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ENG style 35mm zoom ... (was) Red One hand held rig

Published : 8th May 2009


I question just how many people would actually want such a lens. What you're asking for is a 35mm PL mount zoom that was physically small, lightweight, had a short focus throw and a servo on the size, all just like an ENG zoom. The small & lightweight mean compromises in construction quality and perhaps some optical quality. The short focus & servo are interesting for handheld, but detriments to all other production. And the lens would have to cost just as much as a traditionally constructed 35 zoom if not more. How many of these do you think would ever be sold? I doubt it would be enough to justify such an endeavor.


Mitch Gross
NYC DP
Applications Specialist
Abel Cine Tech




>>I question just how many people would actually want such a lens.? What you're asking for is a >>35mm PL mount zoom that was physically small, lightweight, had a short focus throw and a servo >>on the size, all just like an ENG zoom.?


On the one hand, with 2/3" cameras I have often wished that I could put an ENG-style zoom servo on a cine style lens for handheld use. But the last thing I want is the other compromises of the ENG zoom as Mitch has described - I still prefer the focus control and obviously the better optical characteristics of the cine lens. And on a project where quality is the primary consideration, I'm certainly not going to sacrifice that for a more comfortable handheld grip.


The solution for me has been to use ENG style lenses when they're the right tool for the job, and when I want the benefits of the cine style lens, I can use a handgrip with a MicroForce and Heden motor on the lens. May not be as 'rough and tumble' as an ENG zoom, but the choice is based on the needs of the project.


(For what it's worth, back when I started shooting news we had "pistol grips" on our ENG cameras, which isn't that much different than a MicroForce on a handle... and it took me a while to get used to actually using the on-lens zoom.)


Extrapolating to a PL-mount lens for a Red, I suppose if you could attach an ENG-style zoom servo to an Optimo this would be the best of both worlds...But if I had to do this today, I would simply use a MicroForce and Heden motor the same way I do with cine-style lenses on an F900.


Not sure how long I would want an Optimo and Red on my shoulder..... And I think this is the biggest reason this would be a problem - you're simply not going to get a decent lens covering 35mm that's as lightweight and compact as a 2/3" ENG lens.


George Hupka
Director/DP, Downstream Pictures
Saskatoon, Canada
Listmum, Cinematography Mailing List




>>The short focus & servo are interesting for handheld, but detriments to all other production


If the trade offs of this theoretical lens are too much for the project at hand, you can simply swap lenses for other set-ups. If time constraints make that untenable, a zoom servo with a range control is a fair approximation of a microforce and you could still mount a traditional FF rig, wireless if you have an AC handy.


I see issues of size and weight as the key problems. One semi-legitimate test case might be the PL mount Optimo Rouge (which has a different throat design and is not compatible with reflex cameras BTW) which is very lightweight and fast, though the 30-80mm zoom range is hardly 15-150.


Is there a sweet spot of build quality, wide T-stop and zoom range versus size & weight? In the end, only RED may be willing to develop and market such a lens since it could advance their market penetration. Of course Jim and the gang have plenty of other things on their plate.


Blair S. Paulsen
4K Ninja
San Diego, CA



Perhaps this is something more suitable for the proposed 2/3" Scarlet. Given a large enough market, I can't see why Canon & Fuji can't make single sensor versions of their current 2/3" HD ENG lenses. Although they'll cost much more than the camera, which will cause upset amongst some people.


Canon basically did this when they made Super 16 versions of their video lenses - I assume they just changed the rear elements.


Rodney Charters' Birger mounted stills zooms look about the most compact hand held 35mm zoom RED One I've seen. However, this has limitations like a max stop of f2.8. In the end, it'll depend on the production you're shooting if this type of rig is practical.


Brian Drysdale
DP & Steadicam
Belfast


++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


>>I see issues of size and weight as the key problems. One semi-legitimate test case might be the >>PL mount Optimo Rouge (which has a different throat design and is not compatible with reflex >>cameras BTW) which is very lightweight and fast, though the 30-80mm zoom range is hardly 15->>150.


The Rouge lenses are nice designs but are based on pre-existing Optimo lenses. By re-engineering the optics without having to design around a spinning mirror mechanism behind the lens mount, Angenieux was able to keep the projected image telecentric while drastically reducing the cost of manufacture. Thus the 30-80 Rouge is a new version of the 28-76 Optimo Cine lens and the 16-42 Rouge is a new 15-40 Optimo Cine zoom. Both new lenses are the size, weight and of similar physical construction of their Cine line counterparts. Their also less than half the cost.


I don't see any great advantage to mounting a servo onto any of these lenses. They're only a 2.5x zoom range. I think most people use them as a lightweight variable prime. And the focus is still a long throw, which means that in an ENG-style run & gun you'll find yourself twirling and twiling that lens to plow through the focus range. Perhaps what you really want is some small universal servo device that mounted close to where an ENG servo traditionally does for your handgrip but can separately mount it's motors to the lens. Then you could use a stills zoom with it's lightweight construction and short throw focus barrel. I can't think of a controller than would physically mimic a servo grip in quite this way, and frankly I'm rather happy about that personally. But you could try a Microforce or the Vocas zoom controller. I've seen Aaton and Arri handgrips modified to hold zoom controllers. We make a mod to use the Aaton walnut handgrip on the RED (still the nicest handgrip in the industry IMHO) and I guess it could be possible to marry a Microforce into the design. A custom rig that mounted a motor directly to the lens may be better for weight and small physical design than a rod-mounted motor, but that means a unique mounted bracket on a consumer lens so you're probably better off with a rod-mount design. I'd go with a vertical motor such as a small Heden.


Anything can be done as long as there's someone out there willing to pay for it. But no one is going to make a whole new lens design unless you're prepared to cough up a ridiculous amount of money. R&D costs for such ventures are astronomical.


Mitch gross
NYC DP
Applications Specialist
Abel Cine Tech




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