(click thumbnail) Those of us on the front lines of electronic newsgathering welcome any advance in the quality and utility of the tools we use to do our job. Along with the advent of new camera technologies, the evolution of the current generation of ENG lenses has been almost as exciting.
The 2x extender probably helped those of us in the field more than any other single advance since the introduction of the zoom lens. But on the heels of the extender, the subtraction of a millimeter or so on the wide end of our lenses has given us a significant creative boost in shooting the best images we can.
Two years ago, my company bought new cameras and lenses. Our lenses at that time had moved from camera to camera and some were almost 20 years old. The new Fujinons we purchased are the basic 17x broadcast ENG lens.
This lens was long (133mm), wider (7.8mm), lighter by a pound and switchable between 4:3 to 16:9 aspect ratios. Additionally, it is an internally focused lens and is much more weather tight than previous lenses.
Consequently I was delighted to try out the wide-angle version of my own lens. More than a year ago, Fujinon introduced the A13x4.5ERM to round out the company's stable of 2/3-inch ENG lenses.
Fast FactsApplications: ENG and EFP
Key Features: 4.5 mm wide angle; electronic lens control
Contact: Fujinon, 973-633-5600,
Web Site: www.fujinonbroadcast.com
The Fujinon A13x4.5ERM is available in a couple of versions, including with or without a 2x extender and aspect ratio conversion. The maximum aperture is f1.8 up to 41mm of zoom, rising to f2.6 at 59mm. The field of view is nearly 89 degrees wide at the 4.5mm end of the range.
The use of computers to aid in lens design is a relatively recent phenomenon. Fujinon says that by using its own optical simulations it has substantially reduced the aberrations that dogged lens design up until recent times, resulting in higher image resolution.
Along with improved optical quality, the A13x4.5ERM sports an assortment of features including preset zooms and focal length memory. This lets you set a certain zoom between the end points and repeat it automatically. The lens also has a one-button quick zoom and auto-return that is perfect for getting a quick focus check.
There are 10 preset zooming speeds in addition to the usual zoom rocker control. The electronic parameters are adjusted on the front of the lens.
The lens uses 127mm filters and the model I received came with a screw-on polarizing filter. The overall weight of the lens is around 4.5 pounds.
The A13x4.5ERM popped right onto the front of my DVCPRO camera and the difference was noticeable immediately when looking through the viewfinder. With this lens, an entire room is visible in the frame.
The variety of shots that can be used in a mundane interview is remarkable... a subject seated behind a desk and the entire desk can be in the shot, filling the foreground, all in focus. The distortion introduced on a pan is minimal and not disconcerting in the least.
I was able to shoot people entering a courthouse, seeing the entire courthouse in the frame from about 50 feet. Saying that this is a wonderful creative tool does not do justice to the versatility of a lens like this.
The minimum object distance has been greatly reduced as well, half what I'm used to (0.3m vs. 0.6m). This alone makes it easier for a lot of what the typical ENG photographer encounters. For example, I could smoothly get a shot of documents on a desk, then move to a name, phrase or title without fully extending the tripod.
Everything on the A13x4.5ERM worked smoothly, cleanly and quietly, and the ergonomics were natural. The overall feel of the lens was what I expected from a broadcast-quality product.
A wide-angle lens such as this one does embody some basic compromises. The focal length on the long end is half what a typical ENG lens is and even with the 2x extender in place, the maximum length is 118 mm. I also noticed the difference in weight-this lens is almost a pound heavier than the lens I use. The clear filter used to protect the front element is a whopping 127mm, quite a piece of glass.
These concerns aside, the Fujinon A13x4.5ERM provides ENG photographers with a spectacular option for creative photography.