Last year, we shot this educational DSLR series for B&H. The tips work for the 7D, 60D, T2i and all the Canon DSLR cameras. Although I’m using the Canon 5D Mk II in the video, this doesn’t apply just to the 5D. The methodology is the same for other DSLR cameras. Enjoy Episode 3, followed by a transcript.
HDSLR Educational Series for Cinema
Shane Hurlbut, ASC discusses lenses and the challenges of working with a still lens.
Episode 3: Lenses
Hi. I’m Shane Hurlbut, ASC and welcome the B&H HDSLR Educational Series for Cinema. Episode 3 will be dealing with lenses. What are the challenges working with a still lens?
Well, there is no way to actually focus the thing. There’s no autofocus on this baby. To be able to pull this off, you’re going to need your focus puller and you’re going to need to put a ring around your focus ring so you’re able to use manual follow focus devices and/or remote follow focus devices. For the focus puller, there are usually marks on cinema lenses that are on the side. Well, this is a still lens so they’re all on the top because as a still shooter, you’re here and then you look, yeah, I’m at 6 feet and then you take this photo again.
Cinema glass was engineered and Zeiss came out with these wonderful CP.2′s that have the marks on the side and have the marks on either side so the focus puller can be on the right or the left and you’re able to focus. And it has 32 pitch gears already on the housing.
If you’re going with Zeiss ZEs, which are still lenses, you have to do the same thing. You have to put a focus gear on there. Then I’ve P touched all the marks on the side here so as it sits on the lens like this, you’re able to see all the markings and the focus puller is able to see those markings too so he knows, he’s at 12 inches. No, he’s at 4 feet. So he can see it. I’ve tried to turn the still lens into a cinema lens by doing all these different markings.
This is what I used on Into the Blue. I used this on Waist Deep. I shot The Skulls with the Cooke S4 Primes. These are completely engineered just like the Zeiss CP.2s. The Zeiss CP.2s have a Canon back. This has a PL back. You need to go to a camera like this which has a PL mount and that will clamp on any type of cinema glass that you would like that are in the PL range.
One of the challenges with the Canon 5D is the issue of focus. The 5D has a VistaVision sensor. The 7D has more of a 35mm sensor. You’re dealing with a depth of field on the 5D that’s two and a half times as shallow as the 7D. A T2 on a 5D is like a 0.7 on the 35mm camera. The wonderful thing about this is you are able to go in depth of field range that we’ve never seen before.
What I wanted to do is to make this a family affair. My daughter Kyra is going to come out. Whoa, you’ve gotten much taller. What we’re going to do is we’re going to start taking the F stop down so now we’re in an 8 1/2. Now we’re going to go to a 5.6 1/2. I want you to also look at the background. The background is going to bloom. It’s going to start to go out of focus. That’s what so powerful about this camera. It takes something that looks somewhat ordinary and makes it extraordinary.
We’re down to a 5.6-8 split which is halfway between a 5.6 and an 8. Look at the background. The background has started to go out of focus. If this is all in focus, it doesn’t look as beautiful as it does when it’s all of focus. Now, we’ve gone to a 4-5.6 split which is between a 4 and a 5.6. Again, look at our depth of field that’s changing. Now we’re down t o a 2.8-4 split which is half way between a 2.8 and 4. You can see the depth of field really starting to morph out of focus in the background.
Now we’re into focus no man’s land. We’re at a 2-2.8 split. Again, look at the depth of field. Look at what’s happening in the background. Now we’re going to go where very few venture, 1.4-2. Again, look at the background. It’s like a wonderful watercolor behind her. I would advise, doing this kind of photography, if anyone’s moving around, you’re going to have your hat handed to you. If it’s a beautiful lock off like what we’ve been doing with this 50mm, which is a wide shot, what you see is the 2 shot here, that’s at a 2. The background is falling off nicely behind us, but we’re not moving a lot. But drifting down into the 1.4 range with these lenses on this VistaVision sensor, you have to weigh the challenge.
We’ve gone through all the lenses and we got the basics. In the next episode, we’re going to move on to the Cinematographer Starter Kit – everything you need in your kit to be able to turn this baby into a movie-making machine.
Shane Hurlbut, ASC
HDSLR Educational Series for Cinema
Julien Lasseur – Director
Karlyn Michelson – Producer
Shane Hurlbut, ASC, Lydia Hurlbut, and Brad Bitton – Executive Producers
Clint Milby – Associate Producer
Bodie Orman – Director of Photography
Edited by Karlyn Michelson
Sponsored by B&H
Production Coordinator – Anne Gaither
Camera Operator – Kevin Anderson
Camera Operator – Eric Wolfinger
Camera Operator – Valentin Vignet
Steadicam Operator – Hayden Houser
Key Grip – Fabio Newman
Hair/Makeup – Teddie Bergman
Sound – Vincent Fatato
Production Assistants – Brian Touhy, Lucas Petri
Special Thanks to Mole-Richardson