Zacuto Takes First Look at Groundbreaking Fujinon MK 15-55mm T2.9 Cinema Zoom Lens E-Mount Version

Filmmaking accessories maker Zacuto seems to have a direct line into camera and lens makers and is often first kid on the block to have a hands-on look at innovative new pieces of movie production gear. Not unreasonable given that Zacuto needs to know the parameters of new cinema equipment so it can fine-tune its own product range. 

In its first video about the first MK zoom to be released, Fujifilm‘s E-Mount Fujinon MK 15-55mm T2.9, Zacuto’s Steve and Jens discuss the lens with Fujifilm US Director of Sales, Optical Devices Division, and state that it really is a true cinema lens – fast, beautiful, geared and with minimal focus breathing.

Better yet is that the Fujinon MK 15-55mm T2.9 is priced under US$4,000, remarkably affordable for a lens of its type and quality.

Zacuto – FIRST LOOK Fujinon MK 18-55 Lens: 4K under $4k

Zacuto – How to Set Backfocus – featuring the Fujinon MK 18-55 lens

Image Credits:

Header image concept and design by Carmel D. Morris.

Now Surfacing: The Long-Awaited Fujinon MK 18-55mm and 50-135mm T2.9 Cinema Lenses – E-Mount Now, X-Mount Later

Fujifilm has announced the Fujinon MK 18‐55mm T2.9 and Fujinon MK 50-135mm T2.9 cinema lenses, a matched pair of relatively affordable top-quality zooms “specifically designed for consumer and prosumer videographers and emerging cinematographers”. 

The Fujinon MK 18‐55mm T2.9 cinema zoom lens, to be released as an E-Mount lens for Sony cameras with a Fujifilm X-Mount version coming later this year for the X-Pro2, X-T2 and future X-Series cameras.

The MK 18-55mm T2.9 standard zoom lens is scheduled for an early March 2017 release while the Fujinon MK 50-135mm T2.9 is currently under development and is touted for a southern hemisphere winter 2017 release. Both lenses will initially be available in E-Mount for Sony’s popular A7-series cameras and X-Mount versions for Fujifilm’s own X-T2 and X-Pro2  will appear later in 2017.

Standout features of both lenses are that they are lightweight, are made of composite polycarbonate for lightness and strength, have the same external dimensions, are clickless, focus, iris and zoom gearing, are parfocal, have low distortion and high quality edge-to-edge sharpness, have no focus breathing, have matched constant maximum apertures and matching colour rendering and are fully manual.

Not to forget that they will be affordable relative to Fujinon’s other cinema lenses in the HK, ZK and XK series as well as competing brands of cinema zoom lenses.

Sony E-Mount Super 35 camcorders and Super 35/APS-C hybrid cameras are a clear and obvious launch market for Fujifilm’s new Fujinon MK-Series lightweight cinema lenses, with X-Mount versions for Fujifilm’s X Series flagship and related cameras coming later.

Fujifilm’s press release states that:

Cinema lenses are the optimal choice to achieve a shallow depth-of-field and a beautiful bokeh. However, since they are typically large, heavy and expensive, those involved in online and other lower cost movie production often opt for interchangeable lenses for digital cameras, which are more affordable and mobile.

The problem is that interchangeable lenses for digital cameras are designed primarily for shooting still images, and therefore prone to focus shift and optical axis shift while zooming, and so on. In response, Fujifilm has been working on developing new cinema lenses that offer advanced optical performance with compact size and operability to meet the needs of creative emerging cinematographers.

There have been rumours floating around for some time that Fujifilm would be introducing a new line of clickless video lenses suitable for its X-Mount X Series interchangeable lens Super 35/APS-C hybrid stills/video cameras. The first two lenses in Fujifilm’s Fujinon MK Series of ciné zooms are specified beyond expectations and I am looking forward to seeing them in action despite their initial release only in E-Mount for Sony cameras.

As Paul Leeming‘s letter and my own request of Fujifilm attest, Fujifilm’s latest X-Series are very promising Super 35 video production cameras whether currently 1080p in the case of the X-Pro2 or 4K with the X-T2. I hope that the imminent arrival of the MK lenses helps Billy Luong apply more pressure on Fujifilm management to add 4K capability via line-skipping as in the X-T20 to the X-Pro2.

If Fujifilm heeds mine and Mr Leeming’s requests for firmware and hardware improvements, then they will have a very capable Super 35 video camera able to take any of their current and future X-Mount stills lenses as well as the new MK X-Mount zooms.

The sudden tragic demise of Samsung’s promising, much-loved NX1 and its companion the NX500 has left a hole in the affordable 4K Super 35 market that Fujifilm still has a chance of filling, and better yet of exceeding expectations.

Many cinematographers familiar with Fujifilm’s Fujinon stills and cinema lenses have expressed a desire for a fully-featured Fujifilm Super 35 camera able to make the most of them. The ball is in Fujifilm’s court and one hopes they pick it up and run with it.

There is now even more pressure on Fujifilm to up the ante on the video capabilities of their current and future flagship X-Series cameras given the imminent arrival of Panasonic’s groundbreaking Lumix GH5 4K Super 16/Micro Four Thirds camera with its wide range of new and radically improved moviemaking features.

Why would I want a Super 35 4K as well as a Super 16 4K camera? Foremost, choice in sensor size, lens range and image quality. I am more likely to pick up the GH5 – or rather, watch it leap into my hands as the GH4 does currently – for single-operator documentary projects and rely on a revamped X-T2 or its successor for advertising, corporate and feature film projects. Others’ opinions will differ.

On the MK Series’ potential user base, Matthew Duclos of Duclos Lenses says it best:

So who did Fujinon make this lens for? I believe this lens is a great option for documentary style shooters…projects that run on the most skeleton [of] crews that need to be agile with their gear. It’ll be right at home on a music video set or a web series looking for a classic zoom range.

I have just one big question for Fujifilm right now, other than when will they act on the Leeming, Gottschalk and Luong X-Series flagship video features requests, and that is, is a super wide-angle MK-Series X-Mount ciné zoom on the drawing board?

Sony owners more expert than I in lens design have stated that the downside of the narrow E-Mount is that it mitigates against a larger collection of lenses at the wide end, though I note that Sony offers a 10-18mm f/4 OSS super wide-angle zoom lens.

Adding a super wide-angle ciné zoom to the MK series would complete its  classic three-zoom moviemaking set.

FUJIFILMglobal –FUJINON MK Lens Official Introduction movie / FUJIFILM

FUJIFILMglobal – FUJINON MK Lens – Image movie / FUJIFILM

FUJIFILMglobal – FUJINON MK Lens – Image movie making / FUJIFILM

Fujifilm Europe – FUJINON MK18-55mm T2.9 Footage Shot by Philip Bloom

Fujifilm Europe – BTS FUJINON MK18-55mm T2.9 Shot by Philip Bloom

Links:

Image Credits:

Header image concept and design by Carmel D. Morris.

Nick Driftwood’s Panasonic Lumix GH5 Top 10

I have been reading about the many Panasonic Lumix GH5 roadshows that have been going on elsewhere in the world with no small amount of envy. There has been no news of any such events happening here so I am sharing the next best thing, a graphic featuring Brighton-based moviemaker Nick Driftwood presenting his Panasonic Lumix GH5 Top 10. 

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Panasonic Lumix UK brand ambassador Nick Driftwood presents his Panasonic Lumix GH5 Top 10.

Panasonic brand ambassador Mr Driftwood has been touring the UK with a pre-production GH5 and has some years of experience with Lumix and Panasonic video cameras and camcorders.

Image Credits:

Header image concept and production by Carmel D. Morris.

Take Back Your Movies from the Gatekeepers with LumaForge’s Free 5-Part ‘Off the Grid’ Workflow Training

Independent moviemaking has been undergoing a sure and steady process of rebirth since Canon accidentally kicked off the DSLR video revolution with the EOS 5D Mark II hybrid stills/video camera in 2008.

Indie filmmaking’s evolution since then has followed a rocky path, with hardware, software and workflows evolving at different paces.

Workflows have lagged behind hardware and software, but now, it is poised to catch up with Final Cut Pro X workflow experts LumaForge releasing their five-part training series Off the Grid via movie industry website fcp.com.

Part one, Off The Grid: A Modern FCPX-RED-Resolve Narrative Workflow – Part 1- Introduction and On-Set Editorial, signals that the series is based on a We Make Movies TV pilot named Off the Grid, shot with RED digital cinema cameras and using Apple’s Final Cut Pro X and Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve in the post-production to release process along with a number of third-party desktop and mobile applications.

The authors of the Off the Grid training, Australian-in-LA editor, colorist and producer Sam Mestman and Patrick Southern, Chief Workflow Engineer at LumaForge, describe the training series thus:

This 5 part series should be looked at as a cheat sheet on how to make a movie, pilot, or doc without limits in the modern age.

My hope then is that Off the Grid will be as instructive for self-funded one-person-crew independent moviemakers working with affordable but high quality small cameras like the coming Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH5 as those with bigger budgets and multiple crew-members using larger camera systems like those made by RED.

As my own broadcast and film festival moviemaking experiences have indicated, modern moviemaking at all levels is subject to the whims of a gauntlet of gatekeepers anyone of whom can sink your project without a trace.

Even if you manage to fund and shoot all your footage and record all your audio, then take it to rough or final cut by yourself, you are still dependent on funders, broadcasters and post-production houses to get your movie to a broadcastable or projectable stage.

As Mestman and Southern so aptly state:

Filmmaking is the only artistic medium where most artists can’t afford to make their art the way they want to. My aim is to remove that hurdle along with all others so the only limitation in making a movie is one’s own creativity.

A terrific statement from at least one member of We Make Movies, a community-funded production company with the inspirational mottos “Dedicated to making the movie industry not suck.” and  “The DIY film collective that’s got your back.”

The Off the Grid Training:

Image Credits:

Header photoillustration aka featured image created for this website in Photoshop by Carmel D. Morris.