As a Lighting Cameraman I have always been excited about creating images and for 20 years I always used 2/3rd inch broadcast cameras to create those images. My first camera was a Betacam sp a BVW200 then a 507 before moving to the dizzy heights of a 400a with it’s integral clear scan mode! Great for filming computer screens. Then came Betacam sx briefly and then Digital betacam. My DNW790 was a work horse. I loved using it. At the same time I also had a DSR 500 dvcam camera another great work horse. The point is though that during this period of analogue to digital we used and kept the same lenses. Then along came HD and it was HDW730′s, 750′s and F900r’s and we all had to buy new lenses & monitors! But we bought the same type and style of lenses. ENG lenses with handgrips and servo zooms, focus barrels with end stops and Iris’s that you could pull as you panned! The reason being that these lenses work they are the right tool for the job. Also with their handgrip in its location the camera would go from shoulder to tripod seamlessly. You could spend ages in relative comfort with the camera on your shoulder. Sometimes upto 12 hrs a day!
My only issue was though you could never really escape that 2/3rd inch look.
So when the latest trend of Super 35mm cameras where launched I was able re ignite my passion for creating images using a large sensor. Allowing me to create with a shallow depth of field.
The only problem was the lenses we have been using on super 35mm cameras have short zoom throws ie 24-70mm. They are par focal. So they may drop focus half way through a zoom! And they don’t have external Iris’s so pulling the stop and panning was a no no. Another issue is having to use “moose grips” on these cameras because of the lack of a hand grip. Moose grips are fine if you are working with a focus puller but I rarely do and when you take your hand off a moose grip to move it to the lens barrel you risk jarring the camera. Not good mid shot.
You only miss something when it’s gone! There’s a lot of truth in this saying as it’s those little things that as Camerapeople we where able to do with eng style lenses that made great images better. It was subtle things like creeping a zoom in or pulling the stop so gently that it couldn’t be noticed. Only Camerapeople would understand and miss.
Well thankfully it’s back Canon have released the 17 -120mm eng style servo zoom lens a true TV style lens for 35mm sensor cameras. I know Fujinon released the Cabrio before Canon, some time before Canon to, but the Cabrio is amazingly expensive and has a short zoom throw 19-90mm. With Canon entering into this market hopefully we’ll see the prices of these lenses drop slightly. Competition is a good thing after all. Maybe even Angieneux will bring something out!
Anyway my point is this new Canon lens has a longer zoom throw of 17-120mm that’s equivalent of 25mm – 180mm approx on a super35mm camera like the C300 and if you use an F5 in centre crop mode then it’s like having a 51-360mm with you as well.
Another great feature of this lens is the return of the macro on a push of a button and slide the back ring. Great for many different shots or even doing vox pops at a red carpet event when people get to close. Pop the macro in and keep them in focus.
The servo zoom will be great and come in handy it’s very quick if you need it to be and can be adjusted to a snails pace when required. For me though the external iris is just so handy and allows the operator to work so much quicker. Rather than turning some knob on the side of a camera 100 times to just move half a stop you can just adjust the iris ring!
Another great point is that an ENG lens like this turns every camera into a documentary camera! It’s not just the Amira. It’s really got my goat recently how Arri calls the Amira a documentary camera just because they have a viewfinder. You always see images of it with a Cabrio on. Surely it’s the lens that makes it a doco camera with its eng hand grip. So in that case fit an ENG style lens like a Canon 17-120 onto a F5 or F55 and you have a doco camera put one on a c300 pl and you have another one! Better still though as there aren’t very many c300pl’s about this new Canon 17-120 mm is available in ef mount so put it on a c300ef and you have made YOUR c300 into a documentary camera. I noticed it has a lens support at the bottom front of the lens so it attaches to your camera rails and then won’t put to much pressure on the lens mount.
So as you can tell I’m really happy about this new lens it’ll be the perfect addition to the Canon Cine Primes which is another feature it has above the Cabrio that the Fujinon doesn’t have a set of matching prime lenses. So there could be a difference between your shots from prime to zoom.
This lens is a tool that allows a skilled operator do what they have always done. Operate.
The only pictures I could find of the new lens are from john Fauer’s FD times a fantastic blog and I hope he doesn’t mind me reproducing them here. They are great images as the show the lens on both a c500 and also a Sony F camera. Here is a link to his website:
I found this video from Abel Cine a 1st look at this new Canon lens