On Thursday November 7th, Zeiss announced their newest line of lenses: the Zeiss Supreme Prime Radiance. They feature an all new T* blue coating that allows cinematographers to create beautiful, consistent and controlled flares while maintaining high image quality for which Zeiss is known. Other attributes include large-format coverage, high speed, robustness and smooth reliable focus – all in a small, light-weight package.
Supreme Prime Radiance are a bit warmer than Supreme Primes thanks to the reduction of blue light passing through each element, though they pair well with them, which is why Zeiss decided not to use the more extreme focal lengths (wide and tele) when creating this lens set. The video below shows a side-by-side look at the flaring behavior of the new Zeiss Supreme Prime Radiance lenses in comparison to regular Zeiss Supreme Prime lenses under different lighting situations.
At the Zeiss Launch Event at the Zeiss Cine Showroom in Sherman Oaks, CA, we had chance to test out the Radiance lenses and formulate some concrete thoughts. Overall, Zeiss has done a very good job of injecting a pleasing degree of character without destroying the overall image. These are NOT simply uncoated fronts like some other manufacturers offer. Every focal length has its own coating plan in order to achieve the consistency of flares within the lens family. Moreover, some elements are not coated with T* blue, but with regular T*. Under normal lighting conditions, the image quality is still very good. Resolution and contrast are well maintained – very similar to the regular Supreme Primes. But when you introduce a hard light source into the frame or, in the right conditions, just outside the frame you’re met with nostalgic, prominent blue flares. Because of these features, intercutting the original Supremes and new Radiance lenses will be very easy. In fact, while projecting, I could hardly tell the difference between Supreme and Radiance versions because of the consistency that a test projector offers.
From an assembly perspective, the Supreme Prime Radiance lenses are optically and mechanically identical to the regular Supreme Primes. The only identifying difference is a small lock-ring at the rear of the lens, in front of the PL mount that is anodized gold instead of black, the word “Radiance” engraved on the front barrel at the top of the lens, and the very small “blue” engraving at the front ring of the lens.
Another unique aspect of the Radiance primes will be their availability. Expect a very limited production run. Orders are open NOW and will only be accepted until March 2020. Deliveries will begin April 2020.