In this cool episode of StudioBinder, we’re exposed to Roger Deakins’ preferences regarding cinema lenses. To sum it up in one sentence: Preferred premiums, clean look (no breathing, no vignetting and no glare) and a natural focal length (around 40mm-50mm). In other words, Deakins prefers their clean, simple, native glass.
Deakins brings up the never-ending debate: Bounties vs. zooms. It prefers prime numbers because constant glass forces you to change your camera location and therefore forces you to think more about the angle of view. Also, in the former you can not zoom, but move the camera when framing. This amplifies the movement even more, making it more cinematic than a simple zoom.
The preferred focal length on Deakins is around 40mm.
Deakins says technology today allows the camera to move like never before, and this advantage produces more sophisticated kinetics. The best example of this is 1917. According to Deakins, they only used a single fixed focal length lens (which is hard to believe as appeals indicate that the focal length in 1917 was around 30mm-50mm in. shooting ARRI Signature Primes), BTW, 1917 was shot on the ALEXA Mini LF which is a large sensor camera that grants the privilege of enhanced movement (a positive side effect when shooting on large sensors ). Additionally, the technology helps you move the camera around, as the camera is more compact and the form factor is much more gimbal friendly. This is another reason why it is better to move the camera relative to the zoom.
Deakins does not support lens artifacts (shards, vignetting, and breathing). This is why he prefers the spherical shooting to the anamorphic, and on ARRI lenses.
The preferred focal length on Deakins is around 40mm, which mimics the human eye. As explained, 1917 was shot in this focal length. For portraiture, he likes to use 60mm-70mm but no more than that. Deakins is not a fan of very long or ultra-wide lenses. Unlike The Revenant’s Lubezki which used very wide lenses (around 15mm) on the ALEXA 65’s enormous sensor, which granted a very wide gaze with a rare shallow depth of field. However, this is not Deakins’ style. Lubezki pulls extremely wide, compared to Deakins who pulls more naturally.
We have already written about this, when we covered the manufacture of 1917. Deakins does not support lens artifacts (shards, vignetting, and breathing). This is why he prefers the spherical shot rather than the anamorphic. The weapon of choice is the ARRI, due to its sleek appearance and minimal to zero flare, vignetting and breathing.
Explore Deakins’ thoughts in this excellent video below:
What do you think of Deakins’ approach to filming and cinematography? Please feel free to give your opinion in the comments section below.
Here are the products mentioned in the article and the links to buy them from authorized resellers.
- ARRI Signature Premiums
- ARRI Mini LF