Movie Camera Looking Thru Still Camera For POV Of Photographer
Published : 09/11/2009
Just out of curiosity, is there a way of attaching a movie camera so that it is looking through the viewfinder of a still camera, so you can see the internal markings, exposure needle, and live image being focused on the groundglass? For the true POV of the photographer?
I recall the opening scene in the Daily Planet in "Superman: The Movie" having that effect, you see the space through the camera lens viewfinder as Jimmy Olson takes photos. Now of course you could do this in post but I was wondering if there was a way of doing it live. I particularly want to see some of the split-focusing groundglass screens, or the circle-within-the screen effect.
One idea I had was some sort of Innovision probe lens pointed close to the viewfinder of the still camera, but I assume I'd have problems with the light level needed since these probe lenses often need an f/8 and higher.
David Mullen, ASC
I would suggest something like a Rollei or a Nikon High Finder that has a nice big exit pupil screen. Then a regular macro lens might work for you. But you'll always need a lot of light because you're photographing a groundglass much as you do with a Pro35 or similar device.
I did something similar for a FAQ article I wrote last summer, but the result would be best described as news-worthy only. Shot it with a digital camera looking through several film & motion picture camera viewfinders to compare Lens Focal Lengths :
But, you could always try a DOF adapter, but replace the vibrating/Oscillating Ground Glass with a static GG out of a Medium format camera. Probably find a cheap GG for a Pentacon Six easily enough.
Shouldn't be too hard to build a DOF rig either.
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If you find an older 35mm SLR like a Canon F1 you can remove the eyepiece and it will expose the ground glass similar to Hasselblad or Rollieflex medium format cameras. This will make it much easier to access the ground glass with a macro lens.
I’m not sure a probe is the ideal lens. The focal lengths of the optics on these lenses tend to be on the wide end. Especially the Optex Excellence. You need more of a 50-100mm 1:1 Macro lens.
Funnily enough I just helped a client do this on a Red Camera at our rental house this morning. He wanted to film the screen of a twin lens Rollieflex. Surprisingly the best lens for the job was the Red 18-50mm. It zooms and has really good close focus capabilities and perfect for a 6x6 ground glass.
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I’m not sure a probe is the ideal lens. The focal lengths of the optics on these lenses tend to be on the wide end. Especially the OptexExcellence. You need more of a 50-100mm 1:1 Macro lens.
Agreed, unless you can find a 40mm (we only made 2 or 3 of them however. I've only come in half-way, but I would agree, if you can remove the pentaprism (such as a Nikon F) then it’s a relatively easy job to frame the ground glass screen with a macro (this is assuming that the shot is on a tripod)
If you’re replicating a hand-held shot, then probably the only way is going to be a mini video camera.
OTOH, if you are simply replicating the shot, could you do it on post (perish the thought!)
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Panavision has the Hylen system, which would do this very well.
I did it many years ago with a Bronica medium format camera. It has a large viewfinder eyepiece and worked quite well. I think they have one with an auto eye so you could see markings and a needle in there.
Roberto Schaefer, asc
This is most often done as an optical, but I have actually done it live using a 16mm camera with a little Wollensak 25mm lens that had only a 20mm or so outside diameter on the lens. It worked out nicely. You could probably get away with using any lens and some masking if you did not mind a lot of light loss.
Of course, you could always just shoot off the groundglass of an 8x10 camera from a few feet away too, but that's a different effect altogether.
I know David's original post says "movie camera," but I thought the system rigged for the film "War Photographer" featuring the work of James Nachtwey was very effective.
Nachtwey shoots in such dangerous situations that one could not reliably guarantee the documentary crew's safety. But they wanted to see what he saw the instant he pressed the shutter. So they rigged a microcam of some sort to his camera body. I'm not sure of the rig's origin, manufacturer, etc., but it was a 2003 doc. There's bound to be something smaller, lighter, better resolution out there by now.
Hylens system...ooh, I didn't know about this. Thanks CML!
Thanks for all the ideas!
David Mullen, ASC
Just a quick thought, but if you were to go the ground glass way, you may want to look into getting Bernie O'Doherty to work his magic with his Laserbrighten technique.
There are some ground-glass brighter than others, it seems that Bill Maxwell Precision Optics screen called "HI-LUX Ultra Brilliant 4.7" (haven't tested it) is a good option, if a bright screen is needed.
Daniel Henrquez Ilic
Post-Producer / Photographer
>>Just out of curiosity, is there a way of attaching a movie camera so that it is looking through the >>viewfinder of a still camera, so you can see the internal markings, exposure needle, and live image >>being focused on the groundglass? For the true POV of the photographer?
I checked the Panavision Hylen System a couple of years ago and they had the filter you're asking for, besides they could make one exclusively for your needs. That being said, the system is quite cumbersome, but offers a lot of possibilities, especially if you have someone coordinating the moves with you.
We rigged a Nikon F3 to a Sony PD150 using an L bracket made especially for this, using diopters to focus on it. This was a while ago and I don't have photos, but it worked well and the whole system was quite stable. I think the light loss was 1 stop. The F3 has a removable viewfinder and electronic display instead of a needle, and since you can change groundglass, we had one with split focus. A colleague used the same system with an Arriflex 2C, a 90mm macro and a diopter and the effect was probably better than in post (more organic). I believe the loss of light was of 1 stop.
I've used a Pentacon 6 too, but there's no light meter on it and the groundglass is quite dark. One plus is that it's a medium format camera. We shot directly into the viewfinder (you can remove it too), since we couldn't get someone to build us a mirror for the time we needed it.