RIP Om Puri Sb…

When the world disposed their 2016 calendars, everyone looked towards a hopeful 2017, free of celebrity deaths and airline tragedies. But for the angel of death, the digits of a year certainly do not matter. The second day of the new year took away critic and artist John Berger, and the 6th, our beloved Om Puri.

With a career than spanned 4 decades, Om Puri acted in films large and small with amazing honesty and mastery.

We met last year in December during a shoot for Forbes LifeStyle in a cold and damp room at the Al Hamra in Lahore. Puri’s warmth melted me and my friend Sonya, as he narrated his inspirational journey.

He was no Amitabh Bachan. He clearly did not have the face, nor could he dance like the stars of the 70s and 80s. I’m sure this would have made things difficult for him. But in a world of sexy Kapoors and Kumars, Puri’s acting and struggle, were both intense and beautiful. And we shall remember him for that…Always…



24 year old Shama and her 26 year old husband Shahzad Masih were laborers at one of the many brick kilns in Pakistan’s Punjab. Due to their inability to pay money to their employer, they were falsely accused of blasphemy and were burnt alive on 4th November, 2014. This video looks into the life of their three children, Suleman, Sonya and Poonam…

Shooting production stills and BTS for ‘Shah’

_S811755A few months before the scheduled release of Shah on 14th August, 2015, I received a call from Farhan Ali, an old musician friend and an amazing bassist. He was also moonlighting as Shah’s production manager and wanted me to shoot production stills and BTS (behind the scenes) for the movie. Having shot a historic boxing ground (Kakri Ground) in Lyari in 2014, and photographing for a story for Esquire (Link to storythis year on Mixed Martial Arts, I was very interested. In the sport, and the movie.

I had already seen the promising trailer of Shah and had a good idea about the movie. I have to admit that I wasn’t too excited about shooting during Ramazan, since I would have to be there, every day, from 4pm to sehri. But seeing the entire Shah crew working endlessly 24/7 changed my mind. Adnan as producer, director, writer and lead actor was phenomenal! His team would shoot into the morning, sleep on the sets, and then start again.

_S811309- AS

As the video crew shot the film, I sneaked in behind and along their cameras for their stills. I’d study their monitors to get an idea of their targeted shooting areas to avoid spoiling the filming.

Despite being among the team for a very short time, it was amazing to be a part of such an amazing and meaningful project. I have to say that the team worked really hard and hope the audience likes what they see! No disrespect to other film makers, but for me, such movies are the true revival of Pakistani cinema!!

_S811376- AS bt

Shah is a biopic of Olympian boxer Hussain Shah, who hailed from Lyari, Karachi and was the only Pakistani to win a medal at 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. Earlier, he won Asian boxing championship for five consecutive years. He was credited as the best Asian boxer in 80s. The government of Pakistan awarded him Sitara-i-Imtiaz medal in 1989 and announced reward of rupees 20,000 before on his retirement. On his protest, he was assured to be allotted two 60 yards plots, but only on papers. The Olympic winner Hussain Shah suffered financial crisis until he was called by authorities in Japan to train their boxers.

_S811738- AS 5x7 bt

Samyang Cinema Lenses: Cheap DSLR Cinema Lenses

We all want to shoot on CINEMA LENSES but they are just so expensive! Until… we got Samyang/Rokinon Cinema Lenses!

Rokinon CINE Lenses

I never paid much attention to Rokinon lenses until my friend, a director and film maker, Lisa Talley told me her next lens was going to be a Rokinon 85mm as it compared really well to the Canon L 85mm lens. That being said I had to check this out for myself, as a lot of filmmaker’s bock at some of the newer name brand lenses or anything that’s not Canon, Zeiss, & to a lesser extent Sigma and Tamron.  Still a budget Cine lens definitely sparked my interest.

14 24 35 rokinon cinema lenses

Rokinon Lenses have great reviews, and compare well to Canon L series glass.

Rokinon are slightly less sharp, have a mild warm cast (which I like and can be corrected for in camera if want a neutral color cast), and are well built for the price. Not as high build quality as Canon L lenses, but at less than half the price you won’t see me complaining.

The catch! Yes there always is one, these lenses are all manual. I tend to shoot manual for video and stills, so this isn’t a big deal for me. What you are paying for is high quality glass, and a lens designed for filmmakers so all the frills like an auto-focus motor are just unneeded expenses.

You also have a manual f-stop/aperture wheel on the lens. The Rokinon Cine lenses are de-clicked so you can get a smooth seamless change in F-stop to brighten or darken your scene. Also, you can use an f-stop in-between the normal  1/3 stop increments  which effectively increases your options in depth of field and controlling the light into your camera to lighten for darken your scene.

Now, the Rokinon Cine Series comes in  14mm, 24mm, 35mm, 85mm. (There is an 8mm but haven’t been able to determine  if the quality is as good as the other focal lengths. It’s had mixed reviews good and bad. The 8mm isn’t super-fast, but it does have an 180 degree field of view which is amazing. A lot of skateboarding videos are shot on this lens. Not that the 8mm is a bad lens, just that the other lenses compare on par to much more expensive glass.)

De-Clicked- Rokinon Lenses de-clicked feature is great for video. A de-clicked manual aperture ring gives you better f-stop control. Controlling your f-stop is usually done through your camera body controls, and if on a manual lens has hard stops. Hard stops prevent a smooth transition, as the click into place. A de-clicked lens gives you all your f-stops and everything in-between in one smooth turn of the aperture wheel.

So if you’re in a dark environment, and you go outside where it’s really bright it’s awesome to just turn the aperture wheel to correct your exposure while you are shooting your film without having to resort to pressing stop and adjusting it in camera. Plus a de-clicked aperture means you have more F-stops to choose from as you are not suck with 1/3 stops. This means if one F-Stop is too bright, and another too low, you can adjust in-between for the best picture brightness and depth of field.

Cine lenses- What makes these Cine lenses is they are designed to be read by a focus puller who will read the information on the side of the lens instead of on top like a still photos lens. This lets your focus puller take accurate pulls to achieve critical focus as your talent moves about your scene during a film shoot. Rokinon does make photo lenses which are a bit cheaper, but I would heavily recommend the Cine version if you can save up the coin. Glass for Glass the photo and Cine lenses are the same. Proper markings and T-stops are a big deal for shooting a film.

Follow Focus Teethe- Rokinon CINE lenses have follow focus teethe designed for a follow focus unit. This is great as you don’t have to wrap a piece of plastic teethe around your lens to use a follow focus like you have to on stills lenses. This gives you a more accurate adjustment on your lens and saves time on a production, plus it’s one less thing to go wrong or not fit. I’ve had these plastic wrap around teethe adapters break. The built in follow focus teethe save you a lot of time, and much work better than adapters.

Rokinon Cinema Lens Test and Review from the Dave Perry Project on Vimeo.

Rokinon 14mm T3.1- Overall a great lens, however quality visually is not on par with the 24, 35, 85mm lenses. At $450 at B & H it’s 1/5 the price of the Canon equivalent. It produces some great images and videos, especially on a crop sensor. Full Frame brings out more flaws in its super wide design, but still pulls off some great super wide shots. I recommend this lens for a crop sensor camera like the T4i, 7D, 60D, and even the C100 cameras. As it gives you a 22mm equivalent with the crop factored in.

Rokinon 24mm T1.5- This is an amazing lens, at 38mm for a 1.6 crop factor camera it’s decently wide, and a good wide on a full frame camera like the Canon 5D Mark II or Mark III. At $750 at B & H it’s the most expensive Rokinon in the CINE lens lineup. It compares very well to the Canon L series glass, and is a fine addition to an indie filmmaker’s kit. However as it is priced higher I would recommend buying the Rokinon 35mm first and this lens last.

It’s a good lens but it’s leaving the field of bang for buck at this price. It’s very fast in low light, provides beautiful bokeh, great depth of field lens, and has all the features that make a cinema lens awesome. De-clicked aperture ring, Follow Focus Teethe on focus & aperture ring, great high quality glass, designed to be read from the side for a focus puller. Overall a great buy though a bit pricy Rokinon CINE lens.

Rokinon 35mm T1.5- This for me is the first lens to buy in the Rokinon CINE lens lineup. For a 1.6 crop camera it’s a 56mm equivalent and that makes it a go to prime lens for any 7D, 60D, 650D, Rebel, or C100 camera.  It has all the cinema feature described above, and costs less at $550 on B & H. So not super cheap, but it’s less than half the price of a comparable Canon L lens and a near match in quality. Plus it has the features of a made for video CINE lens. Which is the whole reason to splurge some cash green on these Rokinon lenses. (The Video Below was shot on a T3i! It looks amazing!)

Rokinon 85mm T1.5-Now this lens is a gem! At $350 this lens is a steal. You have an 85mm Cine lens which compares pretty closely to the Canon L series lens which costs over a thousand dollars. It’s perfect for a full frame camera. It’s very telephoto on a 1.6 crop camera like a 7D, 60D, T4i, T3i, T2i, or C100 camera. It translates roughly to 136mm. So on a crop sensor you are doing an extreme close up, or you are shooting from very far away. The very far away is fine, especially for action fight shoots as the zoom compresses the image foreground and background together enough to make the fight sequence look real.

An actor punches past his opponents head (opposite side of course), but it looks compelling and real as this telephoto trick makes it look like a real hit as the actor acts as if he or she had been hit. A full frame gets the benefit of an 85mm CINE lens which is a lot better than a 136mm from a crop sensor camera. This makes the Rokinon 85mm a great dialog or portrait lens on a full frame like the Canon 5D Mark III. All in all, it’s a definite addition to anyone’s kit even for crop sensor cameras. As you may upgrade to a full frame in the future, and may need a telephoto prime for special circumstances. (The below video was shot on a 60D, with the 85mm Rokinon lens, No Color Correction.)

Rokinon 8mm Fisheye-Ok, in the Cine line, and it’s alright for a specialty lens. It has a 180 degree field of view which distorts the picture a bit. A.K.A. the infamous fisheye effect. It’s been made famous for its price and popularity in skate boarding videos. I would buy this lens if it’s something you are interested in. If it doesn’t fit in your indie film making arsenal yet, hold off on the purchase. Take a look at some of the videos which use this lens. It’s not terribly fast at 3.8. However it is de-clicked, and has all the features of a Rokinon CINE lens. And at the price, after you bought more essential focal lengths like 24, 35, & 14mm I’d at some point invest in this lens.

Hey Rokinon, What about a 50mm T1.5- I hope they come out with a 50mm lens, just to complete the kit. I’m sure they would make that lens design last, as there are so many in-expensive 50mm choices out there. Still it would be a great budget lens to complete the Rokinon CINE lineup with all the cinema lens features which includes quality glass.

UPDATE: Rokinon/Samyang now has a 50mm!

In conclusion:

You can’t go wrong on a budget with Rokinon Manual Cine Lens for video. You can still shoot stills but if you are taking a lot of shots or need that perfect unexpected moment captured you may need to resort to an auto-focus lens. For all you indie-shooters, these lenses will give you everything you need to create amazing professional quality videos. It’s great for DSLR shooters. Better glass is out there and not for this price, anywhere.  So you save a few thousand dollars, and get a ton of value for your money.

These Cine lenses are an absolute gift to us filmmakers, we now have quality glass on a budget designed for shooting video. The lens is essential to telling your story, and will definitely bring you to a whole new level in high quality filmmaking. Now even budget shooters can have high production value work.