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Determining what are "good" lens flares and what are "bad" lens flares


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I'm writing an essay and comparing optical artefacts between different lenses in different price ranges. Being able to compare these requires me to determine what a desirable result is and what an undesirable result is. Logically an artefact is a defect so it should be undesirable, but as well all know lens flares are a commonly used artefact in movies. Is there a way to determine what a good "lens flare" is?

Edited by Viggo Söderberg
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You might say that sunstars and internal reflections are more desirable, and veiling flare is less desirable, but I can think of reasons why both might be useful. Many DPs (Roger Deakins, for instance) hate lens flares of any type, whereas other people actively seek them out (anamorphic streaks, for instance). Ultimately, it's down to personal taste, and the needs of whatever effects you are trying to achieve.

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5 hours ago, Stuart Brereton said:

You might say that sunstars and internal reflections are more desirable, and veiling flare is less desirable, but I can think of reasons why both might be useful. Many DPs (Roger Deakins, for instance) hate lens flares of any type, whereas other people actively seek them out (anamorphic streaks, for instance). Ultimately, it's down to personal taste, and the needs of whatever effects you are trying to achieve.

100% agree

Instead of making your essay based on what types of flares are desirable and what types are not. I think you might make a list of what type of flares each lens produce and what time a DP might desire this type of flare. (I hope that what I said does make sense lol)

Flares can be beautiful, ugly, charming and scary. A flare can ruin your shot, but in a lot of times it can be a happy accident. 

I highly recommend you to have as much references as you can in your essay. Capture a frame that has a flare and you may discuss how does this flare affect the mode of the scene. 

one of my favorite usage of flares is the one that used in the film "Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey". It makes the scene even more psycho.

gdhd.jpg

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Your question, "What are 'good' lens flares?" is definitely a matter of opinion!  You should read this interview in Film and Digital Times with Christophe Casenave and Dr. Benjamin Völker, respectively a Product Manager and Optical Designer at Zeiss, regarding the design process of the Supreme Prime Radiance lenses, which are intended to flare in a specific way (in contrast to the non-radiance Supreme Prime lenses, which control flares very well).  They compare lens characteristics to wine tasting. 

Personally, I agree with Stuart; for me it's less important what a lens flare looks like, and more important what intention (if any) its presence indicates.  I dislike flares that are purely decorative picture elements.  One of my favorite examples of intentional lens flare is the martial arts classic A Touch of Zen, which has no lens flares at all except for the scenes where Buddhist monks show up; those scenes specifically incorporate a variety of lens flares into their mise-en-scène:  https://youtu.be/0AHz2B-_sLQ?t=119

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