Sony F3 Lens Options

Sony is just starting to roll out their anticipated F3 camera. A Super 35 sized sensor in a mall, lightweight package. I try to stick to knowing a lot about lenses so you can hear more about the camera from Jason Wingrove’s real world take. But I will tell you all about your lens options when shooting with an F3. I’ll start with the most logical…
The camera comes with a PL mount. PL mount is the standard mount used by just about every non-panavision camera in the motion picture industry. This means that you have a slew of premium cinema lenses at your disposal and that’s how it should be. However, if you are on a budget and can’t afford an Angenieux 24-290mm Optimo then there are a few other options available. I know there are quite a few people making the jump to an F3 from a DSLR like a 5D MkII or a 7D and probably have some Nikon lenses or Leica lenses that you adapted to use on your Canon. Those are still great lenses and will perform just fine on an F3. Of course this is all under the assumption that real cine lenses aren’t an option. I want to make sure that is very clear from the beginning. There is no replacement for cine lenses like Zeiss, Angenieux, Cooke, etc. But there are many options out there for alternative lenses. A favorite of the DSLR revolution has been the Zeiss ZF lenses. They use great glass with advanced coatings and fully manual mechanics. If you don’t know why these still lenses are well suited for motion picture, read through Still Vs. Cine. Your set of Zeiss ZF lenses is sitting around gathering dust because you purchased a PL mount camera. No worries. There is a company called MTF Services that is making a kit to change your F3 to Nikon mount. I haven’t dealt with them personally but the mount looks decent. Now you can use your Zeiss ZF lenses as well as any other Nikon mount lens in your arsenal. The other common route the DSLR community has chosen is Leica’s R series lenses. The selection of prime lenses is great and the glass is simply stunning. Unfortunately there isn’t a Leica mount available for the F3 as far as I know. But there is a Leica to Nikon adaptor for Leica lenses that would solve the problem with the same kit from MTF Services. Yes, you’re converting your Leica mount to Nikon and your Sony mount to Nikon but everything is solid and as long as you take care of your equipment and have it checked frequently, you should be able to maintain the proper flange depth. The benefit to using still photo lenses with a camera like the Sony F3 is their size and weight. There are usually two major components on a hand held rig; the camera and the lens… The Sony F3 is already light enough for what it is. Choosing an appropriate lens makes all the difference in portability and ease of use. If you want to ditch the stills lenses and go for the more professional application, take a look at other sets of prime lenses.

Cooke Panchro

Cooke recently released their Cooke Panchros, a throwback to their original Cooke Speed Panchros that were very common back in the 1930’s and are still well known today. Cooke went on to make other great lenses like the S-4s and now the 5is. These were top notch cinema lenses. But they left behind all of the smaller productions that couldn’t afford a set of premium lenses. They filled the gap with their new Panchro lenses. A bit slow in the aperture at T2.8 but acceptable to say the least. The whole set is matched in speed and color reproduction. Small and compact compared to todays standards, the Panchros should do just fine for almost any application other than low-light. If you’re thinking about using Cooke Panchros but think they will be too slow because of low light, then your grip dept. isn’t doing their job.

Sony PL mount primes. 35, 50, 85mm

You might be asking “What about the PL mount primes that Canon is offering with the camera?”… Sony is offering three PL mount prime lenses (35,50,85mm) for an additional $6,500 (I think) that would work just fine on the F3. I haven’t had a chance to formally test these Sony primes but I’ve handled and used the 35mm on an F3 and I believe they will leave a lot to be desired for professionals. Think of it as the kit lens that comes with a DSRL. It gets the job done… But you can do better. I’ll reserve my final judgment for when I can put the Sony PL lenses through their paces and see what they can really do in a proper test environment as well as real work application. Who knows, they may surprise me. I can go on and on about all the cool PL mount primes you can now use with a Sony F3 but that would take several pages of writing that I simply don’t have the will to write. I’ll finish by going over one other option that I think suits the Sony F3 very well.

Angenieux Rouge zoom lens.

 

Angenieux makes an excellent line of lenses they call Optimo. This line includes their amazing 24-290mm, 17-80mm, 28-76mm, and 15-40mm. All of these lenses set the standard for cinema zooms over the past decade and truly are works of art. Angenieux set the bar so high they left the little guys at the bottom and needed to do something to put their glass in the hands of the creative newcomers. Along came their Rouge series. Originally aimed at those using a RED camera since they were digital only lenses. This meant they can’t be used on a reflex mirror camera since the rear element sticks too far into the camera body. The Rouge series consists of two lenses that are direct descendants of their Optimo parents, the 30-80mm and the 16-42mm. Distinguished by their protruding rear element and signature red rubber grips, the Rouge lenses perform just as well as their pricier counterparts, at a fraction of the cost. A good option, maybe one of the best options for a lightweight, professional cinema zoom lens… In the world.

Red Pro Primes: Between the Lines

This project started at the Red User Party in 2010 when Mark Pederson from Off Hollywood and Ketch Rossi in all of his eccentric, awesome style. Ketch approached me about adding marks to his Red Pro Primes noting that there were a few key marks that were left out. I’m not sure why certain marks were included or excluded, but the focus scale is a non linear helix design. This means that the spacing of the focus distance marks is restricted to the mechanical travel of the helix threads. Duclos Lenses had modified focus scale in the past. Even going to the extent of fabricating and engraving an entirely new scale from scratch in some cases. But the RPP really only required a few added marks. I thought it would be nice to go over the process of adding marks so that you can see what exactly is being done

Making temporary marks in pencil for the engraver to reference.

Continue reading Red Pro Primes: Between the Lines

Tokina’s 16-28mm Prospect

We have been considering several lenses for our next conversion process after the 70-200mm is complete. We started with the Tokina 11-16mm that did very well and thought it would be nice to stick with Tokina. However, Tokina didn’t have any other lenses that met our criteria. Certain specifications had to be met, such as constant, fast aperture, lightweight, internal focus and zoom, optical quality, and a somewhat decent platform to start with mechanically. When I heard about Tokina making a new 16-28mm f/2.8 lens I thought it would be a bit of a short range but still fit well. Then I saw the first photos of the lens and got really excited since it looked almost identical to the 11-16mm. In my head this meant that we could save a ton of time and money on research and development for the conversion parts and simply use the existing parts from our 11-16mm conversion. One step further, Tokina was planning to make this new lens a full frame “Pro” lens, perfect for the 5D. Continue reading Tokina’s 16-28mm Prospect

Zeiss CP.2 Arrives, Worth The Wait?

Yes. Worth the wait. I finally have my hands on my very own set of Zeiss CP.2 lenses. I know the lenses have been reviewed countless times but here is my quick run down on what exactly the Zeiss CPs are: CP stands for Compact Prime. The “.2” is Zeiss’ way of distinguishing from the first generation of Compact Primes which I will get to in a minute. The “Compact” Primes are indeed compact compared to modern cine lenses such as Zeiss Master Primes, Cooke 5i and the Red Pro Primes but a tad girthy compared to a Leica R series lens. The CP.2 lenses started their life as Zeiss ZF/ZE still photo lenses which are derived from Zeiss Contax lens designs. Regardless, the Zeiss ZF lenses are top shelf 35mm SLR lenses and are my first choice for budget motion picture shooting.

35mm CP.2 on a 5D MkII with follow focus and 15mm rods. Everything fits perfectly.

Continue reading Zeiss CP.2 Arrives, Worth The Wait?

Duclos 11-16mm Plays Nice With Sony F3

The infinitely knowledgeable Jason Wingrove sent me a snap shot of a Duclos Lenses 11-16mm on a brand new Sony F3 camera. If you haven’t heard of Jason Wingrove or a Sony F3, you need to spend some more time on the interwebs because they are both a staple in the motion picture industry. Jason was able to shoot with one of three Sony F3 cameras in the world at the time. He notes that the camera is very light which makes lens selection in regards to weight critical. Looks like the Sony F3 and the 11-16mm are a match made in heaven. By the way.. If you haven’t listened to Jason’s Red Centre Podcast along with Mike Seymour you’re missing out. Thanks to  Nathan Rodger for snapping the photos on location. Now if I can just get my hands on one of them Japanese moving picture things…

Photos by Nathan Rodger http://www.nathanrodger.com

Continue reading Duclos 11-16mm Plays Nice With Sony F3

Diving Into Micro Four Thirds

Olympus introduced their Four Thirds system not too long ago. Then they dropped it and ran with the Micro Four Thirds system and it looks like they are going to run pretty far with it. As far as I know there are only two companies currently using the M4/3 system; Olympus and Panasonic. Olympus is utilizing it in their smaller interchangeable lens cameras which are pretty cool if you ask me. I purchased a Olympus PEN as a M4/3 test mule recently and I love it. And then there is Panasonic with a similar line-up of small cameras. However, Panasonic took it one step further with their new AG AF-100.

Continue reading Diving Into Micro Four Thirds

Hands On Tokina’s New 16-28mm f/2.8 Pro Zoom

I first heard about this lens several months ago from NikonRumors.com which has been fairly reliable for early news unless I hear it from a manufacturer like I usually do with Zeiss. I don’t have a very deep relationship with Tokina so I had to wait like everyone else to confirm this new zoom. The focal length intrigued me since it picked up right where the 11-16mm left off. As many of you know, I love the 11-16mm. It’s not the end-all-be-all of wide zooms, but the price for performance ratio is simply unbeatable. With the next lens in the lineup Tokina made a few improvements, but not without sacrifice. The 16-28mm is now an FX format lens which means that it covers a 35mm full frame sensor. Excellent for me and my Nikon D700, but even more important, it would work well with a Canon 5D mkII or the upcoming RED FF35 sensor.

side view of the new miniature pro zoom from Tokina. 16-28mm f/2.8 FX.

Continue reading Hands On Tokina’s New 16-28mm f/2.8 Pro Zoom

Auto Focus Cinema

RANT WARNING!

No… Just no. Auto focus for DSLR motion picture was a topic raised at a discussion panel I took part in this weekend at the PhotoCine Expo. Auto focus works great for shooting stills with just about any modern camera but it just isn’t appropriate for cinema. To clarify, I think it’s a must for shooting quick and gritty, reference material or home movies. But with the shallow depth of field and artistic styling of images rendered by a RED camera or DSLRs, it just isn’t a good idea. Nikon’s new D7000 does 3D facial focus tracking by recognizing a face and keeping focus on it which is cool, but why would you want to focus on just a persons face. What if the shot calls for a long, slow focus pull between two subjects that are 20 feet apart? Okay fine, you could use software and tell the lens to pull focus from distance ‘X’ to distance ‘Y’ and specify a given focus pull rate. But now you just have a mechanical focus pull done by a computer that has no emotion or feeling. There is no organic allure or life to the scene.

To add to this proposed flaw I present exhibit B: Auto focus lenses are loose and sloppy and don’t work well for motion picture. Due to their inherent mechanical pitfalls such as loose tolerances, low quality internal components, and short focus throw, this makes auto focus lenses a poor choice for motion picture since it introduces image shift, unreliable and unrepeatable focus marks, and other inconveniences. A cinema lens uses manual focus for a good reason. It keeps the image stable when racking focus and allows the shooter to pull focus in a way that expresses the emotion or passion that a scene should be able to convey. Basically, there is no way to instill life or humanity if you assign focus to a computer. When the day comes that a computer can carry out such tasks, I’ll be locking up my vacuum and hiding in my safe room.

(REVISION) Oh and I almost forgot to mention that pulling focus is more than just a tradition. It’s a craft that many have spent a career refining. This is why there is a job on a professional movie set for a “focus puller”. It’s not just a crabby old guy who doesn’t want to change his ways or embrace a new piece of technology, Auto focus in cinema just isn’t… Cinematic.

Duclos 70-200mm Conversion in the Wild

I kidnapped the 70-200mm cine conversion lens from the office along with a 5DII and went about shooting random stuff throughout the evening. There isn’t really a story or subject, just arbitrary shots. The lens worked like a dream! Focus pulling was very precise and easy with the new focus barrel. The bokeh from this lens is just phenomenal. It’s a tad heavy with a baseplate, follow focus, mattebox, stainless steel rods, and a camera hanging off the back. But when I removed everything and just used the camera and lens, it was no different than a day of shooting stills with a Nikkor 70-200mm. Having the manual aperture ring wasn’t really a necessity for this type of shooting since light wasn’t changing drastically while rolling, but it made stopping down much, much easier than fiddling with more dials on the camera. I’m very happy with it so far. The only problem I’ve found is that with a tele-zoom you really have to have a stable tripod to avoid camera shake. Let me know what you think.

(p.s. I’m not a DP, I don’t claim to be… I’m a technical guy.)

Duclos 70-200mm Re-Housing.

I’ve been dropping little hints and grabbing quick iPhone pics of this bad boy. We’ve been working on it for a while now and were more than happy with it. First we were impressed by the exceptional image quality produced by this little Nikkor zoom. After the success of our 11-16mm re-house we searched for something else to tear apart. We thought about doing some mid-range zooms but that has already been done by Century and Cooke. I found a fairly large gap with the new emerging run-and-gun style shooters brought on by RED and now the DSLR revolution where there were no telephoto lenses that could be used easily with a steady-cam or any ‘lightweight’ setup. So we started looking for the best candidate. I evaluated many, many lenses including Canon, Nikon, Tamron, Sigma, and Tokina. There were a heap of really nice zooms even from the third party optics companies but none stood out as much as the Nikkor 70-200mm VRII, Nikon’s newest revision of their workhorse tele-zoom.

Continue reading Duclos 70-200mm Re-Housing.

New Zeiss CP.2 Macro Duo

Zeiss recently announced the addition of Nikon (official), Sony, and 4/3 mounts for their Compact Prime series. I expected this since it’s a simple mount and the interface was already interchangeable. I also expected new focal lengths which they announced just this morning. The adaptation of existing ZF/ZE 50mm f/2 macro and the 100mm f/2 macro. These are two of my favorite lenses in the series. The 50mm macro has far better image quality than the 50mm f/1,4 and focuses down to about 10 inches (1:2) but it does lose that little bit of speed over the 50mm f/1,4. Meh… And then there is the insane bokeh of the 100mm macro. With a close focus of 18 inches (1:2) the background is thrown so far out of focus, it’s gorgeous. I can’t wait to get my hands on this macro duo. Continue reading New Zeiss CP.2 Macro Duo

PhotoCine Expo Draws Duclos Lenses Out Of It’s Optical Bunker.

This will be the second year that the PhotoCine Expo is being held in L.A.. Duclos Lenses thought it would be a good opportunity to make it’s exhibiting debut. As the DSLR revolution has been gaining more and more steam it seems like an intelligent idea to display some of our products and services that interest said revolutionaries.

While Duclos Lenses’ primary field remains professional motion picture optics, the DSLR revolution can not be ignored. Anyone interested in going should do so. We will be raffling off goodies and showing some of our newest products including the prototype 70-200mm tele-cine lens. The expo is being held at the LA Film School in Hollywood on Sept. 25th and 26th (Saturday and Sunday) which is pretty soon…  Hmm. I should really stop messing around on the interwebs and go make a banner for the booth.  See you there!

Universal Mount – Canon Eos, But Wait…

Before you get too excited, a “universal mount” in the motion picture industry is not universal. The universal mount is what is used on lenses such as the Cooke 20-100mm or 25-250mm, and more recently on the Angenieux 24-290mm. It’s simply a sub-mount with a threaded rear that allows several different mounts to be attached, most commonly a PL or Panavision mount. These were fairly common on professional zoom lenses in the 80s, 90s, and 00s. Now, wouldn’t it be awesome if you could put a classic Cooke 25-250mm on a Canon 7D? Yes. Yes it would be awesome. Please observe the awesomeness:

Continue reading Universal Mount – Canon Eos, But Wait…

Fotodiox Nikon G – Canon Eos mount adaptor.

I recently gave a thumbs up to the Fotodiox Nikon – Eos adaptor as I found it to be the best combination of quality and price available. This mount allowed a lot of great Nikon glass to be used with Canon cameras with the exception of Nikons latest and greatest “G” series lenses. The G series lenses are Nikons latest effort to reduce the cost and complexity of their line up by stripping the lenses of their manual aperture control. The aperture is controlled by a small mechanical lever in the rear of the lens that interfaces with a similar small lever in a Nikon camera. Without the need for large, calibrated apart rings and fancy mechanisms for transfer a rotation, the cost to the consumer is (theoretically) lowered. Well thats great and all, but this left Nikon’s latest and greatest lenses, such as the 14-24, 24-70, and 70-200mm, at a loss since they required a Nikon camera body to operate the silly little aperture lever in the back of the lens.but now there are several work arounds for this. One of which is the new Fotodiox Nikon G – Eos mount adaptor. Basically the same construction as the current Nik-Eos adaptor, nut with a very small lever that interfaces with the lens as the camera would, but allows the operator to adjust the aperture. While this is a rather crude solution to a problem. While the lever only has travel of about 15mm, and there is no indication of F-stop, it works well enough. I found it rather difficult to obtain an accurate setting and repeat that setting. With a little bit of clever personal modification, it shouldn’t be difficult at all. So… If you have a great Nikon G lens that you love shooting with but want to use it on a 5D or 7D, then this is the mount you are looking for.

More photos after the jump > Continue reading Fotodiox Nikon G – Canon Eos mount adaptor.