Archive for August, 2014

PostHeaderIcon The Demand for Uncoated Optics

Normally when light strikes a glass surface a portion of the beam is reflected. This loss of light is compounded in lenses with many elements, which can lead to a serious reduction in light transmission and speed. More and better lens coatings can reduce the light loss dramatically enabling lenses to maintain high speed with good resolution.

Now it may be a figment of my imagination but lately it seems more and more DPs are employing uncoated lenses. At a time when 4K and higher resolution cameras are all the rage and most shooters are indeed insisting on them it strikes me as deeply ironic and even macabre that many shooters are choosing to capture images with vastly increased flare and much much less resolution.

Of course, resolution, like wardrobe, music, and everything else, is and always has been another function of the visual story. For decades shooters used diffusion filters, metal gratings, and silk stockings, to effect a scene, to add fog or atmosphere, and yes, reduce resolution.

The great director Sidney Lumet once said that story is the conduit through which all decisions flow. The lowering of resolution is simply another storytelling device to be used and abused by shooter-storytellers of every stripe. The use of uncoated optics (as in the case of my current project shooting in Japan) is simply a reflection of this craft-oriented thinking.