Green screen problem: "You spend more time lighting a screen that won't exist than lighting the people that do!" - Dariusz Wolski
Lenses - Nikon? Canon? Zeiss?
A good question... what lenses to use/buy
With DSLR's, Red Scarlet, AF100's and the like, becoming more mainstream we're starting to ask the question: what lenses should I buy/use?
Almost all the professional cameras offer different lens mounts and for those of you on Canon or Nikon there are adapters available for many other lens brands. And of course there's the price.
Since my dad was a Nikon user, I have become a Nikon user, however I find that Nikon & Canon are similar and both offer the same bang for the similar buck. Every six months or so I add another Nikkor to my collection (which is rather small when compared to others) but it's a great way to expand what I can offer.
Growing up in the TV industry I am so used to having a zoom lens that primes still feel alien to me. Most will tell you that primes are sharper, etc. but having a zoom gives me more freedom to compose and adjust (at least more quickly) and the idea of zoom lenses also means one or two good lenses is all I need to carry with me. I guess it depends upon what you're shooting and how much time you have to set your composition. Of course this is personal preference more than anything.
With smaller budgets and time constraints I think having the ability to work with high quality zooms makes good sense. If you're renting you can save money on having one or two zooms instead of 7 or 8 primes. If you're shooting with Nikon or Canon glass, I think that in general you'll produce fine looking images. In fact other than do side by side comparisons I doubt that most viewers would be able to spot the lens choice you've made.
The accessibility along with cost of these 'still' lenses makes them an obvious choice for many. Plus the fact that many of these lenses are much less than say, Zeiss or Cooke makes using them a convincing argument. But there's also a reason for these higher priced lenses. Especially if you're looking at lenses designed for cinema work.
If you have a PL mount camera you need to have PL mount lenses and if you've ever looked at the price of PL mount lenses you'll see that they start in the many thousands. And go up from there. A Zeiss CP.2 prime lens will cost around $4k. And if you want a cine zoom well, the cheapest I've seen is the DigiOptical 18-50 pl mount cine zoom. It has some decent reviews considering the price (although not much is known about this company it is suspected that these were the original lenses made for Red One's and just re-branded). The Red Pro 17-50 Zoom comes next at $6k. These get decent reviews as well. The ones I keep reading about are are the Angēnieux Optimo DP zooms but they also come with a very professional price tag of ~$21k. And the Zeiss lightweight zoom is around $29k. Not for the feint of heart it seems.
Matching lens sets for color is very important, especially for your poor color correct/grading op. If you are switching from one brand to another on the same (and even from one lens set to another within the same brand) you can introduce subtle hue changes. Different manufacturers lenses have different looks to their lenses so it is best to use a lens set from the same manufacturer if possible. That doesn't mean you are locked in, it just makes life easier down the road in post.
One of the things I don't like about DSLR zooms is the inability to use them on my matte box. Since I have invested in a matte box and have several 4x4 filters I would like to continue to use this instead of having to spend more money on screw on filters. Sure there are professionals that prefer using screw on filters to avoid the matte box altogether (Steve Gibby comes to mind) since this gives you more freedom in camera placement and also makes it more mobile.
One of the issues with the larger lenses is weight and mobility. In a typical 'video' lens you had an agreeable amount of weight to deal with but with some still lenses they can be unwieldy and way too heavy. Of course, it depends upon what you're doing and how/where you're doing it. I like the idea of being able to fine tune my composition by zooming a touch in or out, instead of moving the whole rig. I also understand that some zooms (if not most) are softer than primes, so again it depends upon what you're doing.
The big screen and still lenses? How well do they work if your final project is going to be shown in theaters? Other than one time, my work is generally seen on TV's. So can I get away with using still lenses (both zooms and primes) in my day to day work? I think yes to all of the above. I also think it comes with a caveat and that is you'll need to be a little more careful with a zoom versus a prime due to breathing (breathing is where the lens focus changes depending upon where you are in the zoom). As far as the glass is concerned I feel that you could easily fool most audiences most of the time and only the most learned and discerning folks could spot the differences. One of the biggest downfalls to using still lenses in a 'feature film' environment is the lack of professional focus markings, distance markings and more important the focus throw is much smaller. This is the most important to me as focus is critical and if miss the mark it is very noticeable, especially on a large screen. And since some people have large screens at home now it's nice to be able to ensure that you can produce quality content for them too.