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Screw buying new cameras, after salivating over cine lens tests I'm spending real money on lenses

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Just playing with an idea....  Taking the concepts of resolution and micro-contrast and trying to emulate them in post.

This is an attempt to match the look of the Zeiss SS at T1.3 with the Xeen at T4 (one of the sharpest most clinical looking images).  Obviously there is no match for the aperture, but in terms of skin softness / naturalness I wonder how well you think I closed the gap?

You'll have to zoom to the full images for this one.

Zeiss SS at T1.3:

66678025_ZeissSSmk3T1.3.thumb.png.36ba4b169859fd7f3b4297d206ba20f8.png

My grade:

1538762130_XeenatT4tocopySSatT1.3_1_21.1.thumb.jpg.5f726c2eabb07f054042253ff576526d.jpg

Original Xeen at T4 image:

1347193898_XeenT4.thumb.png.938e35a8d5f6189576a85da03a49c127.png

Even if I only got the image half-way that would still mean there's a huge ability to degrade images in post to match between lenses (and different apertures of the same lenses) in any sensibly chosen set.

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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

not sure what to make of all these tests.. all I can say is I've worked on a narrative project shot on a full set of Xeen's and the rendition was superb as is the build quality etc.

if I were to invest in cine glass those would be my prime candidates ;) .

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Ok, here's a theory...  I think the Voigtlanders might be the MFT equivalent of the Zeiss Super Speeds.  

This is why:

  1. Both have very wide apertures and are amongst the fastest lenses available for the sensor size
  2. Both are known to be very soft wide open but when stopped down become very sharp, giving both of them a real split personality reputation
  3. Both are known for their soft rendering when wide-open and are prized for low-light work and bokeh at night, and also for how sharp they can be when closed down, giving aesthetic options depending on the project
  4. Both have very poor performance at the outer edges of their image circle, even when stopped down considerably (*)
  5. Both have CA problems at larger apertures, but are improved when stopping-down
  6. Both are configured for fully manual cinema use with de-clicked apertures and long focus throws
  7. Both are very solidly built, heavy, with very smooth controls making them a joy to use
  8. They are both very expensive compared to their more moderately priced competitors (acknowledging that cine glass prices can be stratospheric / catastrophic)

(* On the Voigtlanders this isn't because of field curvature.  I have no idea what causes it on the SS)

I've read that Voigtlander essentially build their lenses so that they can't be repaired, which is contrary to the Zeiss approach with the SS which are regularly serviced and maintained by lens houses.  Of course, on the plus side, a set of Voigtlanders costs about 2% of what a set of SS costs, plus MFT is meant to be dead so who cares, right...?

Reference materials and supporting evidence.....

This article includes the 17.5mm and 25mm Voigtlanders, which go from being in the last two places wide open, to 4th and 5th places at f2.8, to a very close 2nd and 4th at f4.  This is all centre sharpness measurements, as their outer performance isn't great, but most people don't put the subject of a shot at the edge, so it's less relevant.

https://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2012/05/wide-angle-micro-43-imatest-results/

Aperture tests.......

Voigtlanders:

vlcsnap-2019-10-30-18h20m38s997.thumb.png.9d5512d3a9e906f6a6d93c2dce0de827.png

vlcsnap-2019-10-30-18h44m14s724.thumb.png.1646faec3924229bcb5aa0221ab01d0d.png

vlcsnap-2019-10-30-18h44m37s740.thumb.png.07e8f1902813cff9e33443654f25b97b.png

Zeiss SS:

I'm not sure I'm convinced by this argument, but there are a lot of similarities.

Even if it's true, not everyone is a fan of the Super Speeds, and once again it's about taste.  Some prefer the Master Anamorphics or the Cooke glass as they're more consistent, being sharper than these wide open and softer when stopped down, so not being so schizophrenic in temperament.

I think I'm gradually talking myself into buying the 42.5mm Voigt.

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and at the end of the day, you can always take these two images:

vlcsnap-2019-10-30-19h56m40s970.thumb.png.02f7a2742420721e069488ff60275022.png

and with a few quick adjustments in Resolve, adjust the left one to look like this:

775877557_Kyetry2.4_2.1.2.thumb.jpg.edd27278e549f5a8683f39e2f6773f70.jpg

not the same, but you could certainly cut them together in the same edit and not shatter the illusion.

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I think I'm on a "screw buying new lenses I'm spending money on filters and light modifiers" phase. Layering diffusion, colored lighting and practicals, haze, actually caring about incidental bounce enough to use negative fill...  aaaand FINALLY got a black pro mist! Should get to use it out for a talking head shoot on Friday, but so far I'm really liking even just boring test shots.

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7 hours ago, EthanAlexander said:

I think I'm on a "screw buying new lenses I'm spending money on filters and light modifiers" phase. Layering diffusion, colored lighting and practicals, haze, actually caring about incidental bounce enough to use negative fill...  aaaand FINALLY got a black pro mist! Should get to use it out for a talking head shoot on Friday, but so far I'm really liking even just boring test shots.

Nice!  Light is so important.  For a start, things would be pretty dark in frame without it!

I think I'd be a lighting geek too if I didn't shoot only in available light.  The people that do those "how to make this camera from 1987 look like a RED Epic" are always doing it with lighting.

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16 hours ago, kye said:

The people that do those "how to make this camera from 1987 look like a RED Epic" are always doing it with lighting.

...and adding a bunch of green tint in post ?

But seriously, yeah it's what you see in a lot of promotions, too, where any camera can look good, including an iPhone, if you've got the production design,  makeup, location etc etc which really teaches a lesson if you think about it - the camera just needs to give you a clean image and after that it's up to you to captivate an audience.

I have to publicly apologize and retract my last post, though, because I'm already back to looking at cinema lenses. Thinking of picking up some SLR Magic hyperprimes to go with either a Z-Cam or MBPCC4K. Just a couple lenses I swear... 

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On 10/30/2019 at 11:40 AM, EthanAlexander said:

aaaand FINALLY got a black pro mist! 

Same here! I can't believe it's taken me so long to get one (now two!). Completely revolutionized my entire lens lineup - breathed new life into my most used and even least used lenses. Almost feels like I've doubled my collection.

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I'm less interested than I've ever been in getting a new camera. I'm still curious of what's coming out, and there are times when I'm very much tempted by something, but I expect to get a lot more out of my GH5 before I upgrade. Realistically I think I'll get at least another 3 years out of it before making it my B cam. 

I've started selling quite a few of my lenses lately. I always felt like I needed a large lens collection, but so many just weren't being used or had things I didn't like about them. I do think I'm going to start building a set of matching primes, likely out of vintage lenses, I've just gotta figure which ones I wanna go with. Getting the most bang for my buck is important. 

Lighting is something I've found myself investing more and more into. I picked up 3 Godox SL 60w lights, as well as a few smaller lights that I can use in a ton of different ways. I'm also getting ready to get some Glow soft boxes from Adorama. I've used them before and they're so great. One of the best values out there today.

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On 10/30/2019 at 11:40 PM, EthanAlexander said:

I think I'm on a "screw buying new lenses I'm spending money on filters and light modifiers" phase. Layering diffusion, colored lighting and practicals, haze, actually caring about incidental bounce enough to use negative fill...  aaaand FINALLY got a black pro mist! Should get to use it out for a talking head shoot on Friday, but so far I'm really liking even just boring test shots.

The more I look at the look of lenses the more that i’m thinking that something like a BPM filter is a really useful and key item in developing a look.... more below.

10 hours ago, MurtlandPhoto said:

Same here! I can't believe it's taken me so long to get one (now two!). Completely revolutionized my entire lens lineup - breathed new life into my most used and even least used lenses. Almost feels like I've doubled my collection.

This idea that you’ve doubled your collection is very interesting and I think falls into my (still forming) grand unifying theory of lenses...

10 hours ago, newfoundmass said:

I'm less interested than I've ever been in getting a new camera. I'm still curious of what's coming out, and there are times when I'm very much tempted by something, but I expect to get a lot more out of my GH5 before I upgrade. Realistically I think I'll get at least another 3 years out of it before making it my B cam. 

I've started selling quite a few of my lenses lately. I always felt like I needed a large lens collection, but so many just weren't being used or had things I didn't like about them. I do think I'm going to start building a set of matching primes, likely out of vintage lenses, I've just gotta figure which ones I wanna go with. Getting the most bang for my buck is important. 

Lighting is something I've found myself investing more and more into. I picked up 3 Godox SL 60w lights, as well as a few smaller lights that I can use in a ton of different ways. I'm also getting ready to get some Glow soft boxes from Adorama. I've used them before and they're so great. One of the best values out there today.

I feel the same about my GH5 and also on reducing the number of lenses to just the right ones that will work for what i’m doing.  Lots of cool interesting vintage lenses out there, although that brings me neatly to my first thoughts on a grand unifying theory of lenses...

So far I think we’ve got these factors that add up to create a ‘look’:

  • Lens resolution (both the amount of it as well as distribution over the frame, eg, field curvature)
  • Lens hallation and flaring (amount and distribution)
  • Lens colour (across DR but also in hallation) 
  • Lens vignetting
  • CA

There are other factors, but these are the main ones i’m thinking about for now, and obviously all of these change for any given lens across its aperture range.

In terms of how to get that ‘look’:

  • Lens resolution is limited by the lens, but can be (very slightly) perceptually boosted by adding sharpening, and can obviously be lowered by various blurring effects in post, and to a certain extent field curvature can be simulated in post too as long as it's effects are blurring what's in frame rather than bringing it into focus 
  • Lens hallation has a number of different categories - the first is what happens with flares and that’s pretty obvious, but the second is micro-contrast which is talked about with the smoothing of skin.  This depends on the coatings of the lens (and flare characteristics also by the optical properties) but hallation can be added with things like BPM filters, as well as ‘simulated’ in post (under certain circumstances as outlined in the thread about simulating a BPM filter in post) and the Midtone Detail slider in Resolve does a great job of this too
  • Lens colour can be influenced in post by a global WB adjustment for uniform tints, can be adjusted in shadows mids and highlights with curves or the LGG wheels, but if a lightsource hallation is also tinted (possibly by spreading the wavelengths differently or just a simple uniform) then it can be harder to emulate, however if you apply a blur in a separate layer set to an additive or lighten type blending mode then this can be simulated (the Glow OFX plugin in Resolve does this nicely)
  • Vignetting can easily be change in post so that one is simpler
  • CA can also be tweaked in post to some degree if the effects are localised

For example, the Voitglander when wide open has low centre resolution and worse edge resolution, significant hallation, a purple tint, some vignetting, and CA in high contrast areas, however behaves very differently when stopped down.

What can't be simulated (realistically) is having a shallower DoF than the lens, or more resolution.

This leads me to think that an ideal setup might be to get the sharpest lenses you can find that meet your requirements for largest aperture, and either learn to process in post or to get a BPM filter in order to be able to swap easily to a genuine vintage look with flares and hallation (and also learn how to adjust things in post).

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2 hours ago, kye said:

 

This leads me to think that an ideal setup might be to get the sharpest lenses you can find that meet your requirements for largest aperture, and either learn to process in post or to get a BPM filter in order to be able to swap easily to a genuine vintage look with flares and hallation (and also learn how to adjust things in post).

I've mentioned this on here before but you might want to look at Digital Film Tools DFT product.

It actually incorporates the original Tiffen Dfx suite that simulated all of Tiffen's optical filters.

DFT also adds a lot more on top of that in terms of corrections, film simulations and lighting.

At $595 its not particularly cheap but spread that cost across what it can do for multiple lenses, time saved in making your own corrections and saved cost in not buying more and more lenses to chase looks ( ;) ) then its actually pretty reasonable.

There is a 15 day fully functional trial available too so even if you just use that to audition the Tiffen filter looks to make sure you get an approximation of the right strength/combination for the look you're after it would potentially be time well spent.

https://www.digitalfilmtools.com/dft/

 

 

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Just purchased an SLR Magic hyperprime 25mm T0.95 and 10mm T2.1!

Next purchase (maybe today) will be the Z-Cam E2. I have been wanting an internal ProRes cam for a while, and the 10 bit 4K 120 h265 looks great too. With the SLR Magics I should be able to fake a full frame look. Can't wait to test it all out - I'll post results.

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On 10/30/2019 at 11:40 PM, EthanAlexander said:

I think I'm on a "screw buying new lenses I'm spending money on filters and light modifiers" phase. Layering diffusion, colored lighting and practicals, haze, actually caring about incidental bounce enough to use negative fill...  aaaand FINALLY got a black pro mist! Should get to use it out for a talking head shoot on Friday, but so far I'm really liking even just boring test shots.

Haze....

I didn't see you mention that first time around, but it reminds me that I read somewhere that haze is one of the secrets of Hollywood, and that practically every shot has at least some degree of haze, and that fog machines are a staple.

It makes sense and they're highly visible on interior shots in things like The Queen, Peaky Blinders, and other high budget (and gloriously produced) shows.  It might not be so obvious in others but it might still be there and just not calling attention to itself.

On 11/2/2019 at 12:24 AM, EthanAlexander said:

Just purchased an SLR Magic hyperprime 25mm T0.95 and 10mm T2.1!

Next purchase (maybe today) will be the Z-Cam E2. I have been wanting an internal ProRes cam for a while, and the 10 bit 4K 120 h265 looks great too. With the SLR Magics I should be able to fake a full frame look. Can't wait to test it all out - I'll post results.

Any news on this?

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1 hour ago, kye said:

Haze....

I didn't see you mention that first time around, but it reminds me that I read somewhere that haze is one of the secrets of Hollywood, and that practically every shot has at least some degree of haze, and that fog machines are a staple.

It makes sense and they're highly visible on interior shots in things like The Queen, Peaky Blinders, and other high budget (and gloriously produced) shows.  It might not be so obvious in others but it might still be there and just not calling attention to itself.


I've worked on ultra low budget / self funded films / documentaries, which are using haze on basically every single shot they do. 

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3 hours ago, IronFilm said:

I've worked on ultra low budget / self funded films / documentaries, which are using haze on basically every single shot they do. 

I'm not sure if you got to see the final footage (or SOOC) but if you did, was the effect just a general lowering of contrast, or did it typically show off light-rays (eg, through windows) and have other 3d effects?

The reason I ask is that I'm curious if they were just lowering contrast (and perhaps giving a bit more 3D pop to things in the foreground) or was it definitely visible, because the lowering of contrast is something that a lens can approximate, going back to the coatings / BPM type of effects.

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3 hours ago, kye said:

I'm not sure if you got to see the final footage (or SOOC) but if you did, was the effect just a general lowering of contrast, or did it typically show off light-rays (eg, through windows) and have other 3d effects?

The reason I ask is that I'm curious if they were just lowering contrast (and perhaps giving a bit more 3D pop to things in the foreground) or was it definitely visible, because the lowering of contrast is something that a lens can approximate, going back to the coatings / BPM type of effects.

it's like a cheat code. you have a giant diffuser around the room making everything flattering. 

Especially for the light beam from out side the window like this picture 

image.png.26a5b929ecc3af300c897e75cc0ce002.png   

without haze machine it's near impossible to see those 

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