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My zoom ring is unhinged

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Chubak Bidpaa
My zoom ring is unhinged
on May 22, 2015 at 5:16:18 am

Hey. I have the stock EF-S 18-55 zoom lens that comes with T3i. Great for photography, but I kinda want to zoom in while I'm shooting, and the zoom ring is not rigid like cine lenses. I just want to know, is there a way to make it more rigid so I can have a constant flow of zoom whilst shooting? Cine zoom lenses are extremely expensive. I wanted to rent one the other day but it would be more expensive than the camera itself, just for 24 hours.

Thanks.


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Todd Terry
Re: My zoom ring is unhinged
on May 22, 2015 at 5:48:09 am

I'm not sure what you mean by "unhinged." Can you describe that a little further?

If there is a physical problem with the lens, you definitely should get it repaired or replace it (replacement would likely be less expensive). If it is operating properly as designed and you just don't like the way that it functions and wish it was more like a cine lens... well, there's not much you can do about that.

I know you know this but it bears mentioning... that's a fairly-low end inexpensive mass produced DSLR lens. I'm not knocking it (in fact I use the exact same lens sometimes with my T2i). But it is what it is and a $200 DSLR lens is just not going to function like a $20,000 cine zoom... or even a $2,000 one.

Lenses designed for still cameras are what they are... and while you can use them for motion footage, it's not an ideal situation and it's just not what they were made to do well. Many of them breathe pretty badly when focusing (which makes no differences for stills but it clearly evident in motion footage), still lenses have "clicks" for the f-stops whereas cine lenses do not and are continuously variable... and one of the most important difference is the focusing. With a still lens you only have to rotate the ring about one-fifth of a barrel turn to go from nearest to infinity, whereas a cine lens' ring turns almost the entire circumference of the barrel, which allows for precise focus pulling.

Yeah, good cine lenses are not cheap... especially zooms and most especially fast zooms. The two that I want at the top of my wish list (but don't have yet) are about $45,000 each. Pretty painful.

On the upside, lenses hold their value very well, and the really desirable ones even appreciate. We own tons of gear virtually all of which has sadly (and greatly) depreciated in value. But my set of superspeed primes is actually worth substantially more today than when I first bought them years ago.

The "you get what you pay for" theory doesn't always apply to everything, but for lenses it usually does.

T2

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



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Chubak Bidpaa
Re: My zoom ring is unhinged
on May 22, 2015 at 6:36:48 am

Thanks. "Breathe" is the word I'm looking for. I realize that this lens is cheap, but I don't use it for work, I'm still practicing cinematography and I can't afford a better lens. Maybe I should rent one out for one day... but I can't afford that either.

What's the cheapest EF-S lens that's good for cinematography? I know Samyang lenses are cheap but I'm yet to find a zoom one. The reason I'm looking for a zoom lens is purely economic, besides, I like it when a character is talking and I slowly zoom in. This is "breathing", to my senses, and I can't pull it off with this lens.

Image is not important to me at the moment, just the mechanics.


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Todd Terry
Re: My zoom ring is unhinged
on May 24, 2015 at 6:16:25 am

Just a little nomenclature clarification... what you describe is not a lens breathing. A lens is said to "breathe" when you change the focus (such as in a rack focus) and the entire frame changes in size a tiny bit, that's the "breathing." Still camera lenses often breathe, which is irrelevant because when you are shooting stills it doesn't matter if a lens breathes or not. For motion footage, though, breathing is very distracting, so cine lenses are designed in such a way that breathing is minimized.

Unfortunately, there is really just no such thing as a good true cine zoom that is also cheap. Those two things just don't go hand in hand, and definitely not in an EF mount. I believe the only true cine zooms with an EF mount will be the ones actually made by Canon, and even their cheapest one still costs a fair bit more than a new Honda Civic. Canon's really top-end ones are more in the new BMW price range.

I personally use a vintage Russian Foton zoom (in the rare instances that I use a zoom), which I heartily recommend to people all the time. It is one of the few affordable true cine zooms, sharp with great contrast, and they can often be found in the $1000 neighborhood... sometimes even less. Most of them are PL mount though, there's no such thing as an EF version. There is such a thing as an EF-to-PL converter, but depending on the brand the converter alone is in the $3000-5000 range.

I don't want to sound like a smartass about it, but my real advice to solving your problem would be "don't zoom." Zooms are so overused, especially by people who are just starting out or learning. Watch a current well-shot feature film, and you'll very likely see no zooms. Zoom shots were big in the 70's when the lenses first gained prominence, but not so much since then. When I teach workshops I tell people to purposely NOT zoom, unless it is absolutely aesthetically the right choice. Zooms are unnatural. Why? Because a zoom is the only camera move that the human eye cannot reproduce. Our eyes can pan, tilt, dolly, truck, crane, dutch... they can do anything but zoom (unless you are Six Million Dollar Man Steve Austin). Ergo, a zoom is unnatural to the brain. If you want a subject to gradually fill a frame, it's a much more dynamic choice to dolly in to that subject rather than to zoom in, because the perspectives on all the items in the frame are constantly changing, rather than the flat push-in look of a zoom. I almost always shoot with primes, but sometimes I do mount a zoom on my camera... but that's just to avoid changing lenses in certain situations. I'll use the zoom in order to give myself instant focal length choices, not so I can actually zoom during a shot.

Just my two cents. Sorry to get on a soapbox, but overused and unnecessary zooms are probably my biggest pet peeve.

T2

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



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