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Focus ramping: when T-stops go bad

Focus ramping: when T-stops go bad

Years ago, while assisting on a sitcom, I helped the director of photography shoot exposure tests on all of our zooms. The closeups were darker than expected, and she wanted…

The secret life of behind-the-lens nets

The secret life of behind-the-lens nets

“What’s with the pattern in the headlights?” I asked the first camera assistant, as I looked through “B” camera on a feature film set…

Four lenses: a visual comparison, part 2

Four lenses: a visual comparison, part 2

It’s time to name names. I’m going to tell you what lenses you’ve been looking at for the last few days, and offer my…

Four lenses: a visual comparison, part 1

Four lenses: a visual comparison, part 1

We live in an age of lens choice. Because of this, we also live in an age of lens tests. Done properly, such tests are hugely valuable. The best way…

Behind-the-lens nets: a lost art makes a comeback

Behind-the-lens nets: a lost art makes a comeback

I’ve always been a little different. That’s the only explanation I have for cutting gels out of Rosco and Lee swatch books and putting them behind…

Chromatic aberration: hard edges, hue shifts, and storytelling

Chromatic aberration: hard edges, hue shifts, and storytelling

Accidents yield interesting truths. This is especially true in lens and camera tests, where it’s hard to know what to test for but there’s always something…

Three lenses: a look at bokeh, depth of field and geometry

Three lenses: a look at bokeh, depth of field and geometry

Some people take time off during the holidays. I borrow a half million dollars worth of camera and lenses and shoot whatever comes to mind. It’s a sickness…

Lens dynamic range: coatings, contrast and color

Lens dynamic range: coatings, contrast and color

There was a time in the distant past when I thought of lenses as transparent glass. Film and digital sensors have dynamic range, but lenses are merely optics. Right? Wrong…

Lens coverage, sensor size, and pushing the limits

Lens coverage, sensor size, and pushing the limits

Sensors and lenses don’t always get along. In the HDR and UHD world, it’s important to test, test, test. Recently I shot a diffraction test meant…

Signature Primes vs. Ultra Primes: The Pixel-Peeper’s Guide

Signature Primes vs. Ultra Primes: The Pixel-Peeper’s Guide

For nine months I’ve been working periodically as a trainer for the ARRI Academy. Recently we added an Alexa LF to the class, accompanied by a set of…

Casting the look of a camera into glass

Casting the look of a camera into glass

Recently I had the pleasure of meeting with ARRI’s senior color designer, and I asked him the question I like to ask all camera manufacturers: “Why?&#8221…

The simplest interview setup ever: the modern update

The simplest interview setup ever: the modern update

Many years ago I wrote about the simplest interview lighting setup ever. Here’s my modern take on that same setup. The TL;DR version is: I still use…

Speed lighting: more lessons from the ARRI Academy

Speed lighting: more lessons from the ARRI Academy

The ARRI Academy isn’t only about learning how cameras work. We also teach how to use them. I’ve never seen a class as motivated as the…

ARRI Signature Primes: the conscious design of softness

ARRI Signature Primes: the conscious design of softness

This is a story about a lens family whose soft focus backgrounds were consciously designed, and the lens mount that made them possible. For the last six months I&#8217…

The film look: what is it, and why are there two of them?

The film look: what is it, and why are there two of them?

The film look is an elusive thing. Everyone has their favorite flavor, but there are two basic, yet opposite, techniques in vogue right now—and I think I’ve…