Do you think this camera lens was worth getting?

Videomaker – Learn video production and editing, camera reviews Forums Technique Production Gear Do you think this camera lens was worth getting?

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    • #72003323
      Avatarfritzlanglover
      Participant

      I got a 70-300mm mostly to get more movement in the camera. I wanted certain shots for future project that require the camera to move and instead of getting a steadicam or a dolly or a jib, I thought I would get the long lens, and let it do movement. Since it’s a telephoto, it can simulate a dolly or a jib shot, since it’s moving from far away, zoomed in of course.

      It was recommended to be a couple of other filmmakers I asked as a cheaper solution to get the movement.

      However, of course I need locations with lots space in order to pull it off, but the lens is also very sensitive when it comes to focus. If I want to move the camera lens on a face close up, I only have about an inch or less of depth of field for example.

      So I wondering if the lens was even with getting as oppose to equipment to get the same shots, but also have the luxury of deeper depth of field, and not needing as much space in location choices.

      What do you think?

    • #72003360

      I’m lost. How are you getting movement? Are you talking about zooming in and zooming out? What camera do you have?

      Utah Video Production

    • #72003476
      Avatarpaulears
      Participant

      There’s a VERY big difference between zooming and moving the camera in and out. In a zoom, the relative size difference between objects stays the same, but in a move, changes drastically. Zooms, at the long end are also very difficult to keep still and level, and worse still, they mean that cheap tripods with twisty legs and poorer heads show themselves up badly. Long lenses, as you have discovered have a shallower depth of field, but it just means you need to be better at focussing. Outside broadcast camera folk can manage to stage on a travelling golf ball, keeping it totally sharp through it’s travel – pure skill, with no automatics at all. Personally, I would never want a camera with a fixed focal length lens. Zooms for me! However, I also still use them on jibs. Worth reading up on the effect Alfred Hitchcock used where the camera moves at the same time, but in opposition to the zoom. As the zoom makes the image look further away, the camera moves closer. The idea being that the foreground subject stays exactly the same size while the background changes it’s size rapidly. Great FX and quite shocking. Zooms are NOT replacements for moving the camera.Totally different look.

    • #72007275
      Avatarfritzlanglover
      Participant

      Okay thanks. Basically what I mean is, when you are zoomed in, you can track someone while walking and running and you have a lot more movement in the camera compared to a non-telephoto lens.

      That’s what I mean if it’s worth getting for movement but I already bought it. And yes it does take practice to keep the movement steady on a tripod for sure.

    • #72007280

      I’m honestly lost on the logic here. But it sounds like you are making it work for you so problem solved.

      Utah Video Productions

    • #72007293
      Avatarfritzlanglover
      Participant

      Well I’ve been having trouble pulling focus with it, and I was told that it’s because it’s a fly-by-wire focus, even in manual mode. But would getting an all mechanical focus ring would that actually make things easier, or not really?

    • #72007625
      Avatarpaulears
      Participant

      I’ve lost the plot totally! fly by wire focus? Eh? What weird bizarre lens have you bought? Are we talking video lenses or stills lenses? I’ve never come across an after market lens of any kind that doesn’t have direct control of focus. You see them on some video cameras where they have servo focus so the camera can control it, with an opt-coupled focus ring and of course you have servo control of stills lenses if they have autofocus, but these aways have a manual setting. What is the lens you have?

      prime lenses vs zooms is a common question. Fixed focal length lenses always require camera movement, and often this is impossible. this is where zooms are the solution. As said, zoom and physical movement look totally different. Me, I own no primes and never want to. Doesn’t work for my style of shooting.

      Focus is of course always tricky – as soon as light goes down, shutters speed up and camera gain stays off you spend a lot of time keeping images sharp. You get better at it, but often the real killer is a rubbish viewfinder that does not show you what is happening. A high quality monitor can be a real surprise sometimes!

    • #72007665
      Avatarfritzlanglover
      Participant

      The lens I have is the Canon 70-300mm still lens and it’s a fly-by-wire focus, which I have been having problems, pulling focus, with and I was told it’s because it’s a fly-by-wire.

    • #72007672
      Avatarpaulears
      Participant

      This one? Canon EF 70-300mm lens F/4-5.6 IS II USM?

      Sadly this is a non-mechanical lens, with all focus via servo control, which makes it tricky for video use, as the position of the focus ring has no direct link to the mechanism.The readout is handy for stills, but less so for video. The reviews say the images are great, but it’s designed to do a really fast and accurate autofocus, not do what video folk want. Nice lens, but I’d not want to use it for my video work. As it’s not parfocal, zooming means focus adjustment, but that adjustment is very tricky to do.

    • #72007727

      A few things. That lens is ideal for anyone looking to capture distant subjects. This will never look like a steadicam or a dolly or a jib which is what I thought was your original goal. If you have a Canon DSLR that has strong autofocus you can use that. For example, the Canon 1DX Mark 2 has incredible autofocus capabilities which is why people like to use that camera on a steadycam / gimbal.

      Utah Video Productions

    • #72007786
      Avatarfritzlanglover
      Participant

      Okay thanks. Yes, that’s the lens, the 70-300mm.

      No, I wasn’t planning on using it on a steadicam. What I meant before was, I got it so I could pan along with an actor for along time, so I wouldn’t have to use a steadicam, cause a lens zoomed into 300mm has a really long pan to it.

      However, I had no idea that what a ‘fly-by-wire’ focus ring was until after I bought it. I don’t really want to sell it cause I would take a hit if I do, but is there any to pull focus on it at all, that will work?

      As for autofocus, a lot of people say that certain cameras have good autofocus but when I tried using those cameras in the past, the autofocus still failed a lot. I feel that there is no such thing as good autofocus and it may be an oxymoron, as I have never had seen a camera that can do autofocus when it comes to wanting professional quality work.

      I mainly got the lens for doing action scenes. I wanted to do some chase scenes, and pan along with the actors while they are running. But when shooting action scenes with autofocus in the past, it never worked and the autofocus just couldn’t keep up, even though the camera operators I worked with, said their autofocus was really good.

      So is there really such thing as good autofocus or is it an oxymoron? Plus, if I have to end up pulling focus manually, is there any way to do that on a ring that is not mechanical, like this one?

    • #72007791
      Avatarpaulears
      Participant

      That lens has great autofocus BUT not for video. Video lenses with autofocus work very differently to stills lenses. Autofocus for stills needs to be vicious and dead accurate. Autofocus for video needs to stay in focus when the subject moves and that’s totally different. They also need to be more gradual, but worse still, in video it’s common for the thing in the middle to be 100% vital, or 100% not the subject and these lenses have no way to be adjusted.

      You use some of the jargon in a slightly odd way – you ask if it’s possible to pull focus, and yes it is if you are good at it, but I wonder if you mean something else?

      When I first started using cameras for video, there was no autofocus and on the cameras I still currently use there still is no autofocus and I do not want one. focus is my responsibility and it’s never grief. When you zoom in, lens theory says depth of field becomes critical – so you zoom right in, focus and zoom out to your desired focal length. If you need to go in tight, it’s already in focus. You get good at zoom in, focus, zoom out and you can do it really quickly. With a good viewfinder, focus is pretty simple. I don’t use DSLRs mainly because I cannot see the viewfinders properly, and even when I do, I cannot see sharp focus well enough. On my video camera when focus is tricky, the camera can give me a coloured line around the image to show the sharpest setting. When you cannot use a viewfinder, then really your options are limited. You can try to be as wide as possible and use the lens scale to get you very close for focus purposes, and then make sure you use a small enough aperture to let depth of field work for you.

      On a lens like the one we’re talking g about with a long focal length, focus will be critical once you get past what? 150mm or so? The lens doesn’t let you see exact focus distance, being a fairly blunt LCD type. Focusing the lens with the continually rotating ring isn’t repeatable, because all it does is increase or decrease the sharp focus point – but it doesn’t do it on a X degrees on the dial= Xm in distance – just a shift in or out.
      Last thing I’m confused on.
      [quote]I got it so I could pan along with an actor for along time, so I wouldn’t have to use a steadicam, cause a lens zoomed into 300mm has a really long pan to it.[/quote]
      Steadicam is for close in wobble free shooting, and a long lens on a decent head and legs means you can pan with the subject – but ignoring the wobble reduction of a steadicam, the frame looks totally different. There is a foreshortening effect with a long lens – backgrounds look much closer than they are. I don’t get the bit about a 300mm lens having a long pan to it?

      Sadly, I suspect you have bought the wrong lens for video work. Long lenses really make focus a critical point, and used for video, focus will at best be lurch and a bit random.

    • #72007834

      fritzlanglover said “I feel that there is no such thing as good autofocus and it may be an oxymoron, as I have never had seen a camera that can do autofocus when it comes to wanting professional quality work.”

      I feel some of Canon’s DSLRs are famous for their autofocus and in my case that is one of the only reason I purchased the 1DX mark 2. Keep in mind I own 2 cameras and I use them based on the task at hand. I have a handheld gimbal (Ronin-S) and you really can’t pull focus well on a rig like that. The 1DX Mark 2 autofocus is amazing and does a great job of keeping things in focus. For example, I was in the back of a car filming a guy riding a bike. His distance to the car was constantly changing and manually moving the focus and running the camera/rig by myself would have made pulling focus impossible.

      https://vimeo.com/292009824

      This was filmed with a Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III lens which is for a still photographer. I love that lens. The two zoom lenses I own are 16-35mm and 28-70mm. Note, I don’t have a lens that goes past 70mm. I would only use something like that if I was filming wildlife or something that I can’t get physically close to. Keep in mind that the higher the MM the more bumps in your camera move become more obvious.

      Guys like Devin Supertramp typically only use two zoom lenses as well, in addition to primes. 16-35mm and 28-70mm is a really good spread. How does autofocus work at 300mm, I have no idea because I have never needed to film with 300mm.

      As for focus, if you are talking about adding a follow focus setup? It can be done. You have to add a ring like this one to give your lens teeth for the follow focus to latch onto: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/839296-REG/Lens_Gear_605859_LENSGEAR_UNIVERSAL_LENS.html/?ap=y&gclid=CjwKCAiAy-_iBRAaEiwAYhSlAy9TEzYl-Ye5l7t4GqZealLdSWDBc2NKd_ELZGhlDRsT52Bdq-qPuhoCk5IQAvD_BwE&lsft=BI%3A514&smp=Y

      Utah Video Productions

    • #72007847
      Avatarfritzlanglover
      Participant

      Oh okay thanks. But I’m not using a gimbal with the 300mm lens. I want to use it on a tripod, but it’s locked down. So is it possible, to pull focus on a 70-300mm lens if it’s locked down on a tripod, or will the camera be good at autofocusing that? I’m using it film action chase scenes, and will pan with the 300mm along with the running actors. I want to zoom all the way to 300mm, cause the more I am zoomed in, the longer I can pan for. But will autofocus on a 300mm work for that, if actors are running all over the place?

      I feel like you are saying I should use a shorter lens, but the question is why? A 300mm can pan during a running chase scene, for a lot longer so I prefer that one, but is it possible to pull focus with since it’s fly-by-wire, or will the autofocus be able to actually keep up with a chase scene on it?

    • #72007852

      A few things about autofocus. Not all cameras are equal. I feel Canon is the best at it…but not all of their cameras offer the same autofocus technology. So it would depend on your camera.

      Second, autofocus focuses on one thing. And if anything gets in its way who know what the camera will track. For example, if you have an actor walking towards the camera and another actor walks in front of them the autofocus will probably jump to the other actor.

      It sounds like in your situation, you will need to manually change the focus. The hard thing about changing the focus on a still photography lens is the amount of distance you move the focus ring is really small. Cinematic lens make it so you really have to turn the focus ring to change the focus. It gives you a lot of room to really hit the focus just right. Where with a still photo lens it is much harder because there is very little play.

      I would figure out where the action starts in focus. Put a piece of tape on the lens (unless you have a follow focus) and then move the camera to the end of the action. Get the lens in focus and then add another piece of tape to the lens. When you do your love move the focus from the first piece of tape to the 2nd piece. Hope that helps. A follow focus makes this a lot easier.

      Utah Video Productions

    • #72007864
      Avatarfritzlanglover
      Participant

      Okay thanks. And this running, chase, fight scene I want to do, does have multiple actors in the frame.

      I’ve been practicing trying to hit the marks but with a fly-by-wire focus ring, which my lens has, it keeps failing to hit the marks everytime cause if I mark the lens, the mark is not always the same on a fly-by-wire if that makes sense. The lens itself changes it’s own marks cause of the fly-by-wire electronic technology. Does that make sense or no?

    • #72007878

      Sorry, I’ve never heard of a fly-by-wire focus ring. I had to look it up just to understand it. It sounds like the focus won’t even work unless the lens is powered. I really don’t know anything about that type of lens if it is what the brief description said. If you need to you can always rent a lens that will work for what you need. I know that isn’t what you wanted to hear.

      Utah Video Production

    • #72007884
      Avatarfritzlanglover
      Participant

      Okay thanks, this is my first time hearing about a fly-by-wire as well. I thought I had just bought a traditional focus ring lens. I was having problems with it and someone else told it was because it was a fly-by-wire.

      The rental stores do not have a lens that goes up to 300mm where I live so far, and I need that focal length to do the pans I want. Plus I always hate renting cause I have to book weeks or more in advance, and the focus puller has no time to practice or get use to the lens.

      Is there any way of making the fly-by-wire work then for me?

    • #72007887

      Companies like https://www.lensrentals.com/ and https://www.borrowlenses.com/ ship the gear you rent to you. Their prices are really good. They could be a great option if your local rental house doesn’t have what you need.

      Utah Video Productions

    • #72007893
      Avatarfritzlanglover
      Participant

      Okay thanks, the second option you listed has much better prices. I live in Canada, so not sure if they would ship there, but maybe there is some place in Canada that does. But I’m guessing these places to, you have to book weeks in advance. The problem is my shoot dates keep changing, mostly cause of the location owners backing out or something like that, or it could be that one of the cast and crew is sick, or something, etc.

      Mainly I am wearing multiple hats, so if I could hire someone on, who’s job was to handle all of the rental headaches, that would help, but so far, I have had to buy the equipment so I would have it when I need in, in emergency times and changes.

    • #72007897
      Avatarbobspez
      Participant

      Instead of focus tracking or continuous autfocus or pulling focus why dont you just use single auto focus and continually tap the shutter button to sharpen the autofocus as you pan to track the subject. The single autofocus will sharpen the image rather than hunt for it. There will be slight shpening of focus every time you tap the shutter button. As long as you are not using audio from the camera, which will pick up the autofocus noise, you should be better off than with any of the other methods. Your main concern would then be getting a smooth tracking motion rather than the focus.
      With tracking or continuous autofocus you will wind up cutting out the blurry parts and adding something like maybe a shot of someone watching or reacting to the subject or a wide shot of the subject running, and edit that into the scene.
      I recently added a second camera to my tripod and set one camera for close up and the other for wider angle so I can shoot at two focal lengths at the same time and go back and forth between the two focal lengths in the editor.

    • #72007899

      You can also make your F stop go as high as it can so basically everything in the shot is in focus.

      Utah Video Productions

    • #72007901
      Avatarfritzlanglover
      Participant

      Okay thanks. I have one camera only so far, and usually just operator with one to save on crew and equipment.

      As for tapping the autofocus, when I do that the camera is often too slow to keep up which is why I question how reliable autofocus is. Are you saying to tap during shooting, or before shooting?

      As for opening the f stop go as high as it can, the problem with that it, I will need much much brighter lights, especially when lighting a really wide scene, where I want to do large pans, which is what I got the lens for. So then the price lights goes way up and that would be more expensive than finding a better focus solution most likely, wouldn’t?

    • #72007930
      Avatarbobspez
      Participant

      Tapping before and constantly during shooting, like once a second or as often as needed to autofocus again while the image is still in focus, before it goes out of focus. The autofocus corrections should be minimal and maybe not even noticeable. You can try it to see how it works. If it’s not acceptable. Another thing to keep in mind is that while shooting moving action with a long lens the subject is rarely in sharp focus. If you look at Sunday Morning on CBS, the last segment that shows nature videos are rarely in sharp focus without stopping the camera and applying autofocus. It’s very notieeable. Maybe what you are aiming for is not possible. Even high budget action films that show telephoto shots of a train or a car chase shot at a distance are not in sharp focus over time. They generally cut away at some point and then cut back to the telephoto scene. Another consideration is if you can shoot the action on a circular path and you are in the center of the circle your distance may not change at all. At f7 or higher you might be in constant focus.

    • #72007934
      Avatarfritzlanglover
      Participant

      Okay thanks. Do you mean tapping the video screen? The problem with constantly tapping to make sure the actor is in focus, is that it requires a lot of concentration as oppose to pulling focus manually, at least for me. But I can try it and see.

      Mainly I am going for a running scenes, where I want to move the long lens with the actor, like this scene here, where Tuco is running through the graveyard, near the end of the scene:

      That’s the reason why I wanted to use the lens was to be able to pan along time with that movement. But in my scene I want to show more than one actor chasing each other, so the focus will have to switch appropriately, and not sure if even the best autofocus can handle it.

      But I also want to do it in a large indoor parking garage, which means less light cause of all the space we need, and therefore less deep depth of field.

    • #72007941

      I agree, at f7 or higher, you might be in constant focus. Use your ISO to get you there. You can also increase your shutter speed and you will be okay.

      Utah Video Productions

    • #72007942
      Avatarfritzlanglover
      Participant

      Okay thanks, I tried the lens at 300mm at F8 before and I still had to pull focus, unless I focused at the wrong spot, but I just focused on my friends.

      When you say increatse the shutter speed, what does the shutter speed have to do with it? Usually I don’t like the look of a high shutter speed, but what will that do for me?

    • #72007952
      Avatarbobspez
      Participant

      If you look at the scene a frame at a time you will see that with the panning and the long lens, nothing is in very sharp focus. I believe there wasn’t any change of focus during the continuous scenes, and that it was all handled with a high enough f stop in the bright sunlight to have the depth of field keep everything in relatively decent focus for a running scene. Also the focal length changes from wide angle to telephoto to closeups, maybe this is where the runner went out of focus. In regard to tracking multiple people I think this is where you need multiple cameras or multiple takes where you follow one subject at a time then put it together in the editor. At the least, you will have to edit out the refocus on a new subject if you do it all in one take. Then you will be missing real time action as you find and refocus on a new subject.

    • #72007962
      Avatarfritzlanglover
      Participant

      Okay thanks, but most of the shots were done on the telephoto, not just the close ups of the actor, but most of the wide shots were done on a telephoto lens as well.

      As for editing out recofusing, isn’t it possiblet to pull focus and switch from character to character but still keep it in the editing?

      There are movies where you will see the camera switch focus from one character to another and they keep it in the final edit, and don’t mind that the audience saw the camera switch focus, so is that not acceptable, if you can still do it well enough?

    • #72007968
      Avatarpaulears
      Participant

      Trying to pull focus on a long lens on a tripod while panning and with two subjects is going to be a nightmare. Take 99 – action and the actors are too knackered to even run! Is a focus shift between the actors even the correct or appropriate technique – throwing focus like this on even a stair shot always looks weak to me – but in a moving shot, you could have something in between them come in and out of focus as the point shifts – that would look weird. Using the autofocus by prodding the button is a really non-cinematic movement – it’s great between shots where you edit it out, but on my DSLR, that I rarely use for video, sometimes it hits the wanted part of a frame, other times, it focuses on something random in the image and sometimes it goes the wrong way, hits the end stop and has to come back. They’re just not made to do this. However – can you not use the lens at a much smaller aperture where you can set the focus point between the two subjects and still get acceptable sharpness without moving the focus point. At f8 and above depth of field can be surprisingly deep, even at a long focal length.

    • #72007973
      Avatarbobspez
      Participant

      Or you can buy a $300 Lumix FZ80 single lens camera with continuous silent autofocus of whatever is behind the crosshairs in the center of the frame, and a 20mm to 1200mm focal length zoom lens and 4K video. The autofocus takes 1 to 3 seconds to silently refocus, so you will have to edit those parts out. Completely automatic exposure settings keeps the best exposure continuously. After using the Lumix FZ 80 for a few months and the Nikon Coolpix B700 for over a year, I couldn’t see using a dslr for video again. The automated features and the super zoom focal lengths just make it too easy. At the low cost of the cameras, just a few hundred each, it makes sense to shoot both simultaneously from a bar on my tripod and set them to different focal lengths, to get closup and a wider angle shot at the same time.

      It looks to me that the closeups face shots in the Eastwood movie were shot up close to the subject. I’m guessing most big budget films are shot with cinematic prime lenses rather than zooms. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe someone who has been on set on big budget movies could comment.

      • This reply was modified 1 year ago by Avatarbobspez.
      • This reply was modified 1 year ago by Avatarbobspez.
    • #72007978
      Avatarfritzlanglover
      Participant

      Oh okay. The lenses look like telephoto lenses in the close ups to me cause of the compression and how the face is shaped, but I am just guessing. Whether or not they are primes, I am not sure.

      As for shooting on an autofocus camera and then cutting those parts out, and cutting to a different POV during those parts, it feels risky cause I fear I may not have enough to work with, if I rely on autofocus which will fail in certain parts. Like for example, what if I shoot a chase scene from two angles, but then the camera’s autofocus screws up in the exact same part, cause the camera could not keep up with all the actors doing the same moves, in the exact part of both angles, and I don’t catch it till in the editing, and then don’t have enough… Just seems riskier, than trying to find a way to pull focus instead, unless focus pulling is going to present even more risks?

      However, I won’t be able to shoot with two cameras at the same time, the way I want to shoot it. I want a long lens for the shots where I am panning along with them, so I can get more pan out of it.

      But then on the other shots of the chase, I want wider lenses to go in closer, but show more. If I use wider lenses to go in closer, they will be seen from the longer lenses point of view, if I shoot at the same time. So I will have to shoot it without doing it simultaneously I think.

      Unless both camera operators are very careful not to cross into each others framing.

    • #72008010
      Avatarpaulears
      Participant

      Welcome to multi camera. Everyday issues – mixing wides and narrows. The best camera team work I’ve ever seen is during shows such as Strictly Come Dancing – where a steadicam op is doing his stuff, then has to RUN out of shot ready for the following wide angle. They very rarely get it wrong, but the choreography going into the camera department’s work is harder than the dancers!

      For feature length, movie style shot material, zooms are rare but every shot is planned, practiced and then performed. Actors are properly directed and little is left to chance. Movies normally move the camera, and rarely is zoom used. Different in TV, because cameras, especially in OBs are fixed so zooms essential – but even so, it wasn’t till the late sixties that video zoom lenses became available, and even then – a 10:1 zoom was mega expensive and huge! Up till then Studio and OB cameras used prime lenses, on a rotating turret. Hitchcock started doing his scary shots with camera movement and contrary zoom but that was an effect, not a normal day to day setup and shoot.

    • #72008016
      Avatarfritzlanglover
      Participant

      Oh okay, thanks. But I wasn’t planning on using the lens to do zooms that much, I wanted it mainly to get long focal lengths. The only reason I would do a crash zoom is that you can move the point of view really fast during action.

      But I wouldn’t use a zoom unless I wanted to move across a large space, that a dolly couldn’t do. Otherwise I would use a dolly or something like that.

      But I mostly want a long lens, for large panning shots, like that clip in The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, for action scenes, where panning makes it look better.

      As for multiple cameras, I think for some shots using more than one camera will work, and for some I will have to do the shots separately, cause otherwise you would see the other camera in certain shots I wants.

      As for zooming though, I keep being told I should move the camera instead. But with a crash zoom I can move the camera say, 100 feet in half a second, really fast during action.

      I wanted to move the camera 100 feet in half a second, is it possible to do that with a camera move, compared to a crash zoom. I was told I should move the camera instead before, but how do you move the camera that fast then?

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