Category Archives: Pictures

Lens Testing

The results of my lens testing have been fascinating.

I originally published them without identifying the individual lenses and received a number of emails from people saying how were they expected to evaluate them if they didn’t know what was what.

Err look at the pictures??

Interestingly there were a number of surprises here, the accepted “fact” that primes are always better than zooms was shown to be wrong when people didn’t know what they were looking at, the zooms did pretty well.

I don’t think that we’ve found a “best” lens, that was never the intention.

We have however managed to show which lenses shine in particular situations. As always choose what is appropriate for the job.


Devastated 3

So, I’ve finally got a version of The Taking that I’m happy with, I certainly didn’t think that this was going to be possible after the C&C showing in Leeds on the 5th November!

It’s taken a lot of work to clean up the mess and in the process I’ve learned a huge amount.

I’ve also had a lot of help and I’d particularly like to than ┬áNick Shaw and Gavin Greenwalt for the LUT’s that they created to fix some of the initial errors. These errors were introduced when 4K TIFF’s were created for the VFX guys from the original R3D files, why the match graded log DPX files I had created weren’t used is a mystery. Anyway, the TIFF’s were created with the contrast, saturation and FLUT settings burned in that we had used for monitoring only on location and that were never meant to be used anywhere else.

This created a wonderful set of problems as there was more than one look used on location…

These files had been used by the post house in the final finish for the C&C showing, it should have been clear to a blind man that the files were not “normal” log files but whatever…

I’ve spent 4 weeks going through the edited DPX files matching black levels and contrast, replacing shots that had been clipped form data to TV levels and generally patching things up.

Finally on New Years Eve I had a version of the film that looked as it should.

A version that didn’t have to apologise for being low budget but that looks good regardless of budget.

It looks the way that Dom and I agreed it should back in July when we graded it at UWE.



Pixel counts and reality

I wish that the Foveon sensor was available for moving images.

Unlike CFA Bayer pattern sensors it gives you a full RGB signal, if the sensor is 4K * 2K you get a full 4* 2K in all the layers RG&B unlike Bayer pattern sensors where you get 2K * 2K of G and 2K * 1K of R&B.

The marketing games that are played with Bayer pattern sensors are quite amazing.

Yeah yeah you can calculate the missing information from what is around it but that’s the bloody point! you calculate it, it’s not real!

Close-up close-up close-up

I’ve just watched what would otherwise have been a great documentary about Roy Lichtenstein but unfortunately the only time we actually saw a full view of any of his images were the 4 or 5 in the end credits.

I don’t blame Anna Boyle, no relation, the Cinematographer, it’s the director who makes the decisions.

I know what a bloody dot looks like, I’d love to have seen how they were used to create a complete image.

Nearly every BBC documentary I see now is ruined by one of two things, either the obsessive use of the close-up with no establishing shots. Or the excessive use of footage of the presenter. I want to see the subject not some nonentity talking about it.

A recent series on Royal palaces could have been wonderful, the information that the programmes contained was fascinating but all we saw were shots of Fiona Bruce, her feet, her ears, her hair, her silhouette, wide shots, close-ups, walking shots, sitting shots, apparently she was in some kind of palaces, you’d never have guessed.

Making images is what I do!

I think we, cinematographers, have lost track of what we do.

I got interested in making images, not the technology.

I got a Brownie 127 when I was 8 and fell in love with the process of making images and the effect that those images could have on people.

As I moved from stills to film to video back to film I never thought about the technical specs of the format I was using.

Oh I was aware of the dynamic range that it could cope with and how it reacted to different colours and could I push or pull it and so on but I never thought “Hmm, must consider the LPM response of this film and what’s the MTF of it”

I looked at the pictures and decided good or bad.

Far too many people in our business now sell their ability to use a tool and not their ability to make images that will move you.

They devalue what we do and also allow some manufacturers to confuse people about their kit, to get people to make judgements on numbers and not on pictures.

Lets get back to looking at and talking about images.

But most of all lets just get out there and make great images.

An obsession with numbers

I plead guilty…

It’s disease I suffered from at one time, or maybe I suffered from it when it was needed.

It isn’t now.

People don’t look at pictures anymore, they just look at numbers, is it 4K? what’s the compression ratio?

Who gives a flying fuck!

Do you stand in front of a Seurat and say “hmm, not a very high pixel count there”


Or how about this…

That Rembrandt, just couldn’t get any dynamic range into his shots, just look how solid the shadows are!