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Lenses, 35MM?

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c1dumbkid
Lenses, 35MM?
on Oct 4, 2007 at 7:37:59 pm

Anyone here use any different/extra lenses or use a lens adapter to use 35mm lenses, something like the infamous red rock or any similiar devices? I've been interested in utilizing it, thinking it could really add a cool look to my wedding videos and various other things (except corporate probably) I wind up filming, but the depth of field looks like it so reduced that may be pretty insane to be constantly tweaking with manual focus to get whatever you want it the much smaller focus plane. Any thoughts or experience with those types of devices?


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Todd at Fantastic Plastic
Re: Lenses, 35MM?
on Oct 4, 2007 at 9:10:03 pm

I use a DoF adapter almost daily (a 400 Series P+S Technik Mini35)... and yes, they are great for the right application.

However, since the depth of field can be very very narrow, they are best used for narrative dramatic type shooting... i.e., a scene with carefully blocked actors and action. If you wanted to use one for any sort of unpredictable live event, best results would come from using a very good follow focus unit, and a very good AC whose only job will be focus pulling. Also, the best results come from using real motion picture lenses. Many budget-conscious shooters do use SLR still camera lenses with one of the less-expensive DoF converters such as the one from Redrock that you mentioned (and some get good results), but those lenses are very difficult to use, especially for focusing (because you only have to turn the focus ring a very short distance to go from near to infinity, whereas on a cine lens you turn the barrel almost a full turn).

A downside to lens converters of course is the cost... they vary wildly in price, and you really get what you pay for. On the very top end, the lens converter can cost quite a bit more than the camera itself. And good lenses can cost quite a bit more than the converter... so the dollars really add up in a hurry.

Another downside of the lens converters is that they are very light-hungry... that's why they are best used with superspeed prime lenses. Many zoom lenses are too slow for them, especially for interior shooting. I can imagine it would be quite difficult to shoot a live event while constantly changing primes.

It's very unusual for me to speak against DoF lens converters, as I love them and am a huge proponent. But in the case of shooting an unpredictible live event I think it could prove to be quite difficult.

I've probably said too much about them already, but if you'd like to read more I wrote a fairly long article about DoF converters available in the current edition of the COW magazine just released today.





T2

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






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c1dumbkid
Re: Lenses, 35MM?
on Oct 4, 2007 at 11:49:19 pm

no you definitly did not say too much, it's been a little hard for me to get an honest opinion about theses devices that wasn't coming from the company that makes them or an opinion on a particular one. Thanks for the advice, you say you are a big proponent of them, just not in live unpredictable events, what do you use them for then, or what is most of your work consist of?


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Todd at Fantastic Plastic
Re: Lenses, 35MM?
on Oct 5, 2007 at 2:43:17 am

[c1dumbkid] "...what do you use them for...?"

The vast majority of our work (I'd say 90%+) is broadcast commercials. The remaining is industrial, corporate, infomercials, etc.

We generally use the DoF converter with tightly blocked scripted scenes with actors (which is most of what we do). Sometimes we can pull depths of field down as narrow as a couple of inches, so it helps to have a good focus puller (as well as actors who can accurately hit marks!).

By the way, when DoF is that shallow, the HDV viewfinder is pretty useless for focusing...you pretty much have to have a real 1080 monitor on set to judge focus if you do it by eyeball (not one of the little TTF LCD monitors that say they are HD but really only have 480x800 resolution). Best focusing is the old-fashioned "Hollywood" way, with a tape measure.


T2

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






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c1dumbkid
Re: Lenses, 35MM?
on Oct 6, 2007 at 4:53:57 am

Thanks for the advice, i didn't realize it was that tough to get it in focus, I suppose it's a lot more crucial in HD though.
Do you (or anyone else out there) have any experience with bolting on canon EF lenses on an XL-2 using canon's adapter. the company I work with has an XL-2, I thought it might add a nice/different creative touch if we could incorporate a bigger line of lenses. However our work is more in the documentary area and interviews, not really any commercials or products. Is it the same case there too with drastically reduced DOF?


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Todd at Fantastic Plastic
Re: Lenses, 35MM?
on Oct 6, 2007 at 5:18:37 am

Well, focusing using a DoF converter is certainly not impossible... it's just more difficult than using your camera's stock zoom where the depth of field is so deep that you practically don't even have to think about focus. Perfect focus pulling is a skill in and of itself, and it's one more thing to think about. For cinematographers who are used to doing it all the time, it's no big deal... but many videographers who aren't used to doing it much can find it a bit challenging at first.

The direct Canon adapter is useful as, yes, it gives you the creative freedom to use a much wider variety of lenses even without a DoF converter. And there are many people (myself included) that prefer to use prime lenses rather than a video zoom lens, so the Canon adapter can be useful there.

That type of direct adapter however does NOT affect depth of field in any way. In this case that may be a good thing... as I said earlier, still camera lenses can be somewhat difficult pull focus since their focus ring travel is very short, but since you will still have the very deep depth of field focus is not as critical.

Oh... and remember, 35mm still camera lenses were designed to cover a 35mm-sized frame... and since 1/3" sensor in your camera is much much smaller, when you attach one directly to your camera (NOT using a DoF converter) you are really only using the center of the lens. Ergo, the effective focal length of any given lens is much greater. I don't remember the exact math, but it is definitely more than two times. For example, your fairly wide 28mm still lens will be a mid-range lens on your video camera... and a 50mm "normal" lens will be quite telephoto.


T2

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






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c1dumbkid
Re: Lenses, 35MM?
on Oct 7, 2007 at 5:18:49 am

Thanks for sharing your knowledge your answers have been very helpful. I couldn't really find a good answer on whether canons adapter effected DOF or not. On your point about the ef adapter teleconversion, I was doing a little digging in the canon camera forum yesterday and found out that the ef adapter will act as a 7x magnifier, or whatever you call it. I just wonder, if you get that and stick on a pretty wide angle lens (14mm) as you said and it's magnified to a fairly good telephoto distance (98mm [14x7=98]) would that create an odd picture distortion? a 7x teleconversion seems almost too drastic to even be usefull, unless you have a tripod and you need get something far away, like animals or something.


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