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Canon Lens Provides 'Film Look'

Kevin Ebel
Although digital 24p high-definition cameras have made independent movie-making much more affordable, to achieve a rich, film-like look requires all of the craftsmanship of traditional cinematography as well as the right equipment. For us, that meant using Canon's cine-style prime and zoom lenses for capturing "Tether Me," a poignant film that tells the story of a troubled young woman who is rescued from her solitary existence by her next-door neighbor and involves a series of three road trips.

We did the shooting for this production last summer in Portland and Gresham, Ore. Generous support for the project came from Mark "Sparky" Haleston, who provided us with a Grass Valley Infinity HD 24p camera and a process trailer for shooting the car scenes involving the movie's main charac-ters.


In order to capture the action in this production, we used two Canon cine-style zoom lenses (HJ8x5.5B KLL-SC and HJ21x7.5B KLL-SC), along with all six of Canon's cine-style prime lenses. These lenses provided sharp, bright, cinematic 16:9 images and allowed us to achieve the creative results that we wanted. The Canon lenses also gave us the production versatility that we needed for our various shots.

During production, we shot both outdoors and indoors, and sometimes in small and tight locations such as a bathroom, with the actors positioned very close to the camera. It's really challenging when you're in a such a small space, as we couldn't move the camera back any further and we had no way to make the room any larger. However, such tight space shooting was not a problem for us, thanks to the depth of field provided by Canon's cine-style lenses. The Canon prime lenses feature a very short minimum object distance—the minimum distance between the front of the lens and the object it's focused on—and that greatly facilitated our ability to get the excellent close-up high-definition image capture that we required.


We also found that Canon's design of all of its cine-style prime and zoom lenses to be very convenient. They have the tactile control and ergonomics that motion-picture cinematographers are used to working with. The Canon prime lenses feature a 280 degree rotation angle, and the three cine zoom lenses have a 270 degree range.

The focus and iris indications on all of the lenses are engraved with large illuminated scales, and the focus distances are marked in feet. The gear rings on the lenses are also compatible with studio focus rigs, manual fluid-zoom drives, and with industry standard motorized control systems.

The Canon lenses really made the shoot. Their sharpness, clarity, resolving power, and color rendition looked fantastic. I also really liked their "bokeh" as well. This is the quality of the out-of-focus parts of the image. With the Canon lenses, those portions were indeed gorgeous. That's really the beauty of using cine lenses—everything turns out nice and smooth. I wish I could use Canon's cine-style lenses all the time.

Kevin Ebel is the director of photography for "Tether Me." He may be contacted

For additional information, contact Canon at 800-321-4388 or