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Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
Jan 5

Written by:
1/5/2010 3:04 PM  RssIcon

LAKE SUCCESS, N.Y., JANUARY 5, 2010 – Achieving film-like results with 2/3-inch digital 24p HD camera systems require cine-style prime and zoom lenses designed for motion-picture production methods. This is why independent co-producers and directors Noah Stanik and Skyler Stever chose High-Definition Electronic Cinematography (HD-EC) prime and zoom lenses from Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging.

Stanik and Stever’s crew shot their latest project, a whimsical short titled Tether Me, in and around Portland, Ore., this past summer. The filmmakers used two Canon HD-EC variable focal-length (zoom) lenses and a full set of six Canon HD-EC prime lenses to capture the cinematic look they were seeking. Canon’s cine lenses feature outstanding optical performance and traditional film-style attributes that make them instantly familiar to experienced motion-picture cinematographers.

“Having access to these Canon lenses enabled us to get awesome footage,” commented Stever. “Once I saw the initial look of our imagery, I knew I didn’t have to worry about the overall look of the film and I could focus on directing.”

“We were ecstatic every time we set up a new shot,” added Stanik. “The Canon lenses produced amazing images. What was really great was how well our art direction came through. The costumes and the characters were able to be fully realized because of the image that we were able to produce, thanks in large part to the Canon HD-EC lenses.”

Stever and Stanik, digital image technician Mark Haleston, and director of photography Kevin Ebel filmed Tether Me in both outdoor and indoor locations, including small rooms with actors positioned close to the camera. These were environments that would have been impossible to shoot in, the filmmakers noted, if not for the superb optical characteristics of Canon’s prime lenses, which enabled them to achieve the creative results they were seeking. These prime lenses feature a very short MOD (minimum object distance, or the minimum distance between the front of a lens and the object it’s focusing on) that facilitates excellent close-up image capture. In addition, Canon’s innovative Internal Focus technology employs a two-group floating optical system that minimizes optical aberrations.

“We shot in some tight places,” Stever noted, “but the footage doesn’t look that way, which is great. You know you’ve got a challenge when you’re in an environment where you can’t move the camera back any further and you can’t make the room any bigger. But we didn’t have to worry about that with the depth of field provided by Canon’s range of cine lenses.”

“Our two Canon lenses provided the increased depth of field we wanted,” Haleston elaborated. “This elusive ‘film look’ can be difficult to get with the 2/3-inch digital 24p HD camera we used, which is why we needed the best possible glass in front of the camera. Our Canon lenses let us back the camera up, zoom in, and get incredible depth of field.”

Canon’s three cine-style HD-EC zoom lenses (including the HJ11x4.7B KLL-SC and the two used to shoot Tether Me, the HJ8x5.5B KLL-SC and HJ21x7.5B KLL-SC) and six “FJ” series HD-EC primes (ranging from 5mm to 55mm) are among the sharpest and fastest yet developed for the HD digital cinematography market. The superior optical performance of these lenses is the product of Canon’s coordinated optimization of Modulation Transfer Function (MTF, a measure of image sharpness), image brightness, and contrast across the 16:9 image plane, which collectively contributes to outstanding picture sharpness. Also important to the optical excellence of these lenses is a combination of Hi Index, Ultra Low Dispersion glass, sophisticated lens-element designs, and advanced multilayer coatings.

Canon also designed its entire series of zoom and prime lenses with the tactile-control and ergonomics motion-picture cinematographers are used to. The prime lenses feature a 280-degree rotation angle, while the three cine zoom lenses have a 270-degree range. For all of these lenses, focus and iris indications are engraved with large, luminous scales, and focus distances are marked in feet. Gear rings are compatible with studio-focus rigs, manual fluid-zoom drives, and motorized-control systems that have been standardized for film lenses for many years.

“The markings on these lenses are simple and direct,” Haleston noted. “When you’re in a low-light situation there’s nothing worse than working around a camera and not being able to see your lens marks, your measurements for the focus length, or the iris. With these HD-EC lenses, however, all of those markings were visible and easy for us.”

“The Canon lenses really made the shoot,” Ebel agreed. “The sharpness, clarity, resolving power, and color rendition looked fantastic. I liked their bokeh as well – in other words, the quality of the out-of-focus parts of the image. Those portions were gorgeous. That’s the beauty of using cine lenses; everything turns out nice and smooth. I wish I could use Canon cine lenses all the time.”

“The speed of these lenses was awesome,” Haleston added. “We were in all kinds of situations, ranging from extremely bright sunlight to a dark basement. We were able to use minimal lighting with small LED panels to get a good exposure. This also meant we could maintain our fast and furious pace without having to haul around a lot of lighting gear.”

For an independently financed film, time is also of the essence, Haleston explained. “There wasn’t a huge budget, so a lot of the stuff had to be done relatively fast and furiously,” he noted. “Fortunately, with these Canon zoom lenses we could get a close-up without needing to take the time to pull a lens off, swap it out, and attend to all of the AC duties. The zoom lenses provided an incredibly quick way of getting things done.”

Stanik and Stever plan to submit Tether Me to multiple film festivals around the country. Having used Canon cine zoom and prime lenses, they are confident that their cinematic, romantic storytelling style will be properly conveyed to audiences. “Canon lenses have that look,” concluded Stanik. “Whatever Canon makes, there is a certain feel and emotion behind what comes through the glass.”

About Canon U.S.A., Inc.

Canon U.S.A., Inc., is a leading provider of consumer, business-to-business, and industrial digital imaging solutions. Its parent company, Canon Inc. (NYSE:CAJ), a top patent holder of technology, ranked third overall in the U.S. in 2008†, with global revenues of US $45 billion, is listed as number four in the computer industry on Fortune Magazine’s World’s Most Admired Companies 2009 list, and is on the 2009 BusinessWeek list of “100 Best Global Brands.” Canon U.S.A. is committed to the highest levels of customer satisfaction and loyalty, providing 100 percent U.S.-based consumer service and support for all of the products it distributes. At Canon, we care because caring is essential to living together in harmony. Founded upon a corporate philosophy of Kyosei – “all people, regardless of race, religion or culture, harmoniously living and working together into the future” – Canon U.S.A. supports a number of social, youth, educational and other programs, including environmental and recycling initiatives. Additional information about these programs can be found at www.usa.canon.com/kyosei. To keep apprised of the latest news from Canon U.S.A., sign up for the Company's RSS news feed by visiting www.usa.canon.com/rss.

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†Based on weekly patent counts issued by United States Patent and Trademark Office.

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