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The only lens you need to start in filmmaking
This pandemic has me thinking about lenses. I have a set of Zeiss ZF.2’s sitting in my eBay cart and some others in the basket over at B&H…
This pandemic has me thinking about lenses. I have a set of Zeiss ZF.2’s sitting in my eBay cart and some others in the basket over at B&H. Do I need them? Do I really need them? There is no clear answer to that.*
But if I went back to the beginning when that first camera hit my hands (it was a Xacti, then a Nikon), and if I could twist time to bring the lenses of the present into the past, the answer would have been a resounding, “No!”
There is just one lens needed to kick start one’s career in video production. When picking a first option just to get out working, you do not need to drop thousands of dollars or take out a loan for cine glass that you can rent for less. You are also not required to buy a bunch of squeaky Rokinons or pick up a used 17–55mm f/2.8 or hunt for vintage FD lenses or pray that the Angenieux bolex you just ordered from Indiana arrives without fungus. Fear not about hours of itchy, bloodshot eyes on KEH.
You just need to think Sigma. Think f/1.8. Think a 25mm, 28mm, 35mm, 40mm, and 50mm set all color matched, tack sharp, and wrapped in one barrel and stickered at under $600.
Think the Sigma 18–35mm f/1.8. It is the only lens you need to not just start in video production but work in the high end, as you’ll find this lens on the best of cine cameras on some big productions, provided those cameras have crop sensors.
For crop sensor cameras, super 35mm cameras, and even micro four thirds cameras with a speedbooster, there is no better lens choice under $1000 than this Sigma lens. Try me.
You get the low light performance of super speed cine glass. You get the sharpness of prime lenses even at f/1.8 (it really is a “prime zoom” wide open). You get a wide focal range between 25mm and 50mm for crop sensor cameras with minimal focus breathing. You get clean, round bokeh balls. And you get the build quality of Sigma’s Art lineup, which personally makes Canon’s “Pro” photographer lens line feel plasticky and cheap by comparison.
Where the lens falls short is literally in focal length. While true it is more heads than tails, ask a DP how often they use an 85mm on their A cam. And to some extent, the lens coating shifts slightly toward green in the shadows.
But for under $600? This lens would have been a steal at $1299.
I feel like I did not even need to write this. Those coming here just came for the confirmation bias.
*Actually, yes there is a clear answer. Maybe. I want to build out a prime lens set for rentals. Doing this during a pandemic might not be the smartest of choices, but, hey, that is why they are in the cart and not on the way.