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17-35 f2.8 Nikon OR 17-55 f2.8 Nikon DX good for Anamorphic?
  • Hey, folks! So I've been thinking long and hard about lenses lately. I have a range of inexpensive '80s 35mm still camera glass, which works alright for how much I paid for it, but I'm starting to think about where I would like to end up in the lens department.

    Here's the deal . . . I like the idea of shooting 4:3-16:9 anamorphic converters (so the 1.3x ones like LA7200, Century, Optex, etc.), but I'm also starting to become less attracted to having a set of manual primes (I know, I'm crazy, right?)

    The issue with going serious with primes is that they should all be good, and all be from the same line of lenses, which together means spending quite a bit of money one way or another (even a good set of FD lenses will add up the $$$ quick). So, I've been looking into zoom lenses that reach far enough into the wide end of things for the GH2 to be wider than "normal" (25mm), while also reaching beyond normal somewhat. Constant aperture is fairly critical for filmmaking, as well as an acceptably large aperture (2.8 or lower).

    These two Nikon lenses are essentially the two that fit the bill 100%:

    the 17-35mm f2.8 and the 17-55mm f2.8 DX.

    Does anyone have experience with either of these on the GH2? (or experience with them at all?) Obviously the 17-55mm f2.8 DX reaches past 100mm equivalent on the GH2, and both start from around 35mm equivalent, the next common focal length wider than 50mm. Somehow I like the idea of having all my "lenses" in one lens. Keeps the lens flavor identical at different focal lengths, saves changing lenses unless after a certain lens "effect" from another lens, etc.

    Would either of these be able to play nice with an LA7200 anamorphic? Technically, this adapter covers as wide as 17mm, and most anamorphics seem to have no trouble with any longer focal lengths, but I've also heard zooms can do crazy stuff to an anamorphic. Still, the LA7200 is one of the very simple shoot thru designed ones, and with a lighter squeeze as well.

    Thoughts? Advice?
  • 19 Replies sorted by
  • From cheaper options Tamron 17-50mm F2.8 is very good.

    Don't know about anamorphic lens usage.
    I hope guys who are pros in this will soon answer this part.
  • The Nikon 17-55mm f2.8 G has no aperture ring and goes for over $1000 used. While it's a superb lens, it doesn't really mate well with either a GH2 or an anamorphic adapter (the lens barrel extends when zoomed).

    The Nikon 17-35mm f2.8 D is a different story. It has the aperture ring and fixed lens barrel needed to work gracefully with both GH2 and an anamorphic adapter. To handle the 17mm wide end of its range, an LA7200 is probably mandatory. Most anamorphics can only go as wide as 28-35mm without vignetting.

    Nikon also made a 20-35mm f2.8 D which can use an Optex or Century Optics 1.33x anamorphic adapter. I use an Optex anamorphic with a Tokina 20-35mm f2.8 - an excellent video lens and significantly cheaper than the Nikon.
  • LA7200 on the GH2 is best between 16-21mm at fast aperatures. Wider you have CA, longer you can't focus the edges.

    This all radically changes if you have diopters, use ETC, stop down the lens, and on and on.
  • So, are the optex/century the same story as the LA7200 past 21mm, or would an LA/Century combo cover wide and long respectively? From what I have heard, they have a very similar effect.

    The 17-50 Tamron is looking like a fairly good option at this point as well. It is not a "pro" built lens by any means, but this also makes it lighter weight, just as the LA/Optex/Century are some of the lighter anamorphic setups, and the GH2 is probably the lightest DSLR out there . . . hmm . . .
  • The Tamron 17-50mm's ergonomics are no better than the Nikon 17-55mm - neither lens has an aperture ring and the outer lens barrel extends when zoomed. With the LA7200 at 17mm focal length, you need a really broad lens hood or matte box to minimize flare. If you mount all this on the end of the Tamron, it will look quite comical zooming in and out like a trombone.

    You may have seen my recent dissection of video-friendly lenses, at this link:

    Everything I said in that thread goes double for anamorphic adapters, particularly big ones like the LA7200. They are finicky prima donnas that are happiest when mounted on a completely immobile lens with no annoying quirks of its own. If you want to mate an anamorphic with a classy piece of glass, a video-friendly Nikkor is a good choice. If you want something more affordable, I can recommend the following after-market lenses, each of which I've tested myself:

    Samyang/Rokinon 35mm f1.4
    Samyang/Rokinon 85mm f1.4
    Tokina AT-X 235 Pro 20-35mm f2.8
    Tokina AT-X 270 Pro 28-70mm f2.8
  • "Nikon also made a 20-35mm f2.8 D which can use an Optex or Century Optics 1.33x anamorphic adapter."

    @LPowell doesn't the Century Optics 1.33x anamorphic adapter only work properly w/a 50mm lens or higher? The one that I purchased from you works great, but as you stated to me prior it only vignettes on anything less then 50mm (I use mine with a Nikon 17-55mm f2.8)
  • @killagram
    Sorry, I should have been more specific about which Century Optics anamorphic I was referring to. It's the fixed-focus 1.33x model in the following review that will handle wide-angle lenses:

    The focusable Century Optics 1.33x model is restricted to narrower focal lengths:
  • @LPowell hope I'm not going off topic here, but im also looking for a good zoom to work with the isco 1.5x attachment (isco 36) , as far as Vignetting goes, from my tests so far I find that the widest i can use the isco w/out any major vignetting is 28mm (i tried the vivitar 28mm 2,8), but as soon as I put the 0.5+ close up I start to see vignetting.My 35mm f2 nikon is great with the isco..A couple of people said to me in the past that its not a good idea to use zooms with isco anamorphics, i know my isco takes a 49mm size lens thread.Do you know of a good zoom in the 28-100mm or 35-100mm range that might work with the isco with out major vignetting, it would be great to have one lens for run and gun stuff to use with isco36, rather than have to change primes ..thanks
  • @sammy
    I have an ISCO Widescreen 2000, which is similar in size to the ISCO 36. While it will work without vignetting on my Rokinon 35mm f1.4 prime, I can only use it on my Tokina 28-70mm f2.8 at 50mm and above. In general, I've found the ISCO works on wider primes than it does on zooms.
  • thanks for that info. I think the 28mm should also work with your isco.I have a vivitar 70-210 series 1, I will try to test that for more a close up anamorphic look
  • the isco 36 works great with the vivitar 70-210 series one.. not to go off topic, but any good 28mm (35mm also work) and up zoom lenses with 58mm and smaller front filter ? I tried the 28-90mm vivitar (67mm front) major vignetting up to 45mm zooming 50mm its good..
  • "The Nikon 17-55mm f2.8 G has no aperture ring and goes for over $1000 used. While it's a superb lens, it doesn't really mate well with either a GH2 or an anamorphic adapter (the lens barrel extends when zoomed)."

    Have to disagree with part of his point. I use the 17-55 all the time and it works just fine with the GH2. Just get an adapter that allows you to change the aperture & you're good to go. The downside is not knowing exactly what your aperture is set at outside of wide open but the fact remains that you can move the aperture settings.
  • @ethan_cooper
    In my experience, the downside of using one of these "lock" ring adapters is that most of them cannot be trusted to work reliably. These inexpensive adapters were all designed the same way, with an internal pin that engages a spring-mounted iris lever on the rear of the lens mount. When you mount the lens on a compatible auto-aperture camera, it uses this lever to hold the iris wide open for maximum brightness while you're composing a shot, regardless of what f-stop you set the lens' aperture ring. When you press the shutter button, the camera releases the lever and the spring closes the iris down to the selected f-stop while the shot is snapped.

    When using a Nikon or Canon manual-focus lens on a GH2, there's no auto-aperture function and you must shoot with the lens stopped down to your selected aperture setting. In this situation, the adapter's lock ring lets you temporarily lock the lens iris wide open while focusing, much as an auto-aperture camera does, though of course you have to manually unlock it before you take the shot.

    On a NIkon G lens, the problem with using the lens iris lever to manually control the aperture is that the distance the lever moves from locked to open position is very short. Since there's no gearing on the adapter's internal lock ring pin it's a delicate adjustment that can be easily disturbed. The lock rings on the cheap adapters are typically pretty loose and simply don't have enough rotational friction to securely set the aperture where you want it to stay. In practice, the lock ring can be inadvertently nudged whenever you adjust the other lens rings. Of the adapters I tested, the Fotodiox Canon FD adapter was more secure than the eBay adapters, but I didn't find any of them tight enough to consider reliable.

    To remedy this problem, Rayqual designed an adapter for Nikon G lenses that has eight internal detents in the lock ring, with labeled notches on the outside of the ring. Of course, these notches cannot be calibrated directly in f-stops like a lens aperture ring, but they make it more repeatable and easier to confirm. The adapter is expensive, however, and I haven't tested its reliability myself:
  • @LPowell
    I fully understand the pitfalls of working with this lens and the adapters but it's too nice of a lens to leave lying around when I go out on shoots.
    For what it's worth, gaffer tape can cure some of the ills you outlined.
  • so . . . the 17-35 2.8 Nikon would play well with the LA7200? I'm still a bit unsure about comments about having to stop down for the LA7200. Is this true that it needs to be stopped to f4 or greater? Is there ant remedy for this?
  • Can't speak for the LA7200 but I used a Century adaptor on my 4:3 Sony miniDV camera. I now use it very occasionally on a couple of primes (50 and 28) and it's pretty OK really. On the miniDV camera, it didn't always look good during a zoom. I would end up spending time fighting this astigmatism effect where there would be two focus points with a slightly blurry compromise in between - particularly when zoomed in. In fact, I couldn't zoom all the way in without the whole image going crazy. Aside from that, I was never convinced that the "stretch" was consistent through the zoom range. Then again I wasn't after an anamorphic "look", just good correction for the picture shape, so the whole thing was a bit clutzy and "kind of sucky" as my teenage daughter would say.

    I solved it completely by buying something else: a 16:9 camera with a decent, f1.2 20:1 zoom and very fast AF. For really demanding video work, by which I mean time pressure, unrepeatable event, have to get most usable shots with minimal wastage, I still prefer this camera (XHA1) to my GH2 as it is refreshingly easy to use and you get more usable footage per unit of time under pressure compared with struggling with the GH2 (sorry GH2, I do love you really)! I'm currently editing a stage performance we shot on two of these video cams a few weeks ago and it's so refreshing to have high-speed AF, great zoom range and the ability for the camera people to reframe and lock onto the next shot really really quickly. It's made the edit easy as there was very little wasted footage between shots.

    The Nikkor is a big lens even before you stick the anamorphic on the front. 17-35 is only 2:1, which I think is way too small a zoom range for video, particularly if you are under time pressure in a situation where you have to grab good shots quickly. I can't say what the anamorphic would be like on this specific lens but I hope that helps a bit around some of the issues you might encounter - your mileage may vary!

    If you are looking for this lens for video (I imagine you might be but I don't know) and if being able to operate quickly isn't an overriding concern (ie you can spend time setting up shots / repeating action), why not just use some fast primes?
  • @B3Guy If you get the 17-35 I'm sure people would be interested. I saw one on eBay for £499 the other week, so they're around.
  • Apart from the Canon EF 10-22mm & Olympus 9-18mm on the LA7200 I tend to stay away from zoom lenses when it comes to anamorphic since zooms vignette more easily than a prime would at the same focal length.

    I use primes with as simple an optical design as possible (Helios, older Canon FD, etc.) since they seem to work better than the more complex and expensive primes like those from Zeiss, and they flare well.

    I can go out to 14mm on a prime with the GH2 and LA7200 with no vignetting, and even the Olympus 12mm just about works if you get the back of the LA7200 as close to the front of the Olympus as possible... Not yet found a way to mount it without stacking stepping rings which cause vignetting.
  • @Mark_The_Harp yes, I do love Canon's cameras. I had a GL2 before the GH2, and it was a freaking workhorse. Tough one to part with, but as a poor college student, it had to go to pay for the GH2.

    Honestly, the reason I'm interested in a zoom for anamorphic is precisely BECAUSE anamorphics are supposedly so darn finicky. Sure' I know I can throw one onto my set of primes, but that means setting up the anamorphic again every time I switch focal lengths, which means setting up the rig every time I change too. I've got the 14-140 which is my go-to lens for event shooting. But for anamorphic short film shooting, I was thinking that with a zoom in this range, with constant aperture and a fixed front . . . perhaps I could minimize the mucking about that generally accompanies anamorphic shooting. Once the camera, lens and anamorphic are situated on a good pair of rails, I would think the mucking about would be kept to a minimum.

    @EOSHD how does the 7200 do with wide apertures?