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.

Cine Desktop Background

I was recently prepping for an upcoming trade show where Duclos Lenses will be exhibiting. We thought it would be nice to have some cool signage like Zacuto’s giant ball or some insane signage that Fujinon or Sony use. But then I remembered we don’t have much of a budget. So I had a nice simple vinyl banner made up. It consisted of our Logo and a few photos. I took the photos specifically for this sign since I wanted the resolution to be nice. Cool, new we have an awesome banner and I’m left with a few photos that I’ll never use again. I kinda liked the photos so I made one of them my desktop which made me think, why not just let others steal my high res “Desktop Photos” 😉 Maybe I’m the only person who is geeky enough to use a photo of a lens as a desktop background. But just in case there are more of you out there… Continue reading Cine Desktop Background

Cine Zoom Comparo: France vs. England

The Cooke 20-100mm is a workhorse of a zoom lens. It’s solid build quality combined with classic “Cooke Look” glass make it a very desirable lens in the current HD market. The other option is to drop a pretty penny on a stellar new Angenieux 24-290mm. The current champion of motion picture zoom lenses. These two cinema zoom lenses are decades apart and even farther apart in cost. An average Cooke 20-100mm costs a mere $7,000 compared to the going rate for a new Angenieux 24-290mm at around $63,000. A little background on these still samples. These were shot with a 35mm full frame 5D which means the vignetting is severe and expected. The settings were the same for each lens, 100mm at T4, ISO 100, 5100K color temp etc. Here are the samples.

Continue reading Cine Zoom Comparo: France vs. England

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

Zeiss T1,3 “Super Speed” Refurbishing

Zeiss’ T1,3 primes or “Super Speeds” as they’ve been deemed, are getting a little long in the tooth but still hold their own if well cared for. This is one example of such a lens. It is in superb condition optically but the exterior body of the lens has taken quite a beating. Particularly the painted rear housing surface. For some reason Zeiss thought it was a good idea to construct the rear housing out of brass instead of aluminum. This meant that the brass section didn’t receive the same anodizing as the rest of the lens but instead was treated to a nice coat of gloss black paint. Needless to say paint doesn’t hold up to daily use quite as well as anodized aluminum. In the much later models Zeiss switched to an aluminum rear housing with an anodized surface… Anyway. I didn’t think to take a photo of the rear helical housing prior to stripping all the paint, but you can guess the condition of the weak paint based on the anodizing blemishes and scratches. You do the math. So in this post I will show the process or refurbishing the rear housing of a Zeiss T1,3 Super Speed.

The old paint has already been removed and the surface is primed. I cleaned the engravings from any old filling to make sure there is enough depth to refill the engravings after a new layer of paint is applied.

Continue reading Zeiss T1,3 “Super Speed” Refurbishing

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.

Cine Gear 2010 via Matthew’s camera

I attended the Saturday exhibition of Cine Gear Expo once again. This year it was at Paramount studios as it was last year. A welcome change from the previous hot, dusty venues… I wasn’t expecting anything revolutionary from the show this year. My expectations were met. While the show was great and i did enjoy running into colleagues, there just wasn’t anything that really caught my eye. However, showcasing the lenses and gear that I always find interesting never hurts, right? So here you go… Enjoy!

Cine Gear 2010 photo gallery

Focal Length Comparo a la Zeiss ZF.2

I’ve seen a ton of photos around the web that were taken with a wide angle lens and then imported into photoshop to undergo what appeared to be a guessing game of indication. People would draw rectangles to represent the field of view for different lenses. Obviously decreasing in size as the focal length grew longer and longer. I always thought this was an odd way of representing focal length in a given scene. I decided to try it myself but instead of drawing the lines in photoshop I wanted to use the actual photo taken with each respective focal length to represent it on the chart, or in my case, a slide show. While in the process, I did discover that some of the similar charts I found around the web were pretty accurate but lacked small details such as distortion and depth of field characteristics. Then again, neither of these are particularly important. Depth of field is not important in such a chart since it is a mathematically determined value, and the distortion is an optical characteristic determined by a specific lens design. Despite my aversions to the illustrated focal length chart, I made one myself…

Continue reading Focal Length Comparo a la Zeiss ZF.2

Still vs Cine Lenses

One might assume that a lens is a lens and you can simply adapt any lens to suit ones needs. This is usually a matter of changing or adapting the mount just so the square peg fits in the square hole. The fact is that still lenses and cine lenses are very different and can’t always be interchangeable. Still lenses are defined (in my opinion) as lenses that were designed and built for use with an SLR still camera whereas a cine lens would be one designed and built for use on a motion picture (movie) camera. I’ll go over why the two aren’t interchangeable and what can be done to reduce the differences between the two. Modern still lenses are designed for two things… Speed and ease of use. Continue reading Still vs Cine Lenses

What Is De-Clicking and Why Do I Need It?

Yet another result of the VDSLR revolution is the influx of manual still lenses being used for motion picture projects. While the existing manual lenses being used are excellent examples of optical design, they are far from suitable when it comes to mechanics. I won’t get into all the flaws when it comes to motion picture via a plastic auto focus lens… But I will discuss one of the quickest and easiest ways to make your still lenses perform more like a cine lens. There are a few good candidates for shooting motion on a DSLR. Firstly, the Zeiss ZF lenses. While they do have their drawbacks (varying speed, reversed focus direction, odd sizes) they are the most suitable, modern still lenses for motion work. A few other candidates would be older Nikon Ais lenses, Leica R lenses, and the older, rarer Zeiss/Contax primes. All intended for still photography yet easily adaptable for motion picture.
Zeiss ZF 50mm f/2 Macro

Continue reading What Is De-Clicking and Why Do I Need It?

Mount Adaptor Reviews (updated)

Canon is clearly the most popular current choice when it comes to shooting video on a DSLR. Deservedly so, Canon claims the podium when it comes to DSLR video and has worked hard and accomplished a lot with their video division. It was only natural for them to excel at including video in their DSLRs. However, they are still not the creme of the crop when it comes to glass. While not bad, it’s just now as good as some of it’s German competitors such as Leica and Zeiss. The prospect of using the good camera with the good glass was limited only by the lens and camera mount. Now with so many mount adaptors on the market, there is quite a bit of crap to sift through.
Continue reading Mount Adaptor Reviews (updated)