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Adam Frisch FSF

Frisch's Law of Photography

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I posted in the Dunkirk Soft Focus thread and the future of focus pulling and the new full frame formats, but think it needs it's own thread. My rampant hubris has prompted me to name a natural photographic law after myself.. ;)

 

Frisch's Law of Photography = Any cinematographer/photographer will inherently seek out the format with the least apparent depth of field as his preferred choice.

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I bloody don't, but then:

 

- I don't get a focus puller, and more damningly

 

- I'm not really a cinematographer.

 

P

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I have mixed feelings about super shallow-focus. It certain looks pretty, and draws the eye to the subject, but being pretty isn't always the goal of cinematography and deep-focus compositions certainly are a directorial tool that should not be thrown out the window. And even with good focus-pullers, you can have soft softs when you shoot wide-open, and that may happen on a key acting moment.

 

Plus sometimes I find it annoying with the focus seems "swimmy" where nothing seems to be falling into sharp focus.

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Having shot with the Alexa 65 I have to say that as long as you shoot at T4 whenever you can you will be ok.

 

I can't understand the reason behind shooting at T1.3 or wide open always anyways.. when you build a set it is good to see it.

 

There are some times when you want to emphasize an action by shooting wide open because it will stand out more if everything is being shot at T2.8 / T4 so my personal opinion is that using the depth of field artistically rather than as a "de facto" tool is better.

 

Have a good day.

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I admit I've sort of become addicted to bigger sensors if the camera can utilize them. I shot on a full frame Canon 6D but didn't really feel the difference from a rebel crop sensor. However blackmagic pocket vs Red MX sensor, the difference blows me away cause both bodies are pulling all they can out of that imager.

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Barry Lyndon 2

 

 

At night it might make sense if you don't have a lot of power to rig 24Ks / 18Ks but during daytime... nah!

 

Even if you're working with natural light, you can always make things easier for the focus puller and go to T2.8, which is a beautiful stop.. and nobody but the dop will notice the difference.

 

Have a good day.

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I regularly shoot at around t2 or 2.5. I love the sense of separation that you get between actors and backgrounds. That said, I often shoot at a deeper stop for close ups because I hate seeing a CU on a face where one eye is sharp and the other isn't, unless it's for a good reason.

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I regularly shoot at around t2 or 2.5. I love the sense of separation that you get between actors and backgrounds.

 

For sure. There's something that feels inherently "cinematic" when the background of a wide(r ) shot is a touch soft.

 

 

That said, I often shoot at a deeper stop for close ups because I hate seeing a CU on a face where one eye is sharp and the other isn't, unless it's for a good reason.

 

 

Also sometimes when we shoot wide open on a long(er) fast lens, the background can go so out of focus it looks like mush. I'll stop down just to get some shape back there.

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I admit I've sort of become addicted to bigger sensors if the camera can utilize them. I shot on a full frame Canon 6D but didn't really feel the difference from a rebel crop sensor. However blackmagic pocket vs Red MX sensor, the difference blows me away cause both bodies are pulling all they can out of that imager.

The difference between the 6D, which is Full Frame, and the Rebel APS-C sensor is roughly the same as the difference between the RED MX, which in its 4k iteration is roughly s35mm sized, and the BMP which is s16mm sized. In both cases, one sensor is twice the size of the other, and has something like 1 1/2 stops less depth of field.

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But you would, if there was interpretative and creative auto focus built in, right Phil?

 

Well, probably not, even then, because I've suffered an enormous amount of full-frame DSLRs, and I remember the pain and torment. Us bottom-feeders tend to suffer that more than the big cheeses, I fear.

 

P

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I posted in the Dunkirk Soft Focus thread and the future of focus pulling and the new full frame formats, but think it needs it's own thread. My rampant hubris has prompted me to name a natural photographic law after myself.. ;)

 

Frisch's Law of Photography = Any cinematographer/photographer will inherently seek out the format with the least apparent depth of field as his preferred choice.

 

Well, I guess I break that law... I'm sort of in the F/64 camp for stills... diffraction be damned... and use swings and tilts to adjust the plane of focus for 'infinity' sharpness... rectangular lines be damned... or for motion pictures, the Greg Toland camp.. use a split diopter to get the impression of infinite DoF.

 

On the other hand, if one uses shallow DoF... at least get the actor's/actress's eyelashes sharp... and a head brace for said talent to render their head immobile for close up shots...

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It's an interesting development certainly. I think we mostly have HD on-set monitoring to blame.

 

And while large apertures and shallow focus certainly have their place, I think there are a lot of DPs out there now who lean on them a little too heavily as a crutch sometimes.

 

I'm a T/2.8-T/4 kinda guy for most things (as I prefer to show more of the environments characters are inhabiting), and I like to use lighting and composition to separate characters from backgrounds, more so than putting everything out of focus.

 

But there are always reasons for the choices we make - shallow focus is a godsend when your set dressing or production design aren't up to scratch (or non-existent, as is happening far too often these days).

 

And you can bet your butthole I'm shooting close to WFO at nighttime with the bloody lighting budgets I keep getting!

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Was only kidding because I’ve recently stumbled over Tamara F.’s website.

 

I should confirm your law, Adam, since I’m totally into macro cinematography for a project that I begun more than a year ago. Shallow depth of field is only the door bell with this work and I chose it all by myself.

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I personally try to always stop down at least one or two stops in almost all shooting situations to get more even and less disturbing results with the lenses. but especially when shooting doc footage I tend to not use that much nd filtering depending on the situation and the shooting stop can be at f5.6-f22 range most of the time, for example with Konvas and Lomo lenses my typical stops are at around T5.6 to T16. And with telephoto lenses over 150mm and when shooting macro footage I mostly stop down to at least about F11 or more. Stopped down extreme telephoto footage also has this type of postcard feeling to it (for example a 400mm at F16 or 22) which I kinda like in certain situations.

 

the shallow depth of field look was totally used up in the DSLR era I think and only works well in certain situations.

some night footage I may shoot wide open but mostly it is about two stops down or more and I will use heavy filters instead if I really want to mess up the image ;)

 

saying that all the cinematographers in the world always do things this way or that way is like saying that there is always only one way to light a movie scene no matter what the project and shooting situation and the wanted mood is. or saying that all the projects must be shot with Alexa because that is the look ALL cinematographers and producers and directors want in the end anyway and anything else is just a bad substitute for it B)

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the "law" is, though, somewhat true with Vimeography (a form of photography but with using moving images, using some generic piano music on the background ^_^ ) but that relates to the stills photography background of the artform and is not Cinematography Related I think ;)

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Sounds like you're describing showreels.

 

them also of course.

but Vimeography generally is this type of material which is half camera test half demo reel kind of stuff which is mostly done to show off a new camera or test some plugins rather than to actually express any kind of story.

here is just some quick references that came up first on the search:

https://vimeo.com/34186781

 

https://vimeo.com/48904764

 

https://vimeo.com/30207799

 

most of the Philip Bloom stuff for example is more or less vimeography, not cinematography ^_^

Edited by aapo lettinen
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I know it's not always the appropriate and I am also pretty sick of the DSRL shallow depth look. But that said, I'll bet anyone here that in 2 years time when all the full frame Arri's, Red's and Panavision's are out and working, nobody will touch anything else. It's like the 2K Arri Alexas today - they can't give them away. My prediction for future is FF and even shallower DOF across the board.

 

An AC friend of mine who's already seen the writing on the wall is selling his full set of Leica Summilux T1.4's (that are not FF), knowing that in 2 years time he won't be able to get half as much for them.

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