Monday, September 10, 2012

Latest Lens Lore

My posting has been very sporadic lately - it's because I'm in production now on Cosmo's and I don't want to give too much away. I feel like if I show pictures of what the film is going to look like then there won't be any surprises when I finally unveil this bad boy - and we all like surprises, don't we? Well, good ones anyway, and I assure you you're all in for some good surprises when I release this thing. 

So I've been posting about other stuff.


But it's time to bring the bloggosphere up to date on what's been going on in the Darkstudio behind the scenes, the stuff that's shaping the look and feel of this film.

Above is a pic of the Fujinon-TV 12.5mm f1.4 lens 

 Not mine, I grabbed it off the web, but that's exactly what mine looked like before I packed it up and shipped it off to England for modifications. It's hard to find wide angle lenses that give full coverage on the Micro Four Thirds sensor - but as I mentioned a couple of posts ago I found Edward Koehler, who does these mods brilliantly - through his site at ekoe Camera

Looking back, I went about this the wrong way - rather than buying a lens and having to ship it across the atlantic for mods, then back across the pond to me, I should have bought one from his stock and it only would have had to pond-jump once (it cost me $100 just to ship it to him!!). But he was exceedingly cool about it all - even though the lens had been partially modified by someone else (they didn't quite get full coverage out of it) and they had superglued the  lens to the mount - a very dangerous gambit that can easily result in the lens suddenly just falling off and destroying itsef at your feet - he machined a retaining ring from aluminum to restore it to full working strength and eliminate that danger - plus he added a huge 72mm filter ring because he knew I like to keep clear UV filters on my lenses to keep my greasy fingerprints off of them, which gives it a totally different look (see it in the pic below):

Not only does it resemble a Pirate Blunderbuss now with that massive flared snout, but it gets complete coverage - no darkening at the corners, no softness of focus near the edges (as long as I'm not shooting wide open with it). 

Ok, next up is my cool little ultrawide lens - the Elbex-TV 8mm f1.3. Just like the (pre-modified) Fujinon-TV 12.5 I posted above, this lens doesn't give full coverage on a Micro 4/3s sensor (it's even worse):

All you get is a black rectangle with an image circle in the middle. But believe it or not - this isn't really a problem (well, it can make it difficult to frame your shots precisely - but that can be fixed as I'll explain in a moment).

Here's the exact same shot after a minute or two messing with it in Lightroom:

.. And wouldja believe - from that little image circle in the Elbex-TV 8mm I can still pull HD sized images after cropping!! Amazing!! Not only that, but working with the camera's RAW image files, Lightroom is able to do unbelievable things - you can do incredibly subtle adjustments to white balance, highlights, whites, shadows, darks, color saturation and vibrancy etc... essentially you can make em look real good. You can even distort or un-distort to whatever degree you want - shoot with a normal or long lens and make it look like a wide angle or even extreme wide angle with barrel distortion, or shoot with a fisheye and de-fish. I'll be doing a post soon about Lightroom - and let me tell you, now that I have it, I can't understand how I ever got along without it - my shots that I thought looked pretty good before now look like crap compared to what I'm capable of.

I've also been thinking about a zoom lens, for those nifty 70's shots:

In fact with the assortment of lenses I currently have, it's the only thing left that I want (used-to want - read on dear readers.. ). I did a little web research and the options for a decent zoom lens that works on m4/3 are pretty limited - the one that kept coming up is the Rainbow H6x8-II 8-48mm Zoom Lens. I was preparing to try to find one on fleabay and then send it somewhere for the necessary mods, when it suddenly struck me - I HAVE one of these!!! I got it back when I was using my Hitachi analog broadcast camera. In fact after I first got my Lumix G1 I remember trying it with a c-mount adapter and being disappointed because it does the image cirlce in a black rectangle thing (I wasn't aware of just how much you could crop out in those days). 

I found this little video showing how some guy modified his to work: Rainbow H6x8-II Lens Modification for GH2 / Micro Four Thirds Cameras on Vimeo.

Well, I also happen to have the exact same kind of c-mount adapter laying around that he used (oh yeah,  this mod was a total freebie!), so I did a little drilling and dremeling this morning and it worked like a charm: 
At least the physical modification did. I don't understand how to adjust the back focus in order to make it what's called parfocal - so as you zoom you don't lose focus. That has to be precisely adjusted for the exact lens and camera, and apparently it's best done in a camera shop by trained professionals. I was beginning to consider finding a shop to get this done but I went ahead and did a few animated zoom tests (even though it has a very short range where it stays in focus) and realized there's no need to actually have a zoom lens - since there's no perspective shift during a zoom, it looks exactly like a digital zoom that can be done in software. Or I could just move the camera itself toward or away from something, adjusting focus frame by frame as I go, and get a tracking shot that could resemble a 70's style zoom (but look even cooler thanks to the perspective shift). 

Okey dokey then - that brings us up to date on the lens front. Soon I'll do a Lightroom demo, but up next - more news on that European Puppetry documentary.

** Edit **

I just discovered Byrne Power has already created his Gravity From Above blog, where he'll be sharing his progress in making the European Puppetry documentary I blogged about last time. I've added it to my blogroll for easy updates. I want to do a followup on Byrne himself and his other site The Anadromous Life - next time I promise!


Shelley Noble said...

You lost me back at FZ50's! Way outta my league for good now.

Really looking forward to seeing your gorgeous looking films, Mike.

Darkmatters said...

You know actually, the G1 is only a small step up from the FZ50 (and a very expensive one when you consider all the lenses and modificatins!!!). Don't worry, the trusty FZ50 is still an amazing camera. Wait till you see Lightroom inaction though - you'll want it!!

Darkmatters said...

Doh! That should say Lightroom in action... not Lightroom inaction..

fosterchen said...

Hi, I'm Foster, the one who did the original lens mod for the H6x8-II.
I see that you've managed to do the same, way to go!
Just wanted to let you know that you can adjust the back focus yourself easily. Locate the rubber stopper at the end of the lens (little rectangle)
and take it off. There will be 2 metal adjusters with flathead on top for screwdriver. untighten the one with threads(this one untightens the other one which is used to adjust back focus), and now you can adjust the other one while you have it mounted on your GH1/2 camera recording in ETC mode. Make sure you are at 8mm infinity, aperture around 2.8-4, and exposed properly. When picture gets to its sharpest, tighten the screw back and you are done! Make sure to put the rubber stopper back on! Hope this helps!
If you are looking to sell your lens, let me know.
Thanks, Foster