Ryan E. Walters, Cinematographer

Cinematic Excellence at 24 Frames a Second

The Problem With Digital Cameras & My Secret Solutions


Thanks to many innovations in technology, digital cinema cameras are continuing to improve in quality by leaps and bounds. The mere fact that we can now shoot at an actual EI of 800 and have clean useable images with 13-14 stops of dynamic range was unthinkable just a couple of years ago. However, the pristine images that these cameras are delivering have introduced a new problem that we haven't had to think about until now: the images are getting too good. They are too clean. Read on for why I think this is a problem, and what to do about it.
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Portland Lens Test 2011


On December 10, 2011 Indent Studios organized a lens test that was very eye opening and educational for all that attended. I feel fortunate that I could partake in making it a successful event. :) With the release of "affordable" cameras like the Epic-X, Scarlet, C300, and F3 (among many others) everyone is wondering what "affordable" lens package they should invest in, or rent for their camera. Indent Studios organized this event to use 3 Epic-X's to shoot with 7 sets of lenses and find out the answer. After handling the lenses, and reviewing the footage we all came across some surprising results.

Check out the footage for yourself and download the R3Ds after the jump...
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Zeiss ZF.2 Lens Test Chart


[HIGHLY RECOMMEND WATCHING IN FULL SCREEN]


Charts are not very sexy I know - but they are very useful. I completed this test to evaluate where these lenses perform the best so that I can get the most out of them. When wide open, the chromatic aberration, and the slight softness that the lenses produce means that for my tastes, I'll be using them stopped down at least one stop. Once they are stopped down by one stop, everything looks sharp, and the chromatic aberration goes away. The 85mm seems to be the worst offender, as the image is not clear until around T4 / T5.6. And both the 28mm and 35mm seem to hold up better then the 50mm or the 85mm. Overall, I'm happy with the results as they bear out what I have experienced first hand when using these lenses in a production environment. I'll be using these lenses in the T2.8 - T8 range going forward. Download the stills after the jump.
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