View Full Version : Different lenses for different looks

07-30-2012, 07:58 AM
I know that many TV series use the Arri Alexa with various lenses to obtain various looks. Puberty blues looks very soft which works well giving it a retro look. Many daily TV shows have a sharp look with the same camera using a different lense.

Does anyone know the camera and lenses used for the Australian TV series "Home and Away" as the look is very common for many Australian programs and TV programs worldwide? Its a very clean sharp look which regularly used for TV commercials. I'm mainly interested in what lenses are being used.


07-30-2012, 08:06 AM
I too am curious but to a wider scope as in tv shows, tv spots and movies (if all possible).
I'm just learning this craft now and come from a heavy 3D/Motion Design background.
Haven't ordered any lenses yet but have access to numerous resources at work and others :)
Maybe this topic can be helpful too all newcomers.

07-30-2012, 08:20 AM
I'm very interested in slowly buying good lenses that I really want. No regrets :)

Matthew Sonnenfeld
07-30-2012, 08:30 AM
From what I can tell, Home and Away does not publish their cameras and lenses in their technical aspects (you can find these often on IMDB).

As for the general question, a good rule of thumb will be that sharper glass is newer. Vintage glass may give more of a unique look while new glass will give a uniform, edge to edge sharpness. This is of course when talking in terms of high end. There is plenty of low end new glass that won't give edge to edge sharpness. When you're talking movies and commercials though, you're usually looking at PL mount glass, most often Zeiss or Cooke. Zeiss has the Compact Primes, which are beautiful but considered budget, and then they have the Ultra Primes and the Master Primes. Cooke has the Panchros, the S4i, and the 5i. Cooke lenses are designed to give a softer looks (though by no means "soft") while Zeiss are very sharp.

But that's the way of high end cinema glass. In the world of still photo lenses like Canon and Nikon, you purely get what you pay for. Sharper with better color is simply more expensive glass. Very little talk about characteristics unless you start talking Leica lenses which are distinctive in themselves. Sure there are characteristics of individual lenses, but they are made to be the best all a rounders at a specific focal length, not to give an individual look like the Cooke look.

Almost forgot, in TV you can also be looking at Fujinon very often for commercials, news and sports, even some episodic TV. Fujinon and Canon are actually two of the main makers of lenses for 2/3" shoulder mount cameras. Fujinon also some makes EXCELLENT PL mount zoom lenses, branded under Arri as the Alura Zooms.

Jason M.
07-30-2012, 08:37 AM
Just remember that very likely, you won't be able to use the same lenses that are used on the Alexa (or any other film camera frequently used on TV productions); it's a PL-mount camera (whereas BMC is Canon EF), and the sensor size is Super35 format, which is substantially larger than the sensor on the BMC. So the same lenses on the Alexa, if you can even get them to fit via an adapter, won't look the same on the BMC. Sharpness and contrast characteristics will be similar, of course, but the perspective will be quite different.

Vincent Thomas
07-30-2012, 08:49 AM
The perspective will be the same. A 35mm lens is a 35mm lens , on the alexa or on a BMC.
But i see what you mean...

__________________________________________________ ________

Vincent Thomas
Artist for Film / Photograph & Creative Director

Jason M.
07-30-2012, 09:02 AM
The perspective will be the same. A 35mm lens is a 35mm lens , on the alexa or on a BMC.
But i see what you mean...

Sorry, hasty choice of words on my part. The effective FoV will be different on the two cameras, which will still present some problems for using the lenses on the BMC.

07-30-2012, 09:09 AM
The PL lense on the BMCC in France caught my interest

07-30-2012, 09:16 AM
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/721926-REG/Zeiss_1839_792_LWZ_2_Lightweight_15_5_45mm_T2_6.ht ml

Sorry, it's an EF mount lense ...

Jason M.
07-30-2012, 09:19 AM
Even better: it's got an interchangeable mount. The downside? It costs $30K. Sweet lens.

07-30-2012, 09:24 AM
What about the second hand Cooke 20-100mm zoom lenses that pop up on reduser from time to time? Too soft for what I'm looking for?

This one sold for $4,700 USD




Matthew Sonnenfeld
07-30-2012, 04:56 PM
Personally I really like the look of the Cookes. And remember, I'm not saying that they're "soft." Rather that they are softer than some other alternatives. But this is all part of the look and what makes a lens unique and gives it character. I like the charcacter of Cooke lenses and I would probably go with them if I had the money to get what I wanted. I also like them as a company. Look them up, very interesting.

Another thing to keep in mind with the BMCC is that only some PL mount zooms will fit regardless of adapter. Primes will not be able to fit due to the size of the back of the lens. It knocks into the internals of the EF mount. This is why the modded 7D's from Hot Rod Cameras have all of the mount's internals completely gutted. Even though the diameter is wide enough, the inside is not. Zooms however can often have a much smaller back and therefore don't go deep enough inside the body to hit the internals.

John Brawley
07-30-2012, 11:51 PM
I know that many TV series use the Arri Alexa with various lenses to obtain various looks. Puberty blues looks very soft which works well giving it a retro look. Many daily TV shows have a sharp look with the same camera using a different lense.

It's a very subjective thing that goes beyond the choice of camera and even lenses.

It comes about from those choices but you also need to consider, staging. Where do the actors stand in relation to each other and how do they move through the scene and THEN, where you decide to put the camera to "cover" that scene.

I can have the camera 8' away and shoot the two actors in mid shot with a 35mm lens or I can move the camera further away to 30' away and shoot the same size frame, two actors in a mid shot, but now I'd use a 150mm to get the same size frame. Thos two shots will look COMPLETELY different even though they have same visual ingredients...two people standing together in a mid shot.

I'm not sure TODAY what home & away is shot on, but back when i worked as a focus puller on a lot of network promo's they were shooting on 2/3" cameras, even once they migrated to HD. That, on top of the fact that they shoot 26 odd mins of screen time PER DAY means that you have to take shortcuts.

Shortcuts are three cameras in studio, 2 on location. Lighting for three let alone two cameras is also near impossible to make anything of.

On Puberty Blues (where we averages 8-10 mins per day) we used the oldest functional lenses we could find, and we also chose to use very long focal lengths. We also had some Cookes as well. And it's not so much that they are soft, but they do have some lovely "flaws". It's the imperfections that are nice. Now that demands a few things. It means you have to stage the action to suit the established visual style. And you have to have locations that can accommodate that. Not much point in going for long lenses if all the scenes are shot in a bathroom.


07-31-2012, 07:28 AM
Thanks John