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Steadicam Zoom

Published : 27th October 2004

>Hi,

>Has anyone on the list ever tried (or just heard of) a steadicam shot with a zoom lens in 35mm? A director who's only ever worked in 16mm and used a zoom lens on a steadicam before has asked about the possibility of doing it in 35mm. Naturally everyone has said that it can't be done because 35mm zooms are such behemoths but I was just wondering.

>Personally I've never seen a 35mm zoom of any focal length range that's compact enough to do this but maybe there's something out there?

>Tom Townend,
Cinematographer/London


>Tom Townend wrote:

class="Paragraph">>Has anyone on the list ever tried (or just heard of) a steadicam shot with >a zoom lens in 35mm? A director who's only ever worked in 16mm and >used a zoom lens on a steadicam before has asked about the >possibility of doing it in 35mm.

>They are wrong, read on.....

class="Paragraph">>Personally I've never seen a 35mm zoom of any focal length range >that's compact enough to do this but maybe there's something out >there?

>Yeah I've done them a few times. I've done them in 16, Video, HD and 35mm. Panavision makes two GREAT light weight zooms a 17-35 and a 32-64 (I think that's the 35mm lens)

>Very easy to do and sometimes it's a HUGE help when the set's are not quite the size they should be.

>Word of warning though if your zooming in HD you need to have an operator that either is using a crystal ball or physic. Why? That freaking 5 frame delay that the down converter introduces into the steadicam video feed. The DP is usually watching a HD monitor so he is seeing real time and usually zooming from that image all the while the poor steadicam operator is temporally displaced by 5 frames.

>Eric Fletcher SOC
Steadicam/"A" Camera Operator
Los Angeles, CA USA


>Tom Townend wrote:

class="Paragraph">>Has anyone on the list ever tried (or just heard of) a steadicam shot with >a zoom lens in 35mm?

>Isn't a 35 mm steadicam zoom, the legs of the operator?

>Mark Smith


class="Paragraph">> Isn't a 35 mm steadicam zoom, the legs of the operator?

>No. Their legs are a dolly move. A zoom is a zoom is a zoom.

class="Paragraph">>Yeah I've done them a few times[....]Panavision makes two GREAT light >weight zooms a 17-35 and a 32-64 (I think that's the 35mm lens)

>PV mounts only according to the catalogue and this job is Arricam/Moviecam. Thanks for the 'heads up' though.

>Those focal length ranges have sparked a thought though - would it not be possible to use an ARRI Variable Prime? They're not zooms - they're 'variable primes' - but heck... they are zooms.

>Tom Townend,
Cinematographer/London.


>Has anyone on the list ever tried (or just heard of) a steadicam shot with a zoom lens in 35mm?

>A director who's only ever worked in 16mm and used a zoom lens on a steadicam before has asked about the possibility of doing it in 35mm. Naturally everyone has said that it can't be done because 35mm zooms are such behemoths but I was just wondering...

>Personally, I've never seen a 35mm zoom of any focal length range that's compact enough to do this but maybe there's something out there?

>Keslow, Clairmont, Otto have small lightweight zooms for use on steadicam's made by Century (17-35) or Optar (28-85).

>Steve Peterson, Dynalens Rentals,
35 yrs. 600 1st ac LA.


>I would try the century precision 17-35 or the 28-70 T.3 lightweight zooms. They are basically re-housed still lenses, as I believe the Panavision lightweight zooms are too.

>Check them out here :

>http://www.centuryoptics.com/products/film/zoom_lenses/index.htm

>I think the Arri "variable primes" are too heavy to fly on a steadicam. I know there are DP's and operators out there who would prove me wrong, but those lenses are heavy behemoths that breathe more than an iron lung. Plus, they are designed poorly for remote focus and zoom, with almost no space for two Preston motors between the gears, the camera, and the required 6x6 clip-on mattebox. Yep, 6x6 mattebox and filters on your steadicam. I wish the guys at Arri spent more time worrying about these issues and less about clever marketing names like, "variable prime".

>I know that the Century and Panavision lenses are slower and significantly inferior optically to the variable primes. But with limited time-based resources on most sets, I'd choose those lenses for you steadi-zoom.

>Joel Schwartz
Focus Monkey, Los Angeles


>Hi Tom,

>The Century Canon 17-35 is a great little lens, very sharp and the size of a prime (Series 9 front). The Century Minolta 28-70 is very compact as well but I can't personally attest to the quality of the optics.

>http://www.centuryoptics.com/products/film/zoom_lenses/index.htm

>There is also an Elite Lightweight 25-80

http://www.slowmotioninc.com/sales/zoom_lenses.htm

>and the Cooke 14-70 is not too big if memory serves.

>You could use an ARRI VP I suppose but they are heavier than these other options. The little Pana-zooms are cool, but naturally you compromise quality for size.

>Is this for broadcast or print?

>Best,

>Anders Uhl
Cinematographer
ICG, New York


>Any 16mm zoom with a 2x extender will work on 35mm. Of course there is the stop loss, but there is also the weight savings.

>Good luck,

>Mark Woods Director of Photography
http://www.markwoods.com/
Stills That Move
Pasadena, CA


>Anders wrote :

class="Paragraph">>The Century Canon 17-35 is a great little lens

>I second that, the 17-35mm Century conversion is great. It's small and light and will intercut with other zooms, even primes. It's a 3.5 if I recall.

>Nick Hoffman 600DP NY


>The Century Zooms are rehoused stills lenses (Canon EOS I believe) but the PV Zooms are original PV AFAIK and the 17-35 is a fantastic lens. We hired a Panarri 435 just so we could use it on a spot.

>That's a sharp and snappy lens.

>Rory Moles
1st AC London


>Those focal length ranges have sparked a thought though - would it not be possible to use an ARRI Variable Prime? They're not zooms - they're 'variable primes' - but heck...they are zooms. Tom Townend,

>VP's are huge compared to the little Century 17-35mm, they are... T2 after all.

>Nick Hoffman NYCDP


>Joel Schwartz wrote :

class="Paragraph">>I wish the guys at Arri spent more time worrying about these issues and >less about clever marketing names like, "variable prime".

>I used the Variable Primes for the first time on a feature last May. The VP's are too heavy for Steadicam/handheld. Well, you CAN hand hold them, but its absurdly front heavy even with a 1000' mag.

>But the VP's are great lenses nonetheless and pretty flare resistant for all the lens groupings in there. I tested the VP1 with 5-6 china lanterns in-frame against a dark BG. Lights were 9+ stops over key and they did not flare or fog the frame. Test was projected.

>The zoom can be operated manually/smoothly to make small adjustments in the shot.

>I also did not find them to breathe THAT much. But the 6x6 MB and 6" filters required were a bit of a hassle on small int's, but that's what you get for a t-2.2 "zoom". I was just glad I could use them on most night/ext's.

>The biggest pain I think is for the AC's, who must play Tetris every time they change VP's with the rods, studio follow focus, swing-on zoom motor, remote focus if needed, etc.

>Mark Doering-Powell
LA based DP


>Hello

>You could take a look at the very small and light weight zoom lens being rented out through Slow Motion Inc.

>Its no bigger/heavier then a 16mm Canon 8-64mm zoom.

>Pasted from the web site >>>25 - 80mm Elite Lightweight for Steadicam T3.0<<<

>http://www.slowmotioninc.com/rental/35mm_lenses.htm

>Have a nice day,

>Joe Zovko
AC
LA, CA


>Hi,

>Cooke make(made) a Veritol 20-60mm zoom that is of prime lens quality, around the same weight as a Zeiss135mm (give or take a tad) and T stop of T3.

>This isn't a conversion or a shoe-in from another lens, but a designed and built 20-60mm zoom. And I know this works on a steadicam.

>Cheers

>Les Parrott
DOP Sydney


>Optar makes a 25-80mm 2lbs zoom lens PL mount for handheld/steadi work.

>Does anyone know how this lens or the Panavision LW Zooms look in Super 35 2:35 projected?

>Best

>Byron Shah
DP/Los Angeles


class="Paragraph">>Optar makes a 25-80mm 2lbs zoom lens PL mount for >handheld/steadi work.

class="style7">>Does anyone know how this lens or the Panavision LW Zooms look in >Super 35 2:35 projected?

>Good question. I should have mentioned from the top that this is for a Super 35 1:2.35 film that, at this stage, may or may not be going through a DI (if that makes any odds). The primes will be Cooke S4s and other 'conventional' zooms will be the 17-102mm & 24-290mm Angenieux. Intercutability (what a clunky word) would be an issue.

>Tom Townend,
Cinematographer/London.


class="style7">> ...zooms will be the 17-102mm...

>Tom,

>You might want to shoot a test on that Angenieux 17-102 on Super 35. My last experience on a commercial showed lots of vignetting with that lens. Not actual clipping, but noticeable darkening of the corners. Not pretty. Both of those Century small zooms are really great for Steadicam but I'd make a phone call to Century to find out how they perform on Super-35. As they were designed for 24X36mm still format they should be good but one never knows what modifications were done when converted to cine lenses.

>They are nice lenses but kind of slow. Also they are very tricky to squeeze Preston motors into a very tiny space. A clip-on matte box works well. I've worked with them several times hand-held on an Aaton 35.

>Rod Williams
Motion Picture First Camera Assistant
Petaluma, California
U.S.A.


class="style7">>The primes will be Cooke S4s and other 'conventional' zooms will be >the 17-102mm & 24-290mm Angenieux. Intercutability (what a clunky >word) would be an issue.

>Sounds like tests are in order. I think you have a bit of leeway with intercutability (it is a clunky word), or I should say, it shouldn't make you loose too much sleep. With a DI I really wouldn't sweat it too much.

>Angela's Ashes was shot with a mix of old and new Cookes and looked great - you could say that it's because they (S3's and S4's) are superb lenses, and they are but I challenge you to find a set of Speed Panchros that match each other (and I love them). That said, perhaps the short Cooke will match the "feel" of the S4's - but I don't know the size/weight specs (?) and honestly have not shot with it.

>I would test the Century/Canon 17-35 and the Elite 25-80. They are both modern lenses which can make a huge difference with a zoom. I always felt that Canons had a bit of the Cooke appeal (as Nikkors were more Zeiss) but that could just be because the both begin with "C".

>As you know, you really have to judge for yourself as to what is up to snuff, but please tell us what you choose and how it works for you.

>Good luck.

>Best Regards,

>Anders Uhl
Cinematographer
ICG, New York


class="style7">>Those focal length ranges have sparked a thought though - would it not >be possible to use an ARRI Variable Prime? They're not zooms - >they're 'variable primes' - but heck...they are zooms.

>They are zooms, not "variable primes". They are only variable primes by name. By function they are full zoom lenses, but maybe a little too heavy for Steadicam work.

class="style7">>I wish the guys at Arri spent more time worrying about these issues and >less about clever marketing names like, "variable prime".

>Well, we do now, but back then the thought was to replace a set of primes with these three short zooms. They were never intended for Steadicam work.

>Cheers,

>Marc Shipman-Mueller,
ARRI Technical Marketing Camera
www.arri.com


>Marc Shipman-Mueller writes :

class="style7">>Well, we do now, but back then the thought was to replace a set of >primes with these three short zooms. They were never intended for >Steadicam work.

>They were/are never wildly popular with many AC's either the combination of speed, sharpness, and close focus could make focus pulling a very challenging endeavour, although the newer LDS versions combined with the Lens Data Display may take some of the angst out of that equation.

>Brian Heller
IA 600 DP