COMMENTARY: Film Lens VS Digital Lens – What Are the Differences?
Art Adams from ProVideoCoalition writes:
I’ve worked with a lot of cameras, and I’ve always come back to ARRI cameras whenever I’ve had the chance. It’s just my artistic preference. I’ve been more agnostic about lenses, as one can put any lenses on any camera, and I’ve always felt that, in the digital realm, the camera makes a huge difference—possibly more so than the lenses.
I’m slowly changing my mind.
I still think the choice of camera is hugely important. It defines the look of an image at a very basic level. How a manufacturer builds their sensor and interprets its signal has everything to do with defining the chromatic and dynamic range constraints within which a DP has to work.
I’ve experimented with a lot of lenses. Most recently, just before leaving my freelance DP career and starting work as Cinema Lens Specialist with ARRI, Inc., I alternated between Cooke S4s and ARRI Zeiss Ultra Primes. When I tired of one I switched to the other. I’ve also used ARRI Zeiss Master Primes, Cooke Speed Panchros, Canon CE Primes, Leica primes, Sigma Primes, Cooke, Canon, Sigma and Angenieux zooms, and over time I’ve become familiar with all their looks. While the look of a camera is important, there’s no getting around the fact that a camera can’t see the world without looking through a lens. That optical assembly is the first step in the chain of image creation, and while differences between lenses are not always immediately obvious, their intrinsic characteristics are baked into the image at the full bit depth of the sensor. That’s significant.
I’ve not taken to pixel-peeping lenses in the same way that I’ve looked at cameras. Now that I’m working with ARRI’s lens portfolio, I’m starting to do exactly that.
It’s eye-opening. There are a lot of choices. They’re all different. They’re all good for something, but not all are good for everything.
Image credit: Art Adams