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…
Back focus is a common term used to describe the Flange Focal Distance (FFD). Or the distance between the rear surface of a lens mount and the film plane or sensor. The most common FFD in my line of work is relative to the Positive Lock (PL) Mount system used on many motion picture cameras and lenses. The FFD for a PL camera is 52mm (2.0472441″) This means that when a lens is mounted to a camera correctly, the image produced by the lens should come to focus at exactly 52mm from the rear of the lens mount. Continue reading Focus back on back focus