Definition May 2021 - Web

LENS SPEC I AL | GEAR

“IT'S HARD TO IMAGINE TWO MORE DIFFERENT LOOKS THAN GAME OF THRONES AND ALTERED CARBON, YET COOKE LENSES CAPTURED BOTH”

and historical environments. The characteristics of a lens are clearly far from prescriptive – and neither is the technology. With its Anamorphic /i line, offered in a modified variant called Special Flair, Cooke is not the only company to have deliberately modified lenses to form ‘character’. Sigma’s conventional FF High Speed Prime line began to appear in PL, EF and E-mount in 2017. These full-frame, high-speed primes fulfilled a requirement for large format coverage before that need had fully matured. The minimalistic industrial design went down well – it’s also hard to dislike the speed: T2 in even a 2:1-ratio zoom is rare, especially for the money. The conventional Sigma primes are fairly conservative, leaning towards centre sharpness and low chromatic aberration. Claudio Miranda ASC famously chose them for parts of Top Gun: Maverick – yet to be seen by most of the world. Conversely, that neutrality is enthusiastically abandoned in the Classic line, which emerged in early 2020 with fewer coatings to provoke extra flare. Given the decline in global production coinciding with their release, perhaps the best example of Classic lenses in action is the short, Operator , photographed by Timur Civan. The flares turn point sources into rings, and soft lights into veiling that picks up the colour of the light source. In accompanying interviews, Civan

or people who sometimes seem most interested in chasing the technical ideals

AND ZOOMS Cinema zooms emerged in the fifties with the Pan Cinor. They’ve spent most of the last 70 years being maligned for an undesirable kind of softness. The extra parts required to alter focal length, without changing focus distance, inevitably cost us something in terms of speed, size, weight and price, even if modern designs avoid sacrificing too much. No single company has been entirely responsible for improvement in zooms, though Fujifilm’s offering is common, even on productions headlining a well-known set of primes. Often – very often, actually – quiet conversations at the back of camera trucks reveal the extent that some productions are shot on Fujinon zooms. With Fujinon now offering the Premista range, covering larger formats, and the high-speed Premier lenses to complement the compact, yet slower Cabrio series, the only objection is that quality zooms are so good, they may demand filtering for personality.

of resolution and sharpness, camera people often seem, in practice, to have a soft spot for the deliberately imperfect. But discussing what that means for productions and their stories quickly becomes difficult, because opinion comes in many shades. Consider Cooke. The company needs almost no introduction; it’s rare for a business to have an entire look named after itself. Words like ‘gentle’ or ‘warm’ are often used, and they seem to agree, describing a “subtle, smooth rendering that provides dimensionality and high contrast”. For that reason, the Cooke S4 is an understandable choice for the period drama Belle , photographed by Ben Smithard BSC, chronicling the life of a young woman in 1770s England. But it’s not quite that easy. The S4 series was also used by Enrique Chediak ASC on The Maze Runner , a dystopian science fiction depicting chases through an imposing concrete labyrinth, by cybernetically altered monsters. That’s not the only example. It’s hard to imagine two more different looks than Game of Thrones , with its pseudo-historical fantasy ethos, and Altered Carbon , which resembles a Blade Runner sequel. Yet, Cooke lenses captured both. With this in mind, it’s little surprise to see the brand deployed on Westworld ’s sci-fi

MAY 202 1 | DEF I N I T ION 23

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