various questions


chris rommel


1. Is it true that prime lenses are sharpen than zooms?
2. What do you think about using zoom while shooting? Do you ever zoom in your movies? Some people say that zooming is not professional way, only track shots are. But example when I watch movies by Kubrick, there's zooming. I suppose he was professional.
3. Do you ever operate the camera yourself?
4. What kind of light meter do you have?

Well, if you are comparing the best modern prime up against the best modern zoom, the prime will generally be sharper, more contrasty, it will breathe less, and be less prone to flare. It will also be lighter and faster generally. However, an old prime against a modern zoom, the sharpness may be equal or even be better on the new zoom, just depends on the prime.

If you shoot a whole scene on a good zoom, most viewers aren't going to have a frame of reference to know whether a prime would have been sharper (if the zoom is old and bad, of course the image will look visibly less sharp.)

Zooming during the shot is just a matter of taste. Many good directors and DP's do it all the time -- Ridley Scott, Kubrick, Peter Weir, etc. You just don't want to get lazy and zoom all the time when a dolly move would be more appropriate. There are also subtle zooms that can be hidden during a lateral dolly move, or while the camera is panning / tilting.

Yes, I have operated the camera many times on my lower-budgeted features where they didn't want to pay for an operator. I'm just not trained to use a geared head, so I operate with just a fluid head. I still operate the occasional B-camera angle now & then, or sometimes do a non-union film where I operate.

I have a Minolta and a Spectra incident meter (the basic digital ones) and a Minolta spot meter.

chris rommel

Thank you! Two more if you don't mind.

So if you have prime lens with wanted focal length, you use it instead of zoom lens?

If you could choose only 3 prime lenses, what focal lengths would you choose? (if film would be 35mm)


Not going to step on David here, but I don't really think there are three lenses that work for everything. Of course there are sort of "normal" focal lengths, but they could be useless for your project.

As David said with the zoom vs. prime issue, good zooms these days are very nice lenses.

My favorite zoom for most things is Panavision's primo 4:1 (17.5 - 75). I will usually get that even with a set of primes just because it is nice to have in-between focal lengths in some tight situations.

Kevin Zanit
3 primes are too limiting unless I was directing as well as DP'ing -- and could say "I'm shooting this whole movie on a 35mm, 50mm, and 85mm " for example and live with those choices no matter what.

Otherwise, I'd say that five primes are more likely, the smallest set that would be practical for most situations.

If I had to use a zoom for an in-between focal length, I'd just shoot the whole scene on the zoom for consistency's sake, plus the fact that while it is fast to switch prime lenses on a camera, it can be more cumbersome to take a big zoom on and off, so I'd be more likely just to use it for all of the shots.

Now of course, if I were shooting a scene on primes and had to do one zooming shot, I may put the zoom lens up just for that shot.

This is all assuming that my zoom was of sufficient quality to intercut acceptably well with the primes.

In 35mm, zooms are particularly large, cumbersome, heavy, and not too fast, so I tend to need a better reason to use a zoom -- whereas in HD, for example, the pro zooms are pretty good, not too large, fast enough, etc.