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Flow Motion GH2 & incredible inexpensive Minolta lenses
  • Hi, this is a short student film which I directed and filmed using the Flow Motion GH2 hack with extremely inexpensive old Minolta Rokkor primes.

    These lenses are so sharp, crystal clear and well built with smooth focusing so for an almost giveaway price you should really consider looking into them. A must buy if you are on a budget.

    This was made in 3 weeks including devising a storyline and pre-production. All comments are appreciated and I will answer any questions you have.

    Thanks, Aaron.

  • 28 Replies sorted by
  • Killer cinematic look. :)

    What program did you use to grading and edit?

  • Thanks mate, I usually use Davinci Resolve to grade because not only is it powerful and easy to incorporate into a round trip workflow but its free! If you haven't heard of it you must check it out.

    For this short minimal grading was required, in fact just a few minor corrections were made to match colour continuity between shots on Premiere Pro. The footage looks so good out of camera, rich and contrasty (without killing the shadows or looking too digital) that on this occasion grading wasn't really needed, even though its a step that I usually take a lot of time on.

  • Nice thing about Rokkors is the excellent consistency in color between them.

  • That's a good point, they seem to hold up to the quality of other lenses for a fraction of the price. Probably because they aren't easily adaptable to other cameras besides M/43. Nice and sharp but without the video look which can be a problem with Panasonic lenses.

  • Great work, excellent quality.

  • Looks great! I'm a noob with only the Lumix 14mm and the 14-42 kit lens. I've been looking to get a few old manual lenses. Which Minolta lenses should I buy to have a nice kit for filming?

    Also, I've heard that the old Konica Hexanon lenses are nice. Would they work well with the Minolta's? Or should I stick with all Minolta's to keep things simple?

  • Also, were there any informational Minolta websites that helped you decide which lenses to use? Which brand adapter did you use? I wonder if these lenses can be "de-clicked" easily.

  • Thanks for the comments guys, really appreciate it.

    DanPV, firstly you're not a noob! The Panasonic 14mm isn't exactly cheap, at least in terms of my student budget it's more than I've ever spent on a lens!

    The following Minolta lenses are a nice selection, I used all of them in the video above:

    28mm f/2.8 MD 50mm f/1.4 MD 135mm f/2.8 MD

    As for a big wide lens your best bet is sticking with your 14mm as Minolta don't really have a nice wide angle that's worth considering. Don't worry though, the 14mm is absolutely fine for wides in general.

    Not heard about Konica lenses really but as for which Minoltas to buy, the ones mentioned above are really the only 3 worth considering. Minolta have an extensive range as shown here: http://minolta.eazypix.de/lenses/body_li.html. But from my experience the list above are the main three contenders.

    Price wise I picked up all three for around £100/$150 on eBay so considering how much you would pay for modern equivalents it's an absolute steal. Sell your 14-42mm and they near enough pay for themselves.

    I just use a cheap Minolta MD/MC to M/43 adapter from eBay which has worked absolutely fine. Not sure about getting them declicked although that's not an issue for me anyway.

    Hope that helps.

  • It's pretty easy to de-click Minolta lenses. They have a small roller bearing that is easily removed by taking a few screws off in the rear and carefully lifting the aperture ring and the roller bearing snaps out since it sits on a spring. You need to put a paper towel around the entire aperture ring if you want to make sure you don't lose the roller bearing when doing this... Al Edit: I forgot to say that I liked the quality of your short film. I also have a question about your comment that Davinci Resolve being free; where do you get this product free?

  • See my guide to Minolta SR lenses here:

    http://www.personal-view.com/faqs/camera-usage/minolta-rokkor-lenses-faq

    The Lite version of DaVinci Resolve (limited to 1080, but pretty much all else is functional) can be downloaded free from Blackmagicdesign.

  • Thanks for the input guys and thanks for the comments about my film.

    As nomad said, Davinci Resolve Lite can be downloaded from the Blackmagic Design website. One thing to note is that you can't work with native GH2 .mts files although transcoding to ProRes is a good option and works smoothly for me.

  • @AaronDunleavy Cheers mate! Great job! :)

  • No need to transcode, re-wrapping to QT MOVs works as well.

  • So, I was almost sold to Contax Zeiss but this kind of work, the lack of affordable options in my country (and also nomad words) makes me think and re-think about Rokkors alternative...

    Congrats Aaron, well done.

  • I have a huge collection of Rokkors and Minolta AF lenses which I collected over the last 30+ years, and though I'm a fan of the lenses, the IQ doesn't compare to the Panny 20mm and the Olly 45mm. Pains me to say it. At first I would not admit it. But time after time, side by side, well, ouch.

    The better Rokkors tend to cost quite a bit. The 50 1.4 is a bargain still, but the 35 and 28 are average lenses at best. I own these; I never use them. Ever. The 24mm is a fine lens, but of course, that one cost way more. I did extensive side by side testing with the 20mm Panny and the 45mm Olly, and now the 14mm Panny, and, alas, they don't measure up.

    The 58/F1.2 is a legendary lens for portraits, again at a steep price, but I prefer the Olly 45 for portraits.

    What remains to be seen, however, is how some of these lenses will operate with a metabones adapter. That 58/1.2 become a sub F1 prime.

    The other consideration is how these lenses compare to vintage Nikkors. My 35mm Nikkor F1.4 is faster, sharper and better in all respects compared to the Rokkor 35. My Vivitar 28 close focusing is better than both of my Rokkor 28mm. The full frame Sigma Ultrawide ii is sharper than the 24mm Rokkor, but the Rokkor has better color. The sigma is sharp edge to edge, however. Hard to believe Sigma made that lens.

    So there's only a few sweet spots in the line up. But if you can find one at a bargain, go for it. Some of the best deals are from buying a whole set.

  • I have Panny lenses myself, and even when I know that their IQ is better than any vintage lens, I found them cumbersome to use for narrative filmmaking due to the size of the pancakes, focus by wire (this really bothers me for rack focusing), extreme sharpness. I love them for stills, but not my cup of tea for narrative filmmaking. I'm considering Rokkors mostly because of the color consistency and availability in my country.

  • Thanks for all of the comments once again.

    Nomad thanks for the tip, I wasn't aware of that although transcoding is now part of my workflow anyway as I'm victim to the diagonal rain Adobe issue.

    I agree with all of your points and DrDave you sound like you know your stuff, you certainly have a much better understanding of lenses than myself but I mean did you consider the price? I purchased a set of Minolta lenses that clearly produce stunning results for narrative film on the GH2 all for a price in some cases a fraction of that of just one of the lenses you are comparing them to? I agree that Pannasonic lenses do look over sharp for video and in most situations, particularly narrative film, vintage lenses provide a more filmic look especially with colour and sharpness (or should I say softness). These lenses are still beautiful and sharp, sure not as fast as you would like but I mean really, who would want to film anything at f/1.2? Fine for photos but in my view shallow depth of field can be overdone and I think these lenses strike a good balance.

  • I enjoy the Oly 45mm for photography. But for filming the old Rokkors or Zeiss Contax lenses are rack focusing much better. But, it's a matter of taste too.

  • @nomad - OMG thanks for that amazing Minolta article in the FAQ. It's just what I was looking for. I can't believe I haven't noticed it yet.

    All I know is that we better buy the Minlolta lenses we need before word gets out and prices go up!

    @everybody - If you are a noob like me be sure to read the FAQ section. There is plenty of helpful info there to get you started.

  • @nomad What do you mean when you say old Rokkors rack focus better? Do you mean the throw of the focus ring is ideal or it has a nice smoothness to it and is not too stiff? Do you prefer the focusing of the Minolta over other old manual lenses or do you mean that old manual lenses are better for rack focusing than most modern lenses like the Oly 45mm?

  • @AaronDunleavy well, since I collected my lenses over so many years, so of those lenses were bought new and they weren't cheap. And I have quite a few that were cheap. I understand the argument about "too sharp", and I think if you want a soft focus lens there are some really great ones that are also better than the Rokkors. The other thing is that a Panny 20 and filter is a better combo than a Rokkor without a filter. There are some truly amazing filters, and you can get just the look you want. The old lens are nice and soft wide open, and some of them have great Bokeh, OK. But there is a lot of junk in the image. With the 20 or the 45, it looks like a stick film of tape has been removed from the image, and side by side, it looks better.

    The other thing, as I said before, is no way would I use my Rokkor 35 instead of my Nikkor 35, no way would I use my Rokkor 28 instead of my Vivitar close focusing 28, and so on. And these are also MF, legacy lenses that can be bought for a song in most cases.

    Lastly, time is money. If I'm going to spend hundereds of hours on a project, I don't want to spend hours fixing problems in a lens, and I want the best IQ to start with. I can bill those lost hours at my usual rate and come out way ahead. Since I will never catch up to my waiting list, time is money. But even if you aren't snowed in with work, your time is valuable.

    I'm not saying they aren't a good deal, yikes, I have too many Rokkors. I'm just saying there is no reason not to buy the best legacy lens for each spot. Mine are not particularly consistent in look, color, contrast or sharpness. They are old lenses, some are coated, some have early types of coatings and so on. But the 20 and the 45 just are better. Now the Vivitar 55 macro or the the 90mm macro, that's a different story.

    Portraits: this is a very cool Minolta lens, if you want portraits. But it is a tad long for m/43 http://www.dyxum.com/reviews/lenses/reviews.asp?IDLens=74

    There is a reason that the Rokkor 24mm and 58/1.2 are expensive. The market has decided they are highly desirable. As for the 50/1.4, well, it's a great lens and there are tons of them, so partake and enjoy. Then put the Olly 45mm on and move up a few feet.

  • @DanPV "All I know is that we better buy the Minlolta lenses we need before word gets out and prices go up!"

    They already went up. My very first own camera was a Minolta SRT MC-II, and it took me years before I bought into Nikon instead, thinking that's the pro way. Foolishly sold all my lenses with it. I bought my GH2 about two years ago and started buying into Rokkors again immediately. Better investment than most stock! My collection gained about 80% in the meantime.

    "What do you mean when you say old Rokkors rack focus better?"

    They have a decent focus throw and are still very constant and smooth in dampening after up to 40 years! BTW, Zeiss Contax have even longer focus throw. Both brands have excellent build quality over many other vintage lenses.

    And, yes, I compared them primarily to modern electronic (fly-by-wire) lenses which I hate for filming but like for snapshots. I admit I can't react as fast as a modern autofocus, but it sucks to use them manually.

    @DrDave

    Regarding Nikkors vs Rokkors: Nikkors are great lenses, no doubt at all, but to me it's either all Nikkor or none at all – inverse focus is driving me mad. I was a Nikon geek for years, but I sold the whole lot. Plus, even today Rokkors can be had far cheaper than Nikkors. It's difficult to impossible to adapt Rokkors to Canon EF-mount, but easy with Nikkors, so all the Canon folks go hunting for them. Plus, in my experience Rokkors are more consistent in color/contrast reproduction.

    I second your opinion about the Nikkor 35mm, it's technically better. The Rokkor 35mm 1.8 is a pretty old design (was there ever an MD version at all?), but it can be nice for CU on the GH2, very pretty bokeh.

    An then there are examples to the contrary. The Rokkor PG 50mm 1.4 shows far less halo wide open than the 50mm 1.4 Nikkor (which can look nice for some portraits, so the other way around here). The Rokkor PG is clinically sharp in comparison, if you hunt for a 50mm Rokkor, be sure to get the PG version.

    "I'm just saying there is no reason not to buy the best legacy lens for each spot. Mine are not particularly consistent in look, color, contrast or sharpness."

    Well, but then you do spend time in post to match them, don't you?

    " … this is a very cool Minolta lens, if you want portraits."

    It's predecessor is the manual Varisoft, 85mm, not so long and a gem for portrait. Patented to Minolta, BTW. Pretty hard to find these days, it even has variable field curvature like the 24mm VFC. I was lucky, mine looks very used, but still performs flawlessly.

    Horses for courses. Oh, and I love my Oly 45mm and 75mm – for stills, that is.

  • My Minolta 35mm 1.8 is the MD version, and it is a gorgeous lens with great bokeh and pretty good even wide open.

  • Thanks again for all of your comments and for sharing your knowledge about these lenses. I've not heard an awful lot about them before so it's nice to hear all of this information.

    I have a question about bokeh. Having previously only used Nikkor lenses I was quite surprised when shooting this short at the shape of the Christmas tree light bokeh, I've never seen this hexagonal shape before. Can anyone tell me why this shape occurs and also whether its considered better or worse to have round or hexagonal bokeh or whether its simply a matter of taste or just down to the manufacturer? I quite like the shape and was happy with the look it gave, wide open may I add the bokeh did become rounded, or more oval rather.

    Thanks.

  • @AaronDunleavy Nicely done. Good color grading. I like the opening scene where the woman walks toward the phone booth. Most of the scenes were taken at the eye level and slightly upward angles. Did you consider mixing with downward angle to express more vulnerability and anxiety? Lumix 14mm is very sharp. I prefer adding slight vignetting/blur effects on the corners to make it looking less perfect. Just my 2 cents. Overall I liked it.

    Shape of bokeh is just a matter of taste. It's determined by the shape of aperture opening. Some lenses like SLRMagic's have more blades and circular aperture that give more rounded bokeh when iris gets stepped down. Rounded bokeh seems less distracting. Hexagonal shape adds more style and seems fine.