Comparison video helps make correct lens choice

DP Jamieson Mulholland and director Jeremy Pinckert

For those of you who would like to a see a comparison of which camera lens would be best for your job at hand, a group of professionals – led by director Jeremy Pinckert and cinematographer Jamieson Mulholland – produced a video that does just that.

The five-minute “Visual Lens Comparison for Creatives,” was recently shot at Daufenbach Camera, using RED’s new 6K Dragon as the baseline camera to test the lenses from six different manufacturers whose lenses are most commonly rented.

The comparison was made among primary and zoom lenses from Angenieux, Cooke, Zeiss, Arri/Fujinon, RED Pro and Canon.  The footage was captured using RED’s 5K sensor size and finished in 4K.

The idea of comparing lenses came from a need Pinckert says came up in preproduction when a visual comparison between lenses would have been helpful to choose the lens best suited for the project. 

“It can be challenging to determine which lens can create the right tone and mood to enhance the storytelling,” Pinckert says.  “Our video guide enables you to see the differences between lens qualities in the aesthetic, non-technical space where many creatives reside.”

After capturing the footage, the challenge was deciding on a baseline color correction to accurately show and compare lens characteristics.

Colorist Kelly Armstrong of Color Playground created a strategy that brought the RED 5K raw image up to a point where comparisons were even and evident.

Comparison between Angenieux Optiimo and Cooke lenses

“We chose the most color neutral lens to set our initial, ‘base’ grade to, the RED Pro Prime,” explains Pinckert. “By primarily using the chip chart featured on screen, gain levels were kept under peak 100 and pedestal was left well above 0.

“That way, any anomalies with how each lens handled shadows or highlights could be easily seen and compared. This base correction was applied to each image regardless of which lens was used.” 
The first feature in the video is a full-frame shot repeated for each lens. Pinckert and Mulholland used 50mm as the base comparison for focal length in both zooms and primes.

Split-screen, side-by-side lens comparisons are between Angenieux, Cooke, Zeiss, RED Pro Prime, ARRI/Fujinon Alura, and one Canon still prime.

As a secondary addition each lens features a focus rack and a close-up shot to determine different focus and minimum focal distance characteristics.

Titles for camera system, lens specifications, and camera settings are supered on the lower third of the frame.

Collaborators included Stephen Wheeler and Lawrence Daufenbach, Daufenbach Camera; producer Dave Wingate, Auslynn Films; camera assistant John Waterman and editor Michael Dicken, Explore Media.