Ask the Experts with True Lens Services


Why should I have a lens serviced?
A camera lens is not actually a sealed unit, though it may look as though it is. When you pull focus or zoom the lens, cells of glass within it start to move which results in pressure being created on one side of the cell and a partial vacuum on the other. This vacuum will suck in the surrounding air and any airborne contaminants. In a clean studio environment airborne contamination levels are minimal, however, if you were filming for example in a desert warzone then it would be completely different. Most ENG type lenses rely on lubricated anodised aluminium to anodised aluminium contact and when abrasive substances mix in with this lubrication it effectively creates a form of grinding paste!
Should I have a regular service or wait until I notice something?
If you look at a lens and see dust gathering around any of the external parts of the lens then there is a pretty good chance that there is also some on the inside, in which case a complete service would be recommended. There is no fixed rule about the regularity of servicing as it is down to the frequency and conditions of use. As an example a car in Los Angeles would need an oil change approximately every 3 months as the traffic is so bad, whereas here in the UK we manage with 12 month intervals so common sense and logic should prevail.
What will I notice first when my lens needs servicing?
Zoom and focus rings will feel, and possibly sound gritty when rotated with sand type contamination whereby a softer dust type of contamination could leave the rings feeling tighter as it may cause the grease to thicken.
Will the lens be as good as when it was new?
True Lens use approved manufacturer’s own greases so the lens should feel the same as it did when new. We spend a lot of time setting up the optics during the service process and pride ourselves on having shipped out lenses to customers who have reported them to be ‘even better than new’.
We have a filming project in freezing conditions – will this affect the operation of our lenses?
We have had customers take lenses up Mount Everest and in these situations we ‘winterize’ the lens.
By using grease with a lower viscosity the lens can function correctly in the lower temperature ranges.
It is also important to remember that a lens will need to be ‘de-winterized’ after such a trip though.
Is there a typical cost for service?
For a typical SD/HD ENG type lens (e.g. Canon J8 through 22, or Fuji A10 through 22) we charge £345 for a complete strip down to the last component, clean and de-grease all glass and metal surfaces, re-lube where required with manufacturer’s approved greases, re-build and check on the collimator, projector and camera.
What is the turnaround time?
We do ask customers to tell us when they need their lenses back as this helps us to prioritise our workload. If a customer specifically needs a rapid turnaround then we will always endeavour to accommodate them but most of our clients give us the flexibility to work around these requirements.
Why does a lens go through infinity?
Firstly, a cameraman will rarely believe what a manufacture tells him! By going beyond the infinity mark and back again it gives a cameraman the opportunity to attain what he sees as a sharp focus.
Secondly, the aluminium construction of a lens has the potential for linear expansion when exposed to rapid variations of temperature. By setting a lens exactly to infinity you could lose any flexibility that may be required under such circumstances.
Why do lenses have a back focus?
A lens can go on a variety of different cameras with beam splitters, mounts and CCD’s all of which have a tolerance, hence a degree of flexibility is necessary which is what the back focus facility offers.
How do I assess if a scratched front element is repairable?
Most elements can be reworked, but it’s a question of how they will perform afterwards. When polishing a lens element there are some important factors, in order of importance, to consider:
The curvature of the surface
The radius of the curvature
The centre thickness of the element
The last but least critical aspect of these factors is the one that is most affected by the polishing process.
As a basic rule of thumb, if you can dig your finger nail into the scratch then it is probably irreparable. Some lenses come in with welding damage which whilst looking a general mess does not actually ‘dig in’ to the glass so they usually polish out successfully. A single side re-polish starts at £280 and can go up to £1000 for the larger elements.
Certain front elements such as in the Fuji A10 and the Canon J11/HJ11 use aspheric glass which cannot be re-polished and therefore have to be replaced.
How can I prevent this type of damage?
Using a good quality optical flat is the best and most cost effective way to protect your front element.
Any high street camera shop can supply one but bear in mind the quality of the product against the filming to be done. A period drama for TV filmed using a high quality lens will merit a high quality protector with an anti reflective coating. Filming the local car rally or stock car racing however could justify using a much cheaper product.
What is an anti reflective coating?
Every glass surface has the potential to lose 5% of light on each surface, so for a lens with 5 elements that is a considerable loss of light. Had anti reflective coatings not been invented then the zoom lens, with around 20 elements, would never have made production. Put 4 or 5 sheets of window glass together and you’ll get the idea.
Magnesium Fluoride was originally used reducing the light loss to around 1%. Since then broadband multi layer coatings have been developed reducing it significantly to around 0.1% loss.
The coating is applied in a vacuum chamber after polishing.
Who is the best lens manufacturer?
They are all good and it would be unfair to single any one out as ‘the best’. Every cameraman will have his own personal preference.
What is the best way to transport my lens?
Certainly not in a jiffy bag which is how some have arrived with us- suffice to say they are not returned that way!
A cameraman without his lens is a bit like a taxi driver without his taxi. These are expensive, precision optical instruments and should be treated with due respect and care and not shipped in a shoe box. In the absence of a flight/Peli case we use a large double walled cardboard box with the lens sealed in a polythene bag, then bubble wrapped and submerged in poly chips to protect it against any impact.
Ideally the lens should be removed from the camera body and set to narrow angle at close focus.
How do I clean the glass?
Better still, don’t get it dirty in the first place! But if you do, start by using a puffer bulb to blow away as much debris as possible without touching the glass. Then gently use a camel-hair brush, starting in the centre moving in circles towards the outer edge. When there is no evidence of dust or dirt use a lens cleaning tissue with an appropriate cleaning chemical.
Can I support a matte box on my lens or do I need a support system?
Most matte boxes are not particularly heavy and they can be clamped on to a lens quite satisfactorily. However, some cameramen feel that using a support system makes the whole outfit feel more secure and takes the weight off the actual lens. Once again it is down to personal choice and whether you have to take into account the extra time, weight and cost of a support system.
The zoom on my lens is getting noisy and the mic is picking it up, what does this mean?
This is most likely to be a motor fault. The motors are fitted typically with a 50:1 or 100:1 gearbox which is the weakest part of the system. As they wear they start to generate a bit of noise.
The actual optics of the lens shouldn’t make much noise at all except maybe a little on the servo side.
My lens is very old and no longer in production, can you still help?
We have the facility to manufacture most components in house with our two CNC milling machines and a CNC lathe. Many plastic components can be replaced with aluminium ones to give the lens an even longer life.
What is the life span of a lens?
If you maintain your lens correctly it will last you a lifetime. We currently have one in our workshop that was purchased over 30 years ago and with regular servicing should easily be capable of another 30 years filming!

Tags: truelens | iss027 | lens | servicing | canon j8 lens | fuji a10 lens | cnc milling | N/A
Contributing Author N/A

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Contributing Author Dick Hobbs - new Click to read or download PDF
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Contributing Author Phil Vinter Click to read or download PDF
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Contributing Author Olivier Karra Click to read or download PDF
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Contributing Author Bruce Devlin - new Click to read or download PDF
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Contributing Author Jonathan Harrison Click to read or download PDF
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Contributing Author David Fernandes Click to read or download PDF
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Contributing Author Sam Deans Click to read or download PDF
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Contributing Author Malcolm Harland Click to read or download PDF
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Contributing Author Antonio Morais Click to read or download PDF
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Contributing Author Tom Pidsey Click to read or download PDF
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Contributing Author Ruta Kairyte Click to read or download PDF
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Contributing Author Charlie Watts Click to read or download PDF
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Contributing Author Stephen Brownsill Click to read or download PDF
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Contributing Author Lorna Garrett Click to read or download PDF
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Contributing Author David Schleifer Click to read or download PDF
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UHD 4k and HDR Picture Quality
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Contributing Author Tobias Kronenwett Click to read or download PDF
Artificial Intelligence and Economics
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Contributing Author Dick Hobbs - new Click to read or download PDF
Security, Identity and Privacy
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Contributing Author Bruce Devlin - new Click to read or download PDF
The Ongoing Evolution of Subtitling Technology
Dean Wales As a subtitling technology developer and manufacturer we’re currently and frequently hearing remarks along the lines of us ‘having it easy’ at the moment. This has typically spun out from the fact that there hasn’t been any really significant and therefore demanding technology shifts in the industry that have affected us for a while.
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Contributing Author Dean Wales Click to read or download PDF
Tips and Tricks to Giving Sci-Fi a New Look
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Contributing Author Mathieu Marano Click to read or download PDF
Slow Motion Video Techniques
Phil Vinter Well, those kinds of higher frame rates still pretty much belong to the big guns. The Phantom Flex will give you 2,000 frames a second at ultra HD or 1,000 fps at 4K. It produces truly stunning images, but at a price that is beyond the reach of all but those with the biggest budgets. The camera retails at a cool £100,000 (I’ll have three please) with a daily hire out charge of around £3,000 (including lighting and a technician). IDT’s OS series cameras produce equally high quality images at a cheaper price, but you’re still talking tens of thousands.
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Contributing Author Phil Vinter Click to read or download PDF
How to shoot the perfect lighting mix
Alan Ipakchian Advances in high-quality LED lighting over the past couple of decades might be one of the best things that’s ever happened to broadcast and cinema production. Compared to traditional tungsten fixtures, LED lights offer powerful operational and financial benefits from longer life and lower energy bills to brighter, more consistent light and greater control over color temperature. LEDs generate much lower heat and are relatively cool to the touch, meaning they can be used in much smaller rooms and studios without sweating out the talent and crew or damaging property. Plus, compared to traditional tungsten bulbs, LED lights are virtually maintenance-free and can deliver tens of thousands of hours of lamp life.
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Contributing Author Alan Ipakchian Click to read or download PDF
Broadcasting Indoor Sky Diving
Daniel Harker Barnes When you say you’re broadcasting skydiving, there are two types of reactions. One is the creative, who’ll say something along the lines of “Wow. Those shots must look great” and other is the engineer who’ll say “That must be a real hassle to get all the infrastructure in and secure.”
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Contributing Author Daniel Harker Barnes Click to read or download PDF
What is Serial Communication
Mike Colyer

Don’t get me wrong - the advent of IP technology has done wonders for the broadcasting universe, especially here in Special Cams land where changing a setting could have involved a rather long walk and climb to a remote camera location! Nevertheless, this said, I still feel that serial communication is a huge contender - not only just in the realm of odd robotics systems, but also across broadcast in general.

In this article, I will walk through the very basics - introducing a few different types of serial and how they work.

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Contributing Author Mike Colyer Click to read or download PDF
The Pitfalls of Online File Sharing and Sending Services
Mike Nash Easy-to-use, readily-accessible, and consumer-oriented, online file sharing platforms such as Dropbox and Google Drive are, to end users, a pleasant replacement to older file transfer methods such as FTP. FTP is complex to use and requires IT intervention to make almost any change. The pain associated with FTP, which was developed in the 1970s, is one of the factors that opened the door for the rise of online file sharing services in the workplace.
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Contributing Author Mike Nash Click to read or download PDF
Betting Industry Transformed by Video Technology
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Contributing Author Chris Thornton Click to read or download PDF
Opting In or Opting Out
Peter Savage 2 Peter Savage, CEO of Azule, explains whether you should opt in or opt out of the current red tape nightmare facing businesses large and small.
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Contributing Author Peter Savage 2 Click to read or download PDF
TVFutures : Bouncing Back
Jane Lawrance When I arrived at the University of Portsmouth three years ago, I would never have thought in my wildest dreams I would end up where I am now. My time at university has been eye opening, informative and fun. Of all the lessons I have learned in the past three years, resilience is the one that has taught me the most. Starting out in the television industry is hard. Like many others, I’ve applied for graduate job after graduate job and been pipped to the post and rejected many times. I have also started projects and been faced with a variety of unexpected setbacks. Yet, my drive to enter this industry remains just as strong because bouncing back is the joy of resilience.
Tags: iss131 | portsmouth uni | graduate | job | Jane Lawrance
Contributing Author Jane Lawrance Click to read or download PDF
Transforming asset management and monetization
Chad Hamilton FremantleMedia is one of the largest global television-production companies in the world — with one of the biggest and most valuable catalogs. We operate in 36 markets, creating, producing, and distributing content across traditional TV and digital platforms at a rate of more than 10,000 hours of programming per year.
Tags: iss130 | freemantlemedia | core | wazee | Chad Hamilton
Contributing Author Chad Hamilton Click to read or download PDF
TV Futures, Tales on Location
Georgia Thirtle If I think back to last May, I was just finishing my second year at the University of Portsmouth, studying Television and Broadcasting, and winding down for the summer. Then out of the blue I got a message from my course leader, saying I might be getting a call from someone who was a location manager working for Raider productions, you know, the production company behind the upcoming Tomb Raider film, I mean, what!?
Tags: iss130 | portsmouth university | tomb raider | cci tv | ccitv | Georgia Thirtle
Contributing Author Georgia Thirtle Click to read or download PDF
Tried and tested: DPA d:vice
KitPlus KitPlus recently took delivery of an interesting piece of equipment for review. We like our iPhone gadgets here. For us, useful iPhone gadgets started when the Olloclip lens gave us a wide angle adaptor. This was a good start, finally evolving into a proper tool when Ziess produced the Exolens system for the 5,6 & 7 series iPhones. Around the same time as the Olloclip came out we were testing the Fostex AR4i which was a very exciting development at the time. You have a portable device, that you carry everywhere with you, connected to the world but with very limited audio capabilities. A stereo interface with decent microphones was a real boon!
Tags: iss130 | dpa | dvice | iphone | journalist mic | filmic | ios | microdot | KitPlus
Contributing Author KitPlus Click to read or download PDF
Grand slam IPTV and digital signage platform
Joe Walsh Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, is home to major league baseball’s Kansas City Royals. Built in 1973, “The K” has a proud baseball legacy, and goes down in history for winning two World Series championship titles; one in 1985 and another in 2015 — exactly 20 years apart. The most recent win brought a resurgence of baseball fever to the stadium, hosting more than 2.7 million fans during its 2015 winning season.
Tags: iss130 | iptv | vitec | eztv | Joe Walsh
Contributing Author Joe Walsh Click to read or download PDF
The shining star of Dancing On Ice
Rod Aaron Gammons Lighting is an incredibly important part of any TV production, and it can make a huge difference to what is seen on-screen. If the right lights are used in the right way, it can create a mood, set a tone and convey a certain atmosphere.
Tags: iss130 | rotolight | led lighting | anova pro 2 | chris yacoubian | Rod Aaron Gammons
Contributing Author Rod Aaron Gammons Click to read or download PDF
VR and the importance of tracking
KitPlus I would like to begin this article by clarifying what we at Shotoku mean when we talk about VR in live production. It’s not the production of immersive, 360 content where you need to wear a headset; we are talking about virtual studio (VS) and augmented reality (AR) work, such as placing graphics into a green screen environment or physical set. The technology used for this work is entirely different, though equally specialist – therefore it is important to understand the challenges of this kind of production in order to make informed kit choices.
Tags: iss130 | shotoku | vr | live production | KitPlus
Contributing Author KitPlus Click to read or download PDF
Out of the box: Sennheiser Ambeo VR microphone
Jon Pratchett 2 The use of 360 video, especially on platforms like Facebook and YouTube is really starting to take off. Gone are the days when you needed to buy multiple GoPros and rigs in order to get something decent looking. Now players like Insta360 and even GoPro with their fusion 360 camera are providing single camera, high quality solutions, enabling the masses to put out reasonable quality, certainly watchable, 360 video.
Tags: iss130 | vr | virtual reality | audio | ambiosonic | Jon Pratchett 2
Contributing Author Jon Pratchett 2 Click to read or download PDF
Six steps for award winning sound design with Jungle Studios
Chris Turner Few can argue that great sound design is one of the most important elements to any moving picture. Mute most horrors, and the difference in fear factor will be enormous. Visualize Jaws or Star Wars, and John Williams’s iconic score will instantly come to mind.
Tags: iss130 | jungle studios | fairlight | blackmagic design | davinci | Chris Turner
Contributing Author Chris Turner Click to read or download PDF
Technological advances in the broadcast industry
Alan Wheable Since it is Omnitek’s 20th anniversary this year, I thought it would be interesting to look back over the technological advances in the broadcast industry over the last few decades and look at the similarities between then and now.
Tags: iss130 | omnitek | test and measurement | smpte 2110 | untra tq | 2022 | sdi 2022-6 | Alan Wheable
Contributing Author Alan Wheable Click to read or download PDF
NAB is all about people
John Smith -new The relative success of NAB is down to people. The individuals we meet, the relationships we make and renew with customers and the desire to work together to develop a technology solution to any given challenge.
Tags: iss130 | media links | nab | mdp 3020 | md8000 | John Smith -new
Contributing Author John Smith -new Click to read or download PDF
How IP-based KVM can improve workflow in broadcast control rooms
John Halksworth One of the most significant shifts the broadcast industry has seen over recent years is the adoption of IP technology as a standard infrastructure across the entire broadcast workflow. IP provides a network suitable for routing audio, video and control around a broadcast facility and is providing the answers to many industry challenges.
Tags: iss130 | kvm | adder | adderlink | alif100t | John Halksworth
Contributing Author John Halksworth Click to read or download PDF
Reliable back-up at the Music City Bowl
Sam Gordon WLEX – LEX18 – is the NBC affiliate in Lexington, Kentucky, and part of the Cordillera Communications Group. As a very popular local station with a broadcast area that covers 40 counties across central Kentucky we have a big commitment to news, broadcasting more than seven hours of live programming on a typical day.
Tags: iss130 | wlex-tv | dejero | engo | gobox | cellsat | Sam Gordon
Contributing Author Sam Gordon Click to read or download PDF
Why OTT needs multicast ABR
Damien Lucas Last year, Netflix’s global revenue reached $11 billion, with 24 million new names added to its subscribers’ list. Viewers are certainly making their preferences heard – and voting with their remote controls to show that over-the-top (OTT) content is here to stay.
Tags: iss130 | ott | abr | adaptive bit rate | cdn | dsl | lte | Damien Lucas
Contributing Author Damien Lucas Click to read or download PDF
Interview with Peter Rowsell, Polar Graphics
Polar If you don’t recognise the name Peter Rowsell instantly you no doubt would recognise him in person, from the famous ‘Pink Coconut’ parties during IBC (Brighton) in the 80s or the name ‘Polar Video or Polar Graphics’ both companies which he’s built up over the years.
Tags: iss130 | polar graphics | apantac | bluefish | cinedeck | focalpoint | mediaproxy | stardom | storagedna | Polar
Contributing Author Polar Click to read or download PDF
State of the Nation
Dick Hobbs - new

On the most recent occasion I was trimmed, my hairdresser had just returned from a holiday in Hawaii.

Where she thought she was going to die. She thought this because the state’s emergency alert system was triggered, sending messages across all available platforms, for 38 minutes, that a ballistic missile was about to strike. That, I suspect, is the sort of thing that casts a pall across your holiday.

Why did it happen? Essentially it happened because an operator selected the wrong menu item. “I feel very badly from what’s happened,” he is quoted as saying, in a somewhat mangled version of English which may at least in part explain his difficulties with menu items.

Tags: iss130 | alertsense | Dick Hobbs - new
Contributing Author Dick Hobbs - new Click to read or download PDF
Taking the lead in the HEVC and 4k revolution
Malcolm Harland There’s probably a good reason that BVE is held in late February — it offers you a few weeks to set your annual plans in place. Then, once you’ve decided on the opportunities you want to take advantage of and improvements you want to make, you have a chance to visit this massive exhibition to see the latest technological innovations that will help to bring your plans to fruition.
Tags: iss129 | garland | hevc | liveu | hc11000 | media excel | ntt | bws | lu600 | Malcolm Harland
Contributing Author Malcolm Harland Click to read