Television camera lenses

Bob Pank#

Author: Bob Pank#

Published 1st November 2010

This is a glass-to-glass report with a difference, starting at front-end of the video production chain and staying there. Given the speed of development in almost every other branch of television, it is easy to overlook the advances taking place in optics. Until, that is, you need a wider capture angle than your existing kit can deliver or you want to post-repair a barrel-distorted Nelson's Column to remove the hint of banana.
Abakus' Super Hi-Vision lens is designed for use with the NHK-developed Super Hi-Vision television system. Sixteen times higher than the resolution of 1920 x 1080-line HDTV, Super Hi-Vision delivers 7680 x 4320 pixels. The lens provides a picture diagonal of 180 degrees and a maximum aperture of F4.0.
BandPro exhibited at IBC2010 the new Leica Summilux-C line of PL aspheric mount prime lenses for film and digital capture. The company claims these to be superior to any lenses it has yet seen. All Leica Summilux-C lenses share a uniform length, 95 mm threaded lens front, distance focus scales and similar location of focus and iris rings, allowing quick interchange of lenses. Mount and lens barrel are titanium. The lenses weigh between 1.6 and 1.8 kg. Available worldwide from Band Pro, they will initially be offered in focus lengths of 18, 21, 25, 35, 40, 50, 75, and 100 mm. Product delivery is scheduled for Q4. Additional focal lengths will be introduced later.

Canon's recently announced HJ14ex4.3B is claimed to be the widest angle HD broadcast lens ever put on the market. Focal length is 4.3 mm and the angular field of view widens out to 96.3 degrees. Zoom ratio is 14x reaching to 60 mm (120 mm with extender). Low colour aberration, ghosting and picture distortion are claimed.
Another claimed Canon 'world's first' is the HJ15ex8.5B KRSE-V portable HD zoom lens with optical image stabilisation. An HD alternative to Canon’s J13x9 KRS VAP SDTV lens, this offers a higher zoom ratio and wider angle. Canon’s 'Vari-Angle Prism' provides image stabilisation throughout the whole zoom range from telescopic to wide angle. Four stabilization modes are accessible to meet a variety of shooting conditions.
Fujinon announced at IBC four new B4 mount lenses are designed for 3D HD production. The HA23X7.6BEZD-T5DD (pictured) offers a 23x zoom with a focal length of 7.6 - 175 mm (15.2-350 mm with 2x extender). The HA16X6.3BEZD-T5DD offers a 16x zoom with a focal length of 6.3-101 mm (12.6 - 202 mm with 2x extender). The HA18x7.6BEZD-T5DD incorporates an 18x zoom with a focal length of 7.6 - 137 mm (15.2 - 274 mm with 2x extender). A fourth HD lens, the HAs18X7.6 3BZD-T5DD, is an 18x zoom with a focal length of 7.6 - 137 mm with no 2x extender. All four lenses include Fujinon’s Inner Focus, Zoom Limit, and Quick Zoom features, with an optional 16-bit encoder.
Polecam recently announced two new additions to its range of lenses. The HRO 69 (High Resolution Optics) is a high quality 3.5 mm lens designed specifically for use with latest-generation 1/3 inch miniature 3-CCD HD cameras. Compact split head cameras have become standard HD video production tools in recent years but traditional lens manufacturers have not responded to demand for high-quality optics. The HRO 69 delivers far higher resolution images than any comparable lens. Compatible with cameras such as the Toshiba IK-HD1, Iconix RH1, Panasonic GP-US932 and Ikegami MKC300, it has a 3.5 mm focal length, 69 degree horizontal angle of view and F2.2 to F16 aperture range. Features include back focus, a special bump cover to protect the lens front, and a 40.5 mm filter thread adapter option. Stainless steel locking screws for aperture and focus adjustment are provided plus spare lens caps. Weight of the lens is 159 grammes, length is 50 mm and diameter (without filter adapter) is 37 mm.
The Theia MY125M ultra-wide-angle effects lens made its European debut at IBC, Polecam having recently been confirmed as official broadcast industry distributor. Used in Toshiba's Space Chair Project and the mid-summer South African international football tournament, it is designed for sports coverage where an entire goal mouth needs to be captured or for capturing video content in confined spaces such as a car. On a larger scale, it allows huge areas of a stadium to be covered from a single viewpoint without need for a pan-and-tilt unit. Barrel distortion is claimed to be less than 3 per cent.
Schneider-Kreuznach's recently announced range of Cine-Xenar PL-mount lenses are specifically designed for digital and 35 mm cameras. Features include a 33 mm image circle for coverage of 2K/4K cinema, Canon 7D, and Canon 1D MKIV, focus down to 25 cm from sensor plane, flare suppression, 18-blade iris and 102 mm filter thread. Canon EF and Nikon F mounts are available.
Thales Angenieux has extended its line of HD video lenses with the introduction of a 14 x 4.5 HD Video Wide Angle Lens. The new 14x4.5 AIF.HD ENG lens is a companion product to Angenieux’s 19x ENG and 26x telephoto HD video lenses as all three HD Video lenses in the line offer the longest zoom range in their respective categories.
Carl Zeiss has responded to the growing trend of using using DSLR cameras for video production by introducing the Compact Prime CP.2 range of lenses. These can be used with a PL mount, F or EF mounts. Zeiss will also soon be offering the Compact Prime CP.2 lenses with Micro 4/3 and Sony A mounts.
The strangest idea in broadcast optics, Sony's proposed monocular 3D camera, appears to been quietly dropped as I saw no sign of it at NAB or IBC this year. Sony showed a prototype 3D shoulder camcorder at IBC with a pair of traditionally spaced lens assemblies peeping out through a single protective glass plate. Too early to ask the price yet but this is a potential competitor to Panasonic's $21,000 AG-3DA1 which made its first European appearance at the same show.
CES2011 meanwhile looks set to be a hotbed of consumer 3D camcorders and 3D cellphones. If you think Sony, Panasonic and the LED display manufacturers lack the clout to make 3D a consumer 'must-have', wait until Apple wakes up to it.

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