Cinematography Mailing List - CML

Extreme CU Cinematography


I'm on a small videoclip project that gona be shoot in S-16mm in two week.

For some scene, I'm going to shoot (very close) drops of water falling on a table and drop of water falling from a eye.

I don't know what I should do to get the best result as possible with the low budget I got to work with...use a macro lens or diopter filter...and what's gona be the difference in the result.

I'm not used with this kind of technique. about the film stock, filtration (can I still use some diffusion), the light, the DOF, etc. My main lens for this project gona be a Zoom 8-64mm Canon.


Bernard Clermont
Montreal - Canada

Typically, If I'm doing something extreme close, I reach for diopters... personal preference. For extreme close work, I usually also grab for Kino Flo -- micro flows are fantastic for placing right next to the lens (or in the mattebox if your far enough away to have one). Water can be tricky, especially coming out of a faucet dripping through air... Seems to me this might also call for a strobe situation, which would complicate things a little more unless you were able to backlight the water (mirror at the back of the sink?)

For the tear shot, I'd reach for a longer lens with diopter to keep the camera from talent's face as much as possible... Canon has an 11/165mm with a close focus to 3.5' that may work without a diopter (doing head math here, forgive me)...

Best of luck,

Jay Holben

I don't mean to slam Bernard but this seems like the kind of question that only arises due to the internet and its 'easy' access to information.

How can any advice Bernard gets here possibly substitute for *going down to the rental house and looking* at the various ways of approaching this shot?
I mean how hard could that be? And how else can he really tell what's 'gona' be the result?

Or (despite the low budget) shooting a test? 100' of 16mm is pretty cheap--if a student can pay for it, a DP should be able to.

A +3 diopter on the 8-64? Or a longer zoom lens with a diopter? A macro lens?
Maybe the macro function on the Zeiss 10-1? Perhaps (if he has a PL mount camera) a bellows rig?

All these techniques could work, as probably every CML subscriber knows. It's just a matter of what works best for *Bernard* and his particular situation.

Not to mention that this is about as basic a shooting question as there is.

Light level, depth of field, can you use diffusion? Those are all really good questions, exactly the ones to be asking. But the answers are not 'yes' or 'no,' but judgement calls. And that's why we (some of us anyway) get the big buck.

(For that matter there are probably plenty of ACs and gaffers on this list who would be happy to answer the questions, and happy to take over shooting the job, too.)

There's a lot of responsibility that goes with the job of DP. Not as much as being a pilot or MD of course. But I don't see how anyone can get out of doing a certain amount of homework in order to earn that title.

When a producer comes up to you and says 'Is this going to work?' would you rather say 'Yeah I know it will, in fact I shot a test, or 'Yeah, some guy I've never met before says it will.'

CML is great but it's no substitute for experience.

Best wishes (really),


If possible, I would avoid using diopters. At the extreme magnifications you need, they will introduce aberrations, especially lateral colour which will show as coloured edges.

It sounds like a job for a probe or borescope lens. This will allow you to ue a very small taking lens (typically less than an inch in diameter) close to the subject and about 15-18" away from the camera.

You should be able to get just under 1:1 magnification.

Ideal from the technical point of view yes, but they may not be compatible with your requirement for low budget. For example the OpTex Borescope rents out at £150.00 (Sterling) in the UK. Expect to pay about the equivalent in Canadian $.

Brian Rose

I just today transferred footage shot with my Aaton and a Nikor 55mm macro lens of an eye. It is incredibly sharp and certainly much better than past results with diopters.
I don't know if Nikors work on ari cameras but I'm sure there are other macro lenses available.

For Super-16, sounds like a good 1:1 macro lens would be your sharpest option for a water drop. If you think you'll end up at 1:1, keep in mind that you'll lose 2 stops. For the eye shot you'll probably be no closer than 2:1 which is 1 1/3 stop compensation.

Perspective is the same whether you're shooting with a 55mm or a 200mm at 1:1 magnification. The only thing that changes is how far away your camera is from the subject (200mm gives you more room to light). To give you an idea of how much room you'll have, consider that at 1:1 magnification the distances between film plane and nodal, and between nodal and subject, are

I would not use any diffusion unless you really wanted it very soft, since your depth-of-field is already tiny even at t-8+. This is very subjective.

I concur with others on the list that stacking diopters would not be ideal for such 1:1 sizes unless you must zoom. Diopters can look nasty on a zoom. And the 11-110mm Zeiss is only "macro" on the wide end, meaning you can focus to the front element, but not achieve 1:1 magnification ratios and you cannot zoom while in macro (zoom becomes your focus).

Mark Doering-Powell

This might be out of your budget, but the ARRI Shift and Tilt System allows for some really cool close-up photography. Not only does it have a bellows that allows you to get pretty close, but it also has a retro-adapter that allows you to turn the Shift and Tilt lenses around (front to back, so what was the front now points to the camera). PLUS there is a PL mount adapter that allows you to mount any PL lens on the Shift and Tilt bellows stage.

Stick an ARRI Macro 100 mm onto the Shift and Tilt bellows stage, and you are in like Flinn!

Of course, a simple ARRI Macro lens would also do the trick. They are very popular because they automatically compensate exposure when you change focus, allowing you to concentrate on more artistic issues than having to calculate magnification ratios and exposure compensations.

Once you set a T-stop, the lens will always keep that T-stop constant.

Remember, T stop is "True" stop, the ratio between the amount of light entering the lens and the amount that shoots out the end. If you get closer to a subject, less light comes in, so the ARRI Macros will open up the iris to maintain the same T-stop.


Marc Shipman-Mueller, Camera & Digital Systems Technical Representative
Arriflex Corporation;

And here was me thinking that it was the AC that looked after such things....:-)

BrIan RoSe
(I must be getting Old!!)

ECU My Way....

With my Aaton and standard Aaton mount, I do one of 2 things for close focus situations.

With the Aaton to Arri adapter, the screw mount, not the quick release, I loosen the screws, slide the lens forward in the mount, and snug it back up.

It works wonderfully. I use a paper or a business card so as to have something to gauge the distance.

Yes it is completely unscientific. Assistants pull there hair out as I ask them for the jewelers screw driver and a piece of paper, or better yet a business card
This is why I resist installing a PL mount.

Another technique is Nikkors and the Nikkor adapter for my Aaton. I use the nikor lens extentions and then away I go wether it is the 180 Nikkor or my 24mm

I even do it with my 5.9 Angenuex for that "In You Face" shot

Scott(and I often guess the stop too!) Mumford

But arri stop compensating macros do not work with arri Sr cameras.

Nick Paton
Director of Photography

Not even on a PL-Mount SR ?

Mark Doering-Powell

I am sure I have used an arri macro with an SRIII. They will never fit in an SRII with a T-bar. The view finder has to be in almost the vertical position for viewing. John Duclos would give you a Definate answer but I would get the rental house you get the gear from to check it
out first.


Actually, it does. You need, of course, a PL mount 16SR, either a converted SR2 or an SR 3 (PL mount is standrad on the SR3), and then you have to swing the viewfinder up a bit, and voila - you can use not only the Macros, but also the Shift/Tilt System on a 16 mm camera.

Now, neither ARRI Macros nor Shift/Tilt System was designed for 16 mm use, but I have talked to many rental houses that were happy that it worked none the less.


Marc Shipman-Mueller, Camera & Digital Systems Technical Representative
Arriflex Corporation;

I believe the barrels are to big to be accomodated Pl or non PL.

Nick Paton
Director of Photography

Nick, Marc is correct re. the regular eyepiece, but be aware that the SR 1& 2 video T-bar will not allow use of the longer focal length macros. The T-bar can be machined howeve to gain the neccessary clearance.

Best regards,

John Duclos (Technical Manager)

My rental company was unaware of this and told me that because of the viewfinder clearance, they would not work. Thanks for the info, I hate doing the maths. I find alot of the macros available at rental houses for 16 and super 16 are very piece meal. I am over joyed to hear of the macros working on PL SRs with the viewfinder swung up.

Nick Paton
Director of Photography

I enjoy the luxury of the primitive route, with Arri Standard mount lenses you just pull the lens out of the cavity a few mm !
Instant macro. AC can hold the feather pillow if needed !

Sam Wells

To be truly primitive... I once made an extension bellows out of a toilet paper tube!

Joe "I'll use anything handy" Di Gennaro
Director of Photography

Thanks John, I'll keep this in mind when shooting with a tap on a SR1 or 2.
I take it the SR3 accomodates the macros in a similar fashion except for the fact that the tap isn't a problem?

That is correct. On the SR 3 all you have to do is angle the eyepiece up, so the larger lens barrell will fit. Video assist, since the port is part of the handle on the SR 3, is not a problem


Marc Shipman-Mueller,

Camera & Digital Systems Technical Representative
Arriflex Corporation


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