At least in terms of Motion picture tradeshows and seminars, it's beginning to look like 2020 will be something of a lost year. A case in point is that Fujifilm/Fujinon had planned to make certain statements regarding their large-format zooms at this year’s Cine Gear in Los Angeles, which was first scheduled for June, then backed up to October, and now appears to be canceled altogether.
Ersan Koyluoglu and Hideyuki Kasai
No slouches in the press conference department however, Fujifilm/Fujinon handled the cancellation of the NAB earlier this year by holding a press conference on their new 8K zooms aimed for the television Industry, and now, updates regarding Fujifilm’s large format Premista zooms, intended to be presented at Cine Gear, are communicated to us through an online press conference instead.
Both Premista zooms are compact and equally balanced.
Fujifilm representatives Hideyuki Kasai, Product Manager FUJIFILM Optical Devices Europe, and Ersan Koyluoglu, Nordic Key Account Manager Optical Devices, have kindly invited us to this press conference, which Mr. Kasai opens by giving a historical overview of the evolution of Fujifilm’s Cinema lens portfolio.
It all began back in 1999 when Fujifilm started making cinema lenses for the first generation digital cinema cameras which had just emerged on the scene. Those lenses were very well-received indeed, and a full twenty years later two large-format Premista zooms were introduced at the 2019 Cine Gear in Los Angeles.
These zooms cover the traditional Vistavision format, which was developed in the 1950s for 35mm film production as an alternative to anamorphic lenses and 65 mm film, and this is actually also how these zooms got their name.
One of Fujifilm’s very successful lines of motion picture lenses were called the Premier series. ”So”, Mr. Kasai explains, "we stole the name ’Premier’ from ourselves and made a Portmanteau word of ’Premier’ plus ’Vistavision’ -and wound up with ’Premista’. When designing the Premista zooms”, he continues, "some of our objectives which we aimed for -and achieved- were 'No breathing', the zooms should also be telecentric, and we wanted them to cut well with the most popular prime lenses on the market”.
The Premistas have been well-received indeed, and many rental houses in Europe now already own Premista zooms. The situation is similar in the US as well, and the Chinese market is growing steadily.
Compared to competing large format zooms, the Premistas are more compact and weigh less –which gives them an edge for work on car commercials and helicopter work, for instance. You want a compact lens if you’re going to mount it in gimbals and ”Shot Over” rigs etc. And the Premistas’ modest weight means the largest drones can handle them also.
Contrast and sharpness like a prime lens, as well as a very cinematic look, were some other targets which Fujifilm aimed for when designing the Premista zooms.
They also aimed at keeping unwanted light bouncing around inside of the lens at a minimum, since this is detrimental to the black level -you lose several stops at the bottom of your dynamic range -which is of course terrible news if you’re aiming for HDR imagery. This potential stray light is ingeniously cut off mechanically by small black ridges inside the lens!
Additionally, the iris inside a Premista zoom is constructed with thirteen blades, resulting in beautiful bokeh and great care has also been taken to avoid "onion rings" in out-of-focus highlights, through the use of aspherical glass surfaces.
One can rest assured the Premistas will cover an awful lot of sensors out there, certainly the majority of popular LF cameras. For instance, a few projects have used Premista zooms with the Alexa 65 in 5K 16:9 mode.
Additionally, you can obviously also shoot 35mm film -up to Vistavision format- with the Premistas!
Flange focus adjustment is traditionally handled on cine zooms by adding or subtracting shims at the lens mount, which is not something you’d want to do in the field. On the Premistas, flange focus adjustment can easily be done by just loosening a hexagonal key and adjusting flange focus with the green ring near the zoom's lens mount.
The Premistas also deliver extended lens data. Not many cameras on the market can handle this, so for instance a Transvideo Starlight can be employed as a separate unit to record the metadata.
Last but not least, luminous paint has been used for the lens markings on these zooms, so you’ll easily see for instance what focal length you’re at in dim lighting conditions.
Additional advantages for a film crew -especially if on a production where time is at a premium- is that the zoom range of a Premista will give you the same option of focal lengths as eight prime lenses. If you don’t need the speed (T 1,8 etc) this could be a valuable asset for the production, being able to shoot seamlessly without having to change lenses, which can be valuable time saver.
Keeping an eye on the horizon, Fujifilm/Fujinon are also making sure their zooms will be compatible with upcoming new camera models in the pipeline, both in terms of sensor coverage and lens mount compatibility. For instance, the RED Komodo 6K is a model which will become available to film crews in the near future, and the MK zooms will be compatible with this camera by using a replacement mount soon to be released by one of Fujifilm's partners.
Lars Pettersson FSF