Canon Explains the Glass Behind Its 4K Cinema Lenses, Leaves Us Wanting More

by Karin GottschalkLeave a Comment

With one of the biggest stories of the moment, since NAB 2015 at least, being Blackmagic Design’s amazing new URSA Mini, the 4.6K update to the URSA and, for that matter, the Blackmagic Micro Studio Camera 4K and the Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera, my thoughts are now on the most appropriate lenses for these amazing new cameras.

With the two Ursas, full-sized and mini, taking EF or PL mount optics, and the three Micro Four Thirds cameras in Blackmagic’s new line-up — don’t forget the 4K Blackmagic Studio Camera — accepting non-MFT lenses via adapters, Canon’s EF lens lineup is once again in contention. And if optical quality is crucial to you, as it should be, then Canon 4K video lenses are on the table.

Canon EF stills and cinema lenses are the lenses most-widely available to rent or buy almost everywhere. Although the vast array of MFT lenses is now legendary, with more being added all the time, choice in MFT rental lenses is still somewhat limited.

The need to understand more about EF cinema lenses, their advantages and disadvantages compared to EF stills lenses, is clear. For this of us coming to moviemaking from the stills world, issues like focus breathing and whether a zooms lens is par focal or not, have been non-issues in the past. Now they are something we must understand and take into account in our choice of moviemaking optics.

When my attention was drawn by the esteemed The Phoblographer stills photography website to Canon USA’s animated video ‘The Science Behind 4K Optics', I was hoping for a rundown on some of the amazing scientific and technological achievements for which Canon’s R&D division has been responsible over the years, especially in regard to cinema optics.

My BFF was a longtime Canon R&D employee and I was fascinated to see what came out of Canon’s optics division over the years.

While ‘The Science Behind 4K Optics’ is lighthearted, entertaining even, and it covers the four core optical concepts of resolving power, contrast ratio, lateral chromatic aberration and modulation transfer function, I would have loved to have seen two other crucial concepts covered too.

If you have been irritated by the way that stills zoom lenses go out of focus when zooming in or out for a video, then you will want to know about parfocal lenses. Focus breathing is a more subtle problem and one that few users notice.

Well-designed, well-made cinema lenses should be parfocal and have little to no focus breathing – two good reasons why cinema lenses like Canon’s cost so much more than their EF stills lens equivalents.

For more about focus breathing by the way, Bob Atkins has produced a great little article explaining it rather well, titled ‘Focus Breathing (Focal length variation with focus distance)’.

Now I am off to work out an optimal set of Canon EF stills and movie lenses to rent for when Blackmagic releases its amazing new cameras over the coming months.

Throw in some great EF to MFT adapters — I am partial to Metabones’ EF to MFT Smart Adapter and Speed Booster in its S and non-S versions as appropriate — to maintain consistency in color rendering whether shooting on a Blackmagic MFT or EF mount camera and I will be happy indeed.

As to Canon’s animated video, guys, could you go a little further and add some education into the other advantages of your 4K cinema lenses please? In-depth education into optics and other aspects of lens design is becoming more crucial than ever. Canon, thanks in advance! [bctt tweet=”Canon explains the glass behind its 4K cinema lenses with animation, leaves us wanting more.”]

Canon: The Science Behind 4K Optics

Via The Phoblographer:

Canon’s video breaks it down into four different components and talks about things like lens coatings, contrast, MTF, and resolution. According to the video, the lenses have to be able to resolve a 9MP image of some sort–which pretty much every lens released since 2009 is very capable of doing since that’s when the megapixel war took a very big leap with the release of the Canon 5D Mk II’s 21MP full frame sensor and Sony’s A900 24MP full frame sensor. But if lenses are too sharp, then they create moire (in conjunction with the sensor) and other issues.

Read full article at The Phoblographer “The Science Behind Canon 4K Video Lenses”

Science Behind Canon 4K Video Lenses

(cover photo credit: snap from The Phoblographer)

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