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Good zoom lens for field work on C300

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Erik Anschicks
Good zoom lens for field work on C300
on Aug 1, 2013 at 4:10:03 am

Not sure if this question is in the right forum, but I didn't see any category for Sports Shooting. So if there is...sorry in advance!

Anyway, starting this fall I am going to be shooting more "gameday" documentary episodes in the college football realm. The look is very cinematic, an NFL/ESPN Films style if you will, and I will be using an EF mount C300 (not changeable). A lot of the shots will consist of atmosphere, b-roll, and beauty shots...but I will be shooting the game from time to time as well. I am going to have to upgrade to a better zoom lens for coverage.

So basically, I'd love some recommendations for a good zoom for covering live sports that are available in EF mount (or a different one that can take an EF adaptor) for this camera. I'm thinking the 24-105 Canon would be the best bet to start? My only reservation is that I've used traditional broadcast Fujinon/Canon zooms for this in the past that topped out at about 90-95mm, which was usually OK but I'd never be able to get those REALLY tight shots, like the snap of the ball, QB's eyes before he receives the ball, etc. I just wonder if 105 is going to be long enough to get those really dramatic shots.

Any suggestions for a good lens for this? Anyone also have experience shooting sports with these kind of "cine" cameras and care to share any tips? Thanks!


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Angelo Lorenzo
Re: Good zoom lens for field work on C300
on Aug 1, 2013 at 5:03:28 am

The 70-200 + Canon's 1.4x adapter is a good place to start. The 300 prime isn't bad to have on-hand either. They'll both tripod/monopod mount to the lens via a collar and have active stabilization.

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Todd Terry
Re: Good zoom lens for field work on C300
on Aug 1, 2013 at 5:18:37 am

This might not help you at all since you have the EF camera, but I'll give it a shot, and might spark some conversation or other ideas for you...

I shoot probably 90% of the time with primes on my C300 (I have the PL mount version)... but when I do use a zoom I use a Russian Foton zoom. Not familiar with them?... a lot of people aren't. The Russian LOMO and Foton lenses are absolutely fantastic lenses from our comrades, mostly made in the Cold War and slightly-post Cold War era. They are true cine lenses, typically originally used on Russian Kinor and Konvas 35mm cine cameras (as I did). Lately they've been appropriated for digital use, and while they used to be plentiful (especially LOMO sets), people have been snapping them up like crazy to use on everything from Alexas to Epics to C300s and just about everything else.

Recently there was a discussion of C300 rigs on another thread and I happened to snap a couple of pics of my setup, if you want to see the lens... the top two pics in this post show a prime lens mounted, but the two below that show the Foton zoom mounted...

http://forums.creativecow.net/readpost/59/861753

It's a nice range at 37-140mm. Now, it is slow as molasses at f3.8, so when I used it with previous cameras it was limited to exteriors... but the C300 is so darn light sensitive that I can use it fine with interiors now... even in low light.

As I said, it's a true cine lens, so you have manual zoom and focus functions (with the screw-in "sticks"), but I'm going to put lens gears on mine when I get a chance. It's sharp as a tack and quite contrasty (in a good way) for a zoom. It's slightly on the warm side compared to some of the cooler primes that you might have been using. That classic "NFL Films" look is exactly the look it gives.

I have no idea if anyone has ever put an EF mount on one, but that'd definitely be interesting. Most of them are in PL mount, or in the Russian OCT-18 or OCT-19 mount. The mounts are removable though (by a decent lens tech), so a mechanical EF mount might be a possibility.

Best of all they are absolutely dirt cheap. Most of the time there are at least two or three floating around on eBay at any given moment, usually in the $500-$1500 range, depending on condition. No, not quite as nice a lens as the $47,000 Canon, but for the money they can't be beat.

T2

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Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
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Erik Anschicks
Re: Good zoom lens for field work on C300
on Aug 1, 2013 at 5:50:15 am

Angelo -
The 70-200 is a consideration as well. 200mm would be plenty tight enough from where my vantage points would be in the game (mostly end zone and sidelines). The only potential downside is that perhaps a max width of 70mm would not be wide enough? Do you think that might be an issue at that length? Especially for plays coming right at me, or sideline stuff, or in the tunnels pre/postgame. Last season on a lark, I once tried to see what I would get with an 85mm prime during warmups, and it was VERY tight, unless I moved FAR away from the action.

Todd -
Interesting! That seems a perfect zoom range, I'll email Duclos lenses and see if an EF installation is possible. On the same note, I know I've seen some of your other posts where you rave about the low-light capability of the C300. I have used it enough to know this as well, but my question is that in your experience, would it be OK to go with an F4 aperture lens since some will be at night with only stadium/natural light? Normally I'd say that's too slow, but I'd imagine a high(ish) ISO could handle it? Especially since even shooting nighttime, I'm going to be in Big 10 stadiums like the Big House or Camp Randall, so the lighting is far better than almost any natural-light nighttime situation. If you do think that would work, is there any max ISO you wouldn't feel comfortable going past?

Thanks to both of you for the ideas!


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Todd Terry
Re: Good zoom lens for field work on C300
on Aug 1, 2013 at 6:17:55 am

Yeah Eirk I would have NO problem with an f/4 on th C300.. the light sensitivity is incredible. Just today I was shooting some relatively dark interiors with the zoom and it was more than fine.

You will find the C300 to be clear as a bell up to 10,000 ISO, and perfectly acceptable up to about 16,000.

Give Duclos a shout. I know Paul put a moritorium on working on LOMOs but I don't know if he will work on other glass like the Fotons or not.

And in my opinion... a minimum of 80mm is way too long for the type of work you want to do.

T2

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Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
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Erik Anschicks
Re: Good zoom lens for field work on C300
on Aug 5, 2013 at 3:38:28 am

So Todd, I have put in an email to Duclos and we'll see about the Foton. Either way, thanks for the tip!

To go back to the original question though, do you think that the 24-105 would make the most sense for this type of shooting and just as an overall best first zoom choice for this camera? Just FYI, I have a full set of Zeiss primes that I love to death so I have plenty of other lens choices.


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Todd Terry
Re: Good zoom lens for field work on C300
on Aug 5, 2013 at 3:59:13 am

[Erik Anschicks] " I have put in an email to Duclos... "

Good, maybe they can help. Several years ago I had an identical Foton but with the oddball Russian OCT-18 mount and I asked Paul about converting it to PL mount. He said he could do that, but for some reason I never had it done... I just bought another one that was already PL mounted. So at least I know he is familiar with the lens and I think has worked on them before. Maybe you'll get lucky.


[Erik Anschicks] "To go back to the original question though, do you think that the 24-105 would make the most sense for this type of shooting and just as an overall best first zoom choice for this camera?"

I dunno... it's probably wide enough on the short end, but my gut instinct is that it's not long enough on the tele end. I'm really not the right person to ask for a couple of reasons... one, with the exception of the occasional use of the Foton I hardly ever shoot zooms... I'm a primes guy. I've used it a fair little bit lately, but normally it's not uncommon for me to go weeks or even months without taking the zoom out of its case. Secondly, I really know bupkus about DSLR lenses, other than the couple of times I've tried them they drove me crazy. My experience is really limited to shooting cine lenses. I'm guessing you are used to cine lenses too with your Zeiss primes, and I think that like me still-camera lenses would drive you bonkers when trying to focus them... especially for longer focal lengths like you'd be using to shoot games. It's just that with SLR lenses you only have to make about a fifth of a ring turn to get from nearest focus to infinity (compared to almost a full barrel turn with a cine lens) that precise focus is very very touchy. Plus most it not all SLR lenses breathe to a degree... which is perfectly fine and a non-issue for still photography since that does't matter, but with motion video that can be a problem. The zoom is going to be a bit clunky, too, compared to a cine lens.

Hope I'm not sounding snobby about SLR lenses... they do work, indeed. But with my limited experience I just found them quite hard to deal with.

T2

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



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Erik Anschicks
Re: Good zoom lens for field work on C300
on Aug 5, 2013 at 4:35:09 am

Todd, everything you say makes perfect sense and I agree with it...the issue is I'm kind of locked into shooting with an EF mount C300. I am not totally unfamiliar with using still zooms on this camera or even a DSLR, so I do understand the differences and I agree that it takes some getting used to. I'm not really THAT concerned with lenses "breathing" as I have noticed that a lot of broadcast lenses, especially some standard-length Fujinons, often have a bit of breathing as well.

My thought process is basically that I have shot quite of bit of similar sports "gameday" programming with EX-3's for Comcast Sports. I used the manual zoom almost exclusively as I like that quick zoom bump-in look for sports. So I am very used to zooming and focusing quickly with one hand! The native lens tops out at 81mm and I was able to get some "close enough" shots of the players during the game. I figure the 24-105 is a good range for a lot of what I would want to do, and I can always easily rent a 70-200 and swap for when I really NEED the length. We shoot this stuff from a very cinematic POV, so we don't have to follow every play ENG-style and we have time to switch lenses or shoot other stuff that we see fit.

I have been assured by the executive producer that the network has used C300's many times for this, and it looks awesome so I know someone's doing this, the question is how exactly! I will ask one of the producers I know, but my guess is that it's a good bet that at least some of them are using some still-photo zooms. I know most of it is handheld and it would be INCREDIBLY difficult to go handheld or run and gun with a big ol' cine-style PL zoom that gets you longer than 200mm, especially without an AC! I can't imagine that's what's often going on.


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Erik Anschicks
Re: Good zoom lens for field work on C300
on Aug 12, 2013 at 2:42:08 pm

Just to follow up with Terry and revive this thread a bit...

Terry, first of all, unfortunately you were correct. Duclos does not service or modify Russian lenses at all because getting replacement parts and/or giving accurate quotes/timetables on these lenses is almost impossible. If you're interested, Matthew spelled it out in more detail on a reduser forum, scroll almost all the way down: http://www.reduser.net/forum/archive/index.php/t-70456.html

I also ended up going with the 70-200mm that I can use my extender on if needs be. Your instinct was correct (as was Angelos' in his response, thanks!), 105 was not long enough. I talked with some of the producers and they said you often have to have a pretty long focal length to get what they are looking for in terms of the closeups. One such setup for that on the C300 that they use is actually a 400mm DO prime. Combine that with the fact that these Canon lenses have a 1.5x crop factor on the Super 35 sensor and you're looking at about 600mm, which I was also told was the traditional NFL Films standard length on their end zone cams for the Super Bowl! Most of the time on the field, we'd be using a hi hat anyway and it's understood that lenses like the DO are rental items so the 70-200 is a good base to own. If I need to go handheld in the tunnel or other places, my primes will be just fine.

One last question about shooting 60fps (I know it drops to 720)...I haven't really done that extensively on the C300 yet, but on a 32gb CF card, how long of a recording time do you have compared to the app 80 minutes at standard 24/30 fps at full HD?

Thanks everyone!


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Todd Terry
Re: Good zoom lens for field work on C300
on Aug 12, 2013 at 3:13:42 pm

[Erik Anschicks] "Duclos does not service or modify Russian lenses at all "

As suspected, not surprised by that. I think that once people discovered the great LOMO primes that Duclos was flooded with them, and since they fall into the vintage category a lot of them needed a fair bit of service and it was hard to predict just how much they would have to put into them.

[Erik Anschicks] "Combine that with the fact that these Canon lenses have a 1.5x crop factor on the Super 35 sensor..."

Not really... it's not really a "crop factor," it's a bit apples and oranges there. People (especially those using the jumbo-sensor Canon DSLRs) seem obsessed with "full frame" sensors these days. They seem to forget that "full frame" means different things to different formats. A "full frame" of 35mm film when shooting stills is completely different than 35mm film when shooting cine footage. Why?... people seem to forget that a still camera shooting 35mm film shoots horizontally, a wide image down the strip of film... whereas a cine camera shoots vertically on that strip of film. So, the two "full frames" are different depending on the format. The C300 has a Super35mm sensor, and shoots exactly the same field of view as any S35mm cine camera. Put it side-by-side with a top-of-the-line Panavision Millennium XL2 and the fields-of-view for each focal length is exactly the same.

[Erik Anschicks] " I was also told was the traditional NFL Films standard length on their end zone cams "

Are you talking about NFL Films today (which shoots electronic), or classic NFL Films from their film-shooting days (when the voice of John Facenda could make the most boring matchup sound like the game of the century)? When NFL Films was shooting real film, that was always 16mm, not 35mm... so the 16mm field of view is going to mean those telephoto lenses are even much much more telephoto than compared to 35mm, for a given focal length. I'm just wondering which shooting format the person who told you that was referring to.

[Erik Anschicks] " shooting 60fps...long of a recording time do you have compared t"

The recording time is exactly the same. That's because even though you're switching from 1080 to 720, the bitrate for each remains at 50Mbps. That's assuming, of course, you're shooting at the highest bitrate (you can also shoot at 35Mbps, if you choose). You can do the math, but the easiest thing to do is just put an empty camera card in the camera and turn it on at whatever settings you want to shoot with. Within a couple of seconds the display will show you remaining shoot time.

T2

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



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Erik Anschicks
Re: Good zoom lens for field work on C300
on Aug 12, 2013 at 3:48:30 pm

[Todd Terry] "Not really... it's not really a "crop factor," it's a bit apples and oranges there. People (especially those using the jumbo-sensor Canon DSLRs) seem obsessed with "full frame" sensors these days. They seem to forget that "full frame" means different things to different formats. A "full frame" of 35mm film when shooting stills is completely different than 35mm film when shooting cine footage. Why?... people seem to forget that a still camera shooting 35mm film shoots horizontally, a wide image down the strip of film... whereas a cine camera shoots vertically on that strip of film. So, the two "full frames" are different depending on the format. The C300 has a Super35mm sensor, and shoots exactly the same field of view as any S35mm cine camera. Put it side-by-side with a top-of-the-line Panavision Millennium XL2 and the fields-of-view for each focal length is exactly the same."

Please understand I'm not doubting you at all, but I have read conflicting info with that...for example http://c300user.co.uk/2012/02/canon-70-200mm-f2-8-is-lens/ or here is AbelCine's comp chart comparing how the mm appears on a C300 vs a 5D: http://abelcine.com/fov/...Looks like you have to input the camera info on your own, I just chose to compare the C300/500 with a 5D. Of course I might not be understanding it all correctly as you're much more familiar with the cam than I am!


As far as the NFL Films era, it wasn't specified which era he was talking about. I know they did shoot on 16 so the optical range would be different, but I think that was just a "fun fact" rather than any kind of practical advice :)


[Todd Terry] " The recording time is exactly the same. That's because even though you're switching from 1080 to 720, the bitrate for each remains at 50Mbps. That's assuming, of course, you're shooting at the highest bitrate (you can also shoot at 35Mbps, if you choose). You can do the math, but the easiest thing to do is just put an empty camera card in the camera and turn it on at whatever settings you want to shoot with. Within a couple of seconds the display will show you remaining shoot time."

That's what I had read/thought, thanks for confirming!

In fact, thanks for taking the time to respond in general Todd!


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Todd Terry
Re: Good zoom lens for field work on C300
on Aug 12, 2013 at 4:06:22 pm

[Erik Anschicks] " I have read conflicting info with that...here is AbelCine's comp chart comparing how the mm appears on a C300 vs a 5D"

Exactly... that's what I was saying, people are comparing apples and oranges. You'll hear so many people obsessed with "full frame" shooting like they get with the 5D, and for some reason that makes those that don't know any better think that makes a Super35mm film frame (which is indeed smaller) inferior. It's not... that 35mm frame is the same size frame that motion pictures have been shot at for more than a century now, and continue to do so. Again, that difference (when comparing it to the celluloid world) is because still cameras shot film horizontally and cine cameras shoot the strip vertically.

In practicality, what that means is it really just changes the field of view of a given lens at a particular focal length. You can consider the regular 35mm cine format the standard, and the other ones the oddballs. If you ask Roger Deakins, Tak Fujimoto or some other bigshot DP to frame you a 50mm shot, they are going to consider what that 50mm lens looks like on a 35mm-format camera... not the bigger sensor of a 5D, or the smaller sensor of a 2/3" camera.

In the cine world for motion footage, that S35mm frame is the "norm" or the base standard. Whereas in the still photography world, that bigger frame like the 5D shoots is the standard.

T2

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Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
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John Young
Re: Good zoom lens for field work on C300
on Aug 2, 2013 at 2:23:34 pm

[Erik Anschicks] "200mm would be plenty tight enough from where my vantage points would be in the game (mostly end zone and sidelines)."

I have not done this kind of shooting, but I wonder if your statement above is going to turn out to be true.


Look at these guys. Those lenses look a lot longer than 200mm.

John

John Young
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Erik Anschicks
Re: Good zoom lens for field work on C300
on Aug 2, 2013 at 4:35:42 pm

For the purposes like in the photo, you're right. But those guys look almost exclusively like still shooters with monopods who won't be moving and still have to be able to get tight shots anywhere on the field. I'll primarily be working one half of the field (with another op for the other side and one "floating" cam), on a shoulder rig, and at least somewhat mobile.

Of course I'd love to be as tight as possible, but any zoom lens significantly more than 200mm for run and gun live shooting for around a 10 hour day (my work includes pregame "gameday atmosphere" and postgame shooting) would be terribly heavy and not particularly practical. I may not be able to get the extreme close ups that you see, but those shots are usually gotten by ops on sticks and platforms in the back of the end zone so they can use a much longer lens. From my experience, unless they are specific-shot cams, most general broadcast rigs that handheld sideline guys use top out around 175mm or so. Of course, that's just a general baseline that could be more or less depending on the needs!


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