Zeiss discontinued their 15.5-45mm Lightweight Zoom (LWZ.2) about three months ago. This LWZ was a great range and a decent speed for hand-held and Steadicam work but it didn’t match up well with the design or build of the new Compact Zooms (CZ.2). Zeiss released the 70-200mm T2.9 Compact Zoom a few months back and has been slow to deliver since it’s release. The lens is an excellent tele-zoom that will be comfortable for shooters coming from DSLRs who loved their Canon, Nikon, Tamron, Sigma, Sony… Take your pick – just about every lens manufacturer makes a 70-200mm Tele-zoom. The 70-200mm performs very well at all focal lengths (review coming soon) which has left it in very high demand.
Shortly after the 70-200mm CZ.2 began shipping, Zeiss announced their 28-80mm T2.9 CZ.2 which is due to start shipping July 2013 (pre-order here). The 28-80mm is a perfect compliment to the 70-200mm overlapping by 10mm at the long end of the zoom. The optical performance is equally as impressive as the 70-200mm and offers a much more “normal” field of view. Both of the CZ.2 zooms offer a 35mm (24x36mm) full-frame coverage. Two of the only purpose built cinema zooms to offer such coverage.
It only makes sense that Zeiss is offering a third lens to complete the three-zoom line-up. They haven’t announced the focal length yet but based on Zeiss history, I’m guessing it’s going to be 14 or 15mm at the wide end and stretch to the 30 or 40mm long end. The other two zooms are a 2.8x zoom range, but wide-angle zooms can be a bit trickier to design. However, Zeiss obviously already has the designs for a 15.5-45mm zoom with a stop of T2.6. It shouldn’t be too hard to scale that down a tad and leave it with a T-stop of 2.9 like the others in the range.
Traditionally, these 2.8x ranges are rather tiny compared to something like a classic Angenieux 25-250mm HR which offered a 10x zoom range. However, the Zeiss Compact Zooms are full-frame and come in at a much lower price-point. I hope to see more details for the new Zeiss CZ.2 in the near future. I think this wide-angle zoom will be a great lens for Steadicam work. It’ll be a powerful tool for users who are looking for the quality of a prime but need to work fast and may not want to spend the time switching out a lens during a shoot. We’ll have to wait and see what Zeiss does.