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Friday, 27 October 2023


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Mike: If you had a Fuji X-H1 camera and you wanted specifically to do video, what lens would you get to start out with?

Fujifilm 18-120mm f/4.0. Light, power zoom, parfocal lens, with snappy autofocus. Not particularly fast and the edges tend to be a little soft, but clearly designed as an all-in-one video lens.

What's video?

Conventional wisdom: Fujifilm 18-120/4 or Fujifilm 16-80/4. The 18-120 has built-in motorized zoom capability vs the 16-80 which is manual zoom but goes a little wider but not as long at the tele end. As with all zooms, be sure to test it for acceptable sharpness across the focal length range. Make sure it can be easily returned if found lacking, or test before purchase.

Sigma 10-18mm f2.8. Check out “Nikon ZF "Stone Grey" & Sigma 10-18mm 2.8 Fuji X Vlog - PART ONE”. on YouTube.

I’m not a pro video guy, but I do have a XH1 and do video with it. I use and like the XF 16-55 a lot.

Vinyl records being destroyed! Oh the horror!!!

I can't respond specifically to the X-H1, but I do have a recommendation. The book "Making Movies" by Sidney Lumet has several excellent descriptions of lens choices he made for various shots and the specific goals he had in mind when making them. The one that sticks in my mind most is the process during the filming of "12 Angry Men" where the lenses and camera angles changed subtly throughout the film to heighten tension. Xander has probably already read the book, but others may find it interesting.

Does it have a lens already? The easiest advice would be 'start with what you have, and then see what you need different'. If you're buying a new lens, I'd just go with the normal zooms like the 16-55/2.8 ideally, or the 18-55/2.8-4 is also very good for significantly cheaper. Unless he knows what he needs, these are good starting positions. Beyond this you're getting into primes, or the very expensive video centric lenses. Another option are the cheap rokinon cine primes, but I wouldn't start with primes unless he specifically wants a set of them.

In short, get a normal zoom with a fitting variable ND filter and that would cover most of what he'll likely need. There are several other normal zooms too, but the two above are the premium option and best cheap option. Unless you want more reach like 16-80 or 18-120 etc. I'd start cheap and see how it goes first with the 18-55. Not the cheaper XC ones which don't have aperture rings..

I recommend the Fujinon 8mm f/3.5 rectilinear for Xander's horror movie. Not being a zoom it is easy to use, and it is always in focus. Apparent close-up distortion could be an asset when aimed at the faces of monsters. As a WR lens it is impervious to water or a bloodbath. When in tight quarters nothing else can match it.


Again I fail at proof-reading. "it impervious" should have been "it is impervious."

I’m not a video expert but from discussions I’ve followed I understand the video quality in recent-ish iPhones (including your iPhone 13 Pro Mike) is excellent. If Xander has one, or an equivalent higher-end Android phone, you could focus on a Fuji focal length that complements his phone. I’m assuming he/the crew would want to use multiple cameras where possible.

I don’t do video but Fuji makes one lens specifically for video. The XF18-120mmF4.
Quoting Fuji: With a 35mm zoom range equivalent to 27-183mm, a close focusing distance of 60cm (23.6in) throughout, and near-silent zoom and focusing controls, XF18-120mmF4 LM PZ WR is perfect for a broad range of motion production applications. These extend even further when considering the lens’s minimal focus breathing, stepless aperture control, and constant F4 aperture. Pull focus, make precise adjustments to iris, or change focal length without causing any noticeable distractions to the recorded footage.
Sounds good to me.

I would think if he is at the point of wanting to shoot a movie he has had some input from his peers. You could point him to https://nofilmschool.com/ as well. It's a great resource for film making.

I suggest not putting any money into it until he knows specifically what he needs from his lenses for the specific project. He'll need to storyboard everything, do test setups and experiments, and do lots of research. The genre is so wide open nowadays that it's impossible to guess what kind of aesthetic he'd be going for. i.e., handholding with natural lighting at night can be terrific for horror, but brightly lit settings and deep focus can be creepy, or funny, in their own way.

Feature-wise, stepless aperture control can come in handy.

For certain cliché effects a constant aperture zoom is handy, but more importantly, it can save you a surprising amount of time between shots (though zooms do add one more setting to keep track of, and can complicate handheld rig shooting).

So all that to say that a good start for experimenting might be simply a run-of-the-mill lightweight kit zoom with a decent range. The aim is to learn exactly what you're going to need from a lens or lenses, and what will be useful day-to-day versus temp tools you'd rather borrow, rent or resell.

Fuji explains their best lenses for video:


I've heard this about the 16-80mm:

Without knowing what you are shooting, I would say the 16-80mm f/4 is Fuji's best general purpose lens for video. The AF is silent, focus breathing is almost nonexistent, the zoom mechanism is smooth and well dampened, and the stabilization is close to Fuji's best. For general use purposes, I would not consider f/4 to be "too small"."


In the time honoured internet custom of recommending either something you own or something you have read about, regardless of whether or not it is suitable, I'd like to put forward Sirui Lenses. :-)


I had never heard of them until about two minutes ago, when I got to the sponsor section of a Tatiana Hopper video.
About 11:45 here.


Really, I'm mostly posting this cos maybe some will find her channel interesting. Some good intro music too.

Peace and niceness,

If it’s a zoom make sure it’s par-focal. The faster the better.

Whatever focal length and max aperture is necessary to tell the story. This is such an impossibly broad question it's like asking "If you had a Fuji X-H1 camera and you wanted specifically to take pictures, what lens would you get to start out with?"

Lenses are storytelling tools and may require even more care and attention paid for filmmaking than still photography. You have to have an idea for how you want to stage people and stage them against locations or within sets. You have to light. Lenses render space but motion (facilitated by the additional dimension of time) adds a whole other consideration to how an audience connects with the story. Some filmmakers like wide angle lenses; others like telephoto lenses; others like zooms. Others still like a variety of lenses they will use for different effects in different scenes. Robert Altman was known for his zoom lenses and constantly moving camera on dollies, cranes and steadicams. David Cronenberg will shoot most of a movie on a single focal length (a wide or moderate-wide). Roman Polanski is known for picking two lenses (usually a wide and moderate-wide, or a wide and a normal) and shooting each movie with just those two. Akira Kurosawa was known for his use of telephoto lenses, a tendency that would grow more extreme as he got older.

Interesting thing about Cronenberg: his cinematographer would rent a full set of lenses and they wouldn't pick which lens until they arrived on set that day, got everything lit and started rehearsing and blocking actors. Often for a movie Cronenberg would end up with the same lens every time. This is also how a lot of Roman Polanski movies were shot. He'd watch the actors rehearse and find the best place to stand, then choose which lens best fit the actors in the frame and have the camera put there and shoot the scene. Stanley Kubrick, a lifelong still photographer and former photojournalist, would say that, as a photographer, choosing lenses and framing the shot was the easiest part of making a movie and it was something he could figure out quickly. But he couldn't pre visualize ahead of time; he had to have the set built and lit and the actors there and it was a process of figuring out how to convey the action in the scene.

Meanwhile, the Coen Brothers storyboard their films in pre-production and only shoot what they need. They tend to use a few wide angle or normal lenses for most of a picture (maybe bringing out a telephoto only when needed for an effect). When Roger Deakins first worked with them on Barton Fink, he noted how remarkable it was that there were only 10 shots that got cut out of the final edit.

So it's complicated and very personal. Like still photography, only moreso.

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