$1,000 Lens vs $4,000 Lens — Are Cinema Lenses Worth It?


– [Man] The miniaturized
computer at the very heart of this system is our story
today on Science Reporter. (upbeat music) – Hey there, Caleb Wojcik
from DIY Video Guy here and today I’m joined by Greg
Farnum from Lens Pro to Go and in this video we’re
going to discuss the reasons you’d rent or buy a cinema
lens, instead of filming your videos with a still photography lens. Be sure to also go check
out the other video we’re making today, on the
Lens Pro to Go channel, where we compare a $2,000
camera to a $20,000 camera. Different cinema style lenses come in many shapes, sizes, mounts and price levels, just like lenses that are built
primarily for taking photos. The first thing you’ll probably notice, other than how much
larger a cinema lens is, is how it’s geared. It’s usually geared for both pulling focus and changing the aperture. The opening through which light
reaches your camera sensor, or the apeture, on most still
lenses can only be controlled electronically by the camera you’re using. You can change it in increments of one third an F stop at a time. F3.2, 3.5, 4.0 and so on. But with a cinema lens you
can get much more precise, by manually changing the
aperture very, very smoothly. Like when you’re going from
a bright outdoor setting into a dimly lit indoor environment. Some still lenses, like
the Sony G Masters, now allow you to declick
the aperture ring though. The gears on the side
of a cinema lens allow the addition of a follow
focus system for you or a first AC to smoothly
change the focus or aperture, with either a wheel next to
the lens or a wireless system, which is helpful when you’re
using a gimbal or a drone. – Pulling focus on a
cinema versus a still lens is way more precise and smoother too. Some still lenses from Sony or Zeiss use fully electronic focus by wire systems, where the faster you move the focus ring, the more it changes focus. A cinema lens on the other
hand is completely analog, with markers on the
side for focus distance. A cinema lens also has a
much larger focus throw, or how much you have
to turn the focus ring to change the focus. On a still lens you might only have around a quarter of a turn of
the barrel to rack focus. On a cinema lens you get up to two or three hundred degrees of rotation. The focus ring on a cine
lens also has built-in hard stops at infinity and at
the closest focus distance. This makes it much easier
to get that critical focus, which is even more and
more important when you’re filming in 4K, 8K and even beyond. Another focus-related
feature of a cinema lens is they typically have
less focus breathing, or changes in how much
is in your field of view. If you watch the edges
of your frame while you change focus on a still lens, you’ll see more or less
visible in the frame, which can be quite distracting while racking focus between two objects. On a cinema lens you’ll get
less or no focus breathing on the edges of your
frame when changing focus. – Another focus-related feature is that, if you’re using a zoom cinema lens, it will be parfocal, which
means as you zoom in and out the focus distance will stay the same. This isn’t the case when
you’re using a still lens and you’ll probably need
to refocus ever so slightly if you zoom in or out. Another feature of cinema
lenses is they have more blades on the iris
that opens and closes as you change aperture. Inside this Canon Cinema Prime
lens is an 11 blade iris, which means your bokeh
ends up being rounder. A Canon L series lens has
only eight aperture blades, leading to a more of an
octagon shaped bokeh. – Another benefit of
filming with cinema lenses comes when you’re shooting
with multiple lenses. First off, a set of cinema
lenses from the same company is created together and the
glass is coated to make sure all of them are color matched. Next, they are usually
all the same physical size no matter which focal length you use, which means the gears
for changing aperture, zoom and focus are in the same place. They also have the same
sized barrel and threading for add-ons like neutral density filters, or diffusion filters. This makes changing between
lenses way easier and faster when using rails, matte boxes
and follow focus systems. – [Man] If we look over
here I can show you more about how the computer operates. – Another major difference between stills and cinema lenses are T and F stops. Now, without getting
too technical, an F stop is the ratio between the
diameter of the aperture in the lens, or the size of the opening, and the focal length of the
lens, like 30, 50 or 85). The issue with F stops on still lenses is, as you change between
different focal lengths, the amount of light you let in can change. So even if you use the same
F stop and camera settings, your exposure values will be different on different lenses, ever so slightly. On the other hand, T stops
used on cinema lenses measure how much light
is being transmitted, hence the T, to the sensor. This means if you use the same T stop on multiple cinema lenses, even
at different focal lengths, the exposure should match exactly on all the lenses used from the same set. Other considerations and
benefits of cinema lenses are usually better controlled
chromatic aberration, which is that color fringing you may see on the edges during a bright scene. Less barrel distortion at a wider angle and more consistent
edge to edge sharpness. Cinema lenses are also
almost always heavier, which makes running and
gunning or traveling with them a little bit more difficult. – As far as cost, you’re
generally gonna spend four to five times as
much for a cinema lens from a major manufacturer
like Canon or Zeiss as you would on the stills equivalent. The reason for this is not
only the better construction and materials, but the
coatings and the testing and the precision machining and assembly that goes into making sure all
of the lenses in a set match. Some of them even use the
same exact internal glass you’ll find on their still
lenses, just housed differently. So if you don’t need the
benefits we’ve been talking about you can save some money there. Also, you may want to use the lenses for dual purpose of photo and video, so that may influence
your decision as well. There are some companies, like Rokinon, that makes cinema style
versions of their lenses that are close in price to
their photography counterparts. Just know you won’t get
auto-focused abilities when using cinema style lenses. – What it typically comes
down to is your project’s size and its budget,
for whether you choose a still or cinema style lens. But now you’re ready
to go make that choice, whether you’re renting or buying, and when doing so you’ll know
all the features you’ll get. Definitely go check out the other video Greg and I made today,
where we’re comparing a $2,000 GH5 to a $20,000 Red Scarlet W and all the differences you get when you get a more expensive camera. So definitely go subscribe
to the Lens Pro to Go channel for more video and photo gear reviews, comparisons and tutorials. Thanks Greg, for bringing all those expensive lenses for this video today. – Yeah, no problem, thanks for having me. (upbeat music) – [Man] You’ve got all this
squeezed into a little box, how did you do that?

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