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Cinematographer lens "preview"

Aaron Freeder

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I may sound like a total n00b asking this question, but having never actually shot on 35 before I guess this is reasonable to ask.


I was wondering why it seems like a lot of cinematographers appear to be walking around and peeking through a bunch of cinema lenses on sets, such as Wally Pfister in this picture:




or Kubrick here (skip to 3:10) :





I'm guessing they have some type of adapter eyepiece for those expensive pieces of glass, but any info on this would be cool. I can't wait till the day that comes when I get enough money to shoot on an Arri 35 IIC (that's my dream 35 camera atm)

Edited by Aaron Freeder
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It's called a director's viewfinder. It's for framing up shots, without having to move the very heavy camera around. You use the lens you're actually using when you're on set on the day in order to get the right FOV and the like. They also make ones which are just, basically, a zoom lens you look through which have lens "markings," so when you're out scouting you don't have to take out a 90K lens set.

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  • 4 months later...

I bought a directors viewfinder (Birns & Sawyer Hollywood)to arrange and compose shots before I set up my 35mm camera, mine's the compact type which you may have seen hanging around directors necks on set. They're handy, rather than set up heavy equipment only to find the composition isn't working. The compact one I have has a range of settings like shooting ratio's from 1:2,55 wide to 1,33 normal and lenses from 18mm to 200mm on 35mm film. The Arriflex is a great camera, I sold mine and regretted it, nosy as hell though, but handling was really good.

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