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How full-frame sensors are changing the market and how TLS is adapting

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Published: 28-11-2018

Canon K35 lens full set total of 5

Written by David Fox for the Production section of IBC 365, our Head of Engineering and Design, Gavin Whitehurst was quoted in an article exploring the changing lens market after the launch of full-frame format cameras.

With full-frame sensors being near twice the area of standard of S35 sensors, how do DoPs and rental houses that have invested in high-quality lenses made for Super 35mm film and digital cameras adapt?

"Indeed, one of the most significant trends in lenses over the past few years has been a rush to buy vintage glass (such as Cooke Panchros or Bausch & Lomb Super Baltars), or to rehouse old stills lenses in cine bodies, because they gave character to the clean, rather characterless images produced by digital sensors.

[...]

Many hire companies are saying they no longer want to invest in S35 lenses, although True Lens Services’ head of engineering and design, Gavin Whitehurst, says: “I don’t think S35 will go away. It will always be there.” But he feels full-frame lenses may become standard for digital cinema cameras, being driven by the likes of Netflix wanting all deliverables in 4K, for which larger format sensors are a more natural fit.

[...]

So where does this leave all those older lenses, and what are the new alternatives?

People are “desperate for coverage for these [larger] formats” as there is a limited choice of new full-frame lenses, where Whitehurst says Cooke’s S7s are proving popular. TLS offers three full-frame zoom lenses of its own (14-24, 24-70 and 80-200mm T2.8) based around Nikon glass. However, the availability of most new lenses is constrained – as it is for older lenses, where prices are rising.

“Canon K35s were already popular, but because they can cover full frame, and a lot of old Canon lenses don’t, that has pushed the price up,” says Whitehurst. Indeed, such is the demand for rehoused K35 lenses (cine lenses from the 1970s originally built with now outdated BNCR mounts) that TLS is now talking about a year-long wait for any new orders.

These rehoused lenses offer iris and focus with 300º of rotation, on a cam-driven system that slows down towards the infinity end, with auto backlash so there’s no play on the focus and a greater spread of numbers, so it is easier for the focus puller.

But, because the prices of K35s are “going crazy”, TLS also now offers rehousing for Leica R lenses, from the 80s and 90s, to get them up to cine standards. These are good stills lenses that cover full frame sensors and are proving popular. There is also a lot of demand, says Whitehurst, for Canon FD stills lenses and increasingly for lenses from old medium format cameras."

Read the article in full here