I have had many discussions about the different lens options other than Zeiss ZE’s and Canon’s that mount to the Canon cameras. Zeiss took it to the next level with their Canon mount CP2s and their new Zooms that come out this summer. I support your creative vision. Not what someone tells you is right for the camera or the fact that it has a Canon mount. Test for yourself, push the envelope, and think outside of the lens box.
Using Lomo anamorphics, I think is very interesting. Putting the Kowa’s on the camera will blow your mind with their contrast and flaring abilities. Leica’s deliver everything that the price tag dictates. Using the medium format lenses. I remember when I was working side by side with Herb Ritts, he loved the way Mamiya lenses delivered contrast and a creamy quality which was one of the unique qualities of Herb’s photographs.
Choosing the Right Lens
Lenses are a very personal choice for both a photographer and a cinematographer. They can create a mood and give a certain style to a film that another lens would not. So I ask all of you to experiment with your creativity, to fly and use what makes you shine.
This path requires some altering to your lens of choice which will assist you in delivering images that will work visually and also technically. Duclos Lenses in Canoga Park, CA is doing just that. They have a very intimate, customer service oriented lens altering, cleaning and calibrating. You name it they will do it to your lens company. Most importantly, from a DSLR shooter’s perspective, they do three very essential things. They de-click all of your f-stop rings, which is absolutely essential with the HD platform.
Most of the still lenses that are set on 1/2 stop click increments. By de-clicking the lenses, you can be more exact with your exposures. A 1/3 of a stop increment could be the difference in whether you can hold that beautiful big puffy cloud in the sky and their backlit faces in the frame.
The other essential thing that they do is put black Delrin, perfectly machined standard 32 pitch gauge gear rings on your lenses that are stable and secure, yet you will have the ability to remove them if needed. Almost any lens can be outfitted with gears for the zoom, focus, or iris. Duclos rings to increase the diameter of the lens to give you more of a cinematic throw of focus.
Cinema lenses have markings that are inscribed on the lens barrel from minimum focus to infinity and they are spaced out in a way that a focus puller can see them and when you rack focus from 5 feet to infinity it is not a 1/8 of an inch away on your focus wheel or remote follow focus handset.
This is great for a still photographer because the auto focus does not have to travel a long distance which makes it fast to grab focus on what you are lensing. But when making movies you need more distance between footage marks. This is so important when it comes to understanding motion. Your focus is an extension of your creative vision. It can misdirect the audience and assist in showing the viewer where the director wants them to look or bring attention to an emotion, etc.
So when you mount a larger diameter ring on a still lens, you expand the distance between 5 feet and infinity. This then gives the lens more of a cinematic feel. When you rack focus from someone in the background to an object or person in the foreground it has a smooth focus throw, done with the speed that you prefer. If it is a horror film and you want to build suspense maybe the rack to the F.G. is slow and builds tension, or if you want to use it for a scare tactic the rack can be incredibly fast to reveal.
8mm front ring
The third thing that Duclos does is to install an 80mm front ring, which will accept an inside 77mm thread. Now all lenses have the same front size ring. This is a must for speed when you are shooting. With still lenses, you have all diameters and sizes, this keeps it all one size. Which means you only have to buy one ND filtration size. This saves money, and time. Paul at Duclos has put these 3 essential modifications to your lens in a pkg., called the Cine Mod for a discounted price.
Dream, create, and think out of the box. Take lenses that no one would think of using and experiment. What about plastic lenses? I want to see that!
Looking for mentorship in the film industry? Schedule a 1-on-1 meeting with Shane Hurlbut, ASC today! This is where you can get expert advice from an industry professional on your career or a particular project.
About Filmmakers Academy Cinematographer Mentor Shane Hurlbut, ASC
Director of photography Shane Hurlbut, ASC works at the forefront of cinema. He’s a storyteller, innovator, and discerning collaborator, who brings more than three decades of experience to his art. He is a member of the American Society of Cinematographers, the International Cinematographers Guild/Local 600, and The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Hurlbut frequently joins forces with great directors: McG’s Netflix Rim of the World and The Babysitter, plus Warner Bros. We Are Marshall and Terminator: Salvation; Scott Waugh’s Need for Speed and Act of Valor; and Gabriele Muccino’s There Is No Place Like Home and Fathers and Daughters. His additional film credits include Semi-Pro; The Greatest Game Ever Played; Into the Blue; Mr 3000; Drumline; 11:14, which earned Hurlbut a DVDX nomination; and The Skulls. Notably, his television credits include the first season of AMC’s Into the Badlands.