Lens Choices For Red
An advantage of the Red Camera is the ability to choose from the wide variety of high quality cinema (and other) lenses out there.The best cinema lenses are hand made for a comparatively niche market from expensive materials and so cost a lot of money, but there are many solutions and options to still get a great image at a reasonable price. Choosing the best lens for the budget and situation is a vital part of the cinematographer’s role. If you are wondering why they are requesting a particular lens and have not had to deal with this area before, this is a quick guide.
Generally Prime Lenses (lenses which have a fixed focal length and don’t zoom) will have the least glass getting inbetween your subject and the sensor, and so result in the most pristine image. However, to change your image size, you have to physically remove each lens and replace it with a different one and have a good set of choices to choose from (18mm being wide angle, 50mm standard, 100mm telephoto. A standard 4 set would probably be 18mm, 35mm, 50mm, 75mm). This is standard practise in the film world, and the function of the camera assistant, but the time taken to carefully change lenses and reset follow focus units etc can limit the amount of shooting achievable in a day and limit your flexibility.Zoom lenses allow for changing the focal length (and thus image size) without removing the lens and thus speedier filming, but with compromises to the image quality and significant increase in weight. With a stills lens zoom, when you change the focus the actual image size will change slightly (breathe). This is acceptable when you are taking a still but can be distracting or annoying for moving images where you change focus during the shot. The better cinema zoom lenses have more glass and mechanisms to compensate for this. But more glass can mean less light transmission (speed), more halation and multiple planes for any flaring. These artifacts can of course be desirable.
Generally if you have the time and the budget, prime lenses are preffered. If you require speedy focal length changes (especially for unpredictable shooting such as live events) and can live with the possible compromises in image, then a zoom could be more appropriate.
If you have no idea of what is involved in lenses and the differences between them you probably should be speaking to your DOP. But if you need to make some decisions before you have a DOP or operator on board, you need to have an idea of the parameters. So here is a brief guide to the usual options available so you can see what is best for your project and budget.
Don’t forget, whatever your lens choice, you will still probably need lens accessories (Matte Box and Follow focus) that match those particular lenses.
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Lens Choices For Red
Thought we'd share the advantage of the very modern, well known Red Camera. You may even find tips that will help you when using one!