Angenieux + Steadicam
There are many tests and many opinions written regarding the excellence of Angeniuex Zoom lenses. Many likes and some dislikes. More or less every DOP uses them, because they became a standard in modern day productions. By my opinion, their versatility and quality in every aspect is second to none, but this time, I will not get in their optical and mechanical qualities.
As a Director of Photography, and steadicam operator I worked many times with lightweight Optimos, but there is one quality in this lenses that I never was aware of, and probably the reason why is that, somehow, I was always using only one zoom lens on set, for steadicam. It was usually Optimo-15-40mm, or Optimo-28-76mm.
A year ago I had a pleasure to test Optimo Anamorphics, (they were still prototypes at that point), here in Dubai.
And of course I had a little chat with Mr. Jean-Yves Le Poulain, and he told me one remarkable thing about Angeniux zoom lenses. The Center of Gravity (CG) of the Angenieux Lightweight Optimo Zooms, due to the special design is not changing during the zooming and focusing!!! And more or less, they are all the same weight (20grams difference) and same length! I was really amazed by this information.
As a steadicam operator, you just get used to balance the rig on the fly after the lens change, because even prime lenses from the same series, have different weight and different length, and due to this, a different CG! And knowing that Angenieux engineers were paying attention to CG of the lens while they were designing zoom lenses, was really remarkable. This kind of approach to lens design will make every Steadicam Operators life much easier. And is not only a benefit for stedicam use, but for any kind of camera stabilization device!
And finally, a couple of months ago I had a chance to use two Angenieux Lightweight Optimo Zooms on the set.
It was 15-40mm and 45-120mm. And if you check the specs on these lenses they vary in 20 grams in weight, and 20mm in length. Since my stedicam drop time is usually about 4 to 5 seconds, there was a little need for “tweaking” the rig after the lens change, but much less then with some prime lenses. If the drop time is under 3 seconds, not balancing was required at all!
So all I can say, from a steadicam operators point of view is, that Angenieux Lightweight Optimos are Steadicam operator’s best friend! It is much easier to have a zoom on the steadicam, than a prime, because you don’t change the Lenses so often. And with range from 15mm to 120mm, with two mentioned zooms above, you have all the focal lengths you need for steadicam use!!