Director of Photography (DP) Jon Nelson, owner of Production Hero in Orange County, CA, recently acquired a new Fujinon PL 19-90 Cabrio (Model ZK4.7x19) Premier PL Mount cinema-style zoom lens, which he paired with a new Sony PMW-F55 CineAlta 4K digital cinema camera. As a professional DP who shoots all types of advertising and marketing video projects, including commercials and Web media, Nelson upgraded his lens of choice at the same time as purchasing the Sony camera.
The 4K camera needed better glass. While image quality is without question extremely important, Nelson decided to buy this particular camera and lens because they offer very beneficial operational and logistical advantages.
Nelson often has to pack up his camera gear on short notice to fly to production locations around the U.S., and sometimes even shoot in two different cities in one day. Since he flies on commercial aircraft, he is wary of checking many heavy bags because it adds to travel costs. When he arrives on-location, he wants to set up his camera gear as quickly as possible and minimize lens changes to save time. With Cabrio’s 19-90mm focal range, Nelson doesn’t have to interrupt the shoot for lens changes as often. Saving time is especially valuable since he often works on jobs with smaller crews and tight deadlines. With its compact, lightweight package, the Cabrio is easy to transport and set-up.
Nelson often shoots interviews where the subject is between 8ft to 15ft away from the camera. Doing critical focusing in 4K in low light situations can be extremely frustrating with a zoom lens with a focus ring that doesn’t rotate much in the critical 8ft to 15ft range. The Cabrio is an exception because the focus ring rotation gives the operator ample ability to focus the lens for critical 4K focusing, and the barrel markings are notably accurate.
The PL 19-90 Cabrio (Model ZK4.7x19) features an exclusive detachable servo drive unit, making it suitable for use as a standard cine PL Mount lens or as an ENG-style lens. Nelson prefers to shoot with the handgrip on the lens. Having the handgrip and zoom motor built into the lens — and no need for external zoom motor hardware and cabling — were other key factors leading to his purchase of the lens.
With the longest focal range of any lightweight zoom and a T2.9 aperture, the PL 19-90 Cabrio lens covers a 31.5mm size sensor on a digital cinema-style camera, such as the Sony PMW-F55. The F55, which has a 35mm CMOS sensor, can record 4K/2K/HD simultaneously onto an internal recorder as well as 4K/2K onto an external RAW recorder. Shooting multiple formats simultaneously is important because Nelson’s clients increasingly want an immediate compressed version of the footage, so they can start rough cutting it right away, but then take the 4K resolution into post-production.