How feasible is it to use a prime lens for film?

Ok,

Forgive my newb question. I'm an audio guy. I promise I searched for a bit for a previous thread that was similar, but it was to no avail.

I'm thinking of picking up a Super Takumar and a Helios for still photography.

However, is it simple to make these lenses work for filming on a T3i?

Would I have to buy a super-complicated shock-mount or steadicam rig?

Thanks in advance.
 
tripod ! :)

50mm on the crop sensor is a bit long for handheld, but by no means impossible. A shoulder rig and practice will help.

I find that with my letus hawk (zucato z-finder like thing) that the third point of contact against my eye the stability is 100% improved over just hand held. If your hesitant on dropping the big bucks, you can do what I did and start with a LCDVF or CarrySpeed LCD View Finder for around $60. These provide the SAME stability enhancement as the expensive models.

That last few times Iv shot handheld with the t2i, I did NOT use my cool shoulder rig. As a general principle when shooting hand held with an eyepiece learn to work with both eyes open, or have a friend hold your shirt collar as you shoot...
 
Last edited:
Of course your lens will work, but you might want to go wider. Like a 28MM.

And watch some old movies that came out before shaky-vision. Panning and tilting on a good tripod worked for decades. And in my opinion beats the hell out of shaky-vision.

If you need a hand-held shot, put your camera strap around your neck, hold your t3i firmly out away from you, start shooting. It works great and looks as good as any thousand dollar shoulder rig. It's just doesn't look as cool :)
 
Ok,

Forgive my newb question. I'm an audio guy. I promise I searched for a bit for a previous thread that was similar, but it was to no avail.

I'm thinking of picking up a Super Takumar and a Helios for still photography.

However, is it simple to make these lenses work for filming on a T3i?

Would I have to buy a super-complicated shock-mount or steadicam rig?

Thanks in advance.

Make sure you buy an M42 to EOS adapter that has proper focal flange distance or you'll have issues when you want to focus beyond fifteen feet, for photos and for video the same.

I owned Takumars at one point, although my favorite photography prime lens set were Contax Yashica Zeiss lenses. The Takumars are awesome for a really retro feel, and the way they reduce contrast is actually helpful for baked-in image acquisition methods like DSLRs.

Try it out!

See if you can get Super Coated ones, those are nifty.
 
Well, I'm a proud new owner of a Super Takumar 50mm f/1.4. And I bought a metal m42 to EOS adapter from some place on e-Bay, said nothing about focal lengths... uh oh.

I am mainly going to use it for portraits for family etc., but it would be nice to use in filming, too.

@Rik I meant to use it while filming handheld - someone told me never to use these prime lenses while shooting handheld because there is no image stabilization. So, if I wanted to use this on the T3i for filming, would I have to buy some fancy steady cam mounting?

thanks for the info wheat!

Of course your lens will work, but you might want to go wider. Like a 28MM.

And watch some old movies that came out before shaky-vision. Panning and tilting on a good tripod worked for decades. And in my opinion beats the hell out of shaky-vision.

If you need a hand-held shot, put your camera strap around your neck, hold your t3i firmly out away from you, start shooting. It works great and looks as good as any thousand dollar shoulder rig. It's just doesn't look as cool :)

Forgot to thank you, too. Thanks for the great advice!
 
@Rik I meant to use it while filming handheld - someone told me never to use these prime lenses while shooting handheld because there is no image stabilization. So, if I wanted to use this on the T3i for filming, would I have to buy some fancy steady cam mounting?

Ah, okay, that makes sense. I was wondering the same as Rik (though, I currently only own 1 zoom lens).

Handheld takes practice. Everyone's got a different method. Many people will strongly recommend a shoulder mount (does it still count as handheld?). When I'm doing handheld, I like to keep a low center of gravity, knees bent. I keep my elbow in real tight, holding the camera with both hands, right around chest-level. But I don't know if that's the recommended way to do it, that's just sort of how I learned, coming from a handycam background.

Don't forget that with a prime, you're probably going to have a considerably more shallow depth of field. Sometimes that's exactly what you want -- sometimes not so much. Depends on the situation.

Is this for filmmaking? Or family stuff? Cuz if it's for shooting stuff on the fly, vacation footage, or whatever, I'd have to strongly recommend a zoom, and I would usually stay at f8 or higher.

For filmmaking, I think it's pretty much concensus that primes are the way to go. Budgetary limitations were the only reason I went with the kit lens.
 
Hey, ROC. A monopod is an acquired taste/skill that can give decent results on the cheap and doubles as a billy club for family gatherings that may get out of hand. ;)

Although not a sexy example, wedding videographers use them all the time with DSLR's to stay as nimble as possible and cover a lot of territory quickly.
 

directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
@Rik I meant to use it while filming handheld - someone told me never to use these prime lenses while shooting handheld because there is no image stabilization. So, if I wanted to use this on the T3i for filming, would I have to buy some fancy steady cam mounting?

If that person knows you and understands your skill level and
told you never to use primes while shooting handheld then that
person knows much better than I do.

I'm sure there is a huge difference with a DSLR than a video
camera - at least the cameras I am used to using - so perhaps I
should stay out of this discussion. I haven't used a DSLR like the
T3i handheld. I suspect I would be pretty bad at it. My speciality
is handheld work - I shoot a lot of reality TV and have been
working on a TV show this season a few days a month specifically
as a handheld operator - but I think the T3i would throw me.

Does a zoom lens make that much difference when shooting
handheld? I wouldn't think so, but then again I realize this is
out of my experience.
 
@Rik I meant to use it while filming handheld - someone told me never to use these prime lenses while shooting handheld because there is no image stabilization. So, if I wanted to use this on the T3i for filming, would I have to buy some fancy steady cam mounting?

I haven't used the lens you've bought and unless there is something to specific to that lens that the person you talked to knows about...

If he was just generally talking about not using prime lenses for handheld work, then i have no idea where he's coming from because it's absolutely fine to do that.

As with everything, it takes practice, technique and proper support equipment. Just do a couple of tests for yourself.
 
There are two big issues that make shooting DSLRs handheld different than with a traditional film or video camera. One is the size/weight, and the other is the rolling shutter, and their effects are compounded to make for a worse image.

Shooting handheld with a light camera that fits in your hands allows the constant tiny movements of your hand to be transmitted directly to the camera body. The weight of larger cameras dampens these tiny movements, and a longer camera that can be rested on a shoulder further reduces them by shifting the camera's pivot point away from your hands.

Fast, tiny oscillations from shooting handheld with a small camera are then magnified by the effects of the rolling shutter, because the image actually stretches & squashes slightly with each movement. At the extreme this causes the 'jello' effect where the image looks noticeably wobbly, but with small movements it basically just serves to accentuate the visible shakiness.

These effects are more noticeable with longer lenses - in my experience they start being noticeable at 50mm on my 5D (so ~35mm on a crop sensor) and become hard to live with at anything over 85mm(50mm crop). So in that sense a zoom lens could be significantly worse depending on focal length.

Neither of these are specifically effected by using a prime lens. Handheld shakiness can be improved by using a lens with IS, and in that respect your friend is right - there are very few (and certainly no old) primes with IS. However, a lot of photo-oriented lenses with IS aren't entirely ideal for video work - they tend to adjust quickly when they hit the limits of stabilization in a given direction, resulting in visible jumps or stutters in the camera motion. So IS can be a trade-off, worth it in some situations but not others.

For instance, the Canon 70-200 f/2.8 IS is one of my favorite lenses, the IS works really well for video - it has a dual mode designed for things like panning - but it's large and heavy, and very expensive, so I just rent it when needed. On the other hand I own the 24-104 f/4 IS and it's a decent lens for handheld, but I've been bitten more than once by it's IS jumping in panning or handheld shots with smooth steady movement. I also shoot quite a bit with the 16-35mm f/2.8 and even though it's not IS it's never a problem for handheld because the wide angle really minimizes the effect of shake. Because it's a fast, wide zoom though it's also big, heavy, and very expensive - so a prime in the equivalent range might be a better choice.

The nice thing about a small light camera though is it's easy to turn it into something bigger and heavier, and thus more stable - not so easy to go the other way. Frankly though I feel that things have gotten way out of hand with the crazy complicated (and expensive) erector-set rigs that are out there - people seem to think that they are a requirement for using these cameras and that's absolutely not true. The most basic < $100 monopod will get you great stable footage, and I always use one when shooting with my old manual prime lenses. I usually use it collapsed all the way and just brace it against my thigh or hip, which allows me to get the look of handheld without the shakiness. You can also flip it up so it's horizontal with respect to the camera and use it like a shoulder support. Other options include shooting with a loupe - the third point of contact against your face stabilizes things considerably - or a strap pulled tight as laughingcrow suggested, or even a string between the camera and your foot - google 'one dollar image stabilizer' for ideas along those lines.
 
Wow, thanks for all this data guys, I'm humbled. I've saved every response and I'll try them out and see what works best for me.

Would you guys mind telling me what exact lenses you own and what you use them for? Or is this in a another thread somewhere?

Thank you very much.

Thanks, ItDonnedOnMe for taking the time to write that out - it's immensely helpful.

Next question: What's the focal length you find yourselves mostly fiming at? I.E. what prime lens do you find yourselves using the most? It must vary from project to project.
 
http://www.vimeo.com/8245714

Turn down the volume, please. Music is terrible, but I needed to get up a sample for someone a while back because they were interested in handheld work + DSLRs.

Camera: 7D (Similar sensor size to T3i)
Lenses: Zeiss ZF's and Zeiss Contax Yashicas
Focal Lengths: Zeiss ZE 85/1.4 and then a Zeiss CY 180/2.8

Both handheld. Pulling focus with my fingertips, just grabbing little segments in between setups. No eyepiece, loupe, external LCD, etc. I hate those things, actually.

The rig weighed 14lbs, a cake walk compared to what I now shoot with. Haha.

Handheld needs weight, practice, etc.

Don't be afraid to learn to do it. =] And, it makes you a wee-bit stronger. I carry around a 30ish LB camera now and handheld all day.

Oh, and I use both Zooms and Primes: my favorite lens sets are Contax Zeiss Yashicas and Cooke S4's. My Favorite zoom right now is a Cooke T3.1 18-100, which I use to shoot just about everything when the Cooke's aren't an option.
 
On my GH2 if I'm only using one lens it will generally be the Panasonic 20mm f1.7. If it's a project where I'm using multiple lenses I find myself using my Nikon 28mm f2. The reason I go with the 28mm if I'm filming with multiple lenses is that it color matches with the my other Nikon primes far better than the 20mm. It's more of a hassle to color match the newer Panasonic lens with the vintage Nikon lenses in post.
 
http://www.vimeo.com/6859652 -- Here's an example of the jello that was mentioned.

At the beginning of the clip, the image "wobbles", then when I pan wrecklessly over to the brunette, it wobbles again.

Also at a 180/2.8

Some people hate it, others don't care. Ideally, you'd be as steady as you can get, but "loose" as well. That's the aesthetic of handheld, to have the camera existing as part of the scene versus the omnipotent or all-seeing. That's how I view it, anyway!

I love handheld.
 
Would you guys mind telling me what exact lenses you own and what you use them for? Or is this in a another thread somewhere?

Next question: What's the focal length you find yourselves mostly fiming at? I.E. what prime lens do you find yourselves using the most? It must vary from project to project.

I'll PM you in a bit.
 
Super-Takumar vs SMC Super-Takumar

I think I made a mistake.

I'm new to the world of older prime lenses and I thought all Super-Takumars were the same.

Apparently they're not.

Does anyone know if there is much difference between a Super-Takumar 50mm f/1.4 and an SMC Super-Takumar 50mm f/1.4?

I just bought a Super-Tak for $50 and then found and read how the SMCs are SOOOOO much better than the one I got -

did I buy the wrong lens?

Should I refund it?

I'll try it out... but I feel like a bit of a loser...

But hey, it's my first lens purchase, so bleh
 
Make sure you buy an M42 to EOS adapter that has proper focal flange distance or you'll have issues when you want to focus beyond fifteen feet, for photos and for video the same.

I owned Takumars at one point, although my favorite photography prime lens set were Contax Yashica Zeiss lenses. The Takumars are awesome for a really retro feel, and the way they reduce contrast is actually helpful for baked-in image acquisition methods like DSLRs.

Try it out!

See if you can get Super Coated ones, those are nifty.

From your other thread.haha

SMC all the way for flares
 
Top