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Pilot Flying and DSLR lens choices


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#1 Justin Hayes

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 12:10 PM

What are good lenses when flying pilot with a DSLR for practicing?

I have been scouring the forums, and cannot find any threads that discuss good lens choices for beginners.


Which range of lenses would be good to practice with for beginners?

Which range of lenses would require a more skilled operator?

Generally, what is the widest lenses you can operate in don juan without catching the operator in the shot?

Thanks for your time.
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#2 James Davis

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Posted 12 July 2012 - 02:29 PM

What are good lenses when flying pilot with a DSLR for practicing?

I have been scouring the forums, and cannot find any threads that discuss good lens choices for beginners.


Which range of lenses would be good to practice with for beginners?

Which range of lenses would require a more skilled operator?

Generally, what is the widest lenses you can operate in don juan without catching the operator in the shot?

Thanks for your time.



Any cheap prime lenses with a lens gear

Or compact primes if you want something closer in terms of feel to a proper professional PL mount cinema lens.

Anything over 35mm in focal length will present quite a challenge for a beginner who hasn't developed a particularly precise operating technique yet or good rig control.

Depends entirely on the shot, i've done it on an 18mm but it was a challenege, tighter is easier to avoid pinging your shoulder in frame, but the tighter you go in terms of focal length, the more precise and technically proficient your operating needs to be.

Edited by James Davis, 12 July 2012 - 02:30 PM.

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#3 Nigel Barker

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Posted 16 July 2012 - 08:51 AM

We amateur Steadicam operators fake it by using a wide lens & stopping down. I can recommend the Samyang 14mm lens on the Canon 5D2/5D3. If you want to be a bit more ambitious & spend more money use the Canon 16-35mm F/2.8L at its widest then zoom in as you become more proficient in flying the camera.
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#4 Mark Schlicher

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Posted 16 July 2012 - 08:18 PM

For a crop-sensor camera like a 7D or 60D, the Canon 10-22 is a great little wide zoom lens, and not terribly expensive. Tokina has two lenses worth considering also: the 11-16, and an older 12-24 (?). All worth considering as a beginner...decent performance and not terribly expensive. For practicing tighter shots, something like the Tamron 17-50 2.8 is a good little crop-sensor lens.

On a 7D or 60D, the 10-22 zoom is roughly equivalent field of view to a 16-35 on the 5D.
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#5 Michael Shu

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 04:18 AM

I second the Tokina 11-16. I actually use it to shoot events when getting the scenery and not wanting to have a focus puller to run around with me is key. Although some may call going super wide a cheat, it definitely allows you to focus on horizon - big time. Go out to an open field or point at a tall building to practice that. So some tracking/dollying then some tilts etc etc

I never really had a huge issue getting myself in the shot with my 7D and Tokina going Don Juan, just had to be careful with my stance... or just stay in missionary.

Then when you feel bored, rebalance to a 50... and to make your own life harder (without remote follow focus), open up your aperture :-)
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#6 John Kesl

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Posted 24 August 2012 - 11:10 AM

Hi,
I've been using Nikon primes on the 5d and 7d. with Bartech follow focus. the widest I've shot is 20mm and I can get my shoulder in sometimes when not carefull. I find the nikons to be of good quality and with a bit more focus travel than any lens made for canon eos mount. I have a 20 2.8, 24 2.0, 28 2.0, 35 2.0, 50 2.0, and 85 1.4. Truthfully the 85 is a demanding lens not just for me on the pilot (which flexes quite a bit and this can be discerned at this focal length) but also for my focus puller. If you want a good set of practice lenses i would recommend you buy used Nikon glass. Make sure to get Ais lenses as they are the ones with the most modern coatings. I most highly recommend the Nikon 50 2.0 ai. This lens was replaced by the 50 1.8, which is not as good. The 50 f2 is probably the only photo lens that does not breathe when focused and it's frickin pin sharp wide open. For the $80 dollars you might spend on this lens you will be shocked. I avoid canon lenses as they have several issues. first is their speed usually 2.8 for the zooms. the primes are usually 1.4 or 1.2 in the case of the 50 and 85 though they be good the breathing and focus shift i've experienced with these optics is considerable, breathing while focusing and shifting while stopping down, incidently stopping down is always noticeable due to the nature of the aperture being electronic. Second is the focus travel very short. third is they focus past infinity, this is not so good when calibrating follow focus, ( a diligent AC will help here but even so one can not be absolutely certain where infinity actually is, because canon lenses are designed to expand and contract with ambient conditions. If it's cold infinity maybe further than when it's hot). and four price for the cost of an L series lens around 1400 on average you can buy 4 or 5 nikon primes each a stop faster than the zooms. Hope I've been of some service.
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#7 Jerry Phim

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 12:24 AM

Since he already got this thread going I like to add a question of my own. I like to know which other lenses Canon L series will be good for 5DM3 that I will be flying with. I used the 20-35mm 2.8L (old lens) which I borrowed from a friend each time I need. I like to get my own lens as mainly for flying. I really like the 20-35, I would set it to 20mm and it pretty much focus easy...thanks.
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#8 Tim Wu

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Posted 10 October 2012 - 04:25 PM

Yeah, I second the Canon 16-35mm. It's been my go-to for flying with MkIII for a while now. It's great for doc work because you can reframe between the focal lengths without throwing off the balance too much~
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