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Choosing Your Lenses For A Set, Based On FOV

Published : 14th July 2012

I am struggling a bit with FOV and how this relates to your decisions on assembling your set of lenses.

I've started to invest in a set of older manual 35mm FF Nikon lenses (aimed at the DSLR, C300 & Scarlet rental markets). I originally wanted a set comprising of 16mm / 24mm / 35mm / 50mm / 85mm / 135mm - as this seems what you would want if you only had 6 lenses to make an all purpose set. This is based on what we have used on sets I have had the pleasure of working on - mostly RED, Alexa, DSLR and F3 shoots.

Due to issues however, the 16mm focal length is not suitable (it being a fish eye is a big part of it), meaning the next widest lens is 20mm. The 18mm is too slow (akin to the Zeiss CP.2 18mm - sigh)

So then I was looking at a set comprising of 20mm / 24mm / 35mm / 50mm / 85mm / 135mm (we'll call this SET 1 later), but it didn't look quite right at the wide end... So then I considered changing the lens after the 20mm to get 20mm / 28mm / 35mm / 50mm / 85mm / 135mm (we'll call this SET 2 later).

Choices choices.

I had hoped that looking at the FOV angles of each lens might indicate which combination might work best. My thinking being that everything with lenses seems to be an exponential curve, so just adding up the differences in focal lengths wasn't going to cut it...

Now, the markets I am aiming at renting my lenses to have a variety of sensor sizes:

DSLR Sensors (35.8 x 23.9 mm)

APS-C Sensors (22.3 x 14.9mm)
RED Mysterium X Sensors @ 5K (24.4 mm x 13.7 mm)
Digital s35 Sensors (24.6 x 13.8 mm)

But to save myself alot of headaches, maths and only minor differences, I have divided them all into categories: "FF" and "D35". "FF" represents all the DSLRs with Full Frame sensors and "D35" represents all the APS-C, RED MX and Digital s35 sensors sizes.

I hope that as these sensors share a similar size across the X axis that it won't cause too much issue to group together for this test.
N.B. Remember that I am only trying to find the FOV to relate the lenses to each other, rather than comparing individual FOV, Angles and Sensor sizes. So...

Lens Focal Length / FF FOV / D35 FOV

20mm / 83° / 58°
24mm / 73° / 49°
28mm / 65° / 43°
35mm / 54° / 35°
50mm / 39° / 25°
85mm / 23° / 14°
135mm / 15° / 9°

So the sets increase in FOV angle like this:


20mm > 24mm = +10° (FF) / +9° (D35)
24mm > 35mm = +19° (FF) / +14° (D35)
35mm > 50mm = +15° (FF) / +10° (D35)
50mm > 85mm = +16° (FF) / +11° (D35)
85mm > 135mm = +8° (FF) / +5° (D35)


20mm > 28mm = +18° (FF) / +15° (D35)
28mm > 35mm = +11° (FF) / +8° (D35)
35mm > 50mm = +15° (FF) / +10° (D35)
50mm > 85mm = +16° (FF) / +11° (D35)
85mm > 135mm = +8° (FF) / +5° (D35)

Ok. So if any of the above maths makes sense, then I'd be more tempted to go with SET 2, based on the more uniformed increase in FOV angle across the 28, 35, 50 & 85mm range - which are usually the most popular focal lengths. Also, the fact that the 20mm is then alot wider, to me, seems better. Rather than having only a slightly wider FOV between the widest and second widest lenses in SET 1.

Does anyone else have any idea what I am talking about, and am I on the right track?!

Matt Choules
1st AC
London, UK.

Here's your Wide wide angle: http://www.dpreview.com/news/2012/03/16/Carl-Zeiss-Distagon-T-15mm-F2p8-super-wide

Personally, I think you should have 20, 24 and 28 ... a few mm's make a big difference at the end of the scale.

135 doesn't really seem to be a "popular" length.

Who do you think the market is for these lenses?

Personally I would use three zoom ... 16/35, 24/70 and 70/200 plus a 1.4X extender

btw. the Rokinon 35 and 85 mm 1.4's are getting high praise from owners. They're coming out with a 24 mm 1.4. I haven't had a chance to shoot with them yet, but they feel really nice and surprisingly solid. A Dp I was working with earlier this week said that he had trouble getting them to flare ... with a flash light down the barrel.

Mako/Makofoto, S. Pasadena, CA

Couldn't agree more with Mako.

Get all the wider lenses and drop the 135mm

I just specc'd a shoot that I'm doing with the C300 and my main lenses are
the 17-50, 24-105 & 70-200 all IS

I've also got a mixture of faster primes.


Geoff Boyle FBKS
EU Based
Skype geoff.boyle
mobile: +44 (0)7920 143848

>> I just specc'd a shoot that I'm doing with the C300 and my main lenses are the 17-50, 24-105 & 70-200 >> all IS Geoff Boyle FBKS

Geoff I have a C300 on order and was looking for EF glass. I thought the 17-55 might be an option but the mechanics are VERY ordinary in comparison with the L glass. Thoughts? Maybe mine was an ordinary demo lens? I thought there will certainly be a place now for an EF lens with better mechanics in this range as we'll certainly need a cheaper option (non-motion picture) lens with L series mechanics...good mechanics should no longer be reserved for the full frame stills guys. I'm leaning towards the 16-35 and 24-70 though I'd like to have an option with more range from wide.

Nick Paton ACS
+61 (0)411 596 581
Brisbane Australia
ARRI Alexa owner operator

I've used a couple of the 17-55 2.8 lenses now and I've been happy with
them, maybe try another one?

I don't know how robust they will be for long term use but at the price you
can always get another one!


Geoff Boyle FBKS
EU Based

I'm using 11-16 Tokina, 16-24L, 24-70L and 70-200 ISII with our epic kit. What a wonderful, fun set for run and gun and light industrials.

David Garcia
creative director
halflife* digital

>> I'm using 11-16 Tokina, 16-24L, 24-70L and 70-200 ISII with our epic kit. What a wonderful, fun set for

>> run and gun and light industrials.

My concern is being stitched up when shooting with say a 16-35 (my alternative) and having to change to the 24-70 when I can't walk in. I've held the 16-35 and the build is far superior to the 17-55 but in most cases the 17-55 gets me just that little more flexibility but I'm not sure whether that would be cancelled out by the short throw and the extra time spent dicking with focus. I'm new to the DSLR style lens having some beautiful PL glass committed to my Alexa kit. Yes, I hear you say why not get the PL C300, well the C300 option can't bear the price of PL glass in this market..hence EF. Thoughts? Success, failures?

Nick Paton ACS
+61 (0)411 596 581
Brisbane Australia

>> I've started to invest in a set of older manual 35mm FF Nikon lenses

With the low cost of AIS Nikon's on Ebay it makes sense to get them all between 14mm and 105mm.

I started getting Nikon lenses on Ebay when I got my Red One in 2008. I now have a Epic and 13 Nikon primes that I use on smaller productions. They are mostly AIS manual 24,28,35,50,85,105,180,300,400 and a few AF-D: 10.5 fisheye, 14, 20, 105 macro.

I posted info on how I made them work for me: http://www.reduser.net/forum/showthread.php?74627-Using-Nikon-Lenses-on-Epic-and-other-cameras&highlight=using+nikon+lenses

Sergei Franklin
DP and Steadicam
New York

My preferred way to shoot with the 16-24/24-70 combo is with an assistant or producer with the lenses in a bag. I just ask for the next lens and switch out. Pretty fast. Obviously gets cumbersome with elaborate AKS and mattebox setups. But with screw-ons and the light form factor of the epic I'm really having a great time.

I imagine the C300 would be similar.

This is just a light docu approach but I'm feeling pretty freed up even compared to our old ENG zoom setup.

I'm actually skipping the 16-24 and going to the 11-16 way more. Not saying it's right. Just really works for my style...

David Garcia
creative director
halflife* digital

I probably didn't make myself clear. I already have a rag tagged set of lenses, but am attempting to assemble a set of around 6 lenses to be declicked, geared rings to be added and 80mm hoods to be added to each.

I don't want to buy the Zeiss ZF'S lenses (as good as they are) due to cost. The Rokinon/Samyang/Falcon lenses are indeed nice, but there is not a full complement of them as yet.

The Nikons make sense as they are indeed very cheap and I've had nice results with them.

I may consider zooms later, but primes are what I am after for now, as they breathe less, have decent end stops (unlike alot of zooms) and are in the most part faster.

Matt Choules
London, UK

Nikons have been working out great in my rentals. Not many problems over the course of the 3 or so years that I have rented them. Definitely stay away from anything clip on with the lenses though.

Here is a link to the ones I have and are all cinestyled by me.


Who makes this 16/24 ?

Mako/Makofoto, Corona, Ca

I was very surprised how incredibly flarey a like new eBay Nikkor p28mm f2 was?

The Canon 17/55 is very sharp but it's none L construction sucks air in, depositing dust on the inside of the front element.

Tokina is coming out with a new improved version of its already excellent 11/16 APS sensor lens. Nikon version first; Canon model in August.

The Putora chart is not the right chart to use for checking focus or creating focus scales, unless you use it at 60X the focal length. There are multiples of that factor one can also use. Download the Instructions.

The problem with that otherwise wonderful chart is that it is Steppy. Meant for specific distances. You should use a Siemens Star chart that is completely progressive


Alexa in Corona, Ca

Nick Paton ACS - CML wrote:

>> Yes, I hear you say why not get the PL C300, well the C300 option can't bear the price of PL glass in this >> market..hence EF. Thoughts? Success, failures?

For my DLSR’s I rock the full set of “L” zooms and just recently added the 24-105mm, although its f4, it has IS, which I find very helpful. The 17-50 EF-s has IS too which makes it appealing but will not fit on the 5D.

After purchasing the F3 a year ago it was sitting on my shelf for a couple months and only went out when I could afford to sub PL glass. This I found often difficult in the owner/ op business because most guys who have had RED’s since 2008 are already invested in PL glass and can

offer competitive rates. Thus, I invested in Nikon zooms “D” series zooms and set of Zeiss ZF 2 Primes, all duclos’d. I find this a great option because one can use them on the EF mount with cheap adaptors (I have one for all 9 Nikons) but still usable to F3 clients without having to

add-on expensive PL glass which is often the same price or more then the rental for a camera in this class, i.e F3, C300, Scarlett.

Jimmy Hammond | cinematographer | los Angeles