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Thoughts on Mixing Lens Brands in a Shoot?


mercer

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Since I started shooting Raw with the 5D3, I've been slowly selling off some lenses and replacing them with better ones, but now I have a hodgepodge of lenses and no real set of lenses anymore. 

So, I was wondering what is the consensus of mixing different brands of lenses in a film?

I am kinda lazy, so I rarely change lenses anyway, and I have a couple zooms that work fine for most scenarios... but I do love my primes.

Unfortunately, as you know, building a matching set of fast, quality prime lenses is a time consuming, expensive endeavor.

My goal for the next year is to make a handful of 3-5 minute short films. For these projects, I will most likely either use zoom lenses, or a single prime for each project, but when my budget allows, I may start building a couple sets of lenses. However, if I can get away with having really good lenses, of different brands, for different focal lengths, I am okay with that as well. 

Thoughts?

Also, if I do mix brands, are there certain lens characteristics to consider when doing so... e.g. number of blades, shape of blades, aperture consistency... etc?

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All depends what are your goals, to be honest I will always choose to stay in just one brand, even more, I will choose to stay with just one lens, matching color later in post is really time consuming….since you are shooting in RAW you will probably make them match after a while, or close enough, but in my particular case after my last experience, I am now shooting with only two lens max, a zoom covering the whole range, and a 28mm prime for low light…..if you are going to shoot with two different brands I suggest to use one brand for extreme long to medium shoots and the other for close-up to extreme close up shoots….  

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Matching with a color checker chart in Resolve makes any difference practically impossible to tell. It's scary how well it works, and it's very quick. The only caveat is that a chart won't account for huge mis-matches of resolution.

As for all the other nuances that go into lenses, such as how far the background feels from the subject, the shape of the bokeh, lens flare... nobody's going to notice except internet know-it-alls with too much time, and too little hustle to go make their own films ;) 

6 hours ago, mercer said:

Also, if I do mix brands, are there certain lens characteristics to consider when doing so... e.g. number of blades, shape of blades, aperture consistency... etc?

Number of blades and their shape would be one of the most quantifiable ways to match lenses, yes. This will affect the outside shape of the bokeh balls, but not whether or not it looks like an onion with rings in the middle, (and there are a lot of other things that go into the rendering of the out of focus areas than aperture blades) ... and it will have an effect on flare, but not the color.

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Funny you bring that up now, Glenn, because after finishing watching Straight Outta Compton, I had to see which lenses were used. Quite a few, as it turns out. From Shotonwhat:

Lenses | Angenieux Optimo Anamorphic Lenses, Angenieux Optimo Zoom Lenses, Cooke Anamorphic/i Lenses, Fujinon Alura Lenses, Kowa Cine Prominar Lenses, Zeiss Lightweight Zoom LWZ.2 Vario-Sonnar 15.5–45mm T2.6 Lens, Zeiss Super Speed Lenses

As shooters, we can immediately tell which scenes were shot with anamorphic, which with spherical lenses, but the ordinary audience probably wouldn't.

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13 minutes ago, jonpais said:

Funny you bring that up now, Glenn, because after finishing watching Straight Outta Compton, I had to see which lenses were used. Quite a few, as it turns out. From Shotonwhat:

Lenses | Angenieux Optimo Anamorphic Lenses, Angenieux Optimo Zoom Lenses, Cooke Anamorphic/i Lenses, Fujinon Alura Lenses, Kowa Cine Prominar Lenses, Zeiss Lightweight Zoom LWZ.2 Vario-Sonnar 15.5–45mm T2.6 Lens, Zeiss Super Speed Lenses

As shooters, we can immediately tell which scenes were shot with anamorphic, which with spherical lenses, but the ordinary audience probably wouldn't.

Jon, you don't seem like you would be a big NWA fan. 

Yeah, I think I am probably over thinking it, especially since I'll rarely change lenses anyway. 

One of those Angenieux Optimo lenses sounds like it would be perfect. 

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8 minutes ago, mercer said:

Jon, you don't seem like you would be a big NWA fan. 

Yeah, I think I am probably over thinking it, especially since I'll rarely change lenses anyway. 

One of those Angenieux Optimo lenses sounds like it would be perfect. 

My nephew introduced me to Eminem and D12 around twelve years ago. The HBO documentary The Defiant Ones sparked my interest in films about hip hop music. 

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Sometimes lenses of the same brand/generation don't even match. My Canon FD 35-105mm 3.5 lens has really low contrast compared to other Canon FD lenses of the same generation that I own/have owned. I think it's best to just test/compare all of your lenses side-by-side and figure out how they make you feel and use them to convey that feeling when necessary.

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Try not to mix different brand lenses on the same scene. For narrative films is very important that the image is consistent. There are some lenses you can mix and match but try beforehand. The contrast can be super different let alone the color and the "rendering" of each. What looks close enough in the edit doesn't always looks good on a big screen (if you are thinking film festivals). There is a reason cine lenses are matched sets and have Tstops, cause even if you are on the same settings (iso/aperture/lighting) by changing from 50 to 24 can look so different that you will end up spending hours matching them (if the lenses don't match). And it can happen to you in your most important scene or the most expensive of the production.

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21 hours ago, EthanAlexander said:

Matching with a color checker chart in Resolve makes any difference practically impossible to tell. It's scary how well it works, and it's very quick. The only caveat is that a chart won't account for huge mis-matches of resolution.

As for all the other nuances that go into lenses, such as how far the background feels from the subject, the shape of the bokeh, lens flare... nobody's going to notice except internet know-it-alls with too much time, and too little hustle to go make their own films ;) 

Number of blades and their shape would be one of the most quantifiable ways to match lenses, yes. This will affect the outside shape of the bokeh balls, but not whether or not it looks like an onion with rings in the middle, (and there are a lot of other things that go into the rendering of the out of focus areas than aperture blades) ... and it will have an effect on flare, but not the color.

Great points, thanks. I always think I should get a color chart, but then I don't ever actually get a color chart. I wish one of the companies made a color chart and slate in one. I don't have a slate either... man I suck. 

17 hours ago, Matt Kieley said:

Sometimes lenses of the same brand/generation don't even match. My Canon FD 35-105mm 3.5 lens has really low contrast compared to other Canon FD lenses of the same generation that I own/have owned. I think it's best to just test/compare all of your lenses side-by-side and figure out how they make you feel and use them to convey that feeling when necessary.

True, definitely worth a test. I've noticed I usually love one lens from different makers, so my new plan is to get one good prime between 35-50... depending on the brand. And then one zoom which will cover the whole gamut I usually shoot in. So basically a two lens set up. And I'd like to keep my total "sets" at 5 or less. 

16 hours ago, elgabogomez said:

Try not to mix different brand lenses on the same scene. For narrative films is very important that the image is consistent. There are some lenses you can mix and match but try beforehand. The contrast can be super different let alone the color and the "rendering" of each. What looks close enough in the edit doesn't always looks good on a big screen (if you are thinking film festivals). There is a reason cine lenses are matched sets and have Tstops, cause even if you are on the same settings (iso/aperture/lighting) by changing from 50 to 24 can look so different that you will end up spending hours matching them (if the lenses don't match). And it can happen to you in your most important scene or the most expensive of the production.

Thanks for this. I dislike changing focal lengths in a scene, so I'll remember not to change lens brands.... Of course once I started using zooms more than primes, I have gotten a little lazy with it when framing. 

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49 minutes ago, mercer said:

Great points, thanks. I always think I should get a color chart, but then I don't ever actually get a color chart. I wish one of the companies made a color chart and slate in one. I don't have a slate either... man I suck. 

 

You could consider an app instead like this one that does both (and focus chart too) . No shop visit required, just download and go ;) 

http://www.movie-slate.com/Settings

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Everything is proyect dependent, large or small crew, cast, props, etc. But the one constant of shooting narrative is this: it's always a battle against time!!

Money or light or someone on cast or crew is going to be on the clock and on the edge of leaving/running out.

Part of the creative endeavor of cinematography is dealing with the relation of equipment/time.

Murphy's law is the rule of the set so apply the KISS rule (keep it simple, stupid) and you will be better prepared for it.

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