Monday, February 15, 2010

Unusual lenses

Unusual lenses, article. Fun little article on a web site which is centered on making video with still cameras. I was caught by one line in particular:
Camera bodies are a tool built on shifting sands, ever improving. But a lens is what most determines the look and style of your film. Whilst people understandably are willing to spend £1500 on a camera body like the 5DMkII which will be obsolete in a few years, generally people are much less willing to spend that kind of money on a lens.

Well said. While I myself have actually bought some fine and expensive lenses, I've noticed that feel more guilty about it than when buying cameras. This is stupid, because like the article says, a lens is even more influential on the image than the camera, and it can be used for decades, whereas digital cameras are outdated in a couple of years.

Did you know that Stan Kubrick filmed Barry Lyndon without any artificial light? With the amazing and rare super-fast (sensitive) Zeiss/NASA 50mm F0.7 lens.
I admire that. I've noticed that modern film makers don't even film outdoors in good light without flooding everything in artificial light. Which of course makes for an artificial look.


Alex wrote:
I was just noticing in "Cat Ballou" yesterday, there was an outdoor shot where Cat (Fonda) was in partial shadow. It looked like a home movie, and it took me a moment to think that that is how things seem outside.
It's strange how when you are out and about the contrast is not as obvious as it is in photos. Does film really deepen shadow, or does our perception filter efficiently?

This is a very interesting question. I think the mind compensates a whole lot. Also, the mind is always busy with significances of things, rather than observing how things look. This is why it's so hard for people to learn how to draw, they keep drawing things how they think they look, instead of how they actually look.

By the way, there's a famous book/method for getting around this, Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain by Betty Edwards.

9 comments:

Alex said...

I was just noticing in "Cat Ballou" yesterday, there was an outdoor shot where Cat (Fonda) was in partial shadow. It looked like a home movie, and it took me a moment to think that that is how things seem outside.

It's strange how when you are out and about the contrast is not as obvious as it is in photos. Does film really deepen shadow, or does our perception filter efficiently?

eolake said...

This is a very interesting question. I think the mind compensates a whole lot. Also, the mind is always busy with significances of things, rather than observing how things look. This is why it's so hard for people to learn how to draw, they keep drawing things how they think they look, instead of how they actually look.

Anna said...

A F:0,7 lens... How come? I thought that is you put a lens as aperture 0,7, the depth of field will be so little there won't be much to see. And if you use a 0,7 lens in 5,6 aperture, it's an 5,6 aperture, like on other lenses that can only go until 5,6...

Si I think there is something that I didn't get. Can you film a landscape in O,7? A full face or body?

Sukiho said...

"It's strange how when you are out and about the contrast is not as obvious as it is in photos. Does film really deepen shadow, or does our perception filter efficiently?"

thats the point I was trying to make about hdr in an earlier thread, when we look at shadow our eyes apertures automatically widen so they dont look at dark as on film, the eye sees more like hdr

eolake said...

It's true a 0.7 lens will have an extremely narrow depth of field, and probably not super-sharp in the focus point either. But you can get a picture in situations where a 2.0 lens can't.

Pascal [P-04referent] said...

You want to talk about special lenses? I'm having fun right now with my newly purchased mirascope.
(Though I didn't upload that movie.)
The hologram illusion is absolutely stunning! The thing is, it's still just an optical illusion. You only see it when your (stereoscopic) gaze dives inside to the coupled parabolic mirrors.

Pascal [P-04referent] said...

Sorry, don't know what happened. Here's the fixed link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgdoLwpGj4o

John D. Linn said...

Wow, that image from Barry Lyndon was immediately recognizable to me after all these years. I remember reading about the fast lenses in Cinematography Journal and being amazed that a lens could be that fast. To this day I have never heard of any other lens being faster than 1.0. I know that Kubrick went to great pains to set shots so the moving camera would be able to keep important subjects in focus. Not a minor undertaking (as usual for Kubrick).

eolake said...

Nuts to even use a moving camera under such conditions. I doubt anybody but Hollywood insiders would notice anyway.