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Different type of lenses?

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Zach Rohrer
Different type of lenses?
on May 22, 2011 at 7:24:00 am

I should know more about lenses so I m kinda embarrassed to ask this. I'm a young film maker just making his way into the film world so I've seen a lot of cool stuff and I'm learning more each day! But just recently I was looking at some lenses for cameras I am interested in. The first camera is a Sony PDW-F800 and the second one a RED one. I've done a lot of research on red and the lenses they make and so I got to know the prices for a lot of their stuff. And for a RED 35mm prime lens it was $4,250 and a whole kit of primes was roughly $20,000. That's for a kit of five I believe. Now, looking at the Sony F800, it being an HD camera, I quickly learned that it is recommend that you get an "HD" lens for an HD broadcast camera. I thought nothing of it until I got to the price. For one "HD" lens it was $19,000 dollars. For one lens! It was a Fujinon ZA12x4.5BERM 12x 2/3" HDTV Lens. Now here is where I get really confused. Why do prime lenses that work on RED cameras, that shoot up to 5K resolution cost so much less per lens, when an "HD" lens like the Fujinon one cost, for one lens, $19,000?

What am I missing? Is it quality in the lens? Does the lens give a better resolution? Or am I wasting $19,000 dollars investing in an "HD" lens for an HD broadcast camera when I could just get one for around $2000 dollars like the Canon YJ20x8.5BKRS and still get the same stunning HD quality with out the "HD" name in it?

I hope I'm not confusing anyone.. But why is one lens that says it is "HD" so much higher in price, when a lens that goes on a RED camera can record in 5K and only cost $4,250? What am I missing here? lol

Thanks a bunch!
-Zach


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Artyom Zakharenko
Re: Different type of lenses?
on May 22, 2011 at 10:02:32 am

Hi Zach,

There is no such thing as 'HD Lens'. That's just a marketing tool, to make it sounds like a HD lens gives you higher resolution. It maybe has better glass, yes, which will give you a sharper image and better colours, but it has nothing to do with resolution when talking about lenses.
The price can also depend on the type of lens you're using, prime or zoom, does it have extra functions/buttons and more build in technology like image stabilizers, is it a photo or videolens? All those things matter when it comes to price. RED builds photolenses, they're simple to produce, but have better glass.

The F800 and RED have different mounts, so i think u should decide which camera you want first. Try Compact Primes from Carl Zeiss, pretty nice piece of glass and it has multiple converters for different mounts.

Cheers
Artyom

Artyom Zakharenko
Cinematographer

artyomzakharenko@gmail.com


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Richard Herd
Re: Different type of lenses?
on May 22, 2011 at 11:01:22 pm

[Artyom Zakharenko] "There is no such thing as 'HD Lens'. That's just a marketing tool, to make it sounds like a HD lens gives you higher resolution. It maybe has better glass, yes, which will give you a sharper image and better colours, but it has nothing to do with resolution when talking about lenses."

Here is a great link: http://magazine.creativecow.net/article/the-truth-about-2k-4k-the-future-of...

Unfortunately, Panavision appears to have pulled down the presentation entitled "Demystifying Digital Cameras." In that presentation, Mr Galt explains Modulation Transfer Function (MTF). Which is the fancy term (and mathematics) of why the lens provides the resolution. It's easy to emphasize picture size as resolution, but it is only a part of the story.

This month's American Cinematographer Magazine has started a series on a similar topic regarding CMOS.

In some ways, "yes HD Lens is a marketing term." But it's a very important term because you would hate to purchase a lens designed for super 35mm and try to put it on your Sony HD camera. Basically, you'd have more lens than sensor. So HD Lens in practical terms means its optics match the sensor for which it is designed.

When you start comparing "the truth about 2K" with modulation transfer function, you can see lenses really are a case of you get what you pay for.

Zach, consider renting the cameras first, to make sure it's a fit for you. You might also consider the Arri Alexa. Recall the picture has to go through post, too. So that pipeline ain't always an easy or inexpensive fit either.

While I'm on the topic, be sure to ask an accountant about Return on Capital Employed. In order to make such a massive purchase profitable, a number of clients should be on the calendar. Otherwise, renting such high profile gear is a more business savvy position.


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Micah McDowell
Re: Different type of lenses?
on May 31, 2011 at 4:44:44 pm

One thing to remember; your comparison between the RED primes and Fujinon zoom is apples to oranges.

A high-end zoom that would work on RED would be way more than 20 grand... from what I've seen, Cooke and Angenieux cinema zooms are just getting started at $40k. So don't go thinking that the Fujinon is five times better just because it costs five times as much as a totally different category of lenses. Completely different tools for completely different purposes. And for filmmaking, you'd probably want the primes on a RED, while for live production or documentary, you'd probably want the Sony. That's a gross oversimplification, but it's a start.


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