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Posts by Matt Porwoll

The Canon EF-S 17-55mm and Canon EF-L 24-105mm lenses have been a staple in documentary film productions since the advent of DSLR cameras for video. They are compact and light lenses that cover a great range and pack easily into small configurations. While they fall into a different category of any other lens in the series, I felt it was important to look at them both as a point of comparison to the other cinema zooms, but also because we will continue to use them on their own as well as in addition to the other lenses in the series.

…continue reading Behind the Lens: Canon EF-S 17-55mm & EF-L 24-105mm Zooms

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Fujinon released the Cabrio Compact lens series back in 2012 as a lightweight option to their impressive Premier line of cinema lenses. The Cabrio line includes the 14-35mm, 19-90mm, 20-120mm, 25-300mm and 85-300mm. Despite being smaller and lighter, they are still members of the elite “Premier” series of Fujinon lenses, offering exceptional optical performance across the board. Let’s take a closer look at the Fujinon Cabrio 19-90.

…continue reading Behind the Lens: Fujinon Cabrio 19-90mm Zoom

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Zeiss has had a line of reasonably priced cinema zooms for a few years now, but the introduction of the Zeiss LWZ.3 21-100mm takes things up a notch. The 21-100 covers a much longer focal length range than any of their other lenses, and is more than a pound lighter than its predecessors. The 21-100 will cover most of the documentary shooting situations you’ll find yourself in. But unlike the other Zeiss cinema zooms, the 21-100 only covers Super 35, so you can’t use this on your full frame cameras. Let’s take a closer look at the aspects of this lens.

…continue reading Behind the Lens: Zeiss LWZ.3 21-100mm Zoom

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Canon’s CN-E Compact Zooms have been a great addition to documentary cinematography since their release five years ago. The image quality is superb and is a great choice for higher-end productions. They offer a comfortable size and weight, with a fast, consistent T2.8 aperture. This pair of lenses offers a great focal length range that will cover you in most shooting situations. Let’s take a deep dive into the look and feel of these two lenses.

…continue reading Behind the Lens: Canon CN-E 15.5-47 & 30-105 Compact Zooms

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Fujinon recently released the native Sony E-mount MK 18-55mm cinema zoom as an “ultra-compact, and 2 lb, 2 oz lightweight design lens that meets the needs of Super35 and APS-C sensor cameras.” The lens features “outstanding optical performance and low distortion with T2.9 speed across the entire zoom range, as well as fully manual lens rings for focus, zoom, and iris.”

…continue reading Behind The Lens: Fujinon MK 18-55mm Zoom

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Behind The Lens

As a documentary cinematographer, I am constantly struggling to decide which lenses I want in my kit for any given project. The options over the years have ranged from minimal to overwhelming. In the beginning, I was mostly restricted to DSLR-style lenses to interface with my EF or Sony E-mount cameras. Now, with the advent of lightweight cinema-style zooms, many of which allow for switchable (or at least option-based) lens mounts, the choices have opened up dramatically. This is what led me to do this lens test. I wanted to compile all of this lens information into one place, so I could easily reference it when deciding on a lens for a project. On one hand, I want to test these lenses for myself. I want to see how they perform, how they handle, and how they fit into my shooting style. But I also want to do this test to share the information with the filmmaking community at large; opening a conversation around the tools available to us only strengthens the visual style of our collective work.

…continue reading Presenting Behind the Lens: A Look at Documentary Zooms

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