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The Awesome Foursome

The Awesome Foursome

Using the Lumix S f/1.8 series of lenses as a set opens a massive range of looks, perspectives, atmospheres and environmental coverage says Damien Demolder. Here’s a direct comparison of what each offers at different distances

The Awesome Foursome

There are now four lenses in the Lumix S f/1.8 series with a 5th, an 18mm wideangle, promised for the near future. They are of course available individually, and each offers users a great deal of joy as single-focal-length fast-aperture lenses that is neither costly nor weighty. Where the real strength of these neat lenses lies though is when they work as a set to offer a massive range of perspectives and viewing angles with which to convey the messages of the shoot. As a foursome they’ll provide a consistent look across an entire project whether that’s of stills, of video or of both, and users can be sure that changing focal lengths won’t produce a dramatic shift in the optical characteristics of the images created. Images and movie clips recorded using this awesome foursome will sit alongside each other in perfect harmony.

Not only will the results be consistent and harmonious though, as this set of lenses is intended to provide a coherent user experience too through a uniform design. As these lenses all weigh pretty much the same, are much the same length and have the same barrel diameter they can be swopped without gimbals needing rebalancing. As the focus rings are all in the same place focus-gear won’t need adjusting either. They all have the same filter thread too, so you’ll only need one filter of each type to fit them all, and your matte box will lift on and off with a minimum of fuss.

The Awesome Foursome

The other great thing about these lenses is not only do they all weigh a very similar amount, but that amount is very small. Together the set of four weighs 1260g, which is less than the weight of the Lumix S Pro 70-200mm f/2.8 lens on its own. The Lumix S 24-105mm is the only Lumix lens to cover all the focal lengths included in the set and that weighs 680g – but its maximum aperture is f/4 and not the fast f/1.8 advantage that these lenses offer.

Links to the Panasonic pages for each lens:

Views compared

The Awesome Foursome

The views offered by the lenses when the camera was 10m from the subject – top left is the 24mm and bottom right is the 85mm

To demonstrate the breadth in the range of looks this set of lenses offers I filmed a scene in which a pair of students discuss a lecture they have just been to – and at which they clearly were not paying attention. The opening shot of the scene is recorded with the Lumix S5 at 10 metres from the subjects and I shot the action four times - with the Lumix S 24mm f/1.8, the Lumix S 35mm f/1.8, the Lumix S 50mm f/1.8 and the Lumix S 85mm f/1.8 in turn from exactly the same spot. I then repeated the process from a 5-metre distance to see how the perspective change effects the way the characters are presented and how the environment recorded in the frame alters in appearance.

The Awesome Foursome

Trying to keep the subjects about the same size in the frame to demonstrate how the background and the perspective alters with each focal length change

For the next series of shots I tried to keep the characters the same size in the frame by getting in close with the 24mm and then moving gradually further away as the focal lengths increased. In these shots you will see that while the characters retain much the same presence in the shot, their relationship with the background changes as it shifts in prominence.

The Awesome Foursome

The closest focus position of the 50mm f/1.8

For the final series I wanted to show how the lenses perform at their closest focus positions. Again, for each lens I had to adopt a slightly different subject-to-camera distance but you may notice that the subjects don’t dramatically change size in the frame between the different focal lengths. In this test the perspective changes create very real differences in the way the background is presented, but the most obvious changes come about in the way the faces of the characters are affected by the close proximity of the lens. For this part of the series I’ve presented two examples for each lens, one of the boy with his face side-on and flat to the camera with some background details, and one with the girl filling the frame more and composed diagonally from corner to corner.

The Awesome Foursome

This grid shows the perspectives and angles of view you get with each lens at different distances

I used 20 takes to get all of the shots needed for the grid, but assuming you have all four lenses, four shooting positions and four shots in the scene you’ll have a choice of 256 different ways to cut your film together in the edit. And, of course, you can be confident the lens characteristics, colours and contrast in each clip will match perfectly for a consistent look for the whole piece.

Use this chart to decide the order in which you would assemble your four clips by picking an image you think should be the opener and then by choosing the next three in order according to the way you want to present the action. It’s quite a fun game, and has kept me occupied for ages.

The Awesome Foursome

The most obvious sequence comes from picking a diagonal line from top left to bottom right, so starting with the 24mm for the opener, the 35mm as you get closer, the 50mm so we can see the characters better and then the close-up at the end.

However, you might like to run them with less dramatic changes in the size of the characters in the frame by starting with the 85mm long shot, and then working from top right to bottom left using wider lenses as you get physically closer. Or you might like to mix it up and do something completely different. There are no rules, only lots of creative ways to show the same thing.

This video shows three alternative edits that take us from wide to long focal lengths, long to wide, and then a sequence that uses a mix of positions and focal lengths in a different order.

You can find more articles about these lenses and sample footage on this site here:

Features and sample footage – Lumix S 24mm f/1.8

More information on the Lumix S 35mm f/1.8

Features and sample footage – Lumix S 50mm f/1.8

Lumix Experience Facebook Group

If you have any questions on this piece, or any other, join the Lumix Experience Facebook Group where you’ll find other Lumix users and Lumix experts who will be delighted to help.

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