As promised here are some initial impressions of the Angenieux Zoom Type L2 and Type L3 1:2.2/17-68 C-Mount lenses.
The Angenieux zoom Type L2 and Type L3 lenses are very hard to find these days but well worth having as part of your GH1 arsenal if you can grab one. Many of these older c-mount cine lenses were used on Bolex and Bell and Howard 16mm cameras. I was fortunate enough to pick up a Type L2 and Type L3 Angenieux zoom and despite the fact that the image circle of the lens is smaller than the sensor and you do get the “peep hole effect” and a bit of vignetting, there are still some great things going for these older lenses. As far as I can tell from the recent tests both the Type L2 and Type L3 Angenieux zoom lenses had the same image circle size, bokeh and sharpness.
- At wide open F/2.2, the lens is tack sharp, much faster than the 14-140 stock lens at F/4
- The small size. This little zoom lens fits inside my pants pocket! Much lighter than the 14-140 stock lens and makes the GH1 feel like a toy with the extremely light weight feel of the Angenieux
- The beautiful Angenieux bokeh, creamy and lovely especially at higher focal lengths to display that shallow DOF.
- With the GH1’s 2x Digital Zoom, you move beyond the vignetting and get a nice usable picture.
- As was brought to my attention from the Indy Pros at DVXUser Barry Green and Illya Friedman, there are image degradation issues with the digital zoom engaged even at 2x. Illya Friedman who runs Hot Rod Cameras informed me that “Extended Optical Zoom is just windowing the sensor, effectively lowering the number of pixels used to create the image by about 75%.”
- Obviously, no autofocus and image stabilization capabilities so you can’t really use this lens on a steadicam or for tracking shots.
- With the GH1’s 2x Digital Zoom engaged in movie mode, camera shake increases with magnification so you must use a tripod or DV stabilizer for decent results.
- With the GH1’s 2x Digital Zoom engaged in movie mode, the focal lengths double from 17-68 to 34-136.
- This particular cine lens need a Series 7 step ring to use ND filters.
- If Panasonic could give us .5x, 1x, and 1.5x as an option for the Digital Zoom in movie mode and Extended Digital Zoom in picture mode I think it would help with the flexibility to use these c-mount lenses with much greater control. The Angenieux Zoom Type L2 & Type L3 with out the use of the digital zoom feature at 17mm is a little shy of filling the sensor. With the ability to use a 1x instead of a 2x optical zoom we’d have the ability to have a wider frame with perhaps less camera magnification jitters and image degradation.
- So far, I can only use creative motion picture mode on the GH1 because it is the only mode that I can engage the digital zoom feature. Again, most c-mount zooms and primes under 25mm will have a small image circle and vignetting so in order to use these lenses you need to engage the digital zoom in movie mode. It would be nice if Panasonic allowed us to use the optical zoom in picture mode for still camera use currently I could not engage the extended digital zoom in any of the picture mode settings.
- Maybe someone out there could make a c-mount teleconverter or reducer that has a large enough image circle to fit the sensor so that we would not need to engage the Gh1’s optical zoom. That would be the ideal. 🙂
Over all, the GH1 has literally breathed new life into these older cine lenses. In the beginning, it was the G1 users capturing amazing pictures with these c-mount lenses but now that the GH1 has hit the scene, many are using these cine lenses for what they were intended for and that is film. As stated in other forums and blogs, the digital zoom and extended optical zoom features do degrade resolution on the GH1 but with the right elements in place, these lenses are great fun and you can get some really nice images. For some the image degradation and resolution loss will not be acceptable for others this may be a chance to bring retro cine flair to your new GH1 and you may find these images will work for your needs.
So despite the resolution drawbacks, the Angenieux Type L2 and Type L3 are great for the on the go casual shooter who wants that “Angenieux look” with out having to carry a huge lens and who can sacrifice some resolution loss. You’ll still need to step back to get that wider shot but for those who want that shallow DOF there’s still some nice bokeh and sharpness in this lens that will be a great addition for narrative work and even talking heads documentary shots. For those wanting to find a good deal on these older lenses, you might want to go to local camera shops first, explore the ones that still carry 16mm camera gear before going on ebay. Just within the last six months these lenses have all jumped up in price so be prepared to pay at least $400 for this lens if not more.
Thanks again to Barry Green and Illya Friedman for providing me with updated information concerning the Digital Zoom features on the GH1.