NEW CINE LENSES
2016 has been a busy year of freelance work and becuase I’ve been shooting on a range of cameras I decided to invested in a set of PL mount glass. These would be lenses just for me, not for rental, lenses that I could use on any camera, shoot with every day and get to know the way they flare and rack and handle in different conditions.
I wanted a set of affordable cine lenses and I’ve always been a fan of Schneider glass, I use both their ND and Hollywood Black Magic Filters, and their cine lenses are made for cinema, not rehoused stills glass. Plus there’s a part of me that likes to own things that feel a little bit unique and I hadn’t seen the Schneiders around much, either in DP’s kits or in Sydney rental houses.
So I decided on the Schneider Xenon FF PL mount lenses and bought the 35mm, 50mm and 75mm to begin with. I’ve since added the 25mm and now have the 100mm on order.
Soon after the Xenons arrived I spent a Sunday afternoon in Autumn, with the wonderful Cassie, playing with the new lenses in a park in Balmain. I used the 25mm, 35mm, 50mm and 75mm on an Alexa Mini and just loved every minute shooting with them, what a great combination.
While it’s not in any way a scientific test, no camera test charts or colour bars, it was a wonderful way to feel out the lenses and get to know them. The first thing I noticed was the creamy bokeh, shooting amongst leaves or lights and letting the background go soft produces a wonderful effect. The lenses have a beautifully smooth focus and iris rings, the image is sharp through the entire range, especially wide open and the look is consistent and not to contrasty. The lenses will produce gorgeous flares when you want them to and have a little bit of character which I like, they’re not too cold and clinical.
A lot has happened since this shoot. I’ve shot video clips with the Xenons on the Arri Alexa, both the Sony F55 and F5 and because they are full frame lenses; the Sony A7s. Below is the video clip Autumn Red, where all the exteriors where shot with available light on the A7s in the Blue Mountains just outside of Sydney. I was able to capture these amazing lens flares shooting into the late afternoon sun on a chilly Autumn day.
The lenses have proved to be so versatile, great on big and small cameras alike. I love being able to shoot on a Red or an Arri Alexa one moment and then a workhorse like the sony F5 the next, or a DSLR like the A7s. They are solidly built, I still remember the first lens I pulled out of the box and feeling the weight of it in my hand, I knew I had purchased something really special. Plus they’re all the same size so there’s no need to adjust the Follow Focus or Matt Box position.
So far the lenses have performed brilliantly in studio and on location. I’ve travelled around Tasmania with them, shooting in available light and then shot video clips in studio, including Day by Day, which is set inside a dark wardrobe and lit with a string of fairy lights.
So what started out as a plan to slowly build up a set of PL lenses has seen me buy 5 of the Xenons in pretty quick succession and I’m using them on every shoot I do. I was a little nervous at first because they are a considerable investment and you never really know until you and live and work with lenses whether you’ll love them or not. Luckily I do and now include them in my rate so I can shoot on them regardless, either on my Sony F5 or renting a Red or Arri Alexa body only for bigger shoots. I just hope the rest of the year continues to be as busy as the first half so I can order the 18mm soon to round out the set.
Director | dp
Nicholas Price is a director/dop, working in Sydney, London and Japan. He makes TVC’s, documentaries, films and music videos.
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SCHNEIDER XENON FF CINE LENSES
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