February 25, 2016 at 4:22PM

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Choosing a lens - which focal length?

I’m a budding filmmaker making my way into making films and am looking for lenses for my camera, which I already bought — a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera. My camera is a micro four-thirds camera so I am looking for lenses in that category. I’m already a still shooter so I have a few zooms and a 35mm prime for Nikon F mount and I’ve gotten an adapter for which makes them work on m4/3, but I’d like to buy some lenses specifically for my BPCC camera and would love to get into primes. I’d like your advice on what focal lengths would be good for filmmaking and what lenses I should get specifically. I’m leaning towards voigtlander and the 25mm in paticular because it would make a good “normal” lens but am open to other options. If you were to get a first prime lens for micro four-thirds, which one would you choose? My styles will be mostly on a tripod (cheap stabilization), but I’d love to hear your take.

10 Comments

I have a Voighlander set (17.5, 25, 42.5) as well as the Olympus fast zooms (14-35 f2 and 35-100 f2). First of all I should mention that I use my GH4 more as an extra camera to complement my RED cameras. Which means I'm usually looking for alternative perspectives. That said, I find myself mostly using the 17.5mm when I work in close quarters, and I love the perspective that the 42.5 gives. The 25mm lens is a very satisfying piece of glass, but because I'm rarely doing principal photography with it, it kinda stays in the bag most of the time. Maybe I should sell it...

February 25, 2016 at 6:53PM

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I tend to recommend the dirt cheap;
Sigma Art 19mm F2.8, 30mm F2.8 and 60mm F2.8
They are spectacular lenses for the price, fast, gorgeous bokeh and very pleasing on faces. If you're just starting out as a filmmaker, a good set of similar lenses (I won't claim they're color matched, though my eyes say they're very close to being) will be the best way to go until you decide to invest in 'high end' lenses.

February 27, 2016 at 4:30AM, Edited February 27, 4:31AM

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Tobias N
1223

Because you're using a BMPCC you would recomand using lenses which have image stabilization in general.
Therefore you might go with the lenses from panasonic because they have very good stabilization (O.I.S.). The problem is that primes mostly don't have any stabilization at all.
Nethertheless you should go with LUMIX lenses because their afordable and give you variable options.
That's why I would recomand a 14mm f/2.5, a 20mm f/1.7 and a 42,5mm f/1.2from Panasonic. The last one is a Leica lens with manual aperture controll.

February 27, 2016 at 5:03AM

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Eric Halbherr
Director, DP, Editor, Creative Storyteller
2282

I think the BMPCC has a 3x crop, so a 17mm lens would give you the "normal" field of view.

February 28, 2016 at 6:53PM

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Well it's a 2.88x crop. Maybe invest in a speedbooster and sone canon glass? With a speedbooster of 0.64x you will result with a 1.84x crop and your aperture of (f. e. a Canon 50mm f/1.2) f/1.2 will become a f/0.76 which is about 1/2 stop brighter than a voightländer prime.

Eric Halbherr

February 29, 2016 at 7:45AM, Edited February 29, 7:45AM

Definitely invest in a speedbooster. You have a ton of options with m4/3 mount. I had fiddled with some C-mount glass for a while. Depending on the look youre trying to achieve, I love anamorphic and softness so older lenses dont bother me.

February 29, 2016 at 9:15AM

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Chris Hackett
Director, Director of Photography, Writer
882

Well, it depends, what focal length do you need? What field of view do you like? From there, looks into all the possible lenses in these settings. Do you need a photo lens or a cine geared lens?

February 29, 2016 at 11:36AM

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Danny T
Photographer
355

I know you're looking for a prime, but I figured I'd throw in my two cents anyway. I own a BMPCC as well, and I've always rented an Olympus 12-40 f2.8 (and then recently bought one). I've never been disappointed with that lens. Excellent build and image quality, a clutched focus ring with hard stops for repeatable focus, and good low-light performance.

The Panasonic 12-35 is nice as well, especially since it has OIS, though I tend to prefer the repeatable focus of the Olympus and (what feels like) sturdier build quality.

February 29, 2016 at 5:33PM

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MattyMustng
Director of Photography
177

Hi Timothy,

I can highly recommend the 12 mm Kowa lens. I have a BMPCC too, and this lens never leaves my camera. It is a fast lens (1.9 t) and has a manual aperture and manual focus--what, in my opinion, all good lenses for filming should have. Also, you can use it with the 2.88 crop factor on the BMPCC without an adapter. For me, at least, it is the perfect focal length for nearly everything I do. Simple and no need for lens changing and/or zooming. Pretty neat, huh?

Hope this helps!

February 29, 2016 at 5:34PM

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Harlan Rumjahn
Low-level government official
207

Find your style, for example revenant is 90% wide angle, 11mm - 18mm or whatever. I know that there are some 24mm or something.

March 1, 2016 at 7:02PM

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Clark McCauley
Spaceman
2020

Hi Timothy, it really depends of what style of video you will be shooting. You say you are on a tripod a lot of the time, so you can go for longer lenses. It really does depend on the subject and your budget, of course!
You have a BM pocket cine camera, and that's a lovely small camera, I have one myself. The beauty of that camera is the lens mount being MFT means you can put most lenses on there with an adaptor. You dont need to but a metabones unless you want the speedbooster on there. They are great but perhaps you want put money into lenses rather than converters.
As there is a great deal of lovely glass from Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Samyang (Rokinon), Zeiss and many more, you have a huge choice. You may even be able to pick up a Zeiss 11-110 mm zoom for S16mm cameras, there are a few out there now, and you could pick up a nice one. They are a beautiful lens, I have shot on them with S16mm Aatons and Arri SR cameras for many years in the past.
I would personally go for cine style lenses with declicked apertures, gear rings and are specifically designed for cine cameras, as lenses for still don't have the same features. For example, most cine lenses are not prone to "breathing" when you focus, they also have bigger markings and diameters ( more precise control), smooth de-clicked apertures, and the mechanisms for pro gear such as matte boxes and follow focus.
That's why they tend to cost more....
If you had an endless budget its easy, go for Zeiss cine lenses. Build quality and functions are superb, and they connect with all the pro bars and focus units. I guess you haven't an unlimited budget, so perhaps the Samyang (Rokinon) primes are a good compromise right now...

I hope that helps. I have done a great deal of research and personal experience of lenses and what they should do on a movie, and I have done webinars for Stage 32 , so if you want to get in touch I would be happy to send you stuff to help you.
Best
John Keedwell

March 2, 2016 at 8:47PM

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John Keedwell
DoP, Author, Writer for British Cinematographer magazine.
81

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