Cinematography Mailing List - CML

35mm Long Primes


Hi everyone

My Director is allergic to wide lenses.

I'm looking for suggestions for 35mm format long primes, 600mm+. 800mm would be perfect, I need something very clean and sharp to match my Master Primes and the Optimo, preferably very fast too - around T2/2.8? I'm biasing the neg towards a cool grade so I'd also prefer a cooler than warmer lens if there was an option, although I can time out any chromatic bumps in the DI.

Has anyone used something suitable that they can recommend please?

Thanks very much in advance


Shane Daly

North London DP, UK

When talking focal lengths like this, you're really looking at still telephotos that have been converted with cine lens mounts. Optex, Century and others have converted Nikon and Canon lenses to different degrees, sometimes just changing the mounts and other times completely rehousing the glass. For 600 & 800, you're like dealing with 300 & 400 lenses with doublers. Can't recall off the top of my head is either are available in T2, otherwise they are T 2.8, and the doubler would eat two more stops. Abel has a number of these type lenses in Rental, as do pretty much every other rental house.

Mitch Gross
Abel Cine Tech

>>and if you want to shop in the US, there is the Clairmont 1000mm T 4.5.

I saw that years ago. It's a pretty impressive lens. As I recall, you mount the camera on the back of the lens, instead of the other way around. Also, there's an upright distance wheel so the assistant can look down the lens and see focus marks without looking away from the subject. The rationale is that if the assistant has to glance down at the lens for a mark they'll miss the action in an instant.


Art Adams | DP
San José | CA | USA
skype: ArtAtoms

>>Long...and...Fast, hmmm... Sounds like two angles of the dreaded production triangle; Fast, Good >>and Cheap.

The Canon & Nikkor stills telephotos all good choices.
As you test for the triangle of "long/fast/$" you might also try:

Leica Telephoto Lens System
Its modular and adjusts from...
2 Front Modules: 280mm T2.8, 400mm T5.6
3 Rear Modules: 280mm or 400mm T2.8, 400mm or 560mm T4, 560mm or 800mm

Its a great looking lens, you just have to "build" each focal length. Keslow Camera has it here in LA which is where I first saw it, not sure where else you can find it (was this a UK request?)

Don't forget: just a tad slower than t5.6 is the Century converted Canon 150-600mm, but think of it as variable focal length and it'll save you from moving the camera in/out 10 meters at a time to find the perfect frame size (and then new focus marks if they're walking in tight to camera)... and then the sun is gone.
Mark Doering-Powell
LA based DP

The long canon/century zoom isn't optically fantastic.
It's not 600mm, but the Hawk 150-450mm isn’t bad and I think its T2.8.

Dan Bronks

Personally I concur with Baz, the Leica telephoto system is really impressive.

Jake Polonsky
DoP London

>>My Director is allergic to wide lenses
>>I'm looking for suggestions for 35mm format long primes, 600mm+. 800mm would be perfect...

The Leica APO-TELYT-R lens system is one of the more impressive super-telephoto systems available. I have seen this system modified for cine application with great success. If I recall, Paul Duclos has significant experience modifying this modular lens system, which includes geared focus ring, expanded and geared aperture ring, PL mount, lens motor mounts, and necessary bridge-plate lens support brackets.

If memory serves, The Camera House has a complete Leica APO-TELYT-R system available, with the necessary cine modifications and accessories.

As others have indicated, this modular lens system is comprised of two primary lens heads, and a series of focusing modules allowing for a range of focal lengths and f-stops combinations including 280mm f/2.8, 400mm f/2.8, 400mm f/4, 560mm f/4, 560mm f/5.6, 800mm f/5.6 .

Depending on how fast of a lens you can end up needing, this will be one of the best options available going out beyond the normal 200mm / 300mm range of older, fast-aperture Nikon and Canon primes.


Jordan E. Miller
RentCam, Inc.
Florida USA

Thanks to everyone for all the replies.

The Elite sounds perfect - one for the future - but unfortunately I've used up all my leverage at this point, there's a financial aspect to the additional equipment and the equipment house's longest primes is only 200mm. So I've gone with the Hawk 150-450 T2.8 - My Director loved it! I used the anamorphic version in 2000 and it breathed horribly but this is the second generation I think and spherical, and it's better. I'll only be using it as a long vari-prime.

Now if anyone can share the secret of how to stop dawn catching me out at 4.30am I'd be grateful ;) Should be shooting this picture in winter really.

Thanks again, best to everyone

Shane Daly
London DP, UK


Thanks for the help. I ended up with the Hawk, Take2 haven't got the long primes and I can't push production any further..

Hope you're well.



Shane Daly

Director of Photography
UK Mobile: +44 (0)7973 445 428
UK Agent: +44 (0)20 8995 4747
US Agent: +1 (310) 474 4585

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