Lens Companies Offer Everything But The Kitchen Sink At NAB
At this year’s NAB, Band Pro, Canon, Fujinon, Panavision, and Thales Angenieux each brought at least one unique offering to the show, providing broadcasters a diverse (if somewhat dizzying) array of optical solutions. NAB2004 may be the first year in which HD products were pretty much taken for granted by booth visitors, so many of the lens companies, such as Canon and Fujinon, were offering solutions for those already using HD lenses. And then there was Panavision. It’s big announcement? A really, really big lens for HD. Here’s a rundown of new and improved lens offerings on the plate at NAB2004:
Band Pro (Carl Zeiss)
Band Pro, which sells Carl Zeiss lenses, introduced the first Carl Zeiss zoom lens for HD at NAB2004, the DigiZoom 6-24mm T1.9. Designed especially to enhance the potential of high definition cinematography cameras, the DigiZoom 6-24mm will be of particular interest to those shooting dramatic television programming, according to Michael Bravin, chief technology officer of Band Pro. “Right now, the largest growing market for us with Zeiss lenses is the production of drama for television,” he said. The demand is up for these kinds of lenses because more television shows are trying to achieve a film look. “About 42 hours of television being produced [currently] are shot multicamera with cine lenses,” said Bravin.
The new B4 mount lens offers many of the design features Carl Zeiss incorporated in its DigiPrime family. The 6-24mm offers standard-pitch zoom, focus, and iris gears and brightly-marked oversized windowed cine scales, readable from either side of the lens. It also features individually calibrated focus scales and a 95-mm front diameter.
The 4X zoom employs the Carl Zeiss back-focus mechanism for accurately maintained calibration across the focusing range. The Zeiss Internal Focusing Design helps facilitate a consistent center of gravity, minimum balance shift, and no breathing.
With the introduction of its two new HD studio lenses, the DIGISUPER 22xs, a compact studio lens, and DIGISUPER 23xs, a more affordable complement to its HD studio lens line, Canon seeks to offer broadcasters more affordable HD production. According to Gordon Tubbs, assistant director, broadcast and communications division at Canon U.S.A., the DIGISUPER 22xs is about $20,000 less than the DIGISUPER 25xs. The DIGISUPER 23xs is about $30,000 less than the DIGISUPER 25xs.
The DIGISUPER 22xs, also known as the XJ22x7.3B IE-D lens, was created specifically for use with portable cameras. It is equipped with the HDxs system, and uses Canon’s “X-Element” and Power Optical System in a 13.4-pound package. It features a maximum zoom speed of .5 seconds and focus of 1.5 seconds and has an f-stop of 1.8. It offers a focal length of 7.3~161mm. When used with the 2X extender, it can achieve a focal length of 14.6~322mm.
The DIGISUPER 23xs lens, or XJ23x7B IE-D lens, was designed as a budget-friendly option to complement Canon’s DIGISUPER 25xs model. It also features the HDxs system and a 1.7 aperture as well as a focal length of 7~161mm. It can achieve a focal length of 14~322mm with a 2X extender.
In offering the new lenses, Tubbs said Canon was looking to give users with different types of budgets more options. “We’re trying to give users a lot more options and choices with HD studio lenses and ENG lenses and field lenses. So basically, for the budget that’s in place, you now have choices—you’re not just buying the most expensive product because it’s the only product available.”
In the ENG/EFG arena, Canon introduced four new lenses, the HJ22ex7.6B and HJ17ex7.7B lenses for HDTV/SDTV, and the J35ex11B IASD and J35ex15B IASD lenses for SDTV. The HJ22ex7.6B lens was designed as the replacement for Canon’s HJ21x7.8B lens. The four-pound HJ22 lens gives users an increased focal length of 7.6~168mm, or 15.2~336mm with a 2X extender. The HJ17ex7.7B lens replaces the HJ16x8 lens. It is a fast lens of f 1.8. The HJ22ex7.6B lens and HJ17ex7.7B lens each feature Enhanced Digital Drive, which allows users to customize the digital tools of their lenses. Another addition is Canon’s new rotary encoder servo system for zoom, focus, and iris using miniature components specifically developed by Canon. This feature increases functionality with virtual reality studios as well as many other applications, and makes zoom and focus controls more precise and repeatable.
The company also introduced a series of lenses aimed at helping operators shoot high-quality images from hard-to-reach vantage points—the Remote Control Lens Series. The new HJ21x7.8B ITS, HJ17x7.7B ITS, and wide-angle HJ11x4.7B ITS lenses offer remote-control capabilities for scenarios where HD quality is needed. Each lens is based optically on the Canon HD ENG/EFP lenses of the same specifications, with the capabilities of the HDxs system and the Power Optical System with the “X-Element.” The SD side of the line includes the J22ex7.6B ITS lens, J17ex7.7B ITS lens, and wide-angle J11ex4.5B ITS lens. They also feature the Power Optical System design and the “X-Element.”
The J35ex11B IASD lens and J35ex15B IASD lens replace the J33 series of SDTV EFP lenses, featuring improved optics made with the controls of Digital Drive. Focal length for the J35ex11B lens is 11~385 mm, or 22~770mm with a 2X extender, while focal length for the J35ex15B lens is 15~525mm, achieving 1050 with a 2X extender.
Fujinon debuted the HAs18x1.6MD HD remote control zoom at NAB2004. It features a focal length range of 7.6 to 137mm and a wide-angle view (64.5 degrees at 7.6mm). It is equipped with Fujinon’s exclusive GO- Technology, which enables optimization of all optical components in the composition of the lens.
For high definition news and remote video production, Fujinon has introduced the new HA18x7.6BERM/BERD HDTV ENG/EFP zoom lens. It features a focal length of 137mm (274 with a 2X extender) and a wide-angle view of 64.5 degrees at 7.6mm. It is designed to complement 2/3-inch HD video cameras. The lens also features an 18x magnification and can be controlled remotely via a PC’s RS232 control port.
Looking to further solve operators’ focus issues, Fujinon has developed a patented focus system, the Fujinon Precision Focus Assist system. It will initially be available on the XA101x8.9BESM HD zoom and HA13x4.5BRD-S28K wide-angle lenses. Precision Focus Assist is a built-in feature that precisely adjusts the lens for optimum focus. Using this system, a selectable area of the video image is sampled as the focus point. The operator can adjust the user-selectable point with a roller-ball type of controller (similar to a computer mouse) to position the focus point. Then he can select manual or automatic focus assist.
“[The Precision Focus Assist System] was designed primarily to eliminate the problems experienced in high definition with focusing,” said Dave Waddell, marketing manager, broadcast and communications products division, Fujinon. “Because of the lack of resolution in the viewfinders, it’s just very difficult to achieve focus in high definition and this system was developed to help with that problem.”
Panavision debuted the 300x HD lens with Compound Zoom technology at NAB2004, which features a 300:1 zoom ratio (from 7mm to 2100mm). Other features include continuous zoom (without the use of drop-in extenders, which degrade the image), continuous focusing through zoom, instantaneous optical breathing control at short focal lengths, and low distortion over most zoom and focus rangers.
Thales Angenieux’s big announcement at NAB was its new line of digital ENG/EFP lenses. The digital ENG/EFP lens line features RS232 control capabilities, selectable zoom/focus sensitivity and an anti-breathing feature that keeps the field of view constant when focusing. “This gives the user more operating features,” said Chris Beauparlant, U.S. sales manager for Thales Angenieux. “It allows them to virtually customize the use of the lens to what they shoot on a daily basis by changing the zoom and focus laws so they can make the lens more sensitive in the areas that they primarily shoot.”
Thales Angenieux’s ENG/EFP line includes high definition and high resolution lenses in the 10X, 12X, 15X, new 26X, and 40X focal ranges. The new digital 26X 7.8AIF tele super zoom lens provides an extended focal range to provide news and sports field production crews with extended coverage capabilities. It features a focal range of 7.8mm to 203mm (5.6mm to 406mm with a 2X extender) and an aperture of f/1.8 for the HR version and f/2.2 for the HD version.
Thales Angenieux also displayed its newly redesigned line of studio- and OB/sports-style lenses at NAB, which included the new Digital 70 HD. The newly re-designed lenses feature dust- and condensation-free enclosures with a special design for active and durable protection against humidity. In addition, they incorporate the next generation of advanced performance optics with extremely tight tolerances. They require very low power for operation. The new Digital 70 HD delivers a focal range of 9.5 to 665mm (22 to 1330 with a 2X extender) and an aperture of f/2.2.