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nathanleebush

future proof Manual Focus lenses for BMPCC & M43 BMCC

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I've been stewing about what lenses to invest in with my upcoming BMPCC order and thought maybe you guys could weigh in with your collective wisdom.  
 
I was leaning toward Nikkor AI-S glass because it was the pinnacle of manual lens tech in the manual lens photo heyday, has long focus throws, is relatively portable, and is flexible if I want to jump up to larger sensors in the future (does anyone think this 16mm sensor will stay around indefinitely?). Also, I could then hack an APS-C and a FF Canon for RAW and have three focal lengths for each lens, effectively. Or I could get the Metabones Speedbooster essentially making it a Super 35mm equivalent, more or less. 
 
Then I read one perspective that since using FF glass on the Micro Four Thirds BMCC and BMPCC sensor is cutting into the center of the glass means it will magnify all the imperfections of the lens. A friend I trust on technical matters agreed with this, saying Nikon glass would look bad no matter how good the original optics and the Speedbooster just adds more glass distorting the image. He seems to think the better approach is to get super 16 C-Mount glass designed for the sensor size, and then sell it if I change to a larger sensor camera .. kind of a "get what you need now for optimal results, and don't think about five years from now" mindset. 
 
I'm now leaning this way, thinking that the super wide focal lengths I'll need for the BMPCC and BMCC will be useless to me anyway if I decide to go with a larger sensor in future (I'm not into superwide lenses).
 
Anyway, any thoughts would be much appreciated!  
 
TL;DR: I want future proof and flexible glass that will still shine on the BMPCC. Is this possible or should I go with optimized C-mount or M43 glass? 

 

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EOSHD Pro Color for Sony cameras EOSHD Pro LOG for Sony CamerasEOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs

I picked up the Nikon 20mm 2.8 manual,the 24mm 2.0   manual and the Metabones SB for the BMPC and my GH2.  Will report back with some samples when they all arrive.    The Nikon 20mm 2.8 can be modified as previously reported by Metabones that it was incompatible with the lens.   I'm betting my future on the BMPC , Nikon glass and the SB so it better work!

http://www.dvxuser.com/V6/showthread.php?310326-Review-and-Grabs-Metabones-Speedbooster-Nikon-F-to-M4-3-on-AF100/page5

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Personally I wouldn't trust an C-Mount lenses for full HD work.  They are simply not good enough, and this will show the more people start to use them.

 

my advice would be to consider the speed booster without a doubt.  and invest in a set of decent 1960's-1980's MF lenses from Zeiss, Nikkor, Olympus, Canon.  

 

you'll need a 16mm for your wide equiv - which will hit you hard.  then a 25mm which will also be a bit expensive.  a 35mm and a 50mm

 

on bmcp + speed booster these will equate to 32mm, 50mm, 70mm and 100mm in full frame terms.  the better set you get, the more future proof you'll be.  expect a m4/3 pocket announced by bm in the next few months-before they have even started proper manufacture of the 16mm version,  and at that point, using a m4/3 sensor your speed booster will turn your lenses into a superb set with a focal length range covering 25-75mm and assuming you'll have bought f2.8's over the range, these will be f2's thanks to the speed booster.  

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Personally I wouldn't trust an C-Mount lenses for full HD work.  They are simply not good enough, and this will show the more people start to use them.

Sorry but you are wrong and that is your opinion. People buy a CINEMA camera and then want to use clinical oversharp lens and they result in a 'video look' is pretty pointless!

 

Before righting off all C mount lenses, I'd suggest you listen to what others are experiencing in a positive light. I can certainly vouch that the several HIGH QUALITY C Mount zooms used on 16mm and Super 16mm cameras in the past even surpass old B4 ENG lenses.

 

Also pretty pointless is your suggestion of using FULL FRAME with a 3X crop lenses for the BMPC! The M4/3 Speedbooster or any of it's cheap chinese contemporaries at this time do not exist for purchase. Some of the C mount lenses have as much fine glass and elements in them as much as the "decent 1960's-1980's MF lenses from Zeiss, Nikkor, Olympus, Canon." you suggest as many were made by them!

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Sorry but you are wrong and that is your opinion. People buy a CINEMA camera and then want to use clinical oversharp lens and they result in a 'video look' is pretty pointless!

 

Before righting off all C mount lenses, I'd suggest you listen to what others are experiencing in a positive light. I can certainly vouch that the several HIGH QUALITY C Mount zooms used on 16mm and Super 16mm cameras in the past even surpass old B4 ENG lenses.

 

Also pretty pointless is your suggestion of using FULL FRAME with a 3X crop lenses for the BMPC! The M4/3 Speedbooster or any of it's cheap chinese contemporaries at this time do not exist for purchase. Some of the C mount lenses have as much fine glass and elements in them as much as the "decent 1960's-1980's MF lenses from Zeiss, Nikkor, Olympus, Canon." you suggest as many were made by them!

 

You're preaching to the choir when you bring up 'over sharp' lenses.  Trust me, none of the lenses I had in mind are of the 'over sharp' nature.  and to be honest, IMO there is no such thing as 'over sharp'.  more 'over contrasty' which can be mistaken for sharpness and 'video like'.  

Those shooting on a true full HD camera such as the bm pocket should at least have a lens capable of delivering full hd sharpness.  -Something that all but the very best c-mount lenses will struggle to provide, and even if they do, the likelihood is that they also vignette.

 

invest money in real lenses with some future in them.  The BM pocket will re educate everyone as to the reasons why 35mm was always the prefered choice over 16mm if budget allowed.  And as a result the designers will move to a bigger sensor on their next phase, rendering your c-mount set worthless like they were before the bm pocket was announced.  

The thread starter will be a lot better off investing in nikkors as he suggests.  Since they are going to be usable on his m4/3 sensor'd cinema camera, and also with speed boosters etc.  And, if he ever got a Red Dragon, his nikkors will cover that sensor, and deliver sharpness up to the task for that too!  

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Not everyone is buying the BMPCC for feature work.   The joy of C mount lenses from CCTV's to Kern Switars is the great stylings they give for other applications, commercials, music videos, experimental etc etc.   And they are cheap. My collection of C mounts will never worthless as long as cameras like GH2 and BMPCc are made.

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Sorry but you are wrong and that is your opinion. People buy a CINEMA camera and then want to use clinical oversharp lens and they result in a 'video look' is pretty pointless!

 

You have to rethink this paradigm with the Blackmagic Pocket, as I am doing (with my own large collection of c-mounts) at the moment. Vintage cine lenses were good on cameras like the GH2 with their highly processed video image. The GH2's firmware/built-in video encoders denoise, oversharpen and oversaturate the image, resoluting in sterile video when you use system lenses or very sharp/well-corrected adapted photo lenses. 

 

On the Pocket, this is no longer true. You get an unprocessed video image with zero artificial sharpness, no in-camera denoising and flat colors. A cinematic image with gentle gradation, soft roll-off etc. can simply be achieved via proper color grading, because the nearly-unprocessed 10-bit log material has so much more dynamic headroom.

 

This also means, you don't want "filter" your image during recording (using a vintage c-mount lens with a warm, organic look, flares, vignetting etc. pretty much boils down to that) because that will limit your possibilities in post. A sharp, modern, even contrasty lens is not a problem, but an advantage on the Pocket. 

 

These were the conclusions I drew after comparative shots with a Canon 13mm/1.5 c-mount lens vs. the modern SLR Magic 12mm/1.6, and a Schneider Xenon 25mm/1.4 vs. a modern Voigtlander 25mm/0.95.

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Take the following recommendations with a grain of salt.  I started out self-financing my own film career, so a whole set of L-glass was out o the picture.

 

I've thought of going to the BMPCC, but as attractive as the camera is physically including raw and 422, the odds that lower priced m43 and APS-C (semi-super-35) sensors will begin providing raw and 422 out of the box are good.

 

I've already tried competing with others for the rare old glass.  For example, really good examples of anamorphic glass (without even single focus) such as the Bolex Moeller 16/32 are going for over $2000.   That's just crazy when you can rent a set of Oct 19/P2 Lomo's for 2 weeks for $2000.

 

At some point you realize you just have to pay a little extra to get what you want now and move on.  The BMCC is getting discounted to a reasonable price.  Get one (if you can) for M43.

 

(Really wish some company would take a Bolex Moller 16/32 to an optical engineer and just copy the design -- except include focus servos for those that want single focus as an option.)

 

As far as your other questions: My experience has taught me to buy the lenses and fit the right camera to them.   The half life of a decent digital camera these days is a about 2 years.   Good lenses last for a lifetime.   I'm still running with my set of manual DSLR lenses plus a Tokina 11-16 and a Minolta Macro Zoom for special occasions.  I'm betting on micro 4/3 and larger sensors in the future.  For what it's worth, here's my current lens list:

 

Pentax/Asahi:

 

Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 35mm f2  

Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 50mm f1.4

Super Takumar 50mm f1.4 (first production series)

 

All the Takumars are super high precision, buttery focus, have generally excellent bokeh and are inexpensive.  Huge bang for the buck.  The 35mm gives a relatively normal field of view for crop sensors and the 50 becomes nice for short portaits.   Good for multitude of purposes.  The first gen Super Tak is beautiful and very nice as an anamorphic taking lens.  It's not too wide and it's single coated so it doesn't filter anamorphic flare.

 

Minolta:

 

Rokkor-PG 58mm f1.2

Rokkor Zoom Macro 35-70mm

 

The right Minolta manual can be very useful.  We shot a lot of our first film on the f1.2 Rokkor.  On a crop sensor it becomes an almost magical short portrait lens, isn't too "analytical" and yields just gorgeous natural light results with the best bokeh in the business.  Sort of a legendary bokeh monster lens.  Just be prepared for razor thin DOF at f1.2.  Don't overuse the f1.2 in natural light *instead* of proper lighting.

 

The Rokkor Zoom Macro is a incredibly precise Zoom that rivals most primes.  On crop sensors it covers short portrait to normal telephoto.   It has a 1.5x light macro mode that allows very close focus which is great for super-closeups (rare in a zoom).  This is the lens that Leica liked so much they re-badged it as their own.  If you wait a week or so on ebay you can usually find a nice example that not too expensive.  I think I got mine for $200.

 

Zeiss Jena:

 

35mm f2.4 Flektogon

80mm f2.8 Biometar Zebra (Medium Format)

 

Zeiss Jena is the original Zeiss factory that the Russians captured and move to the homelad after WWII (which resulted in the Helios 44-2 and others). When Jena recovered they continued making mostly comparable glass into the 60s and early 70s until the warped communist economy finally screwed up their production capabilities.

 

The 35mm f2.4 Flektogon is a wonderful little lens.  It's precise, not too large, has a normal field of view for crop sensors and great bokeh.  Oh yeah -- it has the standard Zeiss mechanical and optical precision and punchy contrast.   It also focuses down to 3 inches. :-)

 

The 80mm Biometar is an interesting lens.  I found it while searching for a good long focal length anamorphic taking lens.  It had to have single coating so as not to unduly filter out anamorphic flare (thus the 1960s Zebra version).  It had to have good precision and optics.   It's Zeiss Jena and the overall optical quality is only slightly less than the equivalent West German Zeiss of the time.  In any case its optical performance in the center is second to none and that's what the m43 and APS-C sensors are going to be looking through.   I have noticed *no* aberations when looking through the center -- first time I've heard that.   Any imperfections in the center would either be eliminated by Zeiss QC or not generally in the field of focus.

 

The wierd thing is (not sure how this works) is that while it's rated at f2.8, it lets almost as much light through at f2.8 as my f1.4 takumars -- but without the accompanying razor thin DOF.   Early anamorphic tests are very positive with LED point sources throwing super punchy and sharp anamorphic flare (right out of Alien :-), while the increased focal length and DOF makes for some very nice cinematic footage.  Mechanical design is typical Zeiss precision, but the Zebra Biometars are now almost 50 years old and the focus helical can get a little stiff.  Suggest you have it serviced at a reputable rebuilder for best performance.  These were the default lens on the old Pentacon Six cameras so there are a fair number of good examples left.   Expect to pay around $200 for a good copy.

 

Nikon: Ai-s 24mm f2

 

The Nikon used to be my go-to lens for slightly wider FOV with crop sensors.  Typical Nikon quality but I don't use it as much as I used to.  If I need to go wide-wide I usually use the excellent Tokina 11-16mm.

 

Helios: 44-2 58mm f2

 

The Helios is a Russian copy of the Zeiss Biotar.   It's used a lot as an anamorphic taking lens.  While it is single coated and a generally nice lens (fun bokeh, good flare, moderately precise), my copy (new old stock) had oil on the aperture blades and a pretty stiff focus ring.  There are rebuild videos by a cool Austrian dude on YouTube.  I might get around to it or just buy another.

 

Sankor 16-D 2x Anamorphic

 

Entry level, but beautiful Anamorphic.   My copy was in prettty fine physical shape.   I shot some fun test footage in Boulder CO on Pearl St Mall which I'll hopefully post some time soon.  The Sankor may not be the most precise anamorphic but it does throw beautiful anamorphic flares.  Good for understanding how anamorphics work even though it's dual focus.  You can get one for about $200 - $300 and pick up an adapter for about $50 - $100.   My only major issue is that, even though I swear I have it properly aligned, It's bokeh are oval but tilted slightly to the left and I can't figure out why.   It probably needs re-collimation, but I'm just guessing.

 

Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X Autofocus (either Nikon or Canon mount)

 

This is a great constant focal length uber-wide zoom.  I recommend the Nikon mount for anything other than Canon as the Canon version doesn't have an easy way to manually adjust aperture.  Mines a canon mount and I just set and leave it at f2.8.  On a 2x crop the 11mm is still pretty wide.  Not sure how useful it would be adapted to a BMPCC.   It would be somewhere around 33mm which is wide, but not Quentin Tarantino wide (usually 24-28mm).  I bought this new at B&H for around $700 when it was hard to get.  My most expensive lens so far and I know that's not saying much.

 

All in all I love my lens collection. 

 

Good luck to you.

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