So however simple to setup and smooth the motor is, does the range on the Fujinon MK Zooms make good enough use of it with their comparatively limited ranges of 18-55 & 50-135? Well, having shot with both lenses in various situations now, I would have to say definitively yes. Even the 18-55 as a conference wide can be made wonderful use of with the Chrosziel zoom, taking us from a big wide to a medium shot very slowly & smoothly to start a show, or an accelerating zoom out when the audience applaud, to the creep zoom in during a key speech, then nice constant zoom out to end the show. I found we were using the zoom much more than I’d expected to, not just because it was there, but because it allowed such smooth zooms we could reframe and offer a lot more than just full wide or full tele, while on shot! This made the experience of shooting a conference more interesting, and gave the vision mixer & editor more options from that angle.
Photograph by John E Fry BA (hons)
Filming in more mobile environments the lenses really show their usefulness. In practice 18-135mm is all the range you really need for most situations, and due to their wonderful sharpness and bright T2.9 constant apertures, this pair of Fujinons really could be the only two lenses you ever need for 90% of shoots. I’d add a big wide like the Sony 10-18mm f4 and a long zoom like a Nikon 200-400mm f4, but those are only for specific shots. For the past couple of years, I’ve been using Sigma’s 18-35mm & 50-100mm f1.8 lenses, which have been wonderfully bright, and sharp, but after using the proper parfocal, geared and properly measured Fujinons, which have longer range, macro ring and are only a stop darker, I’m sold. The Fujis are also about half the weight of the Sigmas (despite being four times the price). The 18-55 and 50-135 are both the same size & shape, meaning swapping between the two is unusually quick and easy. Moving the Chrosziel motor from one to the other takes under a minute, just undo & rescrew the two Allen bolts & swap the cables, so even if you only have only one motor to share between the two lenses it really isn’t a bother to move it between them.
Photograph by John E Fry BA (hons)
From 18 to 55 millimeters is the difference between wide and medium shot, and 50 to 135 is a nice mid to a very useful closeup. The Fujinons both focus very close, thanks to their macro focus ring behind the iris, and a good zoom can make wonderful use of this for drawing attention to close detail. For headshots or interviews, the 50-135 especially makes a wonderfully smooth background, thanks to it’s curved iris blades, so the bokeh is to die for. Add the Chrosziel motor & you have the ability to creep very very slowly in or out from a headshot to emphasize a significant thing they are saying by zooming in, help isolate them in the frame by pulling out, or perhaps imply more meaning one way of the other with gradual inclusion or removal of dead space around them.
If you’re shooting an interview & need to change shot between answers, zooming from the back of the camera smoothly without having to let go of the focus or iris ring to compensate for reframe differences saves time and worry. Both the lenses are incredibly useful for the bright T2.9 aperture, and being as sharp wide open as they are at f8 means there’s no compromise at whatever focal length you want in whatever situation you find yourself in, and the CDM-MK-Z motor makes moving between those focal lengths a constant joy. Having a super smooth zoom also means you can reframe a little while on critical shot if you’ve set up quickly & find composition would be better just a few mil wider or closer, & this is super useful too.