Fujinon PL Lenses Help Powerband Films Push Extreme Sports to the Limit
On a given shoot they may be capturing the grueling tension of a 24-hour car race or the adrenaline excitement of a 400-foot motorcycle jump. As part of their productions, veteran extreme action sports cinematographers Mike “Mack Dawg” McEntire of Mack Dawg Productions and Jay Schweitzer of Powerband Films use lenses from the Optical Devices Division of FUJIFILM North America Corporation.
McEntire and Schweitzer recently put FUJINON’s Premier PL mount zoom lenses, the 75–400mm/T2.8 – T3.8 (HK5.3×75) and the FUJINON 24-180 mm/T2.6 (HK7.5×24) to an extreme test, shooting “Red Bull: New Year. No Limits” jump event for their independent feature documentary on daredevil distance jumps. Both lenses were mounted to Red Epic cameras. The shoot occurred at night with dense fog. For the event, a snowmobile and a dirt bike jumped in tandem over a section of the San Diego Bay. The snowmobile jumped over 400 feet, and the dirt bike soared just shy of 400 feet. In order to capture the jumps, the two cinematographers went with the Fujinon Premiere PL glass.
McEntire is the owner of Mack Dawg Productions, a company known globally as one of the top action sports film companies. Mack Dawg has been producing extreme sports films since 1988. McEntire and fellow extreme sports cinematographer Jay Schweitzer started Powerband Films to collaborate on the “On the Pipe” series of freestyle motorcycle films 10 years ago. The “On the Pipe” films have been the definitive films on dirt biking since their collaboration began.
McEntire relied on the versatile 75-400mm again on a RED Epic camera to shoot the Rolex 24 GRAND-AM car race in Daytona Beach for Continental Tires.
McEntire explained, “Both events required varied focal lengths. I found the 75 to 400mm range to be incredibly useful. It’s the longest range PL mount zoom lens available and with unbelievable 4K performance. Even shooting at a wide open T2.8 aperture for the Red Bull event, staged at night with serious fog to contend with, images were razor sharp edge to edge. It provided great-looking, slow motion footage that we like to use a lot.”
For the Rolex race, Continental wanted artsy footage for a one-hour television feature. “I was able to shoot all night in marginal light and produce amazing results,” McEntire described. “In the daytime, I captured high-speed action employing ND filtration to shoot wide open without any flare problems. My goal was to capture beautiful shallow depth of field material that you don’t normally see in a car race. I would’ve had a very hard time trying to do this with any other lens. Having a long zoom that performs like the FUJINON 75-400 in all types of light was a dream come true. This lens made a real difference in my images – at both events.”
Many of the events that McEntire and Schweitzer shoot are daredevil jumps, stunts and professional sports where the athlete has just one attempt to get it right. They have to nail a perfect shot every time. McEntire said, “The FUJINON 75-400 mm is absolutely the best lens I’ve ever come across for this type of work. The build quality is fantastic, with buttery smooth gearing that makes pulling focus a treat. It delivers a punchy, crisp image with black blacks and colors that pop. After such a great experience on these very demanding shoots, I’m looking forward to trying out the other two zoom lenses in the Premier series with upcoming productions.”