With the influx of new optics in the motion picture industry, RED would be silly to ignore the need for high quality optics that coincided with their budget friendly camera. RED went ahead and developed their RED Pro Primes to fill the void. I had seen several sets of prototypes over time at different venues. But I finally got my hands on a production set sent to a customer. There are several other lens companies that are producing competitive lenses that must not be overlooked. This is in NO WAY a plug to the RED lenses, simply a quick review so that I can refer people here to answer some basic questions.
Overall, these lenses are down right beasts. They are heavy. In fact, they might just be too heavy. Especially the 25mm and 35mm, being heavier than the others, I wouldn’t want to be the steadi-cam operator with these lenses. RED is very tight lipped about the development of these lenses. I would love to know what their intentions were while designing. The first thing I noticed while testing their resolution is that the best resolution isn’t really the best contrast. This may not be an issue as the RED One sensor does not resolve down to the finest resolution that I was testing. So this may work great on the RED camera. Another minor complaint while I was checking focus is that the witness mark is much wider than the lines on the focus scale. This allows for quite a variance in accuracy.
I bench tested this set of RED primes against a set of matching Cooke S4s to give a good idea of their quality. The S4s are just about the same size, but slightly lighter. The image quality is arguably better from the S4s. Again, this may not be the case once used on a RED camera. The RED primes displayed quite a bit of spherical aberration and again, when the resolution was best, there was a minor flare about the image. The flare was minimized while racking focus, but at the expense of resolution, still beyond the capacity of the RED One sensor.
After all is said, these primes are very robust and can’t be overlooked with such a small price tag. Time will tell how well they hold up with real world use. Until then, Enjoy!