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Lenses for Narrative Filmmaking

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    Originally posted by Joshua Provost View Post
    Awesome responses all.

    I had not seen the Rokinon's. Ha, this only gives me more to think about.
    Best bang for the buck if you want cine style lenses.

    Originally posted by Joshua Provost View Post
    I hadn't considered how the m4/3 lenses would fare with follow focus. I need to give that some thought.
    I would stay away from the Panasonic, Olympus and other auto lenses. Your best bet if you can't spring for Rockinons is to go Nikon. Get some fully manual Nikon primes. They are cheap and good quality. You don't want to mess with flimsy pancake lenses and auto zooms in narrative. Make sure your lenses are not slower than f2.8 but the faster the better. You don't need many if you're on a budget. Three lenses will do the job fine till you can get more. You could even shoot with a single lens if you want.

    Another advantage of the nikons over the native M4/3 stuff is that they look much more cinematic. Many of the native lenses add artificial sharpening and then what you get is that over sharpened, artificial, super ultra clear video look. Unless that's what you like. If you're a fan of the HD look then go for them. But they will still piss you off on set because of the mechanics.
    Cameras: Panasonic AF100, GH2 (x2) and Sony EX3.
    Lenses: Zeiss CP.2 primes


      After much consideration, I am going to go with the Rokinon Cine lenses, starting with 14mm, 35mm, and 85mm. Later, if it make sense, I can fill in with 24mm and the upcoming 50mm, and they even have the 8mm fisheye. Overall, it seems like the best thought out range of lenses of available and the spacing of the focal lengths makes a lot of sense. Seems nice to be able to get a consistent set of lenses from a single manufacturer.

      Regarding other lenses, I just can't make sense of the Panasonic and Olympus m43 prime lineups. Just a strange assortment of focal length with too large obvious gaps. I looked into the SLR Magic lenses as well and it seemed like a crap shoot between their web site and their eBay presence not really aligning, they seem a bit unpredictable.

      Now to check out the scores of rod systems and follow focuses available...

      My notes, if it's helpful to anyone:

      Rokinon (Nikon F)
      14mm T3.1 $450
      24mm T1.5 $750
      35mm T1.5 $500
      50mm T1.5 2013
      85mm T1.5 $350

      SLR Magic (m4/3)
      12mm T1.6 $550
      35mm T1.4 $300
      50mm F0.95 $1000

      PANASONIC (m4/3)
      14mm F2.5 - $300
      20mm F1.7 - $350
      25mm F1.4 - $500

      OLYMPUS (m4/3)
      12mm F2.0 - $800
      17mm F1.8 - $500
      45mm F1.8 - $400
      75mm F1.8 - $900
      Co-Founder, Matter of Chance Productions


        Those interested in using manual-focus lenses on the AF100 may want to consider the upcoming Metabones Speed Adapter. This lens converter adapts Nikon or Canon EF lenses to MFT mount, while making them both 1.4x wider and 1.4x faster. Here's a link to thread on this adapter that includes a list of compatible video-friendly lenses:
        GH2 100Mbps Flow Motion v2 Patch

        GH1 Reliable In-Camera Playback Patch
        GH1 Blackout-Powell Patch
        GH1 75Mbps GH1 Peak Reliability Patch
        GH1 100Mbps Max Latitude Patch


          Originally posted by John B. View Post
          Keep in mind that -- while the electronic lenses slip focus as marked on a follow focus disk -- you should be able to do repeatable follow focus on these lenses by using the footage readout on the LCD screen.

          Has anyone had any accuracy issues with that method?
          I have found the electronic focus fiddly enough that I expect an attempt to return to a previous focus location will overshoot or undershoot. This is especially bad with the 7-14mm lens, which, like the Broadway Express in Manhattan, will pass through many defined focusing distances before stopping where it wants to stop.

          I second the comments that if you are shooting indoors, things tend to sit on the wide side of things, and 12-35 (or 14-35) really defines the sweet spot, whereas shooting outdoors, a 24-70 might be a wonderful thing. I also second the comments that if you want less depth of field, using a longer lens at a greater working distance is often more effective than trying to get shallow depth of field from a wideangle lens. That said, I do own a 17mm f0.95, but if I were on a tighter budget, I'd figure out how to make a 35mm work at f2.8.


            Originally posted by Lpowell View Post
            Those interested in using manual-focus lenses on the AF100 may want to consider the upcoming Metabones Speed Adapter.
            Absolutely. The prospect of turning a relatively inexpensive yet mechanically/optically swell trio like the Tokina 11-16/2.8, Tamron 17-50/2.8 non-VC, and Sigma 50-150/2.8 (or their close counterparts) into an only slightly more expensive 8-12/2, 12-35/2, and 35-105/2 is rather darned attractive... assuming it works well with DX lenses.

            That said, in the immediate now, there's still a lot to be said for the trinity of the Olympus 4/3 SHG 14-35/2 and 35-100/2 with either of the Voigtlander 0.95 lenses (17.5 or 25) for super-speed situations. These lenses easily rival most primes, and if you use the zooms as "variable primes," it gives you a nicely matched set (with no missing focal range gaps whatsoever) and less lost time from lens changes. The Oly zooms are even moving into reasonable used prices now. IIRC, they're 3 of 4 lenses used on that Logan/Bloom GH3 narrative film example from a few months back.
            Pudgy bearded camera guy


              I had the 4/3 mount Olympus 12-50 F2.8-F4, lovely lens, very sharp but I sold it due to the variable aperture and the lack of hard stop on the lens focus barrel. I think non hard stops are something to be aware of when paying the high price on the excellent 4/3 12-35 and 35-100 4/3 zooms