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Hamid Khozouie

Shooting f:1.4

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John Alcot photographed BARY LYNDON in f:0.7 with pushing one stop.

We have many experiences in low f:stop.I work many in f:2 but at this stop

*Cannot see the contrast by eye.

*Little depth of field can limit the actors.

Now do you have any experiences in f:1.4 for a big sequences in film , with different range of lenses.

 

What is your problems?...

BarryLyndon2.jpg

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John Alcot photographed BARY LYNDON in f:0.7 with pushing one stop.

We have many experiences in low f:stop.I work many in f:2 but at this stop

*Cannot see the contrast by eye.

*Little depth of field can limit the actors.

Now do you have any experiences in f:1.4 for a big sequences in film , with different range of lenses.

 

What is your problems?...

BarryLyndon2.jpg

 

 

Hi,

 

You need a very good focus puller. If you could use a new Master Prime lens, it will be very sharp with good focus markings. I have a set of Zeiss superspeeds, They are OK wide open but the focus marks are not so well spaced. The Cooke S4's only go to T2 but are fantastic wide open.

 

Stephen Williams DP

 

www.stephenw.com

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my favourite range is T1.3 to T2.8. I often shoot in these ranges and it is fine. You need to measure each setup, you need to mark and you need to do some blocking.

 

I use the old Arri superspeeds and they are good but not as sharp as the T2.1 primes - but fine for video outlay

 

thanks

 

Rolfe

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On low-budget features working quickly, I think it is a good idea to light to a decent f-stop, like a f/2.8-4.0 split at least, to give your focus-puller half a chance to get the focus right in a few takes. If I had my way, I'd get up to an f/4.

 

I did one scene in f/1.4 on some Super-Speeds and half the shots were soft -- but this was an all-handheld scene so focus marks were somewhat impossible. The lenses are not that sharp at f/1.4 and there is nothing that seems quite in focus even when you are in focus.

 

The new Zeiss Master Primes look amazing though at f/1.4 and will bring candlelight photography to a new level.

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I prefer working at f8-f12, honestly. But, I've done work at f1.3 and f1.4 before, even f1.0 in one case. (canon 50mm prime) It's interesting, but a real challenge due to the shallow DOF.

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I love T1.3 - done it many, many times. The Zeiss's break up below T2 and get quite soft, but to me that just looks good and organic. I'm sure the new master primes will be better at this, but it's not really a problem - it's just another look.

 

The only thing that keeps me away from that series is the spacing of the focal lenghts - 18mm, 25mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm isn't a very good range. I miss a 20-22mm and a 27-32mm.

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Personally I always try to aim for an f-stop between 4-5.6. This is when the lenses work best in my opinion. Yes you'll more DOF at a lower f-stop, but I don't think the image look as good then.

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It's not so much whether I like or dislike the shallow focus look (depends on the movie) but whether I want to increase or decrease the likelihood of a soft shot in a movie with a fast schedule. For stuff to be viewed on TV, it's not such a worry, but for anything to be projected, it's a major concern.

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i just shot a music video with zeiss super speeds last week, one of the lenses even had 1.3.

it was interesting since we used a lot of natural light in the late evening, so it gave us more shooting time in the end. but i was worried about the focus too so i did most of the shots in 9,5mm or 12mm :)

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true, how is it with depht of field when shooting with such a wide lens ? lets say f 1.3 with a 9.5 mm lens ?

Shouldn't look too shallow in medium & wide shots but if you focus near to the lens, it gets shallow really fast.

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I did one scene in f/1.4 on some Super-Speeds and half the shots were soft --

 

The lenses are not that sharp at f/1.4 and there is nothing that seems quite in focus even when you are in focus. 

 

 

 

Hi,

 

I think that sums it up. At a T2 or wider, newer lenses such as Cooke S4's (T2), UltraPrimes(T1.9) or Master Primes (T1.3) are a far better bet!

 

Stephen Williams DP

 

www.stephenw.com

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hey, ive just been shooting a short on a mixture of zeiss bayonette and pl superspeeds shooting almost everything at 1.3, i have only seen some rushes however so far so good, i definatly do notice the softer look it is giving however it is not much of a worry to me as this is not being projected to large, im more concerned about lighting as my lighting budget is nothing apart from what has been obtained for free, and for insurance reasons many dp's i know cant lend me their lights

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I have reentered the cinematic world only this time with DV.I think I would prefer working as open as possible because the DoF is too great. The only problem with the revolutionary Digital medium is that it's depth of field is just too great most of the time. It's great because you can just shoot and compose and never have to worry basically about the subject matter being in focus. You really have to work at making things look out of focus in the background. I think in the future we have a proxiemity pin that set focus to that spot regardless. Thus the actor can slowly change his distance to the camera with the shallow DoF being maintained gracefully with this set up. I hope it comes out soon or must I invent this too?

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Arri GB get their demo set of master primes end of next month - so you can check them out but they are expensive :)

 

Some of the shots that they have taken with them look amazing

 

thanks

 

Rolfe

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I do not think you can just say let's shoot this movie at a 4 stop. It completely depends on the scene, mood and action on the camera. The other day I was shooting an exterior scene at a 5.6 and the background was too prominent and busy. I looked through the lenes and found the DOF that I liked and I added the appropriate ND. We are watching dailies projected and the choice to go to a 2.8 was great. We are shooting with Primo's and I have no issue with going to a 2 if it is appropriate to the scene. For Heineken "Beer Run" I shot most of the exteriors at 1.6. Granted it was on Viper and the DOF is greater, but it really allowed me to open up the natural light of the city.

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I do not think you can just say let's shoot this movie at a 4 stop. It completely depends on the scene, mood and action on the camera. The other day I was shooting an exterior scene at a 5.6 and the background was too prominent and busy. I looked through the lenes and found the DOF that I liked and I added the appropriate ND. We are watching dailies projected and the choice to go to a 2.8 was great. We are shooting with Primo's and I have no issue with going to a 2 if it is appropriate to the scene. For Heineken "Beer Run" I shot most of the exteriors at 1.6. Granted it was on Viper and the DOF is greater, but it really allowed me to open up the natural light of the city.

 

I don't really disagree, but to get the SAME depth of field in 35mm, you would have had to shoot at f/4...

 

So there are many factors that come into play when deciding what f-stop to shoot at. Some DP's will try and shoot an entire feature at the same stop for consistency's sake -- and will probably pick some f-stop they think is practical. I'm not one of those, by the way, because depth of field is affected by focal length, so shooting everything at the same f-stop doesn't necessarily get you a consistent look, depth of field-wise.

 

My main argument for trying to achieve an f/4 (especially the anamorphic ones) on some of my low-budget features is simply that being so rushed, I want to give my focus-puller a better chance of nailing the focus. It has less to do with aesthetics and more to do with practicality. For another DP, shooting wide-open seems more practical because he can use smaller lights or more natural light, but I find a lot of time gets spent then getting more focus marks, or doing more takes for focus, so it's a wash. But it also depends on the action of the scene and how hard it will be to pull focus on it.

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As I get more experience I notice how DOF plays a part in final presentation format - so if the output is TV then T2 or even T1.3 looks great but on a large cinema screen it can look too jarring and out of focus.

 

An example being "batman begins" - some of the fight sequences are shot very wide - as a result at the cinema they get a little confusing (even sitting near the back) but I am sure when the DVD comes out they will look great - cause T1.3 at 720 lines of resolution vs 5000 lines of resolution are completely different - I think T4ish looks great on the big screen but the effect is lost (in a small way) on a DVD transfer

 

Independent of focus puller ability and time/ set up issues (in a perfect world) how would you set focus for a project for both presentation on screen (cinema) and TV? Would you prefer the DVD format or cinema screen?

 

thanks

 

Rolfe

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Maybe Heineken was a bad example. That was mainly to show how well the city lit itself at a 1.6. But I have Gaffed a lot of Movies that stayed on the open end of the scale. "Fight Club" at night was never at a 4, lucky to have a 2.8. God the balloon light we were using barely gave me a 2. We had great focus pullers thankfully. Of course, we had the occasional buzz, but it is the operators/1st AC that tell us if we got it or not. Last night scene we were shooting at a 2-2.8 on a 75mm shooting 35mm spherical and I know I have an awesome puller, so there is little fear on focus for me since I have been there and to a 1.4 before with him and he is tack sharp. Granted, I am not on a low budget movie and I am lucky to have complete support from my director and I have a really fantastic crew. I have asked my puller if he needs more light, he usually tells me "No, I got it" and he does. It was beautiful... foreground girl beautifully out of focus and background girl sharp. If a scene has tricky camera movement and the actor is bad on marks, I will help out the puller with more light. The day before we had an exterior day "walk and talk" on a 75mm with Steady cam. I gave the AC a 5.6 and nailed it (all takes). It is important to have good blocking, so you do not find yourself in a trap. For me, it is not budget that drives me to shoot at a 1.4 or 5.6, it is what I feel is right.

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One question for all you cinematographers

 

Don't cine lenses vignette at such large appertures?

 

 

Hi,

 

Never had vignetting with a prime on 35mm. On super 35mm old lenses may not cover the S35 frame. Old Zooms can vingette.

 

Stephen Williams Lighting Cameraman

 

www.stephenw.com

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I shot a S16 short this winter on a set of MK2 Zeiss Superspeeds (the triangle iris ones) I had a polarizer and a tobacco 1 in front of the lens for almost every shot. Because it was overcast, and featured the grayish landscape that North Carolina aquires in the winter we were shooting at t1.3 for almost every shot.

 

I know that S16 helped the DOF be longer than with 35mm, but we were shooting a lot of hand-held follow shots, some un-coreographed fight scenes and other challenging situations. I was really worried about the focus - and having heard a great deal (in this forum) about the problems one can encounter when shooting wide open, I was concerned about the image.

 

When we got into the telecine, I did notice a small decrease in contrast and slight (and I mean very slight) softening of the image from t4 or t2.8 to t1.3, but it was not bad. The focus was not problematic - even though a lot was finder focused. The only problem came from normal to telephoto lenses that were hand held and eye focused. Even then we were able to get a decent take of everything we needed. The differences in sharpness etc. seemed to come more from the different lenses and less from the iris. I was relieved that everything matched and was not soft.

 

I guess that t1.3 (or wide open anywhere) is not the ideal setting, but in my experience (which is small compared to some above) it is not the worst thing that could happen either.

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Hi,

 

Never had vignetting with a prime on 35mm. On super 35mm old lenses may not cover the S35 frame. Old Zooms can vingette.

 

Stephen Williams Lighting Cameraman

 

www.stephenw.com

 

Really? I was never the one to buy a 3000$ still 35mm lens, but I was under the impression that ALL lenses vingnette under large apertures

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Really? I was never the one to buy a 3000$ still 35mm lens, but I was under the impression that ALL lenses vingnette under large apertures

 

 

Hi,

 

I can only tell you what I have seen in practice. Compositing would be a nightmare if lenses vignette. Motion Picture lenses are very expensive. Cooke S4's and Ultra Primes around $10,000 each, the new Zeiss Master Primes way more.

 

Stephen

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