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Is using more than one lens for video/film okay?

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enrique bartolo
Is using more than one lens for video/film okay?
on Mar 23, 2016 at 5:05:39 am

Hello everyone, I'm posting this topic to see what you guys think of using more than one lens for an individual project. What I want to do is use two lenses with a Black Magic Pocket that both serve different purpose shots. One of the lenses is a MFT Rokinon Cine 16mm T2.2 lens for my wide, mid and close up shots and a MFT Rokinon SLR Magic Cine 35mm T0.95 for my telephoto shots.

I also understand that the focal length will change on Black Magic Pocket, thus the 16mm lens becoming 46mm and the 35mm lens becoming 100mm. My only concern is that I want to match the quality on both lenses as much as possible, at least up to the point where the viewers can't really tell much of a difference. However, the only difference up front is that the 16mm Rokinon is a tad bit sharper than the Rokinon SLR 35mm.

Do you guys think it's possible to match quality in post production?

Also I haven't gotten a Black Magic Pocket yet but I'm planning on recording on raw with both lenses because I really want to merge different perspectives, especially with 100mm. That's all thank you and all opinions would be greatly appreciated.


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Blaise Douros
Re: Is using more than one lens for video/film okay?
on Mar 23, 2016 at 10:35:28 pm
Last Edited By Blaise Douros on Mar 23, 2016 at 10:34:49 pm

Shooting test footage will give you all the answers you need.

I'd say you need to stop reading reviews on the internet and just go mess with it. If you're not shooting the lenses wide open, it should be fine. Once you stop them down a little, the sharpness difference will be negligible.

I think you'd be hard pressed to find a production that uses only one lens for the whole thing. Stop worrying and go make your movie!

PS: there are better options out there than the BMPCC. A used Sony A7s will be much more versatile, have more usable battery life, give you more options for the lenses, and give you more FOV from the lenses you've got. It shoots 8-bit 4:2:2 in sLog color space, which is more than enough dynamic range for grading.


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Bob Roberts
Re: Is using more than one lens for video/film okay?
on Mar 24, 2016 at 3:33:20 pm

With your stated set up you will not be using the full image of either lens. Since you will be shooting through the middle of both pieces of glass your already minimizing any differences.If your script is compelling nobody is going to notice your lensing choices anyway. In the spirit of the previous poster, let experience be your guide.


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Todd Terry
Re: Is using more than one lens for video/film okay?
on Mar 24, 2016 at 3:54:57 pm

Of course it is ok to use different lenses, that's the way it is usually done... I typically travel with and use as many as five different lenses.

I will say that using your single 16mm for wide, medium, and closeup shots is very unusual. Granted, I have no idea what you are shooting or what your subject is, so it might be entirely appropriate to do it that way. But if you were, for example, shooting a person or a conversation, that is a very unusual way of doing it. It would basically mean moving your camera toward and away from the subject for your three different shots. That might look very very odd, because your perspective to the subject and its relationship to the background will be very different than what people are used to seeing.

Lets say you are shooting a person in a downtown setting, streets and buildings a good distance away. You could shoot the person at eight feet away, five feet away, and three feet away. That would give you your wide, medium, and closeup shots of your subject. But... the view of the background (since it is some distance away) would be largely unchanged. That could (or more like would) look very odd when cut together. The much more conventional way would be to maintain more-or-less the same camera position, and use wide, medium, and close lenses. That's the way people are used to seeing it done. Now... granted, again I don't know what you are shooting and it might be appropriate and maybe you are purposely going for this odd and unconventional look for some aesthetic reason... and if so, then of course it is fine.

So yes, you can mix lenses... but in a prefect world you want a matched set of lenses. These are specifically made to be used together. Even two lenses of the same type and manufacturer aren't necessarily matched, a set is a specific group of lenses made together to work together (they are built at the same time, right down to using the same lot for the coatings, which can vary wildly). You can get around that, though. Of my five lenses, my four Leitz-Panavision primes are matched. But I also use one Russian Foton lens that is not. My Leitz lenses are definitely cooler and more contrasty than the Foton. But... I still mix them all the time, and with the right color grading in post they cut together just fine.

When you mix lenses, it's usually not a sharpness issue... most lenses are, when used right, sharper than the formats we are shooting on. The usual difference has to do with lens type and the color/contrast differences. These can usually be matched in post... although it is harder to mix zooms with primes. It can be done, though.

T2

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



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Todd Terry
Re: Is using more than one lens for video/film okay?
on Mar 24, 2016 at 5:41:48 pm

I had a minute so I threw together this quick example from a commercial shoot I directed last week.

There are two camera setups from the same scene. For one shot in each I used my 80mm Leitz superspeed prime wide open at f/1.3. The other shots were with my Russian Foton zoom at 140mm wide open at f/3.5.

Here's a comparison, before and after color grading...



We are talking about radically different glass here. The Foton is a cheap thousand-buck zoom whereas the Leitz is a very high-end superspeed cine prime... a much superior lens to the Foton. The Leitz is very sharp, cool, and contrasty (all the things most DPs want), whereas the Foton is very warm and flat. I normally wouldn't like to mix these two lenses but I really needed those particular focal lengths for this scene. Fortunately we were able to get good enough color grading in post that the lenses match. Well... they match close enough. Definitely not perfect, but good enough for quick two second shots in a commercial. If we had wrestled with it longer we might have gotten a better match, but that was more than adequate for what was needed.

Just a sample to show you that, no, lenses do not have to match. It's really great when they do, but not an insurmountable problem when they don't.

T2

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



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Rick Wise
Re: Is using more than one lens for video/film okay?
on Mar 24, 2016 at 6:42:40 pm

Another terrific post and examples from Todd! In the glory days when motion pictures were shot on film, one of the prep jobs of the assistant cameraperson (AC) was to make sure to find lenses that match perfectly for each camera on the shoot. So all the lenses on all the cameras would respond to light, color, and shadow in the same way. Every shot, provided it was "correctly" exposed, would intercut easily with every other shot, no matter which camera or lens was used. Today, I suspect that while there is still some effort to keep lenses in the same ball park regarding contrast, detail, and color, electronic post manipulation can cure many small ills. Still, all that curing costs a bundle of time which adds up to many bundles of money. Imagine shooting an entire feature with lenses that match as poorly as did Todd's. In his case, with just a few shots in a :60, not so much of a problem, especially since he knows how to grade well (or has someone with the skills to do that for him.)

His other point in a previous post is important: if your primary lens is 16mm, moving the camera close to the actor for a close-up is going to produce usually unwanted distortion. It's terrific fun to shoot with a large set of primes, especially after you've been shooting long enough to know the field of view of each one at a given distance. The alternative is to shoot with one or more zooms, or, as in Todd's case, a mixture of the two. In general, primes give you sharper, crisper images and impose discipline on you the shooter. A zoom, on the other hand, gives you a quick solution to field of view: Shot too wide, zoom in a bit. Doing so tends to teach you lazy habits..... However, zooms are usually quicker to set up and so many of us use them (too) often.

Bottom line: yes, change lenses! Do your best to get matching ones. If you can't, be prepared to spend time in post to make them match.

Rick Wise
Cinematographer
MFA/BFA Lighting and Camera Instructor Academy of Art University
San Francisco Bay Area
http://www.RickWiseDP.com


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Todd Terry
Re: Is using more than one lens for video/film okay?
on Mar 24, 2016 at 7:06:40 pm

This is TOTALLY not what our original subject was (and don't you love when people hijack threads?), but....

Since Rick continued my mentioning of zooms, this discussion of zooms is the perfect opportunity for me to get on my "Anti Zooms Soapbox" that I climb up on about once a year and annoy the bejeepers out of people with... so here goes...

If you want to use a zoom lens, all fine and good. BUT DON'T ZOOM WITH IT. That is, do not change the focal length, zooming in and out, during a shot. You'll be much better served to just think of it as a varifocal lens, that lets you use a 35mm or 50mm or 80mm or whatever, just without changing the glass.

Now, of course you can break this rule, and there are sometimes reasons to do so (I've done it plenty myself), and on top of that there are ways to hide a zoom by combining it with another camera move. But in general, using a zoom in a shot is one of the quickest ways to look like a rank amateur... or to convince people you have Mr. Peabody's Wayback Machine and it is 1979 again.

Why are zooms frowned on in modern-day shooting?

Because they are unnatural.

A zoom is the only camera move that the human eye cannot reproduce. With our eyes (and heads and bodies) we can pan, tilt, dolly, truck, crane, dutch, arc, and do a bunch of other camera moves... EXCEPT ZOOM (unless you are Steve Austin, The Six Million Dollar Man).

If you zoom into a subject rather than dollying in to a subject, the results are radically different. With both, your subject gets bigger in the frame. But with zooming, everything grows in the frame, locked together, just as if you moved closer to a still photograph. When the camera physically moves like in a dolly, the perspective on all the objects in the frame is constantly changing in relation to each other, a much more dynamic shot. And much more natural, exactly as your eye would see it, if you were physically in the scene.

Again, you can definitely break this rule, but if you do... have a legitimate reason for doing it.

Sorry... and now back to your regularly-scheduled discussion of mixing-and-matching lenses.

T2

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



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enrique bartolo
Re: Is using more than one lens for video/film okay?
on Mar 25, 2016 at 3:38:02 am

Thank you all so much for all this much needed information. I now feel much more comfortable to just experiment with my lenses and decide for myself how I want to alter the perspectives to my liking. I also really appreciate the picture sample of different lenses before and after post production editing, that really helped a lot!

I just have one question about the zoom. I understand its considered somewhat unnatural and odd to zoom in during a shoot but can any of you explain to me in this short scene at the 1:37 mark, why it appears that the zoom in and a zoom out during this shoot seem to ''work''? or maybe its not a zoom at all but some type of special camera move or a digital zoom?






This is the link to the scene.

Again, thank you all so much for the information.


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Todd Terry
Re: Is using more than one lens for video/film okay?
on Mar 25, 2016 at 4:19:04 am

That's just a plain ol' zoom, probably done in camera (although it could have been done in post).

And yep, in that case, I think it "works"... largely because it was a hectic scene with a moving camera.

I think camera movement is part of the key, zooms today seem to work better during handheld shots, I think, and much less so during "supported" shots.

And yes, although it is fairly rare I do break my own rule and use zooms, especially for political spots since those are pretty much the only ones I direct where I do a lot of handheld.

You can find two examples on these pages, spots I directed where I did use zooms....

http://fantasticplastic.com/portfolio/news013.html
http://fantasticplastic.com/portfolio/news001.html

If you watch those you'll notice that (with one exception) all the tripod and dolly-based camera moves used primes... whereas the zooms only happened during handheld shots.

It's all aesthetics, not math so there are no right and wrong answers... but I just think that the organic quality of a handheld camera just seems to lend itself to allowing one to get away with zooms. Maybe it's because those shots look more "documentaryish" than ones with a supported camera.

There are no hard and fast rules that always work. Sometimes you might find a zoom that works in a particular situation, and it doesn't in another even though they may be very similar.

T2

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



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Blaise Douros
Re: Is using more than one lens for video/film okay?
on Mar 31, 2016 at 4:36:45 pm

Times when zooms are appropriate:

- Westerns
- Sitcoms (reaction shots only, see Arrested Development)
- Shaky-cam action scenes a la The Bourne Identity, The Hunger Games, or the above example
- Documentary, when you have no other option to capture whatever action is occurring
- Westerns
- Westerns

And if you're going to do it, at least make it a nice crisp snap-zoom! Slow zooms are for...well, Westerns, too, I guess.



.


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Todd Terry
Re: Is using more than one lens for video/film okay?
on Mar 31, 2016 at 4:58:31 pm

I think that clip exactly proves my point, that zoom in Jeremiah Johnson just screams "1972!!"... which was exactly when that movie was made. So many early 70s movies are chock full of zooms... you can't swing a dead cat without seeing a building exterior that zooms into a window before cutting to an interior... or starting a scene with a closeup of a character's face that zooms out to reveal the rest of the scene.

If Jeremiah Johnson was shot today, no doubt that would be a dolly shot, not a zoom.

I thought "dated zooms" were used beautifully by Betty Thomas when she directed "The Brady Bunch Movie." Just that one camera move immediately (and properly) dated it, instantly giving it the look of the original 1969-1974 series.

As for Blaise's other examples, yep, they work there, mostly handheld as previously noted.

T2

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



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