ZEISS just officially announced a new lightweight cinema zoom, the first in many years: the LWZ.3 21-100mm. It starts at T2.9 and gets a stop slower at the far end, down to T3.9. A pre-production version of the ZEISS LWZ.3 used on the shoot of the documentary Through the Thick in South Africa early this year. LWZ.3 – Perfect for Documentary? For a cinema zoom, it is extremely compact and lightweight at 2kg (4.4 lbs). To me, this is almost the perfect documentary zoom lens. How do I know? I used a pre-production version of this lens while shooting our anti-poaching documentary Through the Thick, which I reported about before on cinema5D (click here) and which you can watch below. As a regular documentary shooter traveling the world and often covering factual content with large-sensor cameras like the FS7 or C300, I know how often I see myself with the wrong lens at the wrong time, especially when being forced to use photo zooms like a 17-55, 24-70 and 70-200mm. If something unexpected happens, you may not have the time to change lenses, but that’s one of the downsides of working with large sensors: they also mean large(r) lenses. Shot on a pre-production version of the ZEISS LWZ.3: A Great Compromise – Versatility, Weight, Size, Speed and Interchangeable Mounts The LWZ.3’s zoom range of 21-100mm is a great compromise – it’s wide enough for most practical purposes on documentary shoots (although of course, a few more millimeters make a big difference on the wide end), and it’s long enough for getting a close-up of anything not too far away from the lens. This new ZEISS zoom covers only Super35mm sensors, which is a complete deviation from recent ZEISS Cine lenses such as all Compact Primes or Compact Zooms, which were designed to cover the full frame 35mm photo size sensor. I actually think it’s a great idea because, aside from the RED line of cameras, there are still no cinema cameras on the market that have a sensor larger than Super35. Designing the lens this way means that it is considerably smaller (226mm long) and lighter than its Compact Zoom counterparts, which can get quite heavy on the shoulder when used for extended documentary shoots. The loss of one stop of light at the end of the zoom range is a compromise that is totally acceptable in my opinion. I’d rather have a lens start with a fast T-stop like T/2.9 and then loose a stop of light at the end, than having a very compromised T/4.4 like the Canon 18-80 all the way through. If that loss of a stop of light means shaving off a few hundred grams of weight in glass and size of this lens, I am very willing to take it. Practically all the “real-time” action shots in the documentary above were shot with this lens, which was attached to a Sony FS7 using a PL Mount Adapter from Vocas. Like most other ZEISS cine lenses, however, the LWZ.3 uses the Interchangeable Mount System (IMS), which allows you to change the mount to PL, EF, E, F and MFT. During our shoot in January, the pre-production version we used was PL only, which is why I used the adapter. Competition – Right Lens at the Right Time … We have seen a few manufacturers announce or release less expensive zoom lenses that cover the whole range needed for documentary filmmaking, and many of the available options were too big and heavy for constant documentary work from the shoulder. For example, the Fujinon Cabrio series (pricey) or the Canon 17-120 Servo Zoom (very expensive too) are both really great lenses, but oftentimes out of range for the average documentary production, even for rental. Canon announced their Cine-Servo Zoom 18-80 during NAB, but it’s only a constant T4.4 which isn’t great for both creative and practical reasons. The LWZ.3 is surprisingly affordable for a ZEISS zoom lens: its suggested retail price is just below $10K. Director of Photography Nino Leitner using the ZEISS LWZ.3 on the shoot in South Africa Conclusion This lens will definitely have quite an impact on the market, and its versatility seems to be unmatched by any others. The only thing that’s really missing is a servo unit for the lens, but ZEISS has been teasing one for their zoom lenses for quite a while now, and it seems to be around the corner as well. Offering a separate, optional servo unit means they are also able to keep costs down on the lens overall compared to the competition. We will release a full review of this lens in a few weeks alongside a behind-the-scenes featurette shot specifically about the ZEISS LWZ.3 in South Africa alongside the documentary shoot, and I will share more of my experiences with this lens then.Read more
OWC, known to manufacture affordable Mac hardware, just announced that they managed to break the speed record for affordable external thunderbolt RAID storage. [UPDATE]: We’ve received numerous e-mails with claims that the benchmarks by OWC are incorrect. The title of this article has been updated accordingly. Especially filmmakers and editors have been waiting for affordable and fast thunderbolt based storage solutions, a few of which we’ve finally seen hitting the market last year. Just a few months ago OWC introduced their ThunderBay line of 4-drive external RAID-ready storage solutions, recently refreshing it with Thunderbolt 2 connections. It is available in configurations from 4TB up to 16TB and also offered as a diskless enclosure that goes for $429. Mac Pro’s 6 Thunderbolt 2 ports boost speed Several of the OWC drives can be chained together using a combination of the two Thunderbolt 2 ports it has. However the great speeds described can only be achieved using a Mac Pro that sports 6 separate thunderbolt connections. This is how OWC achieved speeds of nearly 4,000MB/s. The benchmark testing showed 3,990MB/s read and 3,802MB/s write speeds, running an HDD array of 3x 12TB OWC ThunderBay 4 drives. They achieved similar numbers running SSD drives. [UPDATE]: numerous e-mails with claims that the benchmarks by OWC are incorrect. In different benchmark tests the maximum speed that could be achieved with the method described here would be 1902 MB/s. The 12TB OWC ThunderBay 4 drives used cost $939 each, making this the most affordable ultra-fast storage solution available. OWC says: The Mac Pro has a total of six Thunderbolt 2 ports connecting to three separate Thunderbolt 2 busses, with two ports to each bus. We connected one ThunderBay 4 to one of the two ports available for each bus to get the maximum performance. Those three ThunderBay 4 enclosures were made into a single RAID-0 array using the built-in software RAID-0 in OS X. We then fired up the benchmarking tools and watched in awe at the performance the ThunderBay 4 enclosures achieved. This combination of performance and storage comes at a fraction of the price of rack-based storage. The ThunderBay 4 enclosures generally got very good reviews. Other, less affordable, but proven solutions include the new G-technology external RAID drives and the Promise Pegasus RAID, both of which are now also compatible with Apple’s new Thunderbolt 2 standard. image via macsalesRead more
We already reported about the much-anticipated Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art lens (click here), the first modern auto-focus zoom lens with an f-stop of 1.8. Because of its incomparable speed we were ready for a relatively high price tag, even though it’s a Sigma lens. But it turns out that Sigma decided to surprise us – it will be available in July and will cost only $799 (you can already preorder it at B&H by clicking here).Read more
Sigma just announced one of the fastest zoom lenses for DSLRs that we have ever seen – the 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art lens for APS-C sensor DSLRs. It’s the world’s first constant f/1.8 zoom lens. A typical speed for high quality zoom lenses is f/2.8, so 1.8 is a big step up from that (don’t forget, after all aperture is an exponental value, meaning that every stop more gives you twice the amount of light. The only fast zoom lens that comes pretty close is the Olympus 14-35mm f/2.0, but that’s a Four Thirds model. It makes a HUGE difference to have faster lenses, even if it’s only a one or two stops more. And so far, one of the biggest problems of zoom lenses was the fact that they were nowhere near as fast as fast primes (that typically come in at f/1.4). Sigma’s new f/1.8 zoom is only half a stop away from that – pretty impressive. UPDATE, June 14: Pricing is out and it is spectacularly low for such a fast zoom lens – $799! It is available to preorder from B&H now. Available July 31.Read more
When we had our first 1 day no-budget Scarlet-X shoot two weeks ago (see short and field report here) we bumped into one major problem: Backing up the data on this MacBook Pro via FW800 just took too long (30 minutes for a 64GB card) and we ended up not having a second backup (!). This is a situation you simply can’t have. If that backup dies the work (and money) that went into that shooting day dies with it. Read on for the solution to this problem:Read more
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