Jump to content
Cosmas Demetriou

What are the most "popular" lenses in Super 35 mm cinematography?

Recommended Posts



I am a set designer working in the film industry and using 3d models to show directors, production designers and cinematographers what they would see by a particular lens. I know there are MANY lens packages, but can someone give me an idea what lenses are the most "popular"? I am referring to the wide angle lenses. I know this is a difficult question, but what wide angle lenses are likely to be used -- and at what point do they begin to distort so much that they are rarely used. For example, Stanley Kubrick uses wide angle lenses a lot in his films. How wide would he go?


Thank you.



Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Kubrick shot with the 9.8mm Kinoptik for specialty shots like the maze chase in "The Shining" and Alex's walk through the record store in "Clockwork Orange", which is quite wide in view for 35mm work and rather exaggerated, so it's not a common focal length. He probably also used the 16mm Zeiss Standard Speed and definitely the 18mm Zeiss Super-Speed a lot.


Generally 18mm is the shortest focal length that is used for much wide-angle work, below that things are noticeably wide-angle and it becomes more obviously stylized. Distortions like barrel distortion depend on the lens. Most of "Birdman" was shot with an 18mm lens.


But with the popularity now of the 15-40mm Angenieux lightweight zoom, it's not uncommon to get as wide as the 15mm end.


Now even 18mm is clearly a wide-angle lens in Super-35 -- a less distorted view of a set in a 3D model would probably be better in the 21mm to 25mm range.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you, David. That is very helpful.


I really appreciate the reference to Birdman. That was a striking film. Particularly with all the tight spaces!

Edited by Cosmas Demetriou

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

The 18mm first appeared in movies in the late 1950's, most notably in "Touch of Evil". You also see it a lot in John Frankenheimer films of the 1960's.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • New Pro Video - New and Used Equipment

    Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

    Gamma Ray Digital Inc

    Metropolis Post

    Visual Products

    Tai Audio

    Wooden Camera

    Serious Gear

    Rig Wheels Passport

    Paralinx LLC

    Abel Cine

    Ritter Battery

    Broadcast Solutions Inc



  • Create New...