Zeiss got lucky with their ZF lenses several years back. They just happened to be in the right place at the right time when new VDSLR users were looking for a completely manual lens that wasn’t from the 1970’s. I do give Zeiss credit for jumping head first into the oncoming revolution and capitalizing on the versatility of the ZF lenses and releasing them in several mounts and even further the Compact Primes in PL mount. Now Zeiss is jumping in again and re-relieasing their Compact Primes with an interchangeable mount system that allows PL, Canon Eos, or Nikon F mount. This means you can have your cake and eat it too! It used to be that if a majority of your lenses were Nikon or Canon, you would pass up the nicer, more cinema oriented Compact Primes due to their beefy PL mount. But that’s no longer the case. Further more, I have seen tons of people requesting and attempting to put a PL mount on a Canon 5DII, 7D or a D300s or any other VDSLR for that matter. Now you really don’t need to. You have the gorgeous optics of the Zeiss ZF series in a housing with proper focus rotation, uniform dimensions, focus and iris gears, color matched glass and manual aperture. What more could you ask for? Oh, I suppose you could ask for faster lenses in the set. Zeiss is working on that too! Eventually nothing above f/2.8 in the set. Excellent.
This little bad boy used to be a staple in any good nature phtogs bag. Now it’s become an oldie but a goodie. It was replaced by the 70-200 and again by the 70-200 VRII. However, it still holds its own considering it’s age and price point. With the 70-200 VRII brandishing a price tag of $2,400 the 80-200 almost seams cheap at a mere $1,140. We had a ton of requests coming in for a lightweight tele-zoom that could be used for handheld or run-n-gun nature stuff at a price that wouldn’t eat their entire budget. Alas, Nikon’s 80-200 seemed to fit the requirements just fine. Now there are a few catches to using a still lens for motion picture, most of which can be corrected. In this case, we opted to keep the price as low as possible and simply address the absolute necessities. This meant adding a PL mount for use on the versatile RED camera. Granted, RED does offer a Nikon mount that works great. But the most common customer complaint was that they already had a few PL lenses and couldn’t afford to risk switching the mount in the field. So we opted for just the simple mount conversion. Of course you still have some minor image shift and the focus direction is reversed. But for the price, it’s what you would expect. This lens is not our pride and joy, it was a conversion to make the lens more versatile and keep the entry point low. I estimate a complete rehouse similar to our 11-16mm would cost upwards of $7-10k. Who knows, maybe it’s in the future.
I’ve never really done a side by side comparo with lenses on a camera. For this little test I used a Nikon D300s and set up camp at the top of Mulholland. the setup was exactly the same except for one minor difference that I’ll get to in a minute. I set the Nikon at the widest setting (14mm) and for the Tokina, I set it on the 14mm mark on the zoom ring. Both were taken at f/8 BUT I forgot that the camera was on aperture priority mode and the camera switched from 1/1000 to 1/800 for the 14-24. I matched the exposure in Lightroom so that there wasn’t any exposure disagreement. That being said, this was more or less a sharpness test than a exposure accuracy test. Next time it will be set on manual. 😉
I feel like Ken Rockwell.
Click for full size image.
I went to Band Pro’s open house event on Thursday expecting to mingle and see a few people I know, of which I did. Additionally I was expecting a product unveiling but didn’t expect ANOTHER set of primes. Aren’t there enough new primes hitting the market? Who wants another set of rapid fire industry demanded lenses.
But these aren’t another set of rushed primes taylored to cover a 4K digital sensor. These are solid, professional prime lenses. With an average weight of a mere 3 lbs achieved by titanium barrels and PL mounts, these lenses are both compact and bullet proof. The initial set slated for a summer 2010 release will include a 16mm, 18mm, 21mm, 25mm, 35mm, 40mm, 50mm, 65mm, 75mm, and 100mm. Soon to follow will be the 12mm up to 150mm for a total of 15 lenses in the series.
“A unique use of aspheric technology and cutting-edge mechanical cine lens design provides the “Mystery Primes” with unmatched evenness of illumination across the entire 35mm frame and into the corners with no discernable breathing” said Michael Bravin, Chief Technology Officer of Band Pro. “Supression of color fringing into the farthest corners of the frame is superior to any lenses I have ever seen”.
The entire set of T1.4 lenses share a unified distance scale, common size and location of focus and iris rings.
I’ve been using a D300 since it first came out. I made the decision to stick with DX format lenses and workflow a long time ago and the D300 was the best DX Nikon body at the time. Similar to Apple with the iPhone 3G, Nikon added an “s” to the end of their product name and I didn’t think twice.
Obviously the biggest upgrade in the new D300s is the capability to shoot 720p video at 24p. A lot of people are making a big deal about the added feature, but I’m really not drinking the cool aid. The video feature is a novelty. In fact I’m considering returning the darn camera. Not strictly because of the finicky video, but also because Aperture doesn’t support RAW processing for the D300s which I find very odd considering the processor is almost identical to that of the D300 which is supported. I can easily over come the latter issue by simply using Lightroom instead. So now I have the choice of keeping my D300s and selling my old D300 or dumping both and getting a D700 😉
I have to start off by saying that I am in no way a cinematographer by and profession. I am quite versed in the fundamentals of photography and lighting, but that’s about it. However, I do know a thing or two about lenses. I shot and edited this little video while I was out testing a few prime lenses from UniqOptics on a RED One. I got to play with the 25mm and 100mm. Both lenses were definitely professional quality and an breeze to work with. I figured I would share the little clip with everyone. Most of this is shot wide open on an obviously sunny day.
Zeiss is keeping their eye on the industry and realized that their ZF line of lenses is very versatile. They started as a throwback to the old manual lenses that made still photograph history. Then they were given a bump with the release of the RED camera and it’s Nikon mount. This made for excellent manual control similar to a traditional cine prime lens. Then Zeiss took another step forward and released the re-housed, updated Compact Primes that used the same optical design as the ZF line of lenses, but with a robust aluminum housing, PL mount, and circular aperture. The next iteration of the ZF series takes a cinematic step backward from the Compact Primes, but forward from the basic ZF lenses.
When I was younger, I remember hearing the phrase “a 50 is a 50 is a 50”. A phrase coined by Denny Clairmont and carried on by my father. This was in regards to people using 35mm format lenses on a 16mm format camera. Denny or my father would scold people for saying that a particular focal length is multiplied when used on a smaller format. This is simply inaccurate. Unfortunately this mistake has become even more common today with popular formats such as Super 35 or APS-C. These are considered “crop sensors” when compared to 35mm Full Frame and only utilize a portion of the intended image circle created by a Full Frame lens. The only thing that changes when using a 35mm FF lens on a Super35/APS-C sensor is the field of view (FOV) or the angle of view. So unless you’ve spent the past 30 years memorizing the field of view associated with a specific focal length, strictly on 35mm Full Frame, don’t bother trying to compensate for crop factor.
With the success of the PL mount manual 11-16mm, I decided to explore other options. It seems that there aren’t many good candidates for cine conversion out there. We made a hand full of PL mount Nikon 80-200mm lenses with the usual bells and whistles. But nothing that could keep up with our Tokina conversion.
Along the way I learned that many people had switched from PL to the Nikon mount on their RED camera to save money on glass. This is great because we also customize the Zeiss ZF lenses that are Nikon mount, but it left our available lens lineup a bit confused in regards to mounting options.
Many of our potential 11-16mm customers had already switched to Nikon mount, making our PL lens useless. I thought it would be great if I could offer a Nikon F mount version to those who still loved their Nikon glass and didn’t want to switch mounts frequently. The 11-16mm Tokina comes from the factory in a Nikon mount, but there is still no aperture control. With the complete cine-conversion, the aperture is activated and all the controls are manual, but now with a Nikon F mount. Perfect!
With the release of the RED ONE camera, buying used lenses has become a very common practice. I am writing this guide in order to help buyers be more aware of the potential risks and adversity. One of the most frequently investigated sources for used glass is the internet. With the vast collection of lenses on Ebay, Craigslist, Pennysaver, and other sellers, glass has come from every corner of the globe and is now being auctioned for what seems like a great deal.
I receive several phone calls and emails a week asking to review a handful of pictures presenting a lens from any of the said sources and decide if the lens is worth buying. I cannot stress enough, the lack of capacity to judge the quality of a precision optical instrument from a one dimensional photo. Your average online auctioneer uses their brand new Sony Cybershot that takes “amazing photos at a zillion megapixels” (I won’t blather about my detest of the megapixel balderdash) The common and inaccurate method of showing a lens for sale is to photograph the front and rear glass in an attempt to parade the condition of the elements. However, this does not provide any certification that the optics or mechanics are in good working order. Continue reading Used Glass Awareness
With the influx of new optics in the motion picture industry, RED would be silly to ignore the need for high quality optics that coincided with their budget friendly camera. RED went ahead and developed their RED Pro Primes to fill the void. I had seen several sets of prototypes over time at different venues. But I finally got my hands on a production set sent to a customer. There are several other lens companies that are producing competitive lenses that must not be overlooked. This is in NO WAY a plug to the RED lenses, simply a quick review so that I can refer people here to answer some basic questions.
In regards to my post on back focus, the simplest tool I’ve found for setting back focus on a RED camera is the diascope from uniQoptics.
Here is a quick video showing how simple it is.
CineGear was held at Paramount Pictures Studios this past weekend. Pale in comparison to NAB, but still more motion picture oriented. I had a chance to visit all the booths that I thought were important and talked to several key players in optics game. These rumors are just that… Rumors. Don’t take anything too seriously.
As I understand, Zeiss is considering a compact zoom lens pending the success of their Compact Primes. This could be nice considering Zeiss makes glass for Sony cameras. Particularly their 24-70mm f/2.8. Continue reading CineGear Expo ’09 Rumors
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There may not be two businesses more different than concrete and camera lenses, but for the people behind both Simi Valley companies, it’s about seizing opportunities.
In the case of Pre-con Products, a company with more than 45 years in business, new opportunities have developed by breaking into different product lines and adopting the latest technology to produce more environmentally friendly concrete.
For uniQoptics, just blocks down the road, opportunity came through a chance meeting of two men about three years ago. They saw a niche for making high-quality lenses at lower prices for independent filmmakers.
UniQoptics, formed through a partnership forged at a basketball game, is a division of Pre-con Products.
It was fortuitous for Pre-con Products, which has felt the effects of the economic downturn, seeing less demand for its products as housing construction hit a standstill and commercial and government projects slowed.
The company has 55 employees, about 10 fewer than at its high a few years ago. Annual revenue is just less than $10 million, down from $18 million a few years ago, President David Zarraonandia said.
I was invited to the Los Angeles Harbor, for Ken Block’s newest viral video to try out a lens I’ve been working on. The day I went was a “pick-up” day with only a skeleton crew. About 15 people total shooting scenes that needed to be redone or added for one reason or another. Jay Schweitzer was there with his RED camera waiting to slap on a nice wide angle lens for some specific shots. Mayhem ensued as one would expect with Ken Block behind the wheel of a fully tuned Subaru WRX STi. Check out the video…