Personal View site logo
Make sure to join PV Telegram channel! Perfect to keep up with community on your smartphone.
Video-Friendly Lenses for Lumix DSLRs
  • Although a wide variety of lenses can be adapted for use with Lumix DSLRs, most still photography lenses have subtle drawbacks that make them less suitable for video shooting, regardless of the quality of the images they can capture. In order to shoot consistent, production-quality footage, it's often desirable to mount a DSLR and lens on a rig that provides traditional movie camera features:


    * Stabilization and control of camera movement
    * Matte box shading of camera lens
    * Direct, tactile control of lens aperture
    * Follow focus control of lens focus


    Lenses that adapt well to these requirements will possess a combination of subtle features that are often omitted from manufacturers' data sheets and overlooked in published reviews. While vintage lenses provide full manual controls, their compact, old-school design often makes them unsuitable for use on a rig. At the other extreme, modern trends in auto-focus lens design have eliminated a number of manual lens features that remain essential to videographers. In many cases, the most usable lenses for video come from early generations of auto-focus lenses that combined vintage manual controls with modern lens design.

    Here's my list of features that make a lens video-friendly:


    * Manual aperture ring
    * Direct-coupled focus ring
    * Proper focus ring rotation
    * Non-rotating outer barrel (internal focus)
    * Non-extending outer barrel (internal zoom/focus)
    * Constant field of view
    * Constant f-stop aperture
    * Rotational zoom ring


    While few lenses possess all the above features, a good video lens will make up for any deficiencies with solid performance in other aspects.

    * Manual aperture ring

    Lenses that lack a manual aperture ring are problematic for video.

    Vintage manual-focus lenses all have manual aperture rings, and most can be set to an auto-iris mode for in-camera control of aperture in shutter-priority mode. Many auto-focus lenses have eliminated the manual aperture ring, relying entirely on camera controls to set aperture in manual mode. This includes all Lumix, Zuiko Digital, Canon EOS, and Nikon G-type auto-focus lenses, as well as most currently manufactured lenses by Tokina, Tamron, and Sigma.


    * Direct-coupled focus ring

    Lenses with an electronic focus ring are problematic for video.

    While all auto-focus lenses can be manually focused, not all of them are truly manual. The focus rings on Lumix, Zuiko Digital, and many Sigma HSM lenses are not directly coupled to the lens' internal focusing mechanisms. As a result, their focus rings continue to rotate uselessly beyond max and min focus limits. Lenses like this cannot be used on rigs with follow focus attachments, since focus ring position is completely uncalibrated.


    * Proper focus ring rotation

    Lenses with contrary focus ring rotation are problematic for video.

    When mounted on a rig with a follow focus attachment, the focus ring rotation of the lens will determine the rotation direction of the follow focus wheel. Regardless of which side of the lens the FF wheel is mounted on, it's important that focus-pulling direction be consistent among all lenses used on the rig.

    With Lumix, Zuiko, EOS, and Sigma lenses, infinity focus is at the counter-clockwise end of focus ring rotation. With Nikon and Pentax lenses, infinity focus is at the clockwise end of focus ring rotation. Tokina, Tamron, and Samyang/Rokinon lenses are usually built with the appropriate focus ring rotation for each type of lens mount. Sigma lenses, however, always rotate in the Lumix direction, regardless of the lens mount. For follow focus use, I prefer lenses that rotate in the Nikon direction because it pulls focus closer as I rotate the FF wheel toward me.


    * Non-extending outer barrel

    Lenses with an extending outer barrel are problematic for video.

    Most zoom lenses, both manual and auto-focus, are designed with outer lens barrels that extend when the lens is zoomed and/or focused. While the barrels on most vintage prime lenses do not rotate, they usually extend when focused. A lens whose length changes can be awkward to use on a rig with a matte box.


    * Non-rotating outer barrel

    Lenses with a rotating outer barrel are problematic for video.

    Most vintage zoom lenses are built with the focus ring on the outer lens barrel. This causes any attached lens filter to rotate as the lens is focused, making these lenses unsuitable for use with polarizer and anamorphic attachments. Most modern auto-focus lenses use internal focusing mechanisms that avoid these issues.


    * Constant field of view

    Lenses that breathe noticeably while focusing are problematic for video.

    The focal length of almost all lenses will change slightly as the lens is focused. This effect, known as "lens breathing", alters the framing of a shot when pulling focus, making the lens appear to zoom as well as shift focus. This can ruin a shot if it is noticeable enough to be distracting.


    * Constant f-stop aperture

    Lenses with variable f-stops are problematic for video.

    On many zoom lenses, the actual aperture will vary when the lens is set at its widest f-stops. This will cause zooming at wide f-stops to visibly affect exposure settings, which can ruin a video clip.


    * Rotational zoom ring

    Lenses with push-pull zoom rings are problematic for video.

    Virtually all modern zoom lenses use individual focus and zoom rings. Many vintage zoom lenses were designed with a combined zoom/focus ring which zooms by sliding along the length of the lens barrel. Lenses like this are usually impractical to use on rigs with follow focus attachments.


    In the next post I've reviewed a list of video-friendly manual-focus lenses that I've found well-suited for use with Lumix DSLRs. In addition, you can find a list of auto-focus zoom lenses for Lumix DSLRs at the following link:

    http://www.personal-view.com./talks/discussion/859/video-friendly-lenses-for-lumix-dslrs/p5
  • 210 Replies sorted by
  • Panasonic/Leica 25mm f1.4 Four Thirds

    http://www.photozone.de/olympus--four-thirds-lens-tests/509-leica25f14
    http://www.popphoto.com/gear/2008/12/lens-test-panasonic-leica-d-summilux-25mm-f14-af

    * Manual aperture ring: Yes
    * Direct-coupled focus ring: No
    * Proper focus ring rotation: Yes
    * Non-rotating outer barrel: Yes
    * Non-extending outer barrel: Yes
    * Constant field of view: Yes


    Samyang/Rokinon 35mm f1.4 Aspherical

    http://www.photozone.de/canon_eos_ff/657-samyang35f14eosff
    http://www.lenstip.com/index.php?test=obiektywu&test_ob=297

    * Manual aperture ring: Yes
    * Direct-coupled focus ring: Yes
    * Proper focus ring rotation: Yes
    * Non-rotating outer barrel: Yes
    * Non-extending outer barrel: Yes
    * Constant field of view: No


    Samyang/Rokinon 85mm f1.4 Aspherical

    http://www.photozone.de/canon_eos_ff/483-samyang_85_14_5d
    http://www.lenstip.com/index.html?test=obiektywu&test_ob=166

    * Manual aperture ring: Yes
    * Direct-coupled focus ring: Yes
    * Proper focus ring rotation: Yes
    * Non-rotating outer barrel: Yes
    * Non-extending outer barrel: Yes
    * Constant field of view: Yes


    Tokina AT-X 235 Pro 20-35mm f2.8

    http://www.kenrockwell.com/tokina/20-35mm-f28.htm
    http://www.photographyreview.com/cat/lenses/35mm-zoom/tokina/at-x-235-af-pro-20-35mm-f-2-8/prd_84293_3128crx.aspx

    * Manual aperture ring: Yes
    * Direct-coupled focus ring: Yes
    * Proper focus ring rotation: Yes
    * Non-rotating outer barrel: Yes
    * Non-extending outer barrel: Yes
    * Constant field of view: Yes
    * Constant f-stop aperture: Yes
    * Rotational zoom ring: Yes


    Tokina AT-X 270 Pro 28-70mm f2.8

    http://nikonglass.blogspot.com/2009/11/tokina-at-x-pro-28-70mm-f26-28.html
    http://www.photozone.de/canon-eos/276-tokina-af-28-70mm-f28-26-at-x-pro-ii-lab-test-report--review

    * Manual aperture ring: Yes
    * Direct-coupled focus ring: Yes
    * Proper focus ring rotation: Yes
    * Non-rotating outer barrel: Yes
    * Non-extending outer barrel: Yes
    * Constant field of view: No
    * Constant f-stop aperture: Yes
    * Rotational zoom ring: Yes


    Tokina ATX-Pro 28-80mm f2.8

    http://lensbuyersguide.com/en/lens/show/Tokina/AF28-80mm_f2.8_AT-X_PRO

    Manual aperture ring: Yes
    Direct-coupled focus ring: Yes
    Proper focus ring rotation: Yes
    Non-rotating outer barrel: Yes
    Non-extending outer barrel: Yes
    Constant field of view: 80 Yes, (Closer to 28 breathing is noticeable)
    Constant f-stop aperture: Yes
    Rotational zoom ring: Yes


    Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 HSM (non-DG)

    http://www.fredmiranda.com/reviews/showproduct.php?product=102
    http://www.photographyreview.com/cat/lenses/35mm-zoom/sigma/70-200mm-f-2-8-apo-ex-hsm/prd_83598_3128crx.aspx

    * Manual aperture ring: Yes (non-DG only)
    * Direct-coupled focus ring: No
    * Proper focus ring rotation: Lumix direction only
    * Non-rotating outer barrel: Yes
    * Non-extending outer barrel: Yes
    * Constant field of view: Mostly
    * Constant f-stop aperture: Yes
    * Rotational zoom ring: Yes


    Sigma 100-300mm f4 HSM

    http://www.photozone.de/nikon--nikkor-aps-c-lens-tests/369-sigma-af-100-300mm-f4-nikon
    http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/336

    * Manual aperture ring: Yes
    * Direct-coupled focus ring: No
    * Proper focus ring rotation: Lumix direction only
    * Non-rotating outer barrel: Yes
    * Non-extending outer barrel: Yes
    * Constant field of view: ??
    * Constant f-stop aperture: Yes
    * Rotational zoom ring: Yes


    Sigma 20mm f1.8

    http://www.photozone.de/canon-eos/297-sigma-af-20mm-f18-ex-test-report--review
    http://erphotoreview.com/wordpress/?p=1045

    * Manual aperture ring: Yes
    * Direct-coupled focus ring: Yes
    * Proper focus ring rotation: Lumix direction only
    * Non-rotating outer barrel: Yes
    * Non-extending outer barrel: Yes
    * Constant field of view: Yes


    Sigma 24mm f1.8

    http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/206
    http://erphotoreview.com/wordpress/?p=944

    * Manual aperture ring: Yes
    * Direct-coupled focus ring: Yes
    * Proper focus ring rotation: Lumix direction only
    * Non-rotating outer barrel: Yes
    * Non-extending outer barrel: Extends by 5mm
    * Constant field of view: No


    Sigma 28mm f1.8

    http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/214
    http://www.lenstip.com/index.php?test=obiektywu&test_ob=234

    * Manual aperture ring: Yes
    * Direct-coupled focus ring: Yes
    * Proper focus ring rotation: Lumix direction only
    * Non-rotating outer barrel: Yes
    * Non-extending outer barrel: Extends by 5mm
    * Constant field of view: No


    Sigma 30mm f1.4 HSM

    http://www.photozone.de/canon-eos/298-sigma-af-30mm-f14-ex-hsm-dc-test-report--review
    http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/176

    * Manual aperture ring: No - aperture set in camera on 4/3rds version only
    * Direct-coupled focus ring: No
    * Proper focus ring rotation: Lumix direction only
    * Non-rotating outer barrel: Yes
    * Non-extending outer barrel: Yes
    * Constant field of view: Yes


    Sigma 50mm f1.4 HSM

    http://www.dpreview.com/lensreviews/sigma_50_1p4_c16/
    http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/1202/cat/30

    * Manual aperture ring: No - aperture set in camera on 4/3rds version only
    * Direct-coupled focus ring: No
    * Proper focus ring rotation: Lumix direction only
    * Non-rotating outer barrel: Yes
    * Non-extending outer barrel: Yes
    * Constant field of view: ??


    Nikkor AF-S 17-35mm f2.8 D

    http://www.photozone.de/nikon--nikkor-aps-c-lens-tests/230-nikkor-af-s-17-35mm-f28-d-if-ed-review--lab-test-report

    * Manual aperture ring: Yes
    * Direct-coupled focus ring: No
    * Proper focus ring rotation: Nikon direction only
    * Non-rotating outer barrel: Yes
    * Non-extending outer barrel: Yes
    * Constant field of view: Yes
    * Constant f-stop aperture: Yes
    * Rotational zoom ring: Yes

    Nikkor AF-S 28-70mm f2.8 D

    http://www.photozone.de/nikon--nikkor-aps-c-lens-tests/239-nikkor-af-s-28-70mm-f28-d-if-ed-review--test-report

    * Manual aperture ring: Yes
    * Direct-coupled focus ring: No
    * Proper focus ring rotation: Nikon direction only
    * Non-rotating outer barrel: Yes
    * Non-extending outer barrel: No
    * Constant field of view: ??
    * Constant f-stop aperture: Yes
    * Rotational zoom ring: Yes

    Nikkor AF 80-200mm f/2.8 D

    http://www.photozone.de/nikon--nikkor-aps-c-lens-tests/252-nikkor-af-80-200mm-f28d-ed-review--test-report

    * Manual aperture ring: Yes
    * Direct-coupled focus ring: Yes
    * Proper focus ring rotation: Nikon direction only
    * Non-rotating outer barrel: No
    * Non-extending outer barrel: Yes
    * Constant field of view: ??
    * Constant f-stop aperture: Yes
    * Rotational zoom ring: Yes

    Here is a list of video-friendly Nikkor AF-D primes from 85mm up to 300mm. In addition to possessing excellent optics, these lenses all employ internal focus designs with outer lens barrels that neither extend nor rotate. Unfortunately, this is not the case with Nikon AF-D lenses wider than 85mm - their lens barrels all extend when focusing on close objects. The lenses below all share similar video properties:

    Nikkor AF 85mm f/1.8 D
    Nikkor AF 85mm f/1.4 D
    Nikkor AF 105mm f/2 D Defocus Control
    Nikkor AF 135mm f/2 D Defocus Control
    Nikkor AF 180mm f/2.8 IF-ED
    Micro-Nikkor AF 200mm f/4 D ED
    Nikkor AF-S 300mm f/4 D IF-ED


    Lens reviews here:
    http://www.photozone.de/nikon--nikkor-aps-c-lens-tests

    * Manual aperture ring: Yes
    * Direct-coupled focus ring: Yes
    * Proper focus ring rotation: Nikon direction only
    * Non-rotating outer barrel: Yes
    * Non-extending outer barrel: Yes
    * Constant field of view: yes

  • How about Tokina 11-16mm 2.8?
  • The Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 lacks a manual aperture ring, making it cumbersome to use on a Lumix DSLR.

    Tokina AT-X 116 Pro 11-16mm f2.8

    * Manual aperture ring: No - aperture cannot be set on Lumix DSLRs
    * Direct-coupled focus ring: Yes
    * Proper focus ring rotation: Yes
    * Non-rotating outer barrel: Yes
    * Non-extending outer barrel: Yes
    * Constant field of view: ??
    * Constant f-stop aperture: Yes
    * Rotational zoom ring: Yes
  • Quite a few manual focus vintage lenses by Minolta (the MC/MD series) come close:

    * Manual aperture ring: Yes (but with click stops I don't like for film)
    * Direct-coupled focus ring: Yes
    * Proper focus ring rotation: Yes
    * Non-rotating outer barrel: Yes (most of their primes)
    * Non-extending outer barrel: Yes (limited extension on primes)
    * Constant field of view: Yes (nearly)

    And they still come cheap on Ebay, with a few sought after exceptions like the 58mm 1.2 lens.
  • @nomad
    For video shooting, there were quite a few vintage manual focus prime lenses made by the major camera manufacturers:

    Nikon F mount
    Canon FD mount
    Pentax K mount
    Minolta MD/MC mount
    Olympus OM mount
    Konica AR mount

    While most of these lenses have non-rotating outer lens barrels, they almost always extend while focusing. That discrepancy, combined with the compact size of most 24-50mm primes, can make it a tight fit to attach these lenses to 15mm rail-mounted matte box and follow focus units.

    In addition, I've had a couple of secondary issues with vintage primes. The first is I've noticed that focus breathing varies widely and is rarely documented. The second is with susceptibility to flare. Most vintage primes used spherical lens element designs that predated modern aspherical flare-reduction technology. With the fastest vintage primes, I found that lens flare often produced milky, reduced contrast when used at wide apertures.
  • I think there is a 2.6-2.8 Tokina 28-70 that is supposed to be the sharpest one, but I don't know if it fits your criteria.
  • @nomad You can easily remove the click stops from Minolta MC/MD lenses to get continuous aperture. Most have small screws in the back that release the aperture ring; lift it and the small ball bearing that implements the click stops can be removed. My 50/1.7 had one screw that held the small ball bearing and it was easy to convert to continuous aperture... Al
  • @DrDave
    The Tokina AT-X 270 Pro 28-70mm f2.8 that I listed above is a slightly updated version of the 28-70mm f2.6-2.8. There were several versions of this lens, the following link traces its history:

    http://nikonglass.blogspot.com/2009/11/tokina-at-x-pro-28-70mm-f26-28.html
  • @LPowell

    Add Tokina AT-X Pro 12-24mm F4

    I find it more versative, especially on m43
    http://www.dpreview.com/lensreviews/tokina_12-24_4_n15/

    And Canon FD 80-200mm F4 L

    This tele zoom is really remarkable lens.


    Also add that Samyang 35mm F1.4 breathing is quite big
  • Tokina AT-X 124 Pro 12-24mm f4.0 - price: ~$550

    * Manual aperture ring: No - aperture cannot be set on Lumix DSLRs
    * Direct-coupled focus ring: Yes
    * Proper focus ring rotation: Yes
    * Non-rotating outer barrel: Yes
    * Non-extending outer barrel: Yes
    * Constant field of view: ??
    * Constant f-stop aperture: Yes
    * Rotational zoom ring: Yes

    Canon FD 80-200mm F4 L

    * Manual aperture ring: Yes
    * Direct-coupled focus ring: Yes
    * Proper focus ring rotation: Lumix only
    * Non-rotating outer barrel: Yes
    * Non-extending outer barrel: Yes
    * Constant field of view: ??
    * Constant f-stop aperture: Yes
    * Rotational zoom ring: No
  • If you have to list the FD 80-200 then you also must list the Tokina RMC 80 - 200mm F4 with FD Mount. It was top of the Review list of 25 zoom lenses (see below - beating even the Canon FD above). I have it, it is gorgeous.

    "" One rainy day a few years ago I went to the Public Library to look through Periodicals. Searching for print on Canon Manual focus Zoom lenses I came across a Consumer Reports magazine that had performed a test of the top 25 zoom lenses in the 70-210/80-200 f/4 range. I remember that the Tokina RMC 80-200 f/4 took first place.

    Two through five were the MD 70-210 f/4, FD 80-200 f/4, Nikkor 80-200 f/4 and FD 70-210 f/4 but I forgot the finishing order. Vivitar's Series One 70-210 f/2.8-4 was around tenth. They were tested and rated on five areas; sharpness/center, sharpness/edge, contrast, distortion and vignetting.

    Nikon's Nikkor 80-200 f/4 took first place in sharpness/center but the RMC 80-200 took first place in all other areas and overall. It must have been an ’83 or ’84 issue, I know it was before Canon had made their FD 80-200 f/4L, plus no auto focus yet.
    http://ferling.net/Sears80-200f4.htm
  • @Rambo

    If you read carefully, it won 80-200mm, not 80-200m F4 L (I know it was before Canon had made their FD 80-200 f/4L).
    80-200m F4 L is in another league.
  • Ok VK, for once you are right (tongue in cheek):-) Still a top lens thou.

    R
    tokina.JPG
    580 x 386 - 29K
  • I agree with @LPowell in general. Those are matte box and FF friendly.

    Many vintage SLR primes and zooms with moving front element can be used with 77mm adjustable ND filter and a bunch of step-up rings. Cumbersome but works ok. One day... Sony or Panasonic will release a mirrorless camera body with built-in ND filters. 2/4/6 Discrete filters are just fine. Then we wouldn't need a matte box.

    Anyways that would free up enough space to maneuver FF. About the ugly flaire... use a versatile rubber hood?

    Yes FD or Ai-s lenses are not the optimized lenses for videography. I'd use them ONLY if they are cheap. e.g. 50mm 1.4. But vintage 24mm f2 is a way too overpriced. I'd pay little more to get a new copy of Samyang 24mm 1.4.
  • >Then we wouldn't need a matte box. About the ugly flaire... use a versatile rubber hood?

    Last time I checked real clients reaction, rubber hood makes big difference compared with proper matte box :-)
  • A rubber hood, a small vintage lens, and a small rig for personal work. FF optional. Just for fun. Personal records. Candid moments.

    Often people talk about serious work. This is serious business for those who make bread and butter from making video. Yeap use a matte box for sure. Use FF, too. Make more bucks. I would.
  • @stonebat
    The type of lens flare I've seen in very fast vintage primes was not from an out-of-frame light source that could be blocked by a lens hood or matte box. What happens is that at very wide apertures, the lens appears to bloom with internal light reflections, which casts a milky glow over the frame and reduces contrast. Some might call this a soft focus effect, but it's not due to defocusing. I've read that this blooming effect can be intensified by reflections from the digital image sensor itself, which is much more reflective than the 35mm film stock that vintage lenses were originally developed for.

    BTW, the Tokina lenses suggested by you and Vitaliy both share a drawback that for me is a showstopper: no manual aperture ring. While some M4/3 adapters have primitive "Lock" rings that can be used as a workaround, I've yet to see one that I'd consider reliable.
  • Yeap... that sounds right about flare. I guess that's why Panasonic has nano surface coating.

    Those vintage lenses should remain cheap. But the price hiked a lot. If companies like Samyang continue to make good MF lenses, I guess the popularity of the vintage lenses would go down. But I'm keeping FD, AI-s, and Vivitar lenses :)

    Bottom line... Go Samyang!!!!
  • I second the explanation of reflections from the sensor. Have a look at the adapter from Sony for Alpha to NEX: it has an extra rectangular aperture. I suppose this is meant to reduce the light bouncing around in the rear, and one should be able to make something similar for ones vintage lenses adapters for µFT.
  • "The Tokina AF 28-70mm f/2.6-2.8 AT-X Pro II was indeed able to beat the performance figures of its successor - the AF 28-70mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro SV. Probably not really surprising because the lens was also quite a bit more expensive at the time."
    http://www.photozone.de/Reviews/276-tokina-af-28-70mm-f28-26-at-x-pro-ii-lab-test-report--review
    I keep thinking I will buy this lens (sharp wide open), and then I always hear a rumor of a fast native zoom for m4/3.....................
  • @DrDave
    Yes, the Tokina AF 28-70mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro SV ("Special Value") version was a cheapened downgrade. From what I've been able to deduce, all previous versions with 77mm filter rings used the same internal design, with variations in barrel housings and labeling. I suspect the original "f/2.6-2.8" rating was simplified to "f/2.8" in other versions of the same lens. The similarly labeled Tokina 28-70mm with a 72mm filter ring was a different, unrelated design.

    As for rumors of a fast M4/3 zoom, the most video-friendly Lumix lens I've used is the 4/3rds Panasonic/Leica 14-50mm f2.8-3.5, with its exclusive manual aperture ring. I doubt, however, that Panasonic would be eager to revisit that particular marketing experience. While it's far from flawless, the Leicasonic works surprisingly well on a shoulder-mounted run-n-gun rig, especially if you gear a follow focus into its zoom ring. (Just make sure to preset your focus for the finish point of your zoom.) The plastic eBay "matte box" 15mm rail-mounted lens hood fits loosely around the front lens barrel, easily accommodating the zoom's one-inch max lens extension. The Mega-OIS on the Leicasonic is pure magic, like an electronic steady-cam: WWVv~~----
    Gini rig.jpg
    3136 x 2352 - 2M
  • That Leicasonic looks amazing, and it is under a grand now. However, if I buy it I know that the new fast zoom will be released.
  • Tokina AT-X 116 Pro 11-16mm f2.8

    This is a very good lens, good quality also in HD. It is heavy, and the front lens is quite large, mounted on a GH1 looks even bigger. I bought mine with the Nikon mount, so I can control the aperture with a m43 / Nikon adapter specifically for "G" lens. This adapter has a pin connected to a ring on the adapter to continously control the diaphragm. There is no scale thus it is not possible to use an external exposimeter, but usually I rely on the internal exposimeter of my GH1, so no problem. I recommend it.
  • Any thoughts on the Tamron 28-75 2.8?
  • @LPowell
    Just a shout for all the great contributions to the hack and also, you are an excellent writer -- your posts are always lucid and eloquent. I think you need your own blog by now.