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Camera lenses that can zoom in to productions' exact requirements: to capture compelling images, camcorders need to be paired with lenses that can help deliver the required cinematography formats.

As camcorder technology gets enhanced, the lenses that go with these cutting-edge content creation tools are also evolving. Take camera lenses, for instance. Sean Dooley, sales manager of ARRI Australia, tells APB that among the new technology advancements being incorporated in camera lenses are anamorphic capabilities. In cinematography, the anamorphic format is the technique of shooting a widescreen picture onto a standard 35mm film or other visual recording media with a non-widescreen native aspect ratio.

"Anamorphic production is new for TV drama production," says Dooley. And because ARRI has recognised that there is a growing demand for this format, it is now offering lenses to production professionals to make it easier for them to shoot for television using this traditional cinema-style technique.

"The motion picture industry worldwide has seen a significant increase in the demand for anamorphic lenses over the past half decade of production," he explains. "Since their introduction in 2013, the ARRI Master Anamorphic lenses have expanded to a nine lens set and represent a significant step forward in anamorphic lens design."

Dooley points out that the Master lens' combination of "compact size, minimal weight, very high speed and exceptional optical design with minimal distortion" has resulted in these lenses being adopted by productions not just in high-end film and commercial making, but TV drama as well.

Dooley adds that ARRI's Master lenses produce images that are sharp corner-to-corner even at wide-open apertures. "The Master Anamorphic lenses can be used in scenarios where, previously, only a spherical lens was deemed practical. VFX lens mapping is now significantly less complex and costly and production can use the same camera package that they have been comfortable with, only now with the cinematic, anamorphic look," he says.

In addition, ARRI offers a set of replacement front and rear elements that induce more flaring, ghosting and veiling flare into the image, should a cinematographer wish to heighten the emotional impact of the shot, sequence or project by introducing a level of technical 'imperfection'.

"Also, with the introduction of 16:9 anamorphic desqueeze modes in our Alexa Mini and Alexa SXT cameras, it is now possible to use anamorphic lenses in scenarios where a very fast turn-around time is required by production or for broadcast scenarios," he reveals.

ARRI also offers lenses that are optimised for visual effects (VFX)--the Ultra Wide Zoom (UWZ) 9.5-19/T2.9. This is another example of how ARRI is pushing the boundaries of lens design, says Dooley. "The UWZ is a distortion-free extreme wide-angle zoom with an optical performance that surpasses most high-end cine prime lenses."

Optimised for the requirements of VFX applications, the UWZ is ideal for plate shots or any other situation where maximum image quality is vital. Distortion is at a level of less than 1% at 9.5mm and less than 0.1% at 18mm, which means that straight lines stay straight, even at close focus. This optical performance has now been carried over to the AUWZ--the ARRI Anamorphic Ultra Wide Zoom 19-36/T4.2, which is a perfect match for the Master Anamorphic range, Dooley notes.

"Compromises such as heavy distortion, pronounced breathing and poor resolution and contrast have always been major problems with existing lenses on the market. Now, for the first time, anamorphic productions can incorporate visually stunning wide-angle perspectives into their storytelling," he says.

And while ARRI's anamorphic and VFX lenses are compelling prospects for production professionals, Dooley points out that cinematographers in Asia-Pacific are also very enthusiastic about ARRI's other lenses offerings, including the Master Prime and Ultra Primes.

"The Master Prime and Ultra Prime lens sets are the go-to standard for regional rental houses serving cinema, TVC and TV drama production," he explains. "The Master Primes offer 15 focal lengths from 12mm-150mm and the Ultra Primes boasting 14 focal lengths from 12mm-180mm, all deliver precision and accuracy with a cinematic look. With reality and documentary television now striving for the cinema look, these lens sets are gaining even greater returns for their owners."

For another camera lens provider, Fujinon, the technology to monitor is 4K/Ultra HD (UHD). Simon Becker, key account manager, Fujinon Broadcast and Professional, tells APB: "With many camera manufacturers producing 4K/UHD cameras, Fujinon has developed lenses such as the UA80x9BESM and UA22x8BERD, which not only meet, but also exceed 4K/UHD optical performance."

Becker highlights the features that make these lenses cutting-edge: High resolution, high contrast and high dynamic range (HDR). There is also particular emphasis on the development of accuracy in focus control demanded by 4K/UHD resolution. "Fujinon has also developed new manufacturing technologies for configuring and positioning of lens elements," Becker explains. "All these new technologies and features now make video production better, sharper and more efficient than ever before."

And what makes Fujinon lenses more competitive? Its wide array of zoom lens options, he replies. Fujinon offers a particularly large range of zoom lenses, which includes a large range of PL mount for large sensor cameras and B-mount lenses for conventional 2/3-inch sensor cameras.

"Uniquely, the new Fujinon 4K/UHD UA107x8.4BESM has the largest zoom range available of any 4K/UHD lens in today's market," Becker reveals. "Also, all of Fujinon's 4K/UHD Plus lenses exceed 4K/UHD resolution. In the PL mount lenses category, the Cabrio series has been so successful with its large range of zoom lenses that increasingly many camera operators, videographers, DoPs and cinematographers are now using Fujinon Cabrio zoom lenses where previously they would have used prime lenses."

Aside from producing its own lenses, Fujinon works closely with all the camera manufacturers including, for example, ARRI, for which Fujinon manufactures the Alura Zoom range of lenses.

In terms of popularity, Fujinon's Cabrio range has proved "very popular" with filmmakers, cinematographers, DoPs and videographers across Asia-Pacific "mainly due to their quality and the speed with which they help with quality of output and workflow efficiency", Becker adds.

"The Cabrio zoom lenses feature an exclusive detachable servo drive unit, making them ideal for documentary work and productions involving a lot of handheld shooting," he says. The lenses also feature flange focal distance adjustment and macro function, and are LDS (Lens Data System) and /i metadata-compatible. "Plus, the quality of Cabrio lenses is so good that it is very difficult to distinguish the difference between a shot taken on a high-end prime at T2.8 and a Cabrio at T2.9," says Becker.

With this level of quality and no requirement to change lenses, recalibrate remote focus or re-balance the head, Cabrio lenses save TV and filmmakers both time and money, he adds. Other positives for filmmakers or videographers are that Cabrio lenses are lightweight, sharp and the macro function saves the need for diopters.

And while both ARRI and Fujinon are well focused on what content producers require of their lenses at the moment, they have set their sights on new features they may want to include in their future lenses.

Fujinon's Becker says the next step is 8K. "Fujinon continues to invest heavily in R&D. Future development will lead to a further increase in the range of lenses and the development of 8K lenses," he reveals.

On the other hand, ARRI's Dooley says one future feature is new lens control. "This is an area where we are seeing developments in the lens market--electronic lens control. Far more productions are calling for wireless follow focuses in their camera kit, and ARRI is leading the charge with the WCU-4 handset, integrated in-camera lens control and series of CLM and Active Lens Motors."

He adds that the Master Grips introduced at the recent IBC 2016 trade show now allows focus, iris and zoom control to come to the fingertips of the camera operator, built to ARRI's quality standards. The Master Grips can be used as a stand-alone motor controller for lens motors or in parallel with an assistant's wireless package, and can even be used to control the internal lens motors of EF and ENG lenses.

Mounted on tripod pan bars or studio pedestal heads, the Master Grips can be used as focus and zoom demands in multicamera set-ups, such as when using ARRI's Amira camera in Multicam mode, and will offer user button and REC start/stop functionality on ARRI and third-party cameras. "We are expecting the Master Grips to be a widely popular and universal addition to the ARRI Electronic Control System range," he concludes.
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Title Annotation:CREATION
Author:Manalo-Burgos, Millette
Publication:APB Magazine
Date:Oct 1, 2016
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