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Oliver Daniel

Lenses with character

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I love lenses with character.

 

I prefer to use vintage lenses as they come with some character, whether that be weird bokeh, lens flares, distortion or close-focusing wide lenses - a lot of this stuff you don't get on modern electronic lenses in exchange for AF and IS. 

 

I love lenses that flare like crazy such as the Helios 44-2, yellow coated Super Takumars (like the 55mm) and the strange Mir 1B 37mm - all very creamy, odd and unique looking. 

 

I absolutely love wide lenses that have a very close focusing distance, so you can get this rather intense, beautiful close-up with a massive, shallow background. The SLR Magic 12mm is a favourite and I believe (although not used) Contax Zeiss 28mm 2.8 "Hollywood" achieve this. 

 

Modern lenses such as the Samyang/Rokinon Cine DS line  are fantastic for having gears, de-clicked apertures and almost the same filter thread size across the range (very useful stuff I want) - but having never used them, are they worth the punt for a guy who much prefers some personality in the glass? 

 

What lenses do you use that have some kind of "character"? Speak up!!

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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

Tokina RMC 28-85mm f4 - low contrast lens that flares like crazy - loads of filmic character.

The 'Helios' of zoom lenses!!

 

vlcsnap-2014-11-09-11h17m03s196'' target='_blank'>vlcsnap-2014-11-09-11h17m03s196> vlcsnap-2014-11-09-11h17m03s196

 

vlcsnap-2014-11-09-11h17m47s130'' target='_blank'>vlcsnap-2014-11-09-11h17m47s130> vlcsnap-2014-11-09-11h17m47s130

 

the other 2 zooms that are part of the RMC range also have alot of character

the TOKINA RMC 28-70MM f4 and the Tokina RMC 25-50mm f4

 

stick them on speedboosters and they are very usable f2.8 zooms!

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Guest Ebrahim Saadawi

Such helpful suggestions Andy. There is absolutely no way I would have found those lenses anywhere else!

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I don't have a huge amount of experience with different lenses but my favorite few are...

1, 50mm Lomo Squarefront Anamorphic Lens

2. Lomo Foton 37-140mm

3. Helios 40.

 

The helios has the most character of any of my lenses, it is most usable when stopped down a bit but wide open has very stark and interesting colors, soft swirly bokeh, and a very  dream like quality. Stopped down it retains a lot of its character but is almost like a different lens, colors and contrast change quite a bit. Since it does have swirly bokeh I tend to use it more for stills than video though.

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Thanks Andy, always a great help.

 

I love lenses that flare - Canon FD's can produce lovely flares with a bit of work and they are really cheap. 

 

Have you used the Contax Zeiss "Hollywood?" I love the look a wide angle can produce when focused on a very close subject. The SLR Magic 12mm is almost a macro in that respect! 

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Thanks for sharing Andy. I went ahead and snagged one on Ebay just now. I've been searching for a second lens lately; my Nikkor 50mm 1:1.4 is great and I been enjoy using it but I think a zoom lens would be a welcomed addition for day-time shooting.

 

Any other lens that might sparks some interest in this noobie?

 

I'm currently using a GH4 with a Nikon-MFT Speed Booster.

 

The Helios looks pretty attractive but I'm not sure how it could be adapted (M42) to fit onto the Speed Booster's taking mount (Nikon) and what kind of performance I may get from it, since I really want to keep infinity focusing. Any idea guys? All help/input appreciated!

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M42 will not work on a Nikon mount without loosing infinity focus. You would need to pick up a adapter or speed booster for EF or M42. The RJ speed booster is quite good if you don't want to spend $650 for the metabones one. RJ will take best offers for $95 for his. Being able to use m42 lenses is a big plus since there are a ton of cheap m42 lenses out there.

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Thank you for the tip Dhessel. I didn't see the M42-MFT booster adapter on the RJ website but I emailed them and they responded back in 5 minutes saying that they will put more up in stock in a few hours! Quickest reply I've ever gotten from a merchant, Awesome!

From the review it look like the RJ speed booster is pretty quality stuff as well. I may consider getting a Canon EF one sometimes in the future, since I've been eyeing some vintage canon lenses to add to my collection.

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Thanks Andy, always a great help.

 

I love lenses that flare - Canon FD's can produce lovely flares with a bit of work and they are really cheap. 

 

Have you used the Contax Zeiss "Hollywood?" I love the look a wide angle can produce when focused on a very close subject. The SLR Magic 12mm is almost a macro in that respect! 

 

Same here, I am also very interested in the Zeiss with the "hollywood" look. I wonder though if it will be wide enough on a APS-c sized sensor to get that look.

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the whole Carl Zeiss Distagon 'Hollywood' look is all referanced to Super 35mm film field of view (in dslr terms thats APSC or micro 4/3 WITH a speedbooster to give a Super 35mm Field of view)

 

The Carl Zeiss Distagon f2 28mm lens has this reputation and the nick name 'Hollywood' in referance to it giving a similar look to a 27mm Carl Zeiss Master Prime Cinema Lens or a Zeiss Ultra prime 28mm

 

The Zeiss Master Primes is in fact a 27mm lens not a 28mm like the Distagon.

It's is David Fincher's favourite lens and used alot on all of his films plus DOPs like Roger Deakins use Zeiss Master Primes alot and large postions of the James Bond film Skyfall where shot on a Zeiss 27mm Master Prime.

 

 

To get the 'Hollywood' look with the Carl Zeiss Distagon 28mm f2 you need to shoot with it WIDE OPEN at f2

Its a very good expensive lens because it is sharp wide open at f2 - it is very very usable there!

If you shoot with this lens at f5.6 it just looks like any other 28mm lens - BUT VERY SHARP!

 

The 'look' is wide open at f2.

 

The other month I was fliming with a 2 camera set up and I wanted the same lens on both cameras.

I only have one Zeiss 28mm lens I was using on camera 1 on a Lens Turbo speesbooster on a g6

so I came up with a very good alternative for camera 2 that looks practically the same as the Zeiss.

 

Here is how I did it- poor mans Distagon 28mm f2

 

you take a Canon new FD (nFD) 28mm f2.8 and put it on an RJ canon fd - micro 4/3 speed booster - this gives you the Super 35mm field of view like you need and makes the lens f2 which gives you that look - the speed booster also sharpens the lens so its now of similar sharpness to the Zeiss .

 

When I cut between camera 1 and camera 2 in the edit it worked great both looked the same!

 

The Canon fd lens has the same warm look and great blacks like the Zeiss and its now f2!!

 

So there you have it Hollywood 28mm f2 lens look on the cheap !!

 

If you are serious about getting a Hollywood look on all your footage the three focal lengths you need to be using

they are

28mm , 40mm and 70mm all shot at f2 all the time in a Suoer 35mm field of view (so APSC or Micro 4/3 on a speedbooster)

 

28mm for the wides

70mm for all the close up head shots

and 40mm for all the rest the coverage shots

(use a 50mm lens if you don't have a 40mm lens and take 3 steps backwards!! haha that ususally gives the same look)

 

 

and for all of you that read about me harping on about the Nikon 28-70mm f2.8 'Bourne' zoom lens will see it covers all those focal lengths I have mentioned above in just one lens - instant Hollywood in one lens !!  stick it on a speed booster and  that makes it the all magic f2 you need to get the 'look'

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Just a short question. I have the Speed Booster myself and I love it. But 1 thing was never really clear to me.

 

It makes the lens wider by 0.71x. That is clear. It also increases illumination with 1 f-stop. That is clear also.

But is that also in terms of DoF? Or only in terms of gathering light?

 

So does a f2.8 DOF becomes the same as f2.0 DOF with a Speed Booster? Or does the DOF remain the same but does it gather the same light as f2.0?

 

Back on topic. I have the Sigma 18-35mm and while it is not an old legacy lens in any way, it has a lot of character and doesn't look nearly as 'clinical' as my friends' Lumix 12-35mm. World of difference there. It's my favourite lens for sure.

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Guest Ebrahim Saadawi

Yes Stab it changes depth of field too. A 2.8 full frame lens with a speedbooster has the depth of field and exposure of an f1.8-2.

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this the main trick with speedboosters it has opens up a whole new way of getting this great fast Hollywood lens looks BUT with cheaper f2.8 lenses used in conjunction with the speedbooster to get the look .

 

Also all those older f4 constant apperture zooms no one wants on ebay are now very very good f2.8 zooms with a speedbooster -

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the whole Carl Zeiss Distagon 'Hollywood' look is all referanced to Super 35mm film field of view (in dslr terms thats APSC or micro 4/3 WITH a speedbooster to give a Super 35mm Field of view)

 

The Carl Zeiss Distagon f2 28mm lens has this reputation and the nick name 'Hollywood' in referance to it giving a similar look to a 27mm Carl Zeiss Master Prime Cinema Lens or a Zeiss Ultra prime 28mm

 

The Zeiss Master Primes is in fact a 27mm lens not a 28mm like the Distagon.

It's is David Fincher's favourite lens and used alot on all of his films plus DOPs like Roger Deakins use Zeiss Master Primes alot and large postions of the James Bond film Skyfall where shot on a Zeiss 27mm Master Prime.

 

 

To get the 'Hollywood' look with the Carl Zeiss Distagon 28mm f2 you need to shoot with it WIDE OPEN at f2

Its a very good expensive lens because it is sharp wide open at f2 - it is very very usable there!

If you shoot with this lens at f5.6 it just looks like any other 28mm lens - BUT VERY SHARP!

 

The 'look' is wide open at f2.

 

The other month I was fliming with a 2 camera set up and I wanted the same lens on both cameras.

I only have one Zeiss 28mm lens I was using on camera 1 on a Lens Turbo speesbooster on a g6

so I came up with a very good alternative for camera 2 that looks practically the same as the Zeiss.

 

Here is how I did it- poor mans Distagon 28mm f2

 

you take a Canon new FD (nFD) 28mm f2.8 and put it on an RJ canon fd - micro 4/3 speed booster - this gives you the Super 35mm field of view like you need and makes the lens f2 which gives you that look - the speed booster also sharpens the lens so its now of similar sharpness to the Zeiss .

 

When I cut between camera 1 and camera 2 in the edit it worked great both looked the same!

 

The Canon fd lens has the same warm look and great blacks like the Zeiss and its now f2!!

 

So there you have it Hollywood 28mm f2 lens look on the cheap !!

 

If you are serious about getting a Hollywood look on all your footage the three focal lengths you need to be using

they are

28mm , 40mm and 70mm all shot at f2 all the time in a Suoer 35mm field of view (so APSC or Micro 4/3 on a speedbooster)

 

28mm for the wides

70mm for all the close up head shots

and 40mm for all the rest the coverage shots

(use a 50mm lens if you don't have a 40mm lens and take 3 steps backwards!! haha that ususally gives the same look)

 

 

and for all of you that read about me harping on about the Nikon 28-70mm f2.8 'Bourne' zoom lens will see it covers all those focal lengths I have mentioned above in just one lens - instant Hollywood in one lens !!  stick it on a speed booster and  that makes it the all magic f2 you need to get the 'look'

 

Hey thanks for the answer Andy!

So if I understood well, i can have the same result with the Carl Zeiss Distagon 28mm 2.8? But with a lens booster on my Gx7?

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Hey thanks for the answer Andy!

So if I understood well, i can have the same result with the Carl Zeiss Distagon 28mm 2.8? But with a lens booster on my Gx7?

 

Pretty much. The speed booster give you an extra stop of light, so an f2.8 become something similar to an f2, and an f1.8 would be something like f1.2 or f1. Depends on the speed booster (expensive booster tend to use better glass) you can achieve extra sharpness as well.

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Hey thanks for the answer Andy!

So if I understood well, i can have the same result with the Carl Zeiss Distagon 28mm 2.8? But with a lens booster on my Gx7?

 

 

yes thats the way to think now speedboosters are so good and so cheap - you dont need to spend £800 on just one Zeiss lens anymore!

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28mm , 40mm and 70mm all shot at f2 all the time in a Suoer 35mm field of view (so APSC or Micro 4/3 on a speedbooster)

 

28mm for the wides

70mm for all the close up head shots

and 40mm for all the rest the coverage shots

(use a 50mm lens if you don't have a 40mm lens and take 3 steps backwards!! haha that ususally gives the same look)

Wow Andy, every time I read your comments I learn some amazing things... THANK YOU!
For my G6 and GH4 I rarely use the MFT lenses I have (Olympus 12, 25 and 45) - except the 12 f/2 that comes in handy for wide or handheld - and I use almost always Canon FD 28 f/2.8, 50 f/1.4 and 35-105 f/3.5.  Do you think I could buy other FD lenses? 

I can't find the speed booster you talked about: have you an internet shop where to find it? 

I also have a couple of M42 lenses: a great Zeiss Jena 50 Pancolar and a not so great 29 Pentacon. Do you have some suggestion also on M42 lenses? 

When it is better to use Canon FD and when to use Pancolar? 

Thank you very much for your patience! :)
 

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