Shoot HD, 2K or 4K with the Sony F5
The F5 delivers a shallow depth of field that we’ve all seen in the cinemas for many years, the foreground is in focus the background is immediately out of focus; it’s a very pleasing look. With an impressive fourteen stops of latitude, the whole picture to be reproduced in a very natural way with lots of details in the dark area of the screen with great highlight handling. And if your final delivery requirement is standard HD, then the camera can be switched to HD, but that 4K sensor still provides spectacular super-sampled pictures with visibly superior texture, colour reproduction and detail that ordinary HD cameras cannot touch.
- Shoots HD, 2K or 4K
- 14 stops of latitude approaches that of traditional motion picture film
- Extraordinary low-light sensitivity with a base rate of ISO 2000
- Extremely low noise in the blacks
- Continuous high speed shooting at up to 180fps; 7 times slower than real life
- Time-lapse interval recording starting at 1 frame per second
- PL Lens mount
The optical characteristics of a lens adds more to the look of a film than you would imagine.
I decided very early on to invest in PL mount cine lenses as they don’t have the problems that photographic still lenses have, i.e. vignetting, inconsistent focus during zoom, non-colour matched, etc. These lenses are big investments but I believe they will out last the cameras I own in the future. Cooke lenses are my favourite lenses and are renowned for producing beautiful images that can’t be simulated in post-production; they just make people look great. UK based Cooke Optics in Leicester received the iconic gold Oscar in 2014 for contribution to the film industry. Technical Oscars are very rare and include; Steadicam in 1978 and Dedolioght in 1990.
Cooke lenses have brought viewers hundreds of classic movies and TV, from Star Wars to Some Like it Hot, Breaking Bad and Downton Abbey. The ‘Cooke Look’ has been a treasured feature of Cooke lenses for more than a century. Part of the Cooke Look is the very subtle warmth that’s in the lens, which gives luscious, warm skin tones alongside smooth contrast with a pleasing amount of sharpness.
Another part of the ‘Cooke Look’ is the fall off of the focus. At a given focal point, the image will be perfectly sharp, but beyond and in front will have a nice soft fall off of the amount of sharpness of the image. Non-Cooke lenses tend to have a pretty sharp fall off which isn’t as nice as the Cooke. My 2012 Cooke Mini S4 primes colour match my 1970s Cooke zoom lens, which is impressive as that classic zoom was made more than forty years ago. Manufacturing processes like this takes time and money, which is one of the reasons Cooke cine lenses carry high prestige and price.
Filming with prime lenses delivers the most pristine image but takes a little longer as each framing requires a lens change; this is standard practice in the film world. For example I may use a Cooke 32mm for a medium wide and a 65mm for a closer shot. Lens changes may sometimes be impractical when shooting an interview as you may lose the moment.
The new breed of s35 cinema cameras like the F5, Alexa or Red, tend to use short-range zoom lenses around 3X or 6x. Although these lenses are sold as cine zoom lenses, most cameramen treat them as ‘variable focal’ lenses, i.e. we use the zoom ring to choose a focal length before we roll the camera.
Classic Glass on a Modern Camera
Even with the tremendous amount of options on the market today for cinema lenses, many cinematographers still stand steadfast by classic lenses like the Cooke 20-100mm zoom above.
The optics of older glass in this Cooke helps greatly in offsetting the hard edge of the new breed of high-end cameras like Sony F5, Alexa, etc. Cooke lenses are known worldwide for their distinctive ‘Cooke Look’, which has created beautiful images for the movie industry for the past 129 years.
Countless classic 70’s and 80’s movies were filmed through the Cooke 20-100mm lens, which cost around $30,000 at the time. It was Stanley Kubrick’s favourite zoom lens, and was used on many of his films including The Shinning and Eyes Wide Shut. More recent, Spielberg used this model on his 10-part mini-series, “Band of Brothers”.
I have a comprehensive line-up of cine lenses
Cooke Mini S4/i Prime Lenses
Cooke Mini S4 primes have superb optical performance and exceptional control of flare. Delivering the distinctive ‘Cooke Look’, the 32mm is a good all-rounder and great for hand held shooting, whilst a 65mm makes people look amazing.
Cooke 20-100mm T3.1 Cine Zoom
This classic zoom lens also has the ‘Cooke Look’ which has been a treasured feature of Cooke lenses for more than a century. T3.1 lens with a focal length range of 20-100mm with a close focus from lens front of 13″ (11 lbs/5kg) When the F5 camera is set to 2K Centre Scan mode, this lens becomes a 40-200mm.
RED 18-50mm T2.9 Cine Zoom
A very usable lens for hand-held shooting that requires reactive framing. The 18mm end gives good wides whilst the 35-50mm range delivers reasonable out of focus backgrounds when required. Allegedly made by Cooke Optics. T2.9 lens with a focal length range of 18-50mm with a close focus from lens front of just 2-inches.
GL Optics 11-16mm T3 Ultra Wide-Angle Cine Zoom
With an angle of view which is wider than human vision, this lens delivers memorable super wide angle shots that other lenses just can’t do. A superb lens for architecture, confined spaces or just amazing perspectives.
GL Optics Cine-mod the very popular Tokina 11-16mm MkII lens from front to back. There is nothing left of the original Tokina base lens with the exception of the lens elements. GL adds manual iris and a new alloy cine-style PL housing with smooth control of focus and zoom. It’s also parfocal with a close focus distance of 12-inches.
Tokina 100mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro Macro with max reproduction ratio of 1:1
For filming extreme close-ups of objects. Maximum reproduction ratio of 1:1 An audience can appreciate for the first time, the delicate complexity of everyday items. Even printed words and maps take on new importance when we can see the very texture of the paper or the indentations of each letter produced by a typewriter. Macro filming brings your audience’s focus into places their eyes normally don’t go.
Supporting my F5
Oconnor’s ultimate 1030D fluid heads are known for their ultra smooth feel, fluid movement and great balance. Chad O’Connor sold his first fluid heads to Walt Disney in 1949, today they have become industry standard in Hollywood.
My choice of follow focus is the O’Connor O-Focus Cine, which is double sided so it can be operated from either side of the camera.
Matte Box wise, I use an O’Connor O-Box which; it’s rock solid.
Shot material is transferred via my MacBook Pro to your portable hard drives. The media is edit suite friendly and compatible with up to date Avid, Final Cut Pro, Premere, etc.
A full kit list can be viewed at my website