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Best fast lenses for candlelight

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hi everybody! i'm Marco, dop from italy.

i'm going to shoot a short movie set in 1840: night, indoor, one big room.

One of the options (due to logistic and creative choices) is to light up the set only with the candles.

we'll use an alexa mini and i'm looking for the best lenses at full aperture (1.4T, i think), so possibly with less aberration, softness, low contrast...


in this interview, Gavin Finney explains advantages and disavantages of shooting in canldelight in 2015. i really love is work and i found out that they shoot with Leica Summilux-C.

Onestly, i don't know if we can afford them, so i'm looking for something slightly cheaper (between 500-1000 $/€ daily)

i tried the Zeiss Super Speed MarkIII, very  very cheap, nice and "vintage", but i find them terrible at T1.3.


Can anybody help me?






Edited by marco malizia
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For cheaper, more modern T/1.5 glass, the Sigma Cine Primes and Tokina Vista Primes are your main options. Both are excellent performers optically.

If shooting by real candle light is the plan though, I'd suggest opting for some newer sensor tech than the Alexa. The Panasonic Varicam and Varicam LT have a dual-ISO mode, and can do 5000 ISO with a normal spread of latitude.

The Sony Venice also has a dual ISO mode, with a normal spread of latitude at 2500 ISO (but it remains extremely clean up to 5000 ISO as well).

With those cameras you could use the Superspeeds stopped down a bit (to avoid optical issues, or have a more usable depth of field), or you could pair them with slower, cheaper lenses if needed.

For squeezing as much exposure as possible from a practical source like candles, the dual-ISO cameras offer a capacity that simple hasn't existed before.

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It could be a good idea, if budget allows, to go to a LF format and use a much higher ISO. They tend to hold up very well at 1600-3200ASA and then you can use a nice set of older (if you can find them) K35's or Kowa's or something at T2-2.8.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thank you everybody, and sorry for my late reply.

We didn't think about other cameras than the Alexa mini because we can get it for free, but it can be an option: renting a Sony Venice with a medium budget lens (like Cooke S4 or Leica Summicron or why not going anamporphic with the Atlas Orion) OR using the Alexa mini for free and an expensive lens set.




i'll think about it, thank you




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  • 1 month later...

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