| Subcribe via RSS

NAB Perspectives: Fujinon’s Calabro Dissects New 4K, ⅔-In. Broadcast Lenses

April 13th, 2015 Posted in Headlines By Brandon Costa

With 4K acquisition buzzing throughout the Las Vegas Convention Center this week, lens developer Fujinon (Booth C7025) has come to NAB 2015 with some enticing new options, including the debuts of the UA80x9 field lens and the UA22x8, the company’s first portable zoom lens with optical performance compatible with 4K ⅔-in. broadcast cameras.

Fujinon’s Thom Calabro with the new UA80x9 field lens at the company's booth in the Central Hall

Fujinon’s Thom Calabro with the new UA80x9 field lens at the company’s booth in the Central Hall

Thom Calabro, director of marketing and product development for the Optical Division of Fujifilm, sat down with SVG to discuss these new pieces of glass and the importance of developing 4K tools that fit seamlessly into current sports-production workflows.

What big trend have you detected on your side of the market? Obviously, 4K comes to mind, but what are you seeing from customers and prospective customers here at the show?
4K has been used in mobile applications for sports — and for some entertainment — but it’s all been done with PL-mount cameras and lenses. With the advent of the ⅔-in. 4K cameras announced from Grass Valley, Hitachi, and more, I think customers are going to be looking at that.

The 4K with the PL mount has tremendous limitations in operability. We’re looking at lenses that have 4X, 5X, 6X zoom ratio — our biggest one is a 12X, 25-300mm — so we have decided to go and develop ⅔-in. 4K lenses.

Any announcements that you have made at the show that should be of particular interest to the sports-production crowd?
Oh yea, definitely. We have two lenses: an ENG-style lens and a field box-type lens. The ENG is a model UA22x8, and the field lens will be a UA80x9.

On the ENG lens, we’re talking — without the 2X extender — from 8mm to 176mm and, on the box lens, from 9mm to 720mm. People may have a bit of a hard time grasping that, but, to put it in perspective, it is not that far off from our 88x828X lens, [which] gets up to 777mm. It’s right in there with what people are using today in HD production.

These lens are very similar in size to current lenses. We’re not asking people to use these huge pieces of glass or compromise that much as far as their focal lengths go. What we are going to give the sports- and mobile-production folks are tools that they can use immediately and be comfortable with on the operations side. It will just be spectacular as far as the performance goes.

What other technological developments have you guys made on these new lenses?
Obviously, the big thing with 4K is going to be resolution, and that, of course, is going to be there, but we’ve also done a few other things. We’ve done some things with our high-transmittance coloring, so we are going to get lenses that have more contrast ratio. That’s probably what people see first and jumps off the screen at them. Yes, the resolution has to be there, but they might not see the super-fine detail. But, when they see the contrast, that comes to the front of their mind first and gives a good first impression of the image.

Also, in the PL world, we’ve been developing an iris so that the speculars are as round as possible. You’ve always seen speculars, and they’ve got edges to them; whether it’s four sides or ten sides, they’ve got edges to them. So now, not only are we using this iris to make them as round as possible, but we’ve also played around with the shape of the iris length itself. So it’s pretty dramatic when you look at speculars coming off helmets and things like that. They are much more round than a six-blade or an 11-blade. You’d think, more blades the better, but that’s not really the case.