American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 14

SHOT CRAFT
STILL LENSES:
* Compact
* Lightweight
* Autofocus, designed for
photographer to focus
through-the-lens
* Moderate speeds
* Designed for one-person
operation

CINE LENSES:
* Moderately compact
* Moderately lightweight
* Manual Focus, designed
for camera assistant to
pull focus
* High speeds common
* Designed for two-person
team

Left: A cross section of a Zeiss CP.2 21mm (T2.9) prime lens. The CP.2
primes are rehoused Zeiss still-camera lenses; note the excessive
space from the center optical elements to the outer rings, necessary
to expand the size of the housing to accommodate larger focus rings
for cinema use. Above: A side-by-side look at still- and cine-lens
characteristics.

Welcome to Shot Craft, AC's new section for emerging
cinematographers, which will focus on tools, techniques, and
tricks of the trade.

I

Cine-Style vs. Still-Style Optics
By Jay Holben

In the world of photographic lenses, there are four major
categories of optics: those manufactured for still cameras, those
for electronic news gathering (ENG) or electronic field production
(EFP) cameras, those for studio broadcast cameras, and those for
cinema cameras. You'll rarely, if ever, see anyone trying to use a
broadcast studio lens or an ENG lens on a cinema production, but
the modern age has blurred the line between still and cine lenses.
Thanks to the rise of HDSLR cameras and mid-range digital cinema
cameras, the need for affordable cine-style lenses has opened the
door for a new category of, relatively speaking, affordable cine
optics. In addition, with large-sensor - i.e., larger than Super
35mm - digital cinema cameras, the demand for lenses with
larger covering power is very high.
When newer filmmakers are investing in their first gear, the
price tag of cinema-style lenses can be daunting and leave many
questioning, "Is it worth it?"
The simple answer is: Yes. Let's talk about why. And for the
moment, let's forget the glass itself and instead look at the differences between the two styles of lenses, focusing on what they're
manufactured to do.
The first - and possibly biggest - difference between
cinema-style and still-style lenses is the focus scale. Modern still
lenses are designed to be compact and lightweight; they're also,
primarily, designed for autofocus. And in order to meet the
demands of modern DSLR cameras, they have to be super-fast at
14

July 2017

focusing. To realize that, the focus travel of the lens is cut down
to a minimum so that the lens doesn't have to move very far to
find focus.
Let's talk about this in terms of rotational degrees. In other
words, how many degrees does the focusing ring rotate from
minimum object distance to infinity? On many modern still
lenses, this might be as little as 15-20 degrees, which is great for
the autofocus mechanism as it means the motor doesn't have to
rotate the focus movement far to find precise focus. However, for
manual focusing, this can be a nightmare. With such a limited
degree of travel, there's only space for a few distance markings
on the lens - if the lens has markings at all! These days, many
still lenses don't even have a visible focus scale, as they're 100percent autofocus or focus-by-eye; when they do have a scale,
you might only find markings for 4', 7', 20' and infinity, which
doesn't exactly allow for precision.
When you're shooting a fairly close subject at a wide aperture, your depth of field can be as small as an inch (or less), and
there's no way to know where 5'2" falls between the 4' and 7'
markers. Furthermore, if the subject moves - which sometimes
happens in motion pictures - adjusting critical focus based solely
on the focus scale of the lens is nearly impossible. Even if you're
adjusting focus by looking at a sharp image on a monitor, the
focusing ring's degree of travel is so small that keeping the
subject sharp is an absolutely Herculean effort.
Enter the cine lens. The first thing a cine-style lens does is
to significantly expand the focus scale and its rotational degree.
Many modern cine lenses now have 300 degrees or more of rotation on the focusing ring. This allows for substantially more room
for calibrated markings, especially in the close-focus distances.
You'll often see cine-style lenses marked for 3', 3'3", 3'6", 3'9",
4' and so on. The expansion of the focus scale and addition of

American Cinematographer



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Cinematographer - July 2017

Contents
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - Cover1
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - Cover2
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 1
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 2
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - Contents
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 4
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 5
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 6
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 7
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 8
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 9
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American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 14
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American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 38
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American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 40
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 41
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 41A
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 41B
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 42
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - 43
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American Cinematographer - July 2017 - Cover3
American Cinematographer - July 2017 - Cover4
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