Since the DSLR Revolution the Leica R primes have been the pinnacle of quality hybrid photo-cine prime lenses. Duclos Lenses has applied their Cine-Mod® to thousands of Leica R primes which brought a seamless focus gear, smooth click-less aperture, common 80mm front rings and Canon EF mount. But we had never tackled the PL mount solution. There were a couple of Chinese modifications that brought PL mounts and larger, heavier housings to the R series. But it wasn’t until Cinescope teamed up with TLS in the UK to bring a proper, robust cine-style housing to the Leica R primes.
So why didn’t Duclos Lenses tackle this project? Simple… Economics. The Chinese rehousings that were already coming to market meant that our sales team would spend more time explaining why our domestic, higher quality housing was so much more expensive, than they would actually selling and modifying lenses. The China price war game gets really old, really fast. You get what you pay for. However, UK based TLS had an advantage already. The R&D they had put into their Kowa, Super Baltar, K35, and Panchro rehousing could easily be ported over to accommodate the Leica R primes. Cinescope saw this opportunity and jumped on it.
If you’ve tried any of the TLS rehoused lenses, you know what to expect with the new Leica R project. It employs the same robust, cam-based focus system as the rest of their conversions. The movements are smooth, consistent, and well designed. In my initial tests, the focus movement was accurate and repeatable with over 300 degrees of focus rotation. The focus and iris markings are displayed clearly on both the smart and dumb side of the lens. The front diameter is a common 110mm across the entire line. I’ll list the different focal lengths and their pricing at the end of this post.
To say that the housings themselves are reminiscent of Cooke S4 primes would be an understatement. After all, Keith, the Co-Founder of TLS, is a former Cooke technician. So you could say this particular project is like having Leica glass in a Cooke housing. Sorta…
So who exactly are Cinescope?
They’re a budding cinema lens company based in London, England. They’ve teamed up with TLS to perform the conversion for their first product release, the Leica R primes which will serve as their marquee product. I had a chat with the owner, Antoine to get a bit more information:
What is the history of Cinescope Optics? Cinescope Optics was formed by an individual from the UK who specialised in the acquisition of purchasing vintage optics and rehoused them with TLS. He then brought them to the market for sale. He accumulated multiples and multiples of sets of rehoused TLS lens, building a great relationship across the globe with many clients in the film and motion picture industry.
What other lenses does Cinescope Optics offer? Cinescope’s launch pad is the Leica R Prime lenses, due to its amazing look and dynamic usage, being ‘full frame’. Cinescope Optics soon plans an anamorphic version and some pretty cool zoom lenses across different lens makes and models.
Is the Leica R rehousing exclusive to Cinescope? the Leica R rehoused lenses are solely exclusive to Cinescope Optics. We even try to help all our Cinescope customers by possible glass trade ins. The customer can sell the existing glass for market value and have the price discounted with a brand new set of lenses supplied.
Are these new lenses available for rental or purchase or both? These lenses are for purchase only, however we are inundated with orders from hire houses across the world who would be able to rent to the films industry in that country. But we are strictly as seller of lenses.
So who will these lenses be right for? If you love the look of Leica R series glass but need something more robust or more producer-friendly than a simple Cine-Mod, then you’ll want to snag a set of these Cinescope Leica R primes. The prices and focal lengths will be as follows:
Elmarit 19mm T2.9 – £6,000
Elmarit 28mm T2.9 – £6,000
Summilux 35mm T1.5 – £TBD
Summicron 35mm T2.1 – £6,000
Summilux 50mm T1.5 – £TBD
Summicron T2.1 – £6,000
Elmarit Macro 60mm T2.9 – £TBD
Summilux 80mm T1.5 – £TBD
Summicron 90mm T2.1 – £6,000
Elmarit Macro 100mm T2.9 – £TBD
Elmarit 135mm T2.9 – £6,000
You can purchase the lenses directly from Cinescope. Also be sure to follow them on Instagram! The lenses will also include 12 months of complimentary mechanical service from TLS with purchase. The first six focal lengths are available immediately and the others will be available this summer.