Using ultra-long lenses to get the shot for Suzuki
Bill Bennett recently ran the new ARRI Master Prime lenses through
their paces during a challenging, four-day shoot of winter running
footage for American Suzuki Motor Corporation. The film was produced by
Film Rà©alità© for agency Colby & Partners. Bennett was cast as
director and cinematographer, a familiar role for him on these types of
projects. He shot about 30,000 feet of film showing SUVs navigating
snow-covered mountain roads and in blizzard conditions.
Bill Bennett, ASC
Director/cinematographer, Los Angeles
Latest Project: Running footage for Suzuki
On: Using ultra-long lenses to get the shot
F&V: What type of film did you use? What about lenses?
It surprises some people that I mainly used [Kodak Vision2]
5205, a 250-speed film balanced for daylight in that situation, because
faster films tend to render images with wider latitude and less
contrast. I had ND filters on the lenses in the brightest daylight, and
began taking them off as it got darker. There were fewer magazine
changes and no short ends. There were also times when we were ramping
at up to 150 frames per second for which I needed a 250-speed film. I
carried some [Kodak Vision2] 500T 5218 for the darkest shots. You can
use it as a 1,000-speed film without any grain in telecine. I used
Angenieux zooms and ultra-long 600, 800 and 1,200 mm Nikon and Canon
still camera lenses that Century Precision Optics adapted for my ARRI
435s, along with five of the new ARRI Master Prime lenses made by Carl
F&V: What was your impression of the new Zeiss lenses?
Bennett: Before I decided to use them, I shot a series of tests of
resolution charts comparing them to other lenses. The Master Primes
were sharper and recorded more nuanced contrast while shooting wide
open at T-1.3, when compared to other lenses that are a stop slower.
You can also change focus while the camera is rolling without
breathing- with most of the older lenses, even a small change in focus
alters the size of the image, which can make it look like a small zoom.
There is also no ghosting of images, called "narcissis," with any of
the Master Primes.
I shot a test scene [on 5218] of a young woman and man having a
romantic, candlelit dinner. There were six or eight candles on the
table and others in candlesticks on sideboards. You can see details
even in a dark painting on the wall. My conclusion is that we no longer
need to go to great lengths to photograph scenes at very low light
levels. If you can see it with the naked eye, you can photograph it.
This is the most significant breakthrough in lens technology I’ve seen
during the 25 years that I have been a cinematographer.