Thursday, May 2, 2024

The Nikon Non/ Pre AI Series - My favorite vintage pieces of kit

I was experimenting for a long time with vintage lenses to see if any of them would work for my cinematography. Here is what I found:

The Helios is an amazing lens to capture amazing images and the bokeh and flares are great.

However, there is one focal length to choose from, so it's hard to build a cohesive set. 

I do like the Canon FD series. Their look is great, but I've never been crazy about the way that they flare. 

Upon my tests I found one set that I have used extensively on a number of projects, the Nikon Pre-AI series of lenses. 

Most of these samples were shot on either the 50mm F/2 or the 35mm F/2.8. Altogether, this lens set has a very pleases vintage cinema glass look. With a bit of softness and slight color fringing around the edges that give them an almost anamorphic feel. 

The 50mm has some ghosting around the edges at f2, but is usable with a pleasing, circular bokeh around 2.8. 4 for and beyond is razor sharp, but you lose the circular bokeh, which I don't mind because you get a pleasing hexagonal shape versus something like an umbrella pattern. 

The 35mm has the same ghosting issue at it's widest aperture of F2.8, but is sharp and usable at F4 and beyond. This one seemed to be a bit warmer than the 50mm and 24mm.

The 24mm is probably the least impressive out of the group, but like the 35mm is usable at F4. It has very interesting flaring, a blue, anamorphic-type of flare. I've used it for wides and some interesting close ups. 


A nice, fairly-cohesive set of lenses with a vintage cinematic look, and a very smooth, pleasing bokeh. 


The color cast of each lens isn't quite uniform throughout, so a bit of color correction needs to be done in post. 

*A word of caution with the 24mm. The 24mm has a fairly wide field of view, and given these lenses flaring qualities, I would avoid trying any wide shots with a strong backlight or else it will completely wash out the image.

I urge anyone who likes the softer look and imperfections of vintage glass to give them a try. Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

The K&F Black Mist Filter

 I bought the K&F Black Mist filter a bit ago and rarely used them since I was primarily shooting on a vintage Nikon lens set that I loved. While traveling, I'm running around with an BMPCC6K OG and a Canon L series zoom set. I enjoy the mark one versions because I think the mark II versions are just a bit too sharp. By a bit, I mean WAY too sharp. 

I'll post the results of the video tests here:

All images were captured with the Canon L 17-40 F/4 and the BMPCC6K.

The images were a bit "dreamy" for my taste, but overall I was pleased with the results. such an . Great results for such an inexpensive filter. I could definitely see where I would use this filter for certain applications; especially, for beauty work. 

The strength of the filter is only 1/8, so I think anything above that would be a bit to strong for my liking. I tend to lean a bit on the conservative side with filtration unless I'm going for a very stylized look. 

When trying to soften a more modern lens, I usually use a low strength glimmer glass or satin filter, and seeing some of the test footage for the K&F Shimmer filter makes me think that this filter might be right up my alley. I'll pick one up and post the results in the near future. 

Here is a link to the filter used for all whom might be interested:

Friday, November 3, 2023

Did I Enjoy the Great Joy? A look at the budget anamorphic.

Around May of this year I sat in on a short-film project in Taiwan that was a production for a contest in Taipei. I didn't get to do much on set (may write more about that later), but I did get a few shots with the Great Joy anamorphic set. You can take a look at the lenses here:


The only anamorphics I had previously been around were much more cost-prohibitive versions such as Kowas and Cookes. The Great Joy is definitely not one of these, but it does have a great look to it overall. The only issue I had with the Great Joy series was with their color. 

I had seen on YouTube reviews that stacked the Great Joy against other cheaper anamorphics and most agreed that the Great Joy had a warmer color cast. I found this to be slightly problematic in post. Let's take a look at one of the shots:


This is the initial shot, in log, with no grade:


This is the same shot with a base grade, balancing the exposure and bringing in more contrast and saturation:

The camera was a BMPCC6k set to 5600k. There was an Apurture light set outside the window that was set to 5600k. There was a warmer light in the room on the shadow side, but it was very far back. As you can see there is a yellow/green tint to the whole shot. The pocket 6k skews a bit green, so I had the in-camera tint set to +10. After doing the base grade, I went in an worked on the skin tones and the background separately. This was the result:

That's at least a good baseline to start adding secondary grades and looks after the balance. I love the look, but I'm not fond of the color shift. If you are a solo shooter without much of a background in post production or color correction, this lens might get you into trouble. It really reminds me of the days of trying to grade Slog footage before Sony updated their color science with their new line of cameras. 

If you're an EF shooter, Great Joy seems to be your only option in the budget anamorphic range, save for Schneiders which are almost twice as much. I love how the mount is an interchangeable EF to PL. Although, now Blackmagic seems to be moving to the L mount, which I believe causes a lot more problems than solutions for Blackmagic film and video shooters looking to invest in a lens ecosystem. More on this later. 

So, to make a long story long, Great Joy equals a great look, a nice interchangeable mount, an "affordable" price, but a troublesome color shift.

Andrew J. Fann

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Follow This - Meet the Gaffer

Luke Seerveld has started an invaluable series on his YouTube page for anyone interested in grip and gaffer tips for mostly small to medium sets. At present, there are 80 lessons, and I hope many more to come. Check it out! 

Monday, February 5, 2018

Histogram - Things to Consider

This video is the best video that I've seen on advice to consider for using your in-camera histogram.

For more of Mr. Granger's videos, go here.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Auto Focus and the Crazy Temptation to Be Lazy with Film and Video

Focus tracking is becoming more sophisticated every year. Nikon and Canon both have their strengths and weaknesses, and both have good focus tracking, but this is an area where Canon excels. I still prefer Nikon for things like landscapes, but if you are in the sports photography/video racket, or thinking about going into it, I would definitely go with Canon if you need focus tracking for fast movement. The fast auto focus on both of these cameras has made things like rack focusing on a run and gun much easier; especially, when you're a one-man band.

However, you must still be careful. These functions are great, but relying on your camera to make all your focusing decisions can still be tricky. I have had some slightly fuzzy shots from the Canon's auto focus at work. These technologies work amazingly well, but they still aren't perfect. I would still recommend taking the time to do a manual focus on video shoots just to be on the safe side. You don't want to totally rely on your camera for focus out in the field, and then realize that it let you down when you review the footage in post.

For those of you who don't generally do this, or are new to it, select your talents eyes with the focus point in live view, and enlarge that point with the magnification button. Make sure that your talent's eyes are sharp, and then go back to your normal view. If you have a production camera with a built-in zoom lens, or a really expensive T-stop cinema lens, you can generally zoom into the eyes, focus, and then zoom back out without losing the focus. WARNING: Don't try to zoom in and focus and then zoom back out with a cheap zoom lens. You will generally lose the focus whenever you zoom back out. With these lenses use the method that I described for live view.

Feel free to share if you have any horror stories with this.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Don't be a Fanboy (or Girl)

I recently posted a blog about my displeasure with issues that I was having with a certain model of Canon camera and recently, after watching many reviews on YouTube, I decided to remove it.

Canon fans, much like Apple users, basque in the glorious knowledge that their cameras are the best, even in reviews versing other brands, despite the technical specs and performance tests declaring otherwise. I hate when someone gives reviews with a lot of opinion thrown in that doesn't really have anything to do with tech specs or even accurate user experience. Until the time that the D500 came out, I started to refuse to watch any more DigitalRevTV reviews of Canons, because it got to the point that, if he even had to touch a Nikon, he got so whinny and bitchy that it just became unbearable to watch. I don't know, maybe he thought that he was being amusing. A second example is here:

   Canon 5D MK III vs Nikon D800 with Nathan Elson

I generally like the reviews on TheCameraStoreTV, but this time you could tell that it was almost painful to admit that the Nikon D800 was outperforming the heralded, flagship model of Canon, the 5D mk III. Even at some points making comments about how there would be a work around for the Canon in post. Excuses that would never be made for a Nikon if it were coming in at an extremely close second like this.

My point is this: BUY WHAT YOU LIKE!!!

Don't listen to hype or preference. Go by tech specs for what you will be using the camera for, and try to find unbiased user experiences. I use DSLR's mostly for film, and most are great. The Canon 5D mkII-III got a great reputation among indie filmmakers, because it was the first to make high quality video accessible and portable outside of Hollywood. It is a great camera, but so is the D800 (and D810). The D800 has also been used cinematically. It was used to shoot on Dexter and other features:

Nikon D800 Holds Its Own in Hollywood: from Janusz KamiƄski to 'Dexter' and 'Wilfred'

I use a 70D & 80D for filming at work - love them! I own a D5500 (Hopefully, a D500 soon) - love it! I've used many DSLR's - Panasonic, Canon, and Nikon. I've gotten great results with all. Use what you like, and what works best for you. Just make sure you use more than one brand before forming an unwavering opinion, and don't be  a douche about other peoples choices. This goes for editing software too!!! I prefer Adobe, but if you use FCPX or SONY Vegas, it doesn't matter!!! Use what you are comfortable with and what you get the best results with. And again, don't be a douche about it.

For great tech spec comparisons between two cameras that you might be considering, I would recommend They give results based solely on tech specs. Also, try Micheal the Mentor on YouTube. He gives a very thorough and unbiased technical comparison between camera models.

So, to recap, use what you like, have fun, and don't be a douche.