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Sunday, April 10, 2011

••◊ The Lenses, The Contenders

I was filming at a local television studio yesterday.  We had two 5Dm2's.  I was using my usual 24-70 L series lens ($1400) and a Sekonic meter to measure exposure.  The other provided camera had a 50mm f/1.4 ($370) consumer lens.  Being a multi-cam shoot, the first thing we needed to do was match the cameras for both exposure and color.

VS

I asked the studio manager about the color temperature of the lights and he replied that they were 3200K.  OK, simple enough, just set the cameras to 3200K to set the white balance.  I measured the exposure with my Sekonic light meter and my camera was golden.  Typically my camera's exposure is (to quote Marissa Tomei from My Cousin Vinny) "dead-nuts on" when I use the Sekonic meter.

Then I set up the other camera.  We had a media manager on set and I asked him to review the color and exposure matching on the two cameras.  What the...?  Not only was the 50mm camera image blue, but the picture was about 1/3rd stop under exposed.  You would think that the 50mm image would be brighter, given that it's a simpler 50mm prime with fewer glass elements.  My quick lesson here is that not only does cheap glass suck in terms of color reproduction, but it also kills additional light coming through the lens.

VS

The quick fix was to up the ISO from 320 to 400 and do a custom white balance on both cameras using a white balance card.  OK, serious problem averted.  Lesson here - don't use cheap-ass lenses.  Yes, you can make them work but I wouldn't trust them in a pinch.  

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