As part of the company’s overall initiative to promote its Cine-Style zooms among cinematographers, camera operators and camera assistants throughout the world, Fujinon started in May its Fujinon Days. The next is December 1, in Los Angeles.
Cinematographers and optical technicians have a chance to put Premier and Cabrio zooms through their paces during the series of educational seminars created by the Optical Devices Division of Fujifilm, Fujinon. The first session was held at the prestigious ASC (American Society of Cinematographers) Clubhouse on May 24th. To date, three other events have followed in the U.S.: Austin at MPS on September 15th, Atlanta at ARRI Rental on September 24th and New York City at Abel Cine on November 1st.
“Fujinon Day at Sony DMPC” in Los Angeles is scheduled for December 1st. Upcoming locations include events in Sao Paulo, Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Miami and Boston, confirming the international aspect of the event.
“Our goal with these events is to allow filmmakers to see for themselves the capabilities and characteristics of our extensive range of Premier and Cabrio lenses, and to combine that with the opportunity to learn from masters like Bill Bennett ASC, William Wages ASC and Dejan Georgevich ASC,” said Chuck Lee, Western Regional and Technology Manager, Fujifilm Optical Devices Division. “We strongly encourage comments and questions during the presentations. We see these days as educational in nature, a chance to talk about how the technical aspects of lens design relate to look and feel, rather than merely boast about our lenses.”
For three-time ASC Award winner William Wages, ASC (Buffalo Soldiers, Down in the Delta, Burn Notice, Into the West): “the Cabrio 19-90 and 85-300mm zooms are virtually the only lenses I’m presently using. The optical quality, small size and speed are unequaled. They’ve changed the way I shoot.” Wages, the ASC’s 2012 recipient of the Career Achievement in Television honor, added he’s taking his Fujinon lenses to South Africa in November for a feature film shoot with director Roland Joffe (The Killing Fields, The Mission, City of Joy).
Eric Steelberg, ASC (Baywatch, Draft Day, Juno, 500 Days of Summer) was among those on hand at the ASC event. “In the past, cinematographers have relegated zooms to a lower place in the hierarchy of lens technology,” he said. “If you wanted to use a zoom, you had to be willing to sacrifice. Fujinon, in my opinion, completely changed that paradigm. Now you don’t have to decide to shoot zooms or primes based on performance. Now it’s based on workflow form and factor, and a cinematographer’s philosophy. But the technical limitations have been solved. I’ve used them with Red, ALEXA, film, and across the board, they have performed. If you thought that Fujinon lenses were only for video or sports, I’ve got news for you.”
Fujinon zoom lenses have been used on major feature films ranging from Tomorrowland (Claudio Miranda, ASC) to Avatar (Mauro Fiore, ASC), to Jupiter Ascending (John Toll, ASC); and on TV shows such as The Last Ship (Rodney Charters, ASC CSC) and Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll (Bill Nielsen).
After leading a discussion about the subtleties of lens characteristics at the ASC event, noted cinematographer Bill Bennett, ASC concluded, “Many of the attendees were very experienced cinematographers. They don’t need to be told what a good lens is or what good performance is. They would just as soon come and see for themselves and make up their own minds. Everybody makes judgments about lenses in their own way, so we just gave people the tools to take a good look.”
Cinematographer Ian Ellis, known for his dramatically lit DP work on the TV series “The Lying Game,” and second unit DP work on “Friday Night Lights” and “Revolution” had never seen a Fujinon Premier lens in action before “Fujinon Day” in Austin. Ellis reports being “amazed” by the lack of breathing, vignetting, and overall beautiful imagery captured by the Premier and Cabrio zooms. “I would love to get the 25-300mm Cabrio on a TV show. It’s got such a huge range and doesn’t fall apart at the long end wide open. We tend to live on big zooms on TV dramas, and we could go so many directions with that lens. I really want other people to see what it can do. And the Premier 75-400mm lens is insanely cool. It would be my ideal long-end lens for a feature film.”
Steelberg added that lenses, like other filmmaking technologies, are evolving quickly. “It’s great to see companies like Fujifilm continue to push the envelope with zoom lenses,” he said. “Companies are really spending a lot of time and effort developing lens technology. They’re not accepting the status quo, and they’re pushing lens technology beyond what people thought was possible. I’ve been shooting with zooms for most of a recent project, and using primes only when necessary due to space or other restrictions. That’s saying a lot. You no longer need to worry about having enough T-stop. And that’s great for filmmakers and audiences alike. Some of these lenses are T2, which is the same as many primes, and they are just as sharp and free of distortion and aberration. They’re really spectacular.”
For many in the Austin video and film production community, the opportunity to provide feedback on lens performance from their hometown was a welcome one. According to Meredith Stephens, Vice President of Business Development, MPS Studios with offices in Austin, Dallas and Denver: “Fujinon Day brought industry professionals from across the state together to gain an in-depth understanding of the technical specs and capabilities of zooms, get a hands-on look at the quality of glass, and ask questions directly of the experts. I was particularly impressed with the lenses’ balance and contrast performance. They stay in focus throughout the entire image, unlike other zooms. The speed, clarity and crispness across the Premier line is excellent, and they pair nicely with Master Primes.”
Austin-based First Assistant Camera Operator Sebastian Vega (member IATSE Local 600) echoed this sentiment: “I appreciated seeing a major manufacturer visit our market, not only to share their sales catalog, but to seek feedback from professional users. As I’ve seen on set previously and again during this demo, the Premier zooms look terrific.”
Speaking about the ASC-hosted event in LA, Matthew Duclos, COO/Project Manager of Duclos Lenses said, “This was an excellent event. At Duclos, we’re very proud of our independence. We’re not devoted to any single manufacturer. And an event like this isn’t something you’d normally see outside of a dedicated service shop or rental house. It’s great to have a neutral organization like the ASC conduct an educational seminar.”
“Fujinon Day” provides an opportunity to learn about lens design, technology, applications and the company’s wide selection of PL mount zoom lenses. Workshops and panel discussions explore the creative, optical and budgetary considerations that are critical to modern optics design.
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