For a recent batch of commercials, I discovered my favorite lenses of all time, the Fuji E Series Zooms for 2/3" bayonet cameras. For 11 spots, we carried only the 5-15mm zoom (HAe3x5)
and the 10-100mm zoom (HAe10x10). With these two lenses, I was completely covered and was left wanting for nothing. With these two zooms, I honestly don't see a need for primes aside from weight...
The 5-15 and 10-100 share identical form factors which makes lens changes a quick and simple affair. Not only do the lenses share front diameter and length, but each gear (including a back focus gear for some odd reason) are perfectly matched, so nothing needs to move on the rails when switching lenses. The focus and zoom have near full revolution travel and are clearly marked with large easy to read scales. These lenses were certainly made with the AC's comfort in mind. At 11 pounds, these are never going to be confused with ENG zooms but the extra heft is well worth it when you see how beautifully these lenses push light.
One of my spots involved shooting a classic 57 Chevy inside the worlds tiniest garage. OK, maybe there are smaller ones out there, but it certainly didn't feel like it once we shoe-horned the Chevy in place. The car was posed at a 45 degree angle to the garage and camera was positioned at the corner leaving only about 5 feet between the car and the lens. I knew that the 5mm would carry the car bumper to bumper, what I didn't expect was the complete lack of distortion at that wide of an angle. Every line in the garage was rendered perfectly straight, from the diagonal where the ceiling met the wall to the verticals at the corners, if I didn't know how close we were to the car, I would have sworn we were on a lens twice as long as we were. This one angle proved the worth of the E series, it allowed a tricky shot to feel cinematic and have a beauty shot feel rather than the reality show vibe a normal wide angle zoom's barrel distortion would have imparted.
These lenses are blistering fast, a true t1.6 across the entire zoom range making them faster than the wide prime from the same family. And the 1.6 feels just as sharp as the 2.8. There is no perceptible roll off when working wide open. There is no breathing at any focal length and close focus is under 3 feet for both lenses.
For these spots we shot with the Panasonic HDX900 that was owned by the production company. They usually fly the venerable Fuji HA14x4.5BERM ENG style wide angle zoom and are very familiar with the way it looks. The E Series glass made the 900 feel like an entirely new camera, and I wasn't alone if feeling this way. I received numerous unsolicited comments from everyone; client, producer, and even sales that they couldn't believe they were looking at the same camera. For a similar campaign last year, the Panavision Primos were used on the Panavised HDX900 and everyone familiar with both spots, confirmed that these zooms blew the Panavision primes out of the water. No small feet.