Cont. from page 1.
Red Nikon Mount:
Just some quick thoughts on the Red Nikon Mount as we had an early version there to test (thank you Jarred and Evin!). That damn thing is built like a tank. I walked up to it and gave it a "firm handshake" with lens mounted and it's rock solid. It performed flawlessly all day. Owners of Nikon glass have a lot to be excited about. Nicely done yet again Red.
For Cinema Use:
The simple answer is yes. I've had material on screen shot with still lenses from about 2002 on. However, it's not all cut and dry like that. Focusing on still lens issues, problems, and strengths is the real story here. When it comes to pulling focus still lenses tend to have a very short focus throw. The Canon lenses are the weakest out of the bunch as their focus ring just keeps on turning when you hit minimum or infinity focus. Worse than that the amazing 85mm f/1.2L employs a fly by wire focus motor and if turned too fast you will have inconsistent marks. Nikon does a much better job at this. However, Leica R lenses with their nearly 270 degrees of rotation performs closest to what a cinema lens should be. I add focus gears to all my still glass as I feel a follow focus is a necessary piece of equipment. I recommend doing the same or having a company like Duclos add a fitted Delrin gear to each lens. On a different note, Canon and Nikon have done a great job of increasing their aperture speeds while maintaining a good amount of contrast and resolving power. However, this is at the cost of increased chromatic aberrations. In a still workflow this is fairly trivial to correct (sometimes even corrected in camera), but in terms of nailing it right in a motion picture camera these modern lenses leave a bit to be desired and often this has to be corrected in post.
Dirty Little Lens Secrets:
Here's where things get really ugly and the separation between still glass and cinema glass is very apparent. Still lenses suffer from somewhat extreme copy variation. I've built rigs that employ lens packages in common lengths and some specialized lengths. When looking at 5-30 copies of a specific lens from a manufacturer you can learn a lot. Variations in color reproduction, optics, and strange calibrations are all fairly normal with mass produced still glass. For both cinema and still glass as lenses are handled, bumped around in travel, and get pushed around on set it's possible have things get thrown out of whack pretty quickly, especially for those who rent their gear. I get my lenses calibrated once a year to tighten them up back to spec (and cleaned too!). If you are a Canon CPS member they can perform this task for you on still glass. Still lenses are actually pretty tough overall, but it's something to point out. Large rental houses have technicians on site who regularly check out and fine tune mechanics of cinema glass. Also when it comes still glass, since these lenses we never designed with motion work in mind, image shift and centering seem to be the biggest and oddest variation among manufacturers. Maintained modern medium end to high end cinema glass usually doesn't suffer from this at all. What may look absolutely fine on a 40 inch monitor may induce vertigo to an audience with an image bouncing around projected at 40 feet. The effect of focus breathing can also just produce ugly and visually strange feeling results. Resolving power is also often increased in the longer heavier cinema lenses due to less "correcting" and a simpler (i.e. straighter) light path in their design. There's such a focus on compact size with still lenses that this is a concept that's foreign to their design just by the nature of how they are typically used. If you want the best optical performance, your lenses will likely be longer, bigger, and heavier. That said, it's rather amazing what still glass can pull off in very compact sizes.