CVP Large Format Test with ARRI

CVP hosted a Large Format event in collaboration with ARRI at the CVP & ARRI Creative Space. The CVP team set up a test with the ALEXA LF, ALEXA Mini (fitted with LPL mount) and ARRI Signature primes. The lenses were 18, 25, 35, 47, 75 and 125 mm. The event was overseen by CVP Account Manager Aaron George, who prior to joining CVP in 2017, spent almost 12 years at ARRI as UK Head of Camera Service.

Aaron explained, “We set it up as a very informal event, no presentations, just the chance to test and discuss the results with peers. It was an opportunity to look at how these cameras and lenses handled light, skin tones (with and without filters) and depth of field, especially with fairy lights in the background. 

[Collins Dictionary: Fairy lights are small electric lights that are hung up as decorations, for example on a Christmas tree.] 

Two studio sets were available, each with an ALEXA LF and an ALEXA Mini. The bar set was lit with ARRI SkyPanels, candles and fairy lights. The lounge scene had natural light from a large window augmented by SkyPanels. 

“One of the things our visitors found most fascinating about the Signature primes was the magnetic filter holder at the rear,” said Aaron. “It lets you add nets, glass elements, fishing line for streaking effects, aluminum foil, stockings and anything else. You can create completely different looks with the same lens.” Tests were viewed on a large Sony Trimaster EL OLED monitor.

The event attracted cinematographers, camera operators, focus pullers, 2nd ACs, members of the ACO, BSC, GBCT and Illuminatrix, producers, directors, film school faculty and students, editors and colorists. ARRI Product Managers Marc Shipman-Mueller and Thorsten Meywald were on hand along with Milan Krsljanin from ARRI and CVP technical staff to answer questions.

Aaron summed it up: “We had a good turnout with a lot of genuine interest in Large Format and the ARRI range. There have been a wave of people looking for vintage glass with a unique look. ARRI’s Large Format cameras and Signature Prime lenses, particularly with their magnetic filter holders, opened up the imaginations of DPs and Directors to see how they could achieve some unique looks.” 

ARRI’s test footage of the magnetic backs:

The test above compares the same scene in Large Format (Full Frame) and Super35. There’s a parallax error because the cameras are side by side. To calculate which lenses give you the same field of view at the same distance to the subject, and at the same aperture, divide the Full Frame lens by 1.4 or 1.5 and that’s the Super35 focal length to use. So, above left, the Full Frame lens was a 75mm ARRI Signature Prime on an ALEXA LF. And, above right, 75 ÷ 1.5 = 50mm Master Prime on ALEXA Mini.

Marc Shipman-Mueller of ARRI commented, “This shows the difference in depth of field and perspective nicely. It illustrates that you need a longer Large Format lens to get the same angle of view as Super35. This usually leads to a discussion of how longer focal lenses look more interesting and more natural for faces.” Also notice the bigger bokehs of the Large Format lens, and also how the background appears closer. 

Reprinted from Film and Digital Times February 2019 Edition #92

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