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100mm or 135mm more useful in an anamorphic set of 4?


Dominik Bauch
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In a set of 4 anamorphic lenses, in addition to 35, 50, 75. Which is generally the most useful 4th lens - a 100 or 135?

Obviously totally depends on the situation etc. spherically I tend to like longer focal lengths but I don't have a huge amount of anamorphic experience. i.e. in general would a 100mm will be more useful than a 135....?

 

Also do extenders play well with anamorphic lenses? I have a 2X Angenieux Optimo extender, wondering if that will help if the flange distance works out.

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Choosing focal lengths when buying a set might be one of the most brain-busting things a DoP can do. First and foremost, how big are the areas you shoot in? How often do you shoot outside? How often do you find yourself operating the camera without a tripod?

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All Great questions.

It really varies and I definitely want to be prepared for the future as well. So, while I might not be in large fully controlled spaces now, I can't predict how next year will look etc. As for handheld / tripod, I would say it's an even split. Probably will be a little more on sticks with anamorpjhics stylistically speaking, depending on what I'm shooting obviously.

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Probably a 100mm if you want to keep your increments more evenly spaced. But it really depends on the project, maybe you need to shoot a lot a 135mm for some reason. Many people would get 35, 40, 50, 75, 100, 135, 180 for example, but others would rather get a 60mm between a 50 and a 75mm and forget the longer lenses. I often find the 35mm too wide-angle and distorting so would rather get a 40mm instead of a 35mm.

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Thanks for the insight David. So you would go 40, 50, 75, 100? Would the fact that it's a Master Anamorphic set change your mind about the 35mm? I would be a little worried that there isn't much difference between the 40 & 50 given the high price of the lenses.

 

Have you ever used extenders on anamorphic lenses?

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It's up to you -- the 35mm anamorphic is like using an 17.5mm spherical lens and the 40mm is like using a 20mm spherical lens.

 

So if you were making a 1.85 movie, are you more likely to be shooting on a 17.5mm and 25mm, or a 20mm and a 25mm?

 

Just depends. I'm on a show now where 75% of our shots are done on a 24mm and 30mm Primo (but on the larger 3.2K Alexa format, so think slightly wider views).

 

We occasionally go wider to a 21mm Primo and only once or twice a season do we use the 17.5mm Primo. Sometimes we go to the 27mm, sometimes to a 35mm or 40mm. Rarely to we get longer than a 50mm.

 

But that's just the nature of our show, we try to stay within a narrow range of primes. We also don't shoot tight close-ups so there isn't much need for a 100mm to get tight when the tightest we go is elbows-up, sometimes chest-up.

 

But if I were shooting an action show, I'd probably need a wider range of focal lengths. On "Westworld", we had Master Primes starting at 14mm and we had the 70mm-400mm Fujinon zoom, and we might shoot an action scene with that whole range from 14mm to 400mm.

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I've used extenders for telephoto shots, not for turning a 40mm into an 80mm or something. They work OK but I've been burned by them, had one with dirt embedded in the inner element that photographed sharply on the image. And I've had some misaligned where I couldn't get sharp focus across the field. So I am wary of relying too much on extenders unless I've tested them thoroughly.

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You can play this focal length game forever when you are limiting yourself. Depends on the nature of the shoot, how much can you back up or move forward in the space to get the shots, etc. I think David Fincher / Harris Savides shot most of "The Game" on just two or three primes, though I'm sure he carried more. But there you have a director willing to limit himself to certain field of views.

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Modern anamorphics tend to be similar in features, but with older lenses, they vary by size/weight, MOD, speed, etc. so that can be a factor. I remember once being stuck shooting a tight shot, I think on C-series anamorphics, and one lens had a 5 minimum focus and the next longer prime had a 7 minimum focus, so I couldnt get any tighter.

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