Jump to content

Recommended Posts

Hi

 

im doing a memoir for my last year in film school on the use of wide angle/ultra wide angle/fish eye lens and i would like to know when these kind of lens first came out 28mm and down...

 

would like to have a history part of these type of lenses

 

does anybody know?

 

thanks a bunch

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it is, it's just not very wide angle. But it's a grey area to be sure. I'd say that "normal" is in the 32mm to 65mm range, so below that would be the start of the wide-angle lenses. If I shot a close-up with a 28mm lens, you would notice some distortion on the face.

 

Definitely a 25mm would have been considered a wide-angle lens back in the 1940's when Toland shot much of "Citizen Kane" on one.

 

Of course, once movies started cropping down from Academy to widescreen shapes, the lenses started looking a bit less wide-angle.

  • Upvote 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Do you guys have any ideas of the first use of fish eye in movies?

 

i just read about the 24mm Tolland and cooke created for Citizen Kane... very interesting!

its true that once the image is croped you dont feel so much the distortion but their is an interesting thing about the perception the size of objects and bodies in the image and the effect of that relation it has on the narration in the movie.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 months later...

This is a subject I'm very interested in myself, and one that seems not particularly well covered in the various books I've read on cinematography or film style history.

24mm was indeed very wide when Toland shot Citizen Kane, the widest professional cine lens available at the time, as far as I'm aware.

Despite there having been very wide angle lenses since the beginning of the 20th century, including over 90 degree fields of view from lenses designed for large plate architectural photography, and the first fisheye lens being made for cloud studies as far back as 1923, cinematography lenses had particular requirements - more stringent aberration correction and higher resolution for the subsequent big screen enlargement of a smaller negative, tighter tolerances in centration of the smaller glass elements, and faster apertures for the shortened exposure times of motion capture - which in the 1920s limited professional cine lenses to a minimum of 32 or 35mm in focal length, eg Bausch and Lomb had a 32mm Tessar (licensed from Zeiss), Cooke a 35mm Anastigmat.

By the early 30s, Cooke had a 32mm series 0 Opic, forerunner to their Speed Panchros, and Zeiss had a 27mm Tessar. Within a few years Cooke had released their 24mm Speed Pancho, Goerz had a 25mm Kino-Hypar Anastigmat and Bausch and Lomb had their 25mm Baltar. There were no doubt other examples in this range around this time. Certainly by the end of WWII there were several 1" or 25mm lenses available for Eyemos (the most ubiquitous 35mm documentary camera of its age) though this was probably dictated more by the need for wider coverage than the excellence of the image itself. Despite their obvious technological advancement in the field of optics, Germany's Arriflex 35 (the original Arri 2C as used by German WWII combat cameramen) had a lens hood that vignetted on lenses under 28mm. Of course with its newly developed spinning mirror shutter they had a much deeper flange depth to overcome.

After the impact of Toland's deep focus and wide angle style had sunk in, many features were shot almost entirely on 30 to 35mm lenses, including some by Welles himself, but 24mm was still seen by many cinematographers as too distorting, unsuitable for anything but landscapes or wide establishing shots.

Another limiting factor for wide angle lenses for cine cameras (and reflex cameras in general) was the problem of very short back focus distances and the need to clear a reflex mirror or prism. Cooke had already provided a solution back in the 30s when they had modified a 30mm anastigmat to clear the beam splitter prism of Technicolor cameras by utilising a reverse telephoto design that extended the back focus distance much further than the focal length. This opened the way for further short focal length designs for reflex still and cine cameras, something Angenieux began to specialise in by the 1950s with their 'retrofocus' lenses.

According to the Cooke webpage a series II 18mm Speed Panchro was released in 1945, but it was not perhaps fully formed, as cinematographers don't seem to have embraced the Cooke 18mm until the series III version was released in 1954. It became something of a classic, deposing the Angenieux 18.5mm that had briefly reigned after its release in 1951.

Around this time Mike Todd created 70mm Todd-AO as a single lens answer to Cinerama, and utilised a specially designed "bug-eye" lens with a 128 degree field of view to attempt to recreate the 3 camera view of Cinerama. See

http://www.widescreenmuseum.com/widescreen/wingto2.htm.

In the late 60s the French firm Kinoptik released their 9.8mm Kinoptik Tegea, a fixed focus lens famously used by Kubrick in A Clockwork Orange and The Shining. This was probably the ultra wide angle cine lens of choice for some time, before other manufacturers like Century and Zeiss began perfecting ultra wide lenses, culminating in Zeiss releasing their 8R UltraPrime which blew everything out of the water.

This is something of a potted history of wide angle use in cinema (and also avoided any mention of 16mm or anamorphic or Panavision or standard 65mm), I would heartily welcome any corrections or additions.

Not sure about the first use of an actual fisheye lens rather than just a very distorted wide angle, possibly HAL's viewpoint in 2001?

  • Upvote 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

In "The Making of Citizen Kane" there is a copy of Toland's camera equipment list, and besides the 24mm Cooke, the other focal lengths are listed as "Astro" -- what brand is that?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, British and American lenses of this era (and later) were often labelled in inches, and generally the conversion to mm is done roughly, 1" to 25mm. Curiously, the prewar German lenses were often marked in cm.

The Super Baltar set we have is marked in a combination of metric and Imperial: 20mm, 25mm, 2", 3", etc.

The film industry is rife with this sort of confusion, here in Australia we prefer lens focus scales marked in feet and inches despite the fact we've been metric for decades!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Not to stray too far off topic, but why do Australian crews prefer focus scales in feet and inches? I visited Vantage in Paris several months ago, and apparently French camera assistants have the same preference.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I know that since the prism block restricted 3-strip Technicolor cameras to using a 35mm lens for the shortest focal length, "Gone With The Wind" tried using an adaptor to get a 25mm focal length for a wide shot for the ballroom fundraiser scene, but the results were not particularly sharp.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

Not to stray too far off topic, but why do Australian crews prefer focus scales in feet and inches? I visited Vantage in Paris several months ago, and apparently French camera assistants have the same preference.

Could just be that we kept using what we had used in earlier times, knowledge gets passed down in this craft.

But I also think distances are easier to judge in feet and inches, rather than metres and centimetres, the scale of measurement is better suited for filmmaking. Larger discreet units (inches) and smaller groupings (feet). It's easier to pull focus to these units too. At least that's my feeling, but maybe it's just what you're used to.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Dom, would you happen to know when the diminishing glass was first used for cinematography? I'm guessing that was the first commonly used wide angle adapter.

Good question Satsuki, I don't know the answer. According to Kingslake the first Tele adapter was patented by Dallmeyer at the turn of the 20th century, but he's a bit vague about wide angle adapters. I suppose technically Chretien's anamorphic adapter from the 20s was a wide angle attachment, though only affecting one dimension. Until aspheric elements became widely available in the 50s I imagine any wide angle adapter would have been pretty crummy, as David's anecdote illustrates, and even top of the range aspheric attachments like the Zeiss Aspheron from the 70s or 80s weren't all that great.

Often it was amateur film equipment where new technology was first implemented, and I know there were wide and Tele adapters made for 8 and 16mm camera as early as the 40s, but I don't know when they might have first been used with larger professional formats like 35mm.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 6 months later...

RE: SUPER 35 centered PL mount Arri 3C wide lens search

 

In the Professional Cameraman's Handbook it says that the Arri 3 will not accept the Kinoptik 9.8 unless the lens barrel has been rotated so that bevel clears the mirror shutter. Using that as a clue ~ I'm not holding my breath that an Arri 3-C... "three C not 3" with a PL mount and a shifted-centered lens mount will work or will it possibly?

 

I was going to start another thread because I think i'm going through "the history of wide" backtracking to the original post getting more "normal"...

 

So far for this camera I know a Canon K35 14mm will work (It fit but I didn't use) - but this was in LA. Closer to home in the Bay Area a 18mm super speed could possibly work but ideally i'm trying to find something that I could afford to buy. Considering some LOMOS 28, 35mm that have been PL mounted but they are in Russia and i'm weary not knowing if they'll actually clear my mirror shutter, especially after waiting a month for them to arrive. My widest to date and I've only so far shot a camera test with a PL adapter is a 40mm Hasselblad but it's slow F4.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 years later...

According to the Cooke webpage a series II 18mm Speed Panchro was released in 1945, but it was not perhaps fully formed, as cinematographers don't seem to have embraced the Cooke 18mm until the series III version was released in 1954. It became something of a classic, deposing the Angenieux 18.5mm that had briefly reigned after its release in 1951.

 

After some research (and contrary to what the Cooke website and many other online resources claim), I believe the first Cooke 18mm (f/1.7) was released around 1954. In about 1962 it was replaced by the series III 18mm f/2 version, which (along with the series III Cooke 25mm) was among the first cine lenses to use an aspheric element.

 

Here are lens diagrams of the two 18mm designs for comparison:

 

post-46614-0-52626900-1532924535_thumb.jpg

 

post-46614-0-50666700-1532924555_thumb.jpg

 

For anyone interested in Cooke lens history, there is a link to a scanned copy of Rank Taylor Hobson's "Lenses for Motion Picture Photography" from the mid 60s in this Reduser thread:

http://www.reduser.net/forum/showthread.php?152719-a-COOKE-Book&p=1703253&viewfull=1#post1703253

 

Among the articles in the book is a paper on the "new range" of Cooke Speed Panchro series II lenses which was read at the April 1958 SMPTE convention. It mentions only the early non-aspheric f/1.8 18mm and f/1.7 25mm designs. Series II Speed Panchros (with larger image circles, standardised coatings and refined formulas) were probably released over several years from the mid 50s as a response to the various new widescreen formats from that period.

 

The first reference to an 18mm Cooke of any sort that I can find is in a Feb 1956 issue of American Cinematographer.

 

Another article in the Cooke technical book describing the "new" series III f/2 18mm and f/2 25mm lenses dates from 1963, which matches the first reference I can find in published literature to a series III 18mm, which is a 1963 Arriflex catalogue.

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.

Guest
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.

×
×
  • Create New...