Four Killer New Budget Primes And Why You Want Them
For a long time there were photography lenses and cine lenses and the two rarely crossed paths. Sure, every so often some entrepreneurial photographer would cobble together a cine lens adapter for the fun and amusement of their fellow photographers, but it wasn’t usually for serious work. And then the Canon 5D MK ii was rolled out.
Like two giant galaxies colliding, all of a sudden everything in still photography and filmmaking got crazy and mixed up. Filmmakers were shooting video with still cameras, photographers were shooting video with still lenses. And the footage wasn’t just passable, it was being intercut with 35mm film and viewers couldn’t tell the difference. Overnight Canon 5D MK iis and Canon 7Ds were turning up on movie sets, not as “A” cameras, but it suddenly made “B” cameras small enough to put anywhere. Budget and independent filmmakers went nuts.
Medium and small video shops switched to DSLR video, which created an immediate demand for quality cine glass with mounts for still cameras. See, shooting video with a still camera is whole different animal. You don’t need or use any of the automatic settings, especially those built into lenses, like focusing motors. Because filmmakers frequently need to “pull” focus, nobody really wants or uses autofocus. The aperture in still camera lenses also use f-stops in discrete increments called “click stops”. Because filmmakers sometimes need to tweak the aperture during a shot, similar to pulling focus, cine lenses are built without the click stops and are calibrated in t-stops instead of f-stops.
The business of making adapters for film lenses and making cine lenses with still camera mounts exploded. But what DSLR filmmakers soon discovered was that cine lenses were you-gotta-be-#$!)#)-kidding-me expensive. Many were choosing between eating and buying a lens that cost as much, or more, as a new car.
This drove filmmakers to crazy lengths, like taking their awesome Canon and Nikkor lenses to jewelers to have the click stops taken out. Companies bought brand new Canon 7Ds and reconfigured them with PL mounts for film lenses.
For a long time there was a company in Korea called Samyang Optics, LTD that made really inexpensive lenses for still cameras that didn’t have all the focusing motors and automatic stuff. Instead they put the effort into making lenses that were freaking awesome when it came to clarity and super fast.
So when the DSLR revolution hit Samyang, which sells lenses under the Bower, Rokinon, Vivitar and Pro Optic names, said, “Hey!” or however you say that in Korean. “We could make cine versions of our really good lenses!” And that’s what they did. Not only are these great lenses, they’re really fast. I’m talking f/1.4 fast, so you can get that marvelous depth of that makes filmmakers go wild.
So now, instead of mortgaging your house to get a decent set of cine lenses, you can opt for lenses like these and still have enough left over for food! Food is good, am I right?
What I love about my 35mm prime is a wide field of view without the slightest hint of wide angle distortion. I love the still version of this lens and my filmmaker friends tell me the declicked cine version is just as good.
When you need to shoot tighter, pull it in with the Rokinon 85mm prime T/1.5. Remember, it’s the same company. Why they use different names is beyond me but most likely has something to do with who imports them. It costs less than the 35mm so that’s good, right?
This article was originally three budget primes but I forgot about the Rokinon 14mm and 24mm cine primes. The 14mm and 8mm both lack filter rings, so if you need filters, you’ll have to get a filter holder and drop-in filters. The 8mm and 14mm will both give you nice wide shots, but the 14mm will have less of the fisheye effect.
The only downside to this lens is that it doesn’t have any front filter holder. Like the 14mm, if you need ND filters, and you will need ND filters on a cine lens, you have to get an add-on filter holder with the drop-in style filters. That is a major pain, but considering you can get all three lenses for less than I paid for a used motor scooter, you put up with it.
There you have it. A set of budget primes for filmmaking that will deliver quality results but won’t break the bank. All these lenses work with either full-frame or APS-C size sensors, so you don’t have to get different lenses if you decide to upgrade to full-frame later.
Great lenses, great deal. Happy shooting.
For more discussion on cine lenses, join us in the DVFreelancer camera forum.Tags: Bower, cine primes, prime lenses, Rikinon, Samyang, why you want these prime lenses