often times you end up with an odd bit of abberation on the edges and in the center of your image causing a slight warp. Now with the high end adapters, it's not there pretty much at all, but the lower end stuff you get this effect a lot more.

It's not really noticeable to the naked eye, and for the most part it's out of tv safe, and no one will ever see it, but I've seen it enough using good glass on say red rocks, and lower end 35 adapters, to know it's there.



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Todd at Fantastic Plastic
Re: Will the Lens adapter degrade the Film Out?
on Jan 1, 2008 at 12:56:53 am

I'm afraid I still don't follow what the problem (er, rather perceived problem) is... but considering:

[Aaron zander] "It's not really noticeable to the naked eye... and no one will ever see it"

In that case, I'll consider it an interesting albeit moot point. Invisible problems are the ones that I like (I have too many of the real ones in other avenues of life)!

That might be something more prevelant on the lower end adapters. I've had people stand jaw agape when learning what we shelled out for our P+S Tech and primes (especially to stick on only a $9K camera), but you get what you pay for and it has been one of our best investments ever.

Happy new year, everyone!


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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zhuang mu
Re: Will the Lens adapter degrade the Film Out?
on Jan 1, 2008 at 1:49:58 am

Don't know how to Quote.
Hi Aaron, Todd has a special Panavision: "...I have a nice set of superspeed primes, and three of them (35mm, 50mm, 80mm) actually started life as Leitz (Leica) still camera lenses. They were rehoused by Panavision so..."

Hi Todd, still hesitating, I would rather go "clean" if added bells(low end adapters) don't sound nice enough. If we shoot with Leica, we know what that mean.

The new Sony EX1, 1/2 imager, true 1920x1080, Fujinon manual lens, some claim it is comparable to some $$K big cameras... it is not a "video Leica" by all means, but at this price range(under 7K), I would be more than confident to use it for my no budget film, still, story is the king.

Thanks all and have a great happy new year, and a prosperous 2008!

Zhuang Mu
http://www.youtube.com/zmupicture

P.S.: Anyone heard of SGPro, also a lens adapter, from UK, one user claimed it is better than all the rest, even P+S.


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Todd at Fantastic Plastic
Re: Will the Lens adapter degrade the Film Out?
on Jan 2, 2008 at 3:43:20 pm

[zhuang mu] "P.S.: Anyone heard of SGPro, also a lens adapter, from UK, one user claimed it is better than all the rest, even P+S."

I've heard of it, never used it. All I know is that it is extremely inexpensive... I believe along the lines of the Brevis or Letus, maybe even less. I'm not discounting it (and would be interested in trying one, if one were available), but I'll go back to saying that with these gadgets you generally get what you pay for. Maybe it is the exception to the rule.


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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