In his body of work over the years, Rodney Charters, ASC, CSC, has traveled the world lensing a multitude of projects that range from documentaries to feature films to episodic television dramas. But he is perhaps best known for his work as DP on the hit television show 24, which aired for more than eight years on the Fox network and established new standards for hand-held camera work. Currently, Mr. Charters is DP of the SHOWTIME drama series Shameless, where he has taken his craft to a new level of creativity and originality using Angenieux S35mm zoom lenses, including the new Optimo 45-120mm.
He says, The Angenieux 15-40 and 28-76 lenses are great for close focusing and with them I was able to emulate a lot of what I did with 16mm back in the day. But on this new show, Shameless, were very confined with lots of people on set, lots of kids and lots of movement. Because of this, we found we were often putting on longer primes to get a better close-up on the B camera. The 76 just wasnt long enough. Needless to say I was thrilled when told that Angenieux was coming out with a lightweight longer lens.
The Angenieux Optimo 45-120mm S35mm zoom was unveiled at the 2011 NAB show and shortly thereafter Mr. Charters had his hands on a prototype model. Offering everything he was looking for, the 2.7X lens weighs only 4.3 pounds and features a 320-degree focus rotation with over 50 precise focus witness marks. It has an extremely fast aperture (T2.8 wide open) and when paired with an Optimo 1.4X extender, the zoom goes to 168mm at T.4. With a 2X extender, the focal length can be pushed all the way to 240mm at T5.6. Outstanding contrast and color reproduction and short focus distance of only three feet round out the features that make the Optimo 45-120mm zoom the ideal lens for hand-held shooting.
The 45-120mm lens hasnt been off the B camera since we got it, said Mr. Charters. Its fantastic because its wide enough to be a B camera coverage lens. Much more exciting though is the fact that it pushes through to 120 for a 2.8 lens. Its very sharp and proving to be a perfect device for our show. Im sure theyre going to sell lots of them to DPs who need to go to a longer lens.
Mr. Charters developed his talent for hand-held shooting in the documentary genre but it was in television episodic work where he honed his skills and helped to pioneer a revolution in shooting style.
He says, In my early 16mm documentary work, I particularly liked the Angenieux 9.5-57mm lens because it was a short, wide focusing lens which enabled me to get over peoples shoulders and still push in for close-ups to show what they were handling and what they were doing with their hands. Earlier models didnt have the close focusing ability but the 57mm was the first lens where you felt that you could embrace the people who were on camera.
He goes on to say, Interestingly, with 24, we evolved the hand-held shooting style which was very energetic and compatible with the spirit of Kiefer Sutherlands ragged life. We tended to be on much longer lenses and, again, when Angenieux introduced the close focusing 15-40 and 28-76 lenses, I was able to emulate the close-up work I did on 16mm.
In the television series Shameless, the Angenieux 15-40mm and 45-120mm lenses and cameras are used on light weight rods and, according to Mr. Charters, for the first time they have a long zoom with relatively long reach that gets a satisfying close up at 20 feet with a hand held.
Inside or outside, in terms of creativity, what the 45-120 lens has going for it is that its a very sharp, compact and fast, longer zoom which perfectly complements the wide 15-40 lens, he adds. I think you could get away with those two lenses and a 2X extender and it would be perfectly okay for a show. For the style of shooting where everything is handheld like the 24s and Entourages and our kind of show, this is the lens. There really is no other.
Mr. Charters concludes, The 3 short Angenieux zooms 15 to 40, 28 to 76, & 45 to 120 are revolutionizing the way we shoot television. With their fast, light weight and close focusing they are the perfect tools for the organic handheld digital age.
The new Optimo 45-120mm lens covers up to 32mm image circle making it an ideal choice for virtually any PL mount camera available on the market today. It was designed with similar specifications as the award winning family of 15-40mm and 28-76mm lightweight Optimo lenses. It perfectly complements the other lightweight Optimo zooms to create a unique, three zoom lens system with total combined focal range of 15-120mm. With the Optimo lightweight zoom lenses it is possible to take fewer lenses on location without any sacrifice in performance, and without the excess weight.