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Promit Roy

Low light performance at deep DOF

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I mainly buy f2 or f2.8 lenes as thats the dof Im looking for and I can use them wide open ; like the Nikon 28-70mm f2.8 - great wide open good fully usable sharpness at f2.8

 

or the Tokina/Angenieux 28-70mm f2.6-2.8 now that has an artistic sweet spot at fully wide open and f4 thats where the magic is looks wise .

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Would love to use them, but since weight is one of my key issues i am searching for something like nikon focal reducer + 35 f2.0 so that i get close to 25mm on m43... 

 

Like we discussed in the lenses topic, character is key.

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Guest Ebrahim Saadawi

Andy's though is quite interesting to me too. I do like to use my lens wide open, it's where the image gets really pretty, so if I want a slightly deep dof when doing that, then s35 is better than fullframe, because when using full frame to get the full lens character (viggenette, bokeh edges, distortion, swirl, corner softness) you will need to have a very shallow depth of field.

It's just that lenses behave on s35 as they do s35 mm film on big features, full frame is a different look so that's a factor to consider.

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It's just that lenses behave on s35 as they do s35 mm film on big features, full frame is a different look so that's a factor to consider.

 

yes exactly if you read American Cinematographer each month you will see most features shoot in the f2- f2.8 for night stuff

and f2.8 - f4 - f5.6 for day stuff....in general roughly speaking , every cinematographer has their own style , some set a stop and shoot the whole film to that stop  ..like Darius Khondji shot Alien Resurestion at f2.8 for almost the entire film so it kept a uniform look .   

I can't to that kind of stuff on full frame so I stopped using my Canons......

 

When Shane Hurlbut shot Act Of Valor on Canon 5ds and Full Frame Zeiss primes he had to shoot at around or below f4 or f5.6 to get the look they wanted anything faster was just tooooo narrow dof on full frame .

 

proper modern cinema lenses are designed to work sharp fully wide open.

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I think it's hard to give a one answer suits all for this.

 

Devil is in the detail. If you're focused on infinity with a wide angle lens and there's nothing in the foreground within 5 meters, then A7S is clearly going to be better in low light even though the 'deep depth of field' is a little less deep on the A7S shot, that shot will look the same as the GH4 because nothing will be out of focus.

 

APS-C crop mode on the A7S still benefits from the massive 9 micron pixels so we should compare that 1.5x crop to GH4's 2.3 crop in the DOF calculations, not full frame. There A7S will be cleaner on all shots, just not by as much.

 

The GH4 gets a bad rap in low light, it's not so bad actually. The reference point should be Super 35m film which gets noisy at 800 ASA and $25,000 cinema cameras which get noisy at ISO 3200. By those standards the GH4 is perfectly fine. The A7S is an alien from another planet, an exception.

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as you say the Sony is alot better than a Canon in low light so its the exception to the rule ,

 

Its all about what ever you are used to working with

I came from Super16 for along time, Super 35 then DigiBeta Cam and B4 lenses , then 5D , then Panasonic because of your work on the GH2 .

So I'm used to small gate/ frame size .

And this past year now there are so many good speedboosters for Panasonic cameras it has transformed Panasonics into very serious workable cameras that have a Super 35mm field of view - you can use all those focal lengths exactly as you can on Super 35.

 

Also don't forget Directors like David Fincher de noise everything they shoot on Red Cameras in post, so its all cleaned up - Red Epic is noisy in the blacks too its not super clean.

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The GH4 gets a bad rap in low light, it's not so bad actually. The reference point should be Super 35m film which gets noisy at 800 ASA and $25,000 cinema cameras which get noisy at ISO 3200. By those standards the GH4 is perfectly fine. The A7S is an alien from another planet, an exception.

No one uses that benchmark it seems!

 

I started with stills, and m4/3 is now better than nearly every single film I've used back on 35mm (I'm excluding certain low ISO emulsions which had incredible resolution). I still get plenty of idiots saying shit like "you should get full frame so it's like the film camera you used to have."

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Indeed. I get a little irked when people repeatedly talk about noise in the shadows. I've never shot motion picture film, but I have shot 35mm stills and even with ISO 400 film, there is a lot of noise and a lot less detail than digital cameras.

 

Getting back to the topic of apertures. Yes f2 on m43 has the equivalent aperture of f2.8 on s35 (f4 on full frame), which is often cited as the sweet spot for cinematography. So yes you do somewhat negate the noise difference. But one of the advantages of using a full frame I guess is that they have a 24-105mm f4 lens (or 24-120 for nikon and 24-70 for Sony FE) with optical stabilsation. No such zoom lens with equivalent aperture exists for m43. This is something that constantly bugs me; making me want to change or add to my gear.

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yes exactly if you read American Cinematographer each month you will see most features shoot in the f2- f2.8 for night stuff
and f2.8 - f4 - f5.6 for day stuff....in general roughly speaking , every cinematographer has their own style , some set a stop and shoot the whole film to that stop  ..like Darius Khondji shot Alien Resurestion at f2.8 for almost the entire film so it kept a uniform look .   
I can't to that kind of stuff on full frame so I stopped using my Canons......
 
proper modern cinema lenses are designed to work sharp fully wide open.


I know that the objective on this and many other forums is to make images that are as like the movies as much as possible (which is odd considering how much is talked about the camera bodies themselves rather than the lighitng.. but I digress)...
But doing something because someone else is doing it is an awful reason to do it.
 
Yes, a lot of films are shot on S35 sized sensors (or celluloid) and are often shot at T2-2.8 or T4-5.6. 
That doesn't mean that it's right for you, or your style of shooting, or for your film.
 
I've shot at T8 in the past. I've shot entire movies at T1.3 for a certain look. If you do things because 'that's how the professionals do it' you will never develop your own style and you will always be second rate. 
If you want to do anything like the pros do - light like the pros do. That's what will make an actual difference to the look of your image.
 
You are correct when you say that cinema lenses are designed to be sharp wide open. With a modern cinema lens, the characteristics of the lens and the sharpness tend to be the same whether you're wide open or stopped down. 
I think it's unfair to compare them to s till lenses which are made to a price point, and which don't have the same quality. You can say 'feature films often shoot at T2.8 all the time, so that's where I'm going to shoot' but feature films are shooting on lenses that are sharp at T2.8. Many still lenses won't ever be as sharp as cinema lenses, let alone wide open. There's a certain DOF aesthetic and certain aesthetic to shooting wide open or close to on stills lenses, but the lenses are so different to cinema lenses that you can't really accurately compare them and use that as an argument.
 
 

The GH4 gets a bad rap in low light, it's not so bad actually. The reference point should be Super 35m film which gets noisy at 800 ASA and $25,000 cinema cameras which get noisy at ISO 3200. By those standards the GH4 is perfectly fine. The A7S is an alien from another planet, an exception.

 
 
It goes back to what I say above - most enthusiasts would rather shoot at ISO 20,000 without lights than put the time and effort into learning how to light. Indeed, shaping and crafting light is what Cinematography is! Not what's the best camera, or what camera has the best low light.
 
S35 was grainy even at 500ASA! 
 
I'd rather shoot S35 on 160ASA film and a 5-ton grip/lx truck than shoot on an A7s at 51,000 ISO and no lights. Now, I own an A7s and it's cool that it has great low light ability. But it was not the reason I bought it - in fact, I sat there watching the demo with a friend of mine and I said to him 'look it's cool that it has that kind of low light performance... but really, when would you ever use it?! It's not like I'm going to shoot a film in the pitch blackness without lights..'
 
 
 

Also don't forget Directors like David Fincher de noise everything they shoot on Red Cameras in post, so its all cleaned up - Red Epic is noisy in the blacks too its not super clean.

 
Fincher does a lot of things.. .that cost time and money ;) It's great when you have that kind of budget.
 
RED Dragon is incredibly noisy in the shadows even at ISO800 if you don't expose it correctly. I rarely rate a RED over about 320ISO because it can start getting so noisy.

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Lots to think about here. Thanks everyone - happy to hear more thoughts from others as well.

 

I am personally fairly young and got into all this stuff only three or four years ago, so the idea of beating out film is totally foreign to me. I'm coming in fresh and trying to figure out where I'm at. Currently very happy with the GH4, but always on the lookout for the next big thing...

 

Funny you guys should mention Fincher. Got to chat with him when he was filming Social Network on our campus.

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I know that the objective on this and many other forums is to make images that are as like the movies as much as possible (which is odd considering how much is talked about the camera bodies themselves rather than the lighitng.. but I digress)...
But doing something because someone else is doing it is an awful reason to do it.
 
Yes, a lot of films are shot on S35 sized sensors (or celluloid) and are often shot at T2-2.8 or T4-5.6. 
That doesn't mean that it's right for you, or your style of shooting, or for your film.
 
I've shot at T8 in the past. I've shot entire movies at T1.3 for a certain look. If you do things because 'that's how the professionals do it' you will never develop your own style and you will always be second rate. 
If you want to do anything like the pros do - light like the pros do. That's what will make an actual difference to the look of your image.
 
You are correct when you say that cinema lenses are designed to be sharp wide open. With a modern cinema lens, the characteristics of the lens and the sharpness tend to be the same whether you're wide open or stopped down. 
I think it's unfair to compare them to s till lenses which are made to a price point, and which don't have the same quality. You can say 'feature films often shoot at T2.8 all the time, so that's where I'm going to shoot' but feature films are shooting on lenses that are sharp at T2.8. Many still lenses won't ever be as sharp as cinema lenses, let alone wide open. There's a certain DOF aesthetic and certain aesthetic to shooting wide open or close to on stills lenses, but the lenses are so different to cinema lenses that you can't really accurately compare them and use that as an argument.
 

 
 
 Jax-rox

as a Moderator on this forum the single most asked question I get is how can I make my dslr shoot a 'Hollywood look' and what lenses do I need to do that economically without spending loads of cash.

 

I get asked that question day after day .......my inbox is full of them ....  thats what people want to know on here and they want to know what stops to shoot at too

Too many noobs put a kit lens on and shoot f16 outside and wonder why it looks like video . Getting the right stop is essential to get the look.

 

I came from a film background shooting super 16mm on Zeiss and Angenieux with Aaton and Arri bodies -

The 15 years I spent doing that was the time I developed my own style of shooting and lighting -(my garage is full of lights!) nothing beats shooting on set day after day year after year .Then digial came along 10 years ago and I switched and never looked back.

I didnt go to film school I got thrown in at the deep end having to Direct hi end expensive pop videos for MTV , week after week.

 you cant buy experience you have to earn it..

 

There are alot of great dslr lenses especially by Zeiss, Nikon, Tokina  and Angenieux that are optically just as good as cinema lenses (you can shoot fully wide open all day on them ) and thats what I pass onto people on this forum freely as they want to know what they can readily afford to use on their Dslrs and mirrorless cameras now .

I have made a point of hunting down the still lenses that are used on big features , DPs like  Roberto Schaefer, Trent Opaloch, Newton Thomas Sigel, Phil Meheux , Oliver Woods and Barry Ackroyd regularly use them on big movies and now alot of members on this forum are using them too - the knowledge is filtering down to new users and democratising film making - which I am all for.

When I started shooting film was very expensive .

 

 

You came from film school , focus pulling and now a DP , which is a great route to come from in today digital times , so how about you posting your tips on how you shoot your films and your stops and lenses and lighting choises .

These are the things people on here want to know from you.

I'm sure the forum members will like to hear about any new developments you are coming across on a daily basis.

I know I do .

 

I look forward to reading some posts from you

 

thanks for that.

Andy

 

 

 

 

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as a Moderator on this forum the single most asked question I get is how can I make my dslr shoot a 'Hollywood look' and what lenses do I need to do that economically without spending loads of cash.
 
I get asked that question day after day .......my inbox is full of them ....  thats what people want to know on here and they want to know what stops to shoot at too
Too many noobs put a kit lens on and shoot f16 outside and wonder why it looks like video . Getting the right stop is essential to get the look.
 
I came from a film background shooting super 16mm on Zeiss and Angenieux with Aaton and Arri bodies -
The 15 years I spent doing that was the time I developed my own style of shooting and lighting -(my garage is full of lights!) nothing beats shooting on set day after day year after year .Then digial came along 10 years ago and I switched and never looked back.
I didnt go to film school I got thrown in at the deep end having to Direct hi end expensive pop videos for MTV , week after week.
 you cant buy experience you have to earn it..
 
There are alot of great dslr lenses especially by Zeiss and Nikon and Angenieux that are optically just as good as cinema lenses (you can shoot fully wide open all day on them ) and thats what I pass onto people on this forum freely as they want to know what they can readily afford to use on their Dslrs and mirrorless cameras now .
I have made a point of hunting down the still lenses that are used on big features , DPs like  Roberto Schaefer, Trent Opaloch, Newton Thomas Sigel, Phil Meheux , Oliver Woods and Barry Ackroyd regularly use them on big movies and now alot of members on this forum are using them too - the knowledge is filtering down to new users and democratising film making - which I am all for.
When I started shooting film was very expensive .


Don't get me wrong, I don't disagree with all that you're saying. And my post was not to single out yourself in particular, it was meant as a general statement.

I've seen your recommendation for the Nikon 28-70 zoom on here in the past - and it is in fact a lens I've used on commercials! (So - good reccomendation ;))

I just see so many newbies these days rushing out to buy the latest and greatest camera body, and spend hours looking online to find the right profile, or the right settings that's going to make their picture look the most cinematic.
I think it's just really important to look at what Cinematography really is, and what actually makes you a Cinematographer - and it's really not got much to do with what camera you use, and definitely has very little to do with what the in-camera sharpness or saturation setting is at.

I've shot outdoors on sunny days at T11. The Australian sun is unforgiving. We had an incomplete ND set, so I had an ND1.5 in and still had to stop down to T11.
It wasn't (just ;)) the fact that we were shooting on Alexa that made those couple of shots still look good, and indeed cinematic - it was more where I put the camera and how I shaped the light in that spot.

My eye and my lighting is what gets me work, and is what people like about my work - It's not the cameras I shoot on, or the stop I shoot at. Perhaps evidenced by the fact that nearly every project I shoot is shot on a different camera.

All cameras are tools. And all lenses have a different look, different stops have different looks and depth of field characteristics. I think most people would agree and say 'duh obviously.' But if you want to be a DP, your choices should all be driven by the story, not what looks the 'coolest' or the most 'cinematic.'
I've shot things that don't look cool, don't look cinematic, and don't mimic what professionals are doing on their major features.
But it's what the story called for and it worked with the story. The Director and I both loved the look.

As I'm sure you're well aware, something looking cinematic has very little to do with shooting at f/16 outside.

Now, I don't make a habit of shooting at that extreme a stop, but I do shoot there, and if the story called for a look that suggested shooting stopped down that much, I would go for it.

All I'm trying to say is that a shooter will never understand the 'how' until they understand the 'why'. And blindly rushing out to buy or use gear simply because 'that's what x does and their stuff looks really good' is missing the point completely. I know that's not what you're going for, but it can be interpreted as such - and you will never succeed as a DP if all you do is copy those better than you. You're right - you can't buy experience you have to earn it. But how does a newbie even know they need more experience if they're told that all they need is x camera, y lens, and z settings and their image will be just as good as anything you see in a movie (again I know this isn't what you're saying, but as a more general comment).
You could give a newbie an Alexa with Master Primes and a full set of NDs or a RED Dragon with Leicas and they still wouldn't shoot stuff that looks as good anything shot by Roger Deakins or Jeff Cronenweth.
As evidenced by the fact that one of the most awful-looking films I've ever seen was shot by someone I know who was never really a DP, but thought they could be. Shot it on RED Epic in 5K, and it's the most awful thing I've ever seen - even worse than many home videos I've seen shot on DSLR.

I think if you want to be a professional shooter, you should build up some experience on kit lenses, or whatever you have. Just get out and shoot and find what you like. Your style might not be shooting on Angie zooms and Cooke Primes wide open. That's cool. Your style might be. Maybe I'm being too pretentious with this whole give a man a fish/teach a man to fish thing...

I would love to share my knowledge about how I work and my lighting choices etc. This seems to be mostly a gear forum, so perhaps I'm posting in the wrong place.

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Exactly !

most of the people are on this forum to learn how to extract evey last drop of value out of their dslr or mirrorless camera.

 

You are an exception to that as you are shooting on hi end cameras and lenses 95% of people on here are not .

Alot of people on here dont own lights either......

 

Its not the Reduser forum this , its more about how to get your DSLR ticked out and working to the max with some nice lenses.

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Exactly !

most of the people are on this forum to learn how to extract evey last drop of value out of their dslr or mirrorless camera.

 

You are an exception to that as you are shooting on hi end cameras and lenses 95% of people on here are not .

Alot of people on here dont own lights either......

 

Its not the Reduser forum this , its more about how to get your DSLR ticked out and working to the max with some nice lenses.

 

While I agree, if people keep asking how to shoot cinematic footage, Jax is highlighting (no pun intended) an important area. Sometimes it can be as simple and cheap as proper positioning or using reflectors. I know that at least myself (being an absolute amateur) want to start paying more attention to lighting as well.

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