Cinematography : Tips on using the 7d to capture some great movies by Kirk W. Murray

Kirk W. Murray

Tips on using the 7d to capture some great movies

Thoughts on lenses? If you were making a microbudget feature, what lens would you rent for a 7d?

Jesse Cardoza

I always liked the look from nikon AI series. You will need a fd-ef mount. However these lenses are inexpensive, large throw( focus rings rotation is almost completely around the barrel), and have a soft creamy look to the image. The range from 60-400 USD. The wider the aperture the less expensive they tend to be. My personal favorites are the 35mm and 50mm. I know there is some crop factoring they are not full framed, but neither is the 7d.

Andrew Sobkovich

When shooting moving images you need lenses that are designed to work in that environment. Cine lenses not stills lenses. To keep your lens rental costs down, limit the number of lenses. While you could use just one lens, as many filmmakers have in the past, it is easier on locations with at least 3 lenses. Canon EF mount cine lenses, the 24mm, 50mm, and 85mm should work nicely. If you are shooting mainly indoors in real locations a 14mm, might be handy, while outdoors the 135mm can work. Just ideas without knowing your locations nor what you are shooting. Other cine lenses might be available in an EF mount as well. Or use a PL to Canon EF mount adapter to open up your options to common motion picture PL mount lenses. Do not even think of shooting wide open, if you cannot afford a camera, you will not be able to afford a skilled experienced 1st assistant to pull focus accurately. I like the idea of the challenge of shooting with one lens though. Oh, the 7D… it is a nice stills camera. Like all DSLRs it is not conducive to shooting motion images. The resolution in cine mode along with aliasing are tragic but “everyone” does it so it must be ok.

Hunter Mossman

You might look at the Rokinon Cine lenses in EF mount. For the money they're hard to beat. They're not true "Cinema Glass" but are re-housed still lenses with de-clicked aperture rings and geared focus rings. I own a full set of them and they're good lenses. I've shot lots of the older Nikon and Zeiss still lenses adapted to EF and they have a great soft milky image and nice warm colors but can be a real pain to pull focus with and work with on set. It all depends on what your shooting and how you like to shoot and the esthetic you're going for. I would call your local rental house and set up some time to shoot some tests with different lens packages. Bring in someone to sit in front of the camera and test different lenses and looks and see what you like and what's in your budget. Make sure to slate each shot and then go home and watch the footage and see what you like. They're are also lots of lens tests online you can look at.

Andrew Sobkovich

Rokinons can be quite decent. As the query was about rental lenses, the price difference is not that great. Rokinon lens bodies are mostly plastic construction. They can work great when new or gently used, but if they are well used or abused, there can be issues which may not rear their ugly heads until you can see the images in a proper screening environment ie too late. One of those products that is best used by an owner and never used by anyone else.

Prashant Sehgal

I'm also a big fan of the Rokinon/Samyang series, although I'm still using my good old "still" lenses made by them - 35mm f/1.4, 85mm f/1.4 and 14mm f/2.8. Also, I never go for a shoot without my handy Canon series of lenses - 50mm f/1.4, 24-105mm f/4 L and 70-210mm f/4. And I would HIGHLY recommend that you check out some older M42 screw-mount lenses - they can be bought for much cheaper than Canon's equivalent lenses with similar specs and quality. Some good options include Pentax SMC Takumar 50mm f/1.4, Pentax SMC Takumar 200mm f/4 and Pentax Super Takumar 35mm f/3.5. Just remember that 7D is a Crop Sensor Camera, while all of the above focal lengths are written for Full-Frame Sensor Cameras, so do adjust them by a Crop Factor of 1.6x before going in for any of them. Finally, do explore Magic Lantern (if you haven't already) if you plan to shoot a feature with your DSLR. And check out Picture Styles like the Technicolor CineStyle for a world of difference!

Kirk W. Murray

These are GREAT recommendations! Thank you everyone!

Thomas Bailey

Love my Canon EF 50mm 1.4, feels the most natural to my eye. Pretty cheap too.

Lindbergh E Hollingsworth

Wide angle lenses - 14mm - 24mm will give you added value visually. Can't go wrong with a 50mm and 85mm ... shoot flat (low contrast, drop your saturation down one notch, and drop your sharpness down one notch). Using sticks (a tripod) will give you added production value. If you shoot hand-held after you frame, step back two paces and shoot loose. You can always stabilize the shot to give it a more fluid feel.

Jesse Cardoza

Some still lenses have the ability to capture the light favorably for kinetics. When you see Cine lens across your lens housing. The manufacturer is guaranteeing this lens has the ability to capture light properly. Also the housing is built for cinema purposes( cine gears, "de-clicked" f stop, and a t stop). If you filmed on a Zeiss distagon 35mm ZE. 1.4( still lens) and a Zeiss Compact prime 1.5 your gonna have a hard time distinguishing which images is from which lens. Know why? They r the same elements in different housing! Manufacturers want to take advantage of us filmakers fan girling over the word "cine". L SERIES GLASS= canon cine primes . Rokinon still line = rokinon cine line. Practically the only manufacturer that does not practice this marketing strategy is Panavission and Cooke and vantage. But i am only aware they make motion picture lenses( do share if otherwise). Do your research and you will find a whole list of lenses able to render kight well enough for cinema. Fyi STANLEY KUBRICK shot on hassleblad still lenses.

Andrew Sobkovich

I’m guessing you are referring to the lenses used in the candlelight scenes from Barry Lyndon. Sorry, but they are not Hasselblad but Zeiss Planar f0.7 lenses. Hasselblad does not make lenses. The issues with uses stills lenses are not always quality, but rather the mechanical working of the lens and the ergonomics. Stills lenses are static in normal usage when taking a shot, in cinema lenses we are always changing, focus, zoom or iris during shots. The lenses have to track all of these changes perfectly with absolutely no play in the controls when rotated in both directions and when changing rotational direction during a shot. This is a fairly demanding request. Further we want large amounts of element rotation in order to have more witness marks on the lens, although news and documentary lenses typically have a focus barrel rotation of about 90˚ so fewer marks closer together. Modifying a stills lens to work for our usage is “complicated”, which ends up being spelled with lots of $$$.

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