Lenses for Animation

Art Clokey had a lot of Tokina 28 to 80 mm zooms. They are reasonably sharp when stopped down to f-8 or more, but were pretty soft wide open. This is true for most other non-Nikkor zooms too. I had a lot of Nikkors and we bought more for the show. The problem with the older Nikkors was that many only stopped down to F-16 and we often wanted F-22 for the maximum depth of field. These Nikkor hard lenses were sharp at every stop. See "Nikon Mount on Rack Over Mitchells" in Professional Equipment Advice

The animators preferred using zooms because they made set-ups easier and gave focal lengths in between the hard lenses we had: 20, 24, 28, 35, 50, 55, 85,and 105. For dolly in shots we always used wide hard lenses at F-22.

The wide angle and 85 mm Nikkors have become expensive again. I don't know if the newer auto hard Nikkor lenses will work manually. The newer zooms change F-stop at different focal lengths and would be a big problem. You might consider other camera lenses in Nikon or other mounts that are cheaper and more available than Nikkors. Almost any lens can be mounted on a Mitchell turret or on a new special front plate. I like keeping the Mitchell turret because the raising front feature and mounting other lenses in other turret holes is still possible. We have some old Baltars in Mitchell Standard mounts, but haven't tried them. They are probably OK.

You might consider older Cannon breach mount lenses with a new camera front lens plate. The mounts were the best still lens mount made and the lenses as good as Nikkors. The older Canon lenses may get cheaper than Nikkors because they are not compatible with the new Canon cameras. A new front plate would be needed because the turret doesn't have enough metal behind the lens holes and the turret would not spin.

We avoided follow focus whenever we could. Brian studied the depth of field charts closely and we never missed. It took some interpolating from the chart figures to get the focus ranges we needed. The .5 and .75 diopters helped a lot for lenses with limited close focus. We used a .002" circle of confusion depth of field tables. Some of the new tables use .001'.

We used an old Angenieux 25-250 that I had for some zoom shots. Not having through the lens video and knowing exactly what the frame was during the zoom took some careful setting up and following a plan. Gabe never missed. Once we racked the turret of the Mitchell down to get an offset zoom.

The heavier zoom lenses caused the Nikon lens mounts on the Mitchells to sag and required support from above the lens. Some people shim the Nikon mounts with little pieces of rubber or plastic to reduce the sag. For Nikon still cameras, the heavier lenses were usually supported by the tripod head and the lighter still cameras hung on the back of the heavy lens.

© Copyright 2004 Ron Dexter. All Rights Reserved.