Fujifilm Optical Division Blog
Digital Cinema Report recently began exploring the evolution of lenses from the perspective of the manufacturers in its series, “Magical Glass.” How does a company determine what lenses to make and how to bring them to market? The fourth installment of the series features FUJIFILM Optical Devices Division’s Director of Marketing and Product Development Thom Calabro on the challenges lens manufacturers face. Continue reading below for the full interview, or you can view the original version.

“Digital Cinema Report: What drives lens development at your company? Is it customer demand, products introduced by your competitors, or innovations discovered by your own designers? A combination of all of those? Something else entirely?

Thom Calabro: Customer demand is a big component in our development decisions. Our 2/3-inch Compact Cine lenses were a direct result of speaking with cinematographers who were willing to jump into digital cinematography. Speaking with many of our mobile customers led us to develop the XA99x8.4. These customers wanted a tele lens that would be able to get relatively wide angle shots. The HA18x5.5 came about after a top sports network requested a wide angle ENG style lens that would be able to go long.

DCR: What is the single biggest challenge in making a high quality professional lens?

TC: One of the biggest challenges is making a high quality lens that is affordable. It has become increasingly difficult to do this. As cameras have gotten higher in resolution, the lenses have had to become better. Cameras, being electronic devices, have come down in price over the years; lenses have not. In fact, lens pricing has gone up.

DCR: Why does FujiFilm not make prime lenses for the cinema market?

TC: While it was difficult to break into the cine market with zoom lenses, we did so because of our expertise in making zooms for the broadcast industry for many decades. We feel that our zoom lenses compete, and in many cases beat the primes in quality comparisons.

DCR: How much time does it take to bring a new zoom lens to market?

TC: I could give you two very recent examples. At NAB 2013 we sat down with one of the sports cable networks. Their request was for us was to produce a high-quality lens that is rather multi-purpose. The need was for a wide angle lens that could also go long. The lens had to be similar in size and weight to what was currently being used. At NAB 2014 we were able to show a working HA18x5.5 lens, and we made deliveries in June. Also at NAB 2013 we were discussing with various customers what their requirements would be for a new PL cine lens. One year later we showed the Cabrio PL 25-300. This lens already has been delivered to a number of customers. So a bit over a year would be about normal.

DCR: Describe the steps in each process.

TC: We develop a set of parameters; size, weight, optical performance, and cost. Our designers work with our proprietary software, Global Optimization Technology, or GO Tech. This software allows us to produce lenses in a very short period. One of the ways it does this is by eliminating the need for early prototyping. We, of course, still develop prototypes, and we go through design changes, but it a much more streamlined process with GO Tech.

DCR: To what extent has digital cinematography changed lens design and manufacture?

TC: The resolution in today’s cine camera is very high, and most of the video being produced on these is slated for theatrical release, meaning very large viewing screens. Any and all chromatic aberrations will certainly show on these. So our tolerances have to be maintained to a very high degree.

DCR: Has there been a dramatic change in the kinds of lenses cinematographers request? If so, what?

TC: We are seeing that more and more cinematographers are using zoom lenses. While most don’t “zoom” the lens during a shot, they are using them as variable primes. Our cine zoom lenses have been compared to the finest primes, so quality is not an issue. The zoom lens allows the cinematographer to work faster, because there’s no need to stop production to change the lens to a different focal length.

DCR: How much of the lens-making process is still done by hand?

TC: Lens grinding, polishing, and coating are automated processes. The actual assembly and adjustments of all of our high-end lenses are very much a manual process.

DCR: Where are your lenses made?

TC: In our Japan factory.

DCR: Where do you source your glass?

TC: From premium and well known glass manufacturers like Ohara and others.

DCR: What new lenses are you developing now?

TC: We are working on a number of lenses for various applications, but I’m not at liberty to disclose anything more.

DCR: Will lenses always be analog or can you envision an all-digital high quality professional lens?

TC: Lenses will remain analog, but digital technology can help analog lenses. Chromatic aberration compensation is currently being used by many camera manufacturers. The digital electronics in the camera talk with the digital servo on the lens. This was originally designed to compensate for aberration errors in lower cost lenses, but even the finest lenses can benefit from this function.”

Have questions or comments about Fujinon lenses? Connect with us on our Facebook page, or tweet us.

Posted: 11/6/2014 12:06:48 PM by Thom Calabro | with 0 comments



We had such a fantastic experience at NAB 2014, we’re still talking about it…but we’re not the only ones. For those who did not make it to Las Vegas this year, we’ve summarized “The Fujinon Experience” through a series of blog posts. Rounding out the recap, we bring you the words of some of the field’s most experienced and respected production, technology and engineering pros, as they appeared in posters featured throughout our booth.

“In our nearly 30-year history, we’ve always purchased Fujinon lenses for our six production trucks, and have put them through their paces. They are extremely reliable, and only require minor maintenance to keep them working properly. This kind of reliability is invaluable, particularly when working on a high profile assignment, such as the State of the Union Address, which we shot this year. One of the most challenging locations to use lenses is at The National Hot Rod Association’s drag racing events, which are extremely contaminated by gas fumes, car exhaust and burning rubber. If the lenses can stand up to these conditions, they can stand up to anything. The Fujinon lenses we’ve used are all securely weather proofed, so our engineers only have to do routine cleaning and replace front element lens filters to protect the front glass. Then, they’re ready to go.” - Spruce McRee, President/CEO, Crosscreek Television Productions

“We have had great success on all our virtual productions around the world using Fujinon lenses. The encoding, quality and configuration of the lenses are the best combination for our clients.” - Sam Nicholson, ASC - CEO and Founder, Stargate Studios

“I’m a longtime user of Fujinon lenses. The quality of the lenses has always been excellent, and from a technical standpoint it meets all our requirements. The Cabrio lenses in particular fit our niche market very well as a crossover between video and digital cinema. We buy those on a regular basis. We’ve also found the overall cost of ownership to be lower than competitors. Not only do we need fewer repairs on the Fujinon lenses, but when we do, it’s typically only for routine maintenance and service, and the costs are always lower than other companies. Plus, the service is great.” - Tom Dickinson, Chief Technology Officer, Bexel

“Since Nocturne Productions’ inception in the 1970s, we’ve only purchased Fujinon lenses and now have over 100 of their ENG, EFP and RoboCam lenses. Fujinon produces the most exceptional products in the industry, but they also provide unparalleled support. When we’re on a global tour with the biggest acts around, from Lady Gaga to The Rolling Stones, to Paul McCartney, they can’t stop in the middle of a show, and neither can we. If something goes wrong, it needs to be fixed right away, and the personal service I get from Fujinon can’t be matched.” - David Lemmink, Director of Engineering, PRG Nocturne

“We’ve been Fujinon customers here in the Nashville remote operations group for decades. There’s a reason we keep coming back. The quality and performance of Fujinon lenses is beyond reproach. Support from sales and service is unmatched, and they make a lens that meets our every need. Their new Cabrio line is the ideal mix of a cine-style lens with familiar broadcast-style controls. They were the natural choice for our entry into large-format imager technology.” - Danny Walters, Director, Remote Engineering, Music Group, Viacom Media Networks

“Fujinon’s new 99x has quickly proven itself as an effective tool for the "Entertainment and Award Show" side of the TV business. Awards shows such as the Oscars and Grammys need lenses with extreme optical and low light performance; they are placed into critical camera positions with challenging distances to the stage. Camera operators who specialize in these Entertainment shows prefer Fujinon lenses because of their smooth servo "feel," useful lens features, and reliable performance. Fujinon has earned a reputation in the live television production industry for quick and reliable service, emergency loaners, and dependable support.” - Keith Winikoff, Technical Director and Video Engineer for Entertainment and Live Award Show Productions

“The Fujinon Cabrio series has made a big impact on the way our clients shoot. Whether they shoot documentaries, live events or run-and-gun features, they love having the choice of a single PL-mounted zoom, where they might have had two zooms or set of primes. The servo motor serves ENG-style shooting flawlessly and it’s good enough for cinematic commercial shoots. The focal range, weight and quality put the Cabrio series in a class of its own.” - Erik & Oliver Schietinger, Owners, TCS

Have questions or comments about Fujinon lenses? Connect with us on our Facebook page, or tweet us.

Posted: 7/30/2014 1:27:04 PM by Thom Calabro | with 0 comments


NAB 2014 may be over, but our roster of accomplished and loyal customers is still going strong. If you attended the show and stopped by our booth, you undoubtedly noticed the many posters featuring some of the field’s most distinguished professionals, spanning the industry from cinematographers to engineers. For those who did not make it to Las Vegas, in a recent blog post we provided a sampling of the commentary that was featured. Now, we’re sharing it all. If you want to know how some of the most successful cinematographers are using Fujinon lenses in digital cinema, keep reading.

“I have used the Fujinon PL Zooms on my last two movies, Oblivion and Tomorrowland, and love them. They are sharp, no distortion, and are beautiful wide open.” -Claudio Miranda, ASC, Cinematographer

“I started using Fujinon lenses on Lone Survivor. The director, Peter Berg, wanted to shoot the film in a handheld, documentary-shooting style, switching focal lengths between takes instead of using prime lenses. When I came across Fujinon’s 19-90 at Keslow Camera, I was blown away. It holds the exposure consistently all the way through, and I love the image quality, sharpness, and how it holds the highlights. The lens flares are beautiful and I ended up using them as a lighting effect. It's the perfect handheld lens and it became my workhorse on Lone Survivor; I shot at least 70% of the film on the 19-90 and I don’t know how we could have done it otherwise.” -Tobias Schliessler, ASC, Cinematographer

“We’ve used Fujinon’s optical zoom lenses for the last 25 years. The first time I saw and tested the 18-85 PL Zoom lens, it was the best thing I’d ever seen and it’s still my favorite. Not only is it a T2.0 lens with an excellent range, but to me, 18-85 means I can put that lens on my camera, shoot 95% of all my interiors, and have excellent quality on film or digital. The T2 stop is extremely fast and honest; wide open, the zoom looks great. With all the zooms, like the 24-180 and the 75-400, when you focus, there’s hardly any breathing, and they match perfectly with Zeiss Master Primes and the Leica Summilux. They’re also extremely good with skin tones, so actors love them. We’ve used Fujinon’s zoom lenses on all kinds of pictures, including Iron Man 3, Dumb and Dumber, Fast and Furious 7, We Bought a Zoo, and RIPD, to name just a few. Quality-wise, they are the best there is right now.” -Otto Nemenz, Owner, Otto Nemenz International

“I grabbed the first Fujinon Cabrios in Hollywood and immediately put them on my new show, Real Husbands of Hollywood. I was impressed by the image quality and ergonomics. The director was thrilled—he could keep the spontaneity of the scene without having to wait for lens changes. This was a game changer for us. With the addition of the telephoto and wide versions, we can cover practically any shot with perfectly matching optics, with absolutely no compromise. We had some bigger, heavier lenses on the truck for special shots but we sent them back to the rental house once we saw what we had with the Cabrios. For handheld work, there just isn’t anything that comes even close.” -Bill Sheehy, Director of Photography

“Since I first used Fujinon’s 18-85mm, I’ve never gone back to another zoom lens. It’s the only one that gives you consistently superior optical quality from its widest setting to its longest setting, with no tradeoffs in between. The level of quality is something I’ve ever seen before in a zoom lens for digital cinematography and 35mm film. It’s a very fast lens that prevents me from having to make the kind of quality compromises other zoom lenses force cinematographers to make. The operation stays smooth and consistent in all kinds of weather conditions, and the lens hasn’t needed any maintenance or repair since I got it over a year ago. It’s given me a very versatile, capable tool to realize the director’s vision and the creative goals of the production. The 18-85 has raised the bar on optical excellence.” -Eric Steelberg, ASC, Cinematographer

“As a documentary DP, my lens is what brings me into the world of the story. The Cabrio 19-90mm is gorgeous, balanced, and the perfect range for vérité shooting.” -Tom Curran, Director of Photography, Night Train Pictures, Inc.
For even more insight, tune into our next blog, where we’ll share what some of the top production, technology and engineering pros have to say about using Fujinon lenses in broadcast and video applications.

Have questions or comments about Fujinon lenses? Connect with us on our Facebook page, or tweet us.

Posted: 7/15/2014 11:38:39 AM by Thom Calabro | with 0 comments


 

Fujifilm Optical Devices Director of Marketing & Product Development, Thom Calabro, introduces Fujinon's new PL 14-35mm T 2.9 Cabrio lens. The PL 14-35mm Cabrio lens has a detachable digital servo drive, and can be used as a self-contained ENG-style lens or cine style lens. This lens is ideal for shooters looking for a lightweight zoom that can be used as a handheld so they can capture wide angles in tight spaces.

Go to www.Fujinon.com, or follow us at www.Facebook.com/FujifilmOptical and www.Twitter.com/FujifilmOptical

Posted: 12/2/2013 11:11:23 AM by Thom Calabro | with 0 comments


We are pleased to share that Talamas Sales and Rentals, a broadcast equipment rental house in Boston, recently took delivery of the new FUJINON PL 85-300 (ZK3.5x85), making it the first in the region to receive the HDTV PL mount zoom lens.

Dave Talamas, president of the rental house, expects strong demand for the PL 85-300, following in the footsteps of the PL 19-90, with which they’ve had tremendous success.
Talamas credits the design of the two Cabrio lenses with providing exactly what the market needs: fast, lightweight, multipurpose lenses offering ideal focal ranges at a price point sweet spot.

While demand for the PL 19-90 has been very strong and feedback has been positive, Talamas customers were asking for something a little bit longer. When the PL 85-300 became available, the Talamas team knew the new lens’ longer focal length would be of great use for beauty shots, nature cinematography, sports documentaries, and other applications.

Talamas Chief Engineer Anthony Bottaro considers both lenses to be crossovers, as they combine the look, resolution, and other picture attributes associated with large sensor PL mount zoom lenses, but with the compact, lightweight “run and gun” functionality ENG/EFP shooters expect.

This lens seems to be particularly appealing to ENG shooters who like to be agile and follow the action. Talamas Senior Video Technician Daniel Ardizzoni tributes that to there being a digital servo handgrip right on the lens for zoom control in combination with today’s small, lightweight digital cameras.

While those shooting ENG-style are right at home with the servo unit attached to the lens, both Cabrio lens models are designed to allow cinematographers to detach the handgrip and shoot instead with industry-standard cine motors and matte boxes, as well as FUJINON wired or wireless controllers. The digital servo on Cabrio lenses has 16-bit encoding to ensure that lens data output is extremely accurate.
The FUJINON PL 85-300 offers a focal length of 85-220mm at T2.9 and 300mm at T4.0. Weighing 3.0kg with servo and 2.5kg without, the lens offers flange focal distance adjustment, 200-degree focus rotation, a short MOD, a macro function for close-ups of objects and the images captured cover a 31.5mm diagonal sensor size.

Have questions about the PL 85-300 or any of our other professional lenses? Leave a comment here, on our Facebook page, or tweet us.

Posted: 3/20/2013 2:39:48 PM by Thom Calabro | with 0 comments


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