A New Era Captured by the FUJINON MK Series

In the last article, I wrote about the optical performance and body design of the MK Series of Cine lenses released by Fujifilm. This time, I'd like to talk about the usability and creativity of these products during actual shooting.

Aiming to shoot the dark green season at the end of May, I chose the location of "Tofukuji," said to be the oldest temple in Kyoto. First of all, I'd like to show off the shots I took.

The first thing I'd like to talk about in the introduction is the absolute wonderfulness of the FUJINON MK Series. While I don't mean to string together flowery words, these lenses showed me a level of performance that almost makes me never want to return to the filming of before using the PL mount. In addition to the perfectly beautiful image quality, the high level of mobility made possible by the compact body is truly the gem of FUJINON's technology. These really do feel like a new era of cinema lenses.

I used the Sony PXW-FS7 for shooting.

For this shoot, I used the already released MK18-55mm T2.9 as well as the MK50-135mm T2.9, scheduled for release in mid-July. Using two Sony PXW-FS7 cameras, we used the ATOMOS SHOGUN INFERNO for monitoring and 4K backup recording. Footage was shot at 60p in DCI 4K, aiming for high-speed work on a 24p timeline.

I think that the FS7 is the best camera to use with the E Mount FUJINON MK Series. It is capable of recording at DCI 4K/60p with 10-bit intra-frame rendering. We filmed using the S-Log3 gamma with the S-Gamut3.cine color space assuming post production for our digital cinema workflow.

Of course, being an E Mount, the FUJINON MK Series can also be attached to the mirrorless SLT α Series. While the FUJINON MK Series may not fit full-size sensors such as those on the α7R II due to the Super 35mm image circle, they are perfect for the crop modes on the α6500 and α7R II. In particular, the combination with the α6500 can be said to be the "world's smallest" cinema lens setup. Moreover, if shot at 4K / 24p, the cinema quality of this setup is comparable to other high-end cameras.

Overwhelming image quality and color thanks to FUJINON technology

As I mentioned it in the previous article, I believe the FUJINON MK Series is "changing the era." There are four reasons. The first is the high optical performance difficult to achieve with a still lens, and the mechanical mechanisms easy to operate in the field. Both standard for a cinema lens. The second reason is the ability to capture image quality that closes in on the quality of a single focus lens, despite being a zoom lens. The third reason is the surprisingly compact and lightweight construction. And finally, the surprising price. Although I already wrote many things about the optical performance and mechanisms of the lenses, I truly want you to know about the splendor of the image quality that can be obtained with the FUJINON MK Series.

First I'd like everyone to see a clip of the footage shot in S-Log3/S-Gamut3.cine. You can immediately see that the open aperture of T2.9 of the MK 18-55mm is fully utilizing the S-Log3 specs, boasting a whopping 14 stops. The light entering through the window and the sense of depth in the dark Japanese-style room are depicted with unspeakable beauty in 4K. Realizing the high capabilities of the lens, this footage can even be said to be one-cut exhausting the advantages of grading.

The filmed S-Log3/S-Gamut3.cine footage was stored for the time being using the official Sony "SLog3SGamut3.CineToLC-709TypeA.cube" LUT in a REC.709 color space, with color editing applied using DPX as an intermediate codec. A rough draft of editing was done using Adobe Premier Pro, while After Effects was used for further color correction and composition edits.

I'd like you to pay special attention to the gradation of the skin tone in the footage shot using the MK 50-135mm outdoors. Despite being a bust shot, the features of the face are beautifully conveyed, as if taking the texture of the skin into your hands. Even the textures of the kimono costume are wonderfully captured. Although the focus during this scene was moved from the maple leaf in front of the camera to the model's face, the FUJINON MK Series transitioned beautifully without breathing.

Although there are other scenes in which the focus moves in this work, there is no change of the angle of view which truly makes me realize that the video is created by a cinema lens. The torque of the focus ring is also exquisite. This area seems to have been succeeded firmly from the know-how and experience of FUJINON, creating cinema lenses over the years.

High optical performance enables "Zooming"

For this project, we took up the challenge of a composition taking advantage of "zoom." The FUJINON MK Series achieves "control of focus movement during zooming" and "control of optical axis misalignment during zooming" thanks to its high optical performance. Due to that, shooting scenes while utilizing the zoom function are possible. Since aperture, zoom, and focus rings on the FUJINON MK Series are all mounted with a 0.8M pitch, I attached a Follow Focus system to the zoom ring.

Although zooming isn't performed much in conventional cinema shooting, the high optical performance with this zoom lens really expands the possible shooting range. Because zooming is possible throughout the entire spectrum without dropping the T stop for both the MK 18-55mm and MK 50-135mm, being able to leave it up to your senses and create works that utilize zoom is a really attractive point.

Perfect exposure with a seamless iris

Thanks to the iris also being able to be moved seamlessly, very fine exposure settings can be made. Normally, since the aperture is adjusted on still lenses in 1/3 stops, delicate adjustments end up being difficult to make. In particular, deciding the exposure is the most important part when shooting in Log. For S-Log3/S-Gamut3.cine, since it is possible to get an image with the largest gradation scale when 18% gray matches with 41% luminance, we made sure to check wave forms over and over using the SHOGUN and external monitor, carefully deciding exposures with the cameraman for each cut.

As a director, I made sure not to focus the exposure too much on the face. Because I wanted to express the beautiful light pouring down onto Tofukuji, lighting was performed to show off the intersection of light and shadows at each place. During grading, I put a focus on the black colors, editing the image for color and brightness so as to create depth. I really felt that this post-production work flow was fitting of the FUJINON MK Series.

Ultimate Mobility

This shoot was completed with just a small team of four people - two cameramen and two assistants. Making use of jib cranes and rails as special equipment, the shoot progressed without any troubles. Being able to have all of the focal lengths we wanted to shoot with using only two lenses is truly a testament to the ultimate mobility of the FUJINON MK Series. With almost the same size as a bottle of water and a body that weighs less than a kilogram, the lens enables an unbelievably efficient shooting style. Film-makers should have no problem shooting handheld with the FUJINON MK Series.

If PL Mount, single focus cinema lenses were to be used for this shoot, the scale of the project, including the cost aspect, difficulty of operation, size of special equipment used, and number of staff, would have grown quite substantially. In order to obtain the focal length of 18mm - 135mm, six to eight single focus lenses would have to be carried at all times. If equivalent image quality can be obtained, I believe you can see how the new era of cinema style is made possible by the FUJINON MK Series. It might be possible to say that these are the perfect cinema zoom lenses, showing us the exact moment when a new shooting workflow is born.

Beginning the new era of owning an affordable cinema lens

The MK series tightly packs in FUJINON's technology honed from making cinema lenses over the years. With a manufacturer's retail price of 420,000 yen for the MK 18-55mm T2.9 and 450,000 yen for the MK 50-135mm T2.9, the two lenses as a set don't even hit 1,000,000 yen. With viewing angles of 18mm to 135mm useable at T2.9 throughout and FUJINON class image quality, I believe you can understand how unbelievable this price is. Although rental was commonplace due to the countless PL Mount cinema zoom lenses each costing 10x these lenses, at last the time has come to own a cinema lens. It's really a dream come true.


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