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Reuel Gomez

Panavision 35mm cameras

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I'm not talking about budget here. But theoretically, what is the best Panavision camera available? I know the ones used the most are the XL2 and Platinum models, but are the other two, Millennium and GII, better options? And in what case would it be better to use an Arriflex or Moviecam with a PV mount?

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There is a certain point where with a film camera becomes just a box to hold the film. Personally, I'm an Arri man, so I'd go with a PanArri if I wanted to use PV optics.

Now what you'd be looking at, normally is how loud the camera is @24 fsp most of the time. Unless you're changing frame rate, or shutter angles, ect for FXs, and then you'd look into which systems allow you to do that. But honestly, most of the stuff I've shot on film has been very close to 24/180-- and if you're going highspeed, you'll often get a 435.

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Sure; they are things to consider. But most viewfinders on modern cameras are very bright, and usages are pretty similar. It's not like a RED or what have you where you are worried about menus and things like that. Plus, when you're working on film your ACs will be the ones really getting into the guts of the camera.

I may consider how much it weighs as well depending on what kind of operating is happening, but they are all pretty comparable, some just tend to go faster, weigh less, allow differing shutter angles ect, but the basic functionality is very similar. Some are more or less a pain to load, but again-- it's not quite like digital where the camera you are using is really setting a lot of the look, so the difference between myself picking, let's say a 535 or an Arri Studio aren't that big unless i specifically need a feature one has over another.

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Millennium XL2 is the the lightest and fastest to convert to Steadicam, unless you have the budget to have one body always set-up for Steadicam. But it's the hardest to thread (having less space inside the body to get your fingers around all those loops and gears) and I don't think the viewfinder is as bright as a Platinum. So generally I rent a Platinum for A camera and a Millennium XL2 for B camera / Steadicam / handheld work. But if your budget is tight, there isn't much wrong with a GII instead of a Platinum. I think the max frame rates vary though, some don't get up to 50/60 fps.

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Also I think the question as to what is theoretically the best camera, but rather, what is the best camera for a certain situation. You can't just say this camera is "best," all out for any camera really, because what is and isn't best is going to be so based upon what you're doing and what you need out of it. You're basically asking "what the best sized screw?" without specifying what you're trying to do with that screw.

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Millennium XL2 is the the lightest and fastest to convert to Steadicam, unless you have the budget to have one body always set-up for Steadicam. But it's the hardest to thread (having less space inside the body to get your fingers around all those loops and gears) and I don't think the viewfinder is as bright as a Platinum. So generally I rent a Platinum for A camera and a Millennium XL2 for B camera / Steadicam / handheld work. But if your budget is tight, there isn't much wrong with a GII instead of a Platinum. I think the max frame rates vary though, some don't get up to 50/60 fps.

Why would Panavision advertise the Millennium viewfinder as being brighter than the Platinum if it really isn't? False advertising much?

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Also I think the question as to what is theoretically the best camera, but rather, what is the best camera for a certain situation. You can't just say this camera is "best," all out for any camera really, because what is and isn't best is going to be so based upon what you're doing and what you need out of it. You're basically asking "what the best sized screw?" without specifying what you're trying to do with that screw.

Understandable, but I'm not actually shooting a film so I can't actually describe a situation.

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Really, maybe I'm misremembering things. I haven't really operated much in the past 10 years so I'm not the best expert on that aspect but I could have sworn my operators preferring the viewfinder image in the Platinum over the Millennium. But we are hair-splitting on these things, they all have decent viewfinder images. Size, weight, max frame rates, rental costs, reliability, etc. all factor into this. And if you want to use Zeiss Master Primes, then you are really talking about an ARRI camera instead of a Panaflex.

 

On the other hand, you can use behind the lens ND gels on a Panaflex, which is great for operators, and if you like to flash the negative, the Panaflasher is easy to use. And of course there are Panavision anamorphic lenses.

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Really, maybe I'm misremembering things. I haven't really operated much in the past 10 years so I'm not the best expert on that aspect but I could have sworn my operators preferring the viewfinder image in the Platinum over the Millennium. But we are hair-splitting on these things, they all have decent viewfinder images. Size, weight, max frame rates, rental costs, reliability, etc. all factor into this. And if you want to use Zeiss Master Primes, then you are really talking about an ARRI camera instead of a Panaflex.

 

On the other hand, you can use behind the lens ND gels on a Panaflex, which is great for operators, and if you like to flash the negative, the Panaflasher is easy to use. And of course there are Panavision anamorphic lenses.

Panavision's website advertised their inventory of Master Prime's as being compatible with their Panaflex cameras through use of a PV mount. Tower Heist also used Arricam's with Panavision G-Series anamorphics.

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I guess they were able to adapt them. There are some problems between the two systems because PL lenses often stick deeper into the mount and the Panaflex mirror shutter is farther from the film plane (which is why there is room for behind the lens filters, but less room between the mirror and the back of the lens.) I had head that Master Primes wouldn't work on a Panaflex. Of course, they'd work on a Panavised Alexa, F55, or a Genesis camera...

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If you're renting an Alexa from Panavision, for example, you might want to use a mix of lenses like Primos, lightweight Angenieux's, the Primo 11:1 zoom, etc. so it's easier if all your lenses have PV mounts since the Alexa will have a PV mount.

 

It's simply an issue of whether you want to work only with PL mount or PV mount because it's hard to switch it back and forth on the camera so you have to pick one and then have all your lenses in whatever you pick. If you want to work only in PL mount, odds are that you probably aren't going to rent from Panavision. And if you are going to work in PV mount with Panavision, odds are that some of your lenses will be PL to PV conversions since Panavision doesn't necessarily make every lens you want to use.

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If you're renting an Alexa from Panavision, for example, you might want to use a mix of lenses like Primos, lightweight Angenieux's, the Primo 11:1 zoom, etc. so it's easier if all your lenses have PV mounts since the Alexa will have a PV mount.

 

It's simply an issue of whether you want to work only with PL mount or PV mount because it's hard to switch it back and forth on the camera so you have to pick one and then have all your lenses in whatever you pick. If you want to work only in PL mount, odds are that you probably aren't going to rent from Panavision. And if you are going to work in PV mount with Panavision, odds are that some of your lenses will be PL to PV conversions since Panavision doesn't necessarily make every lens you want to use.

Too true.

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The original optics for the XL were not as bright as the Platinum, they've since released newer ones which are brighter. In Europe, I've heard, they have PL mounted some of their Panavision cameras due to demand and lack of inventory. That is something which won't happen in the US though. The other big thing about Panavision film cameras is that you can open the shutter angle up to 200 degrees which now with digital cameras doesn't seem like much, but it helps to have that every little bit.

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