35mm primes -- Which one don't I need?
I'm about to make a large purchase of equipment, including a Letus Ultimate and 5 Nikon Zeiss primes. Of course I have come up against my budget, and am looking where I can cut a few hundred dollars. I'm looking at my primes, and wondering which one I might lose to save some money.
I'm currently looking at a 21mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm, and 100mm.
From your experience, are there any in this list that I could do without? My first thought was to lose the 50, but I'm interested in your thoughts.
I'll be shooting a lot of talking heads/doc style interviews, as well as wides of rooms/hallways/exteriors...a pretty wide range of subjects.
Thanks for any input or advice.
If I had to jettison one of those lenses for talking heads, it would be the 50. The 85 is a good portrait lens. The second one to cut would be the 35. And, rather than 100mm, I would go for something longer. It's too close to the 85.
There is potentially a problem with cutting the 50. If you are shooting in tight quarters, the 85 may be too long. If you see that as a possibility, I'd just cut the 35.
Another way to skin this cat is to keep the extremes: 21, 50, 100. Then later, when there are more funds, add some additional lenses.
director of photography
San Francisco Bay Area
and part-time instructor lighting and camera
grad school, SF Academy of Art University/Film and Video
My initial thought is not to lose any... I use all those focal lengths (or near to those) daily.
Rick is right though that the 85mm and the 100mm are very close together. You could probably get away with losing the 85mm. OR, lose the 100mm and get something longer instead. Although I realize that doesn't drop your lens count.
Although Rick would, I personally would not lose the 50mm. The 50mm is probably my most-used lens, followed by a 35mm and an 80mm. Different strokes, different tastes. It all depends on how you like to shoot.
I'm assuming those Nikkors are SLR still-camera lenses. If so (and even if not), make sure you have budgeted for a darn good follow focus unit, as they are going to be murder to focus, especially on a moving subject. And NOT one of those cheap-on-eBay "Fisher Price" follow focus units... their gearboxes are just way too sloppy even for real cine lenses, and with SLR lenses that will be doubly critical. The units from Arri and Chroisel are great but expensive... on the budget end I can highly recommend the FF unit from RedrockMicro... it's one of the few sub-$1000 FF's that I have ever used that was nice and tight, a nice unit and very workable.
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
Well, you guys are making me think that maybe I would be better served by pulling $500 from another area. Maybe I can pull my set of 4x4 frames/silk/scrim/flags since I am planning to get sets of those in both 18x24 and 24x36 sizes.
Todd, thank you for your follow focus comment. I feel much better about spending the extra money on the Arri MFF set now.
How do you like to preview shots when working with SLR primes? Can I use my Nikon camera body as a director's lens viewer?
Thanks again for the advice,
[Matt Dufilho] "I feel much better about spending the extra money on the Arri MFF set now."
If you are getting an Arri FF unit, no worries. It's a great follow focus and rock solid, it will make working with SLR lenses a little easier. SLR lenses are so tough because to go from nearest focus to infinity with a real cine lens you have to make almost a full barrel turn of the lens... but with an SLR lens you only have to make a 1/5th or 1/4th turn... so you are turning the focus ring only a tiny tiny amount when trying to track a moving subject... and depending on your lens' focal length, f-stop setting, and distance to talent... that DoF can literally be as shallow as an inch (if you want), and focusing can be maddening. The Arri will help.
[Matt Dufilho] "Can I use my Nikon camera body as a director's lens viewer?"
Well... yes and no. You can use it to judge depths-of-field of particular lenses at particular f-stop settings, yes. But no, you can't use it as a viewfinder for framing... at least not accurately. Remember that a 35mm still frame and a 35mm cine frame are very very different... and the cine frame is much smaller than the still frame (because still cameras shoot a horizontal image on horizontally-traveling film, whereas cine cameras shoot a horizontal image on vertically-traveling film).
I just use regular old director's finder.... or just use the camera. Or, after you do it enough you can look like a pompous old Hollywood director and frame a scene with your hands... which really does work... and after a while you'll learn pretty closely what focal lengths will cover how much of a scene, and what lens/f-stop combos will yield particular depths-of-field. A couple of companies do make director's finders that work pretty much like a DoF converter... they have PL mounts in front for a cine prime of your choice, which shoot onto a groundglass... pretty much just like your Letus. They are pretty pricey, though... the one made by Arri comes in at about five grand.
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
For interviews we use the 50mm the most. The other two we use the most is 35mm and 85mm.
Dont forget with the letus you can plug in a 50mm and zoom into the ground glass and get a tighter 75-80mm look with the 50mm DOF. Same works with all the other lenses.
So most common we use is: 35mm, 50mm and 85 mm.