The gentlemen at True Lens Service (TLS) in the UK displayed a fully functional prototype of their 18mm Cooke Speed Panchro at IBC last year which garnered a respectable amount of interest. But what about the rest of the set? If you’re not familiar with the Cooke Speed Panchros, they’re basically the standard by which other prime lenses were measured between the 1930’s and 1950’s. George Eastman estimated that approximately 90 percent of 16mm films shot during that time in America were using Cooke Speed Panchros. There have been several revisions of the Panchros in Series II and III which can be a bit confusing, kind of like Cooke as a company in general. Surely you’ve seen “Taylor, Hobson” “Taylor, Taylor & Hobson” “Rank, Taylor & Hobson” or just plain “Cooke”. They’re all the same lineage with an extremely rich history in photographic optics and industrial revolution. Cooke was a true innovator in their infancy and continues to produce motion picture optics that push the boundaries of quality. Enough with the history… The Speed Panchros are relevant here because they are notorious for producing beautiful images that are simply not duplicated in post production. They have a character to them that defined the “Cooke Look” and gave thousands of films a warm romantic feel that cinematographers, directors, and colorists strive to reproduce with lackluster results (most of the time).
Canon introduced their pair of lightweight zooms, 15.5-47mm and 30-105mm, about a year ago and they’ve had a bit of a rough start. They were introduced into an already saturated market where every other manufacturer had been making zoom lenses for decades. Canon is no newb when it comes to high-end cinema zooms. They had their line of S16 format zooms a few years back (remember 16mm film?) that were adapted from their long running and still successful video lens division. Everyone knows that Canon makes great lenses. Their L series is a perfect indication of high quality, professional glass. But in the recent past, there wasn’t really any professional cinema lens offerings from Canon. The new lightweight zooms were an excellent comeback! They had all the features I look for in a zoom lens. They are designed with simple, robust components throughout the lens. Plenty of focus marks on clean, simple barrels. Consistent T-stop of T2.8 throughout the zoom range. And just about every other feature of a professional cinema zoom lens. Continue reading “Canon Lightweight Zoom Universal Mount From Duclos Lenses”
Eric Koretz recently posted a very nice article detailing his experience with the Hawk Vintage ’74 on his blog, The Image Hunter – Shot In The Wild. Koretz describes how the lenses performed and provides plenty of perfectly de squeezed frame grabs and setup shots. Continue reading “Testing the Hawk Vintage ’74 Lenses”
A lot of folks want to see actual footage instead of just numbers when it comes to the practical look and feel of a particular lens. And as usual, Zeiss delivered. Here is a small collection of short videos that feature different primes and even a few zooms that Zeiss currently offers. The first video is a “Sizzle Reel” with a lot of quick takes from different scenes using different lenses. Zeiss used a range of focal lengths including the 15mm T2.1, 21mm T2.9, 25mm T2.1, 28mm T2.1, 35mm T2.1, 50mm T2.1, 85mm T2.1, 100mm T2.1 CF, 135mm T2.1, and lastly the 70-200mm T2.9 and shot a nice panning shot and a static rotating shot with each focal length. Take a look and gather all you can from this collection of results.
CP.2 Sizzle Reel – © 2012 Carl Zeiss AG
Welcome to the 2013 Southland Alternative Lens Shootout “Wide F%$@*^G Open” Edition. This was a coordinated effort between the following individuals: Will Keir, Phil Holland, Matt Uhry, Matthew Duclos, Jeff Whitehurst, Evin Grant, Ryan Patrick O’Hara, Luke Edwards, Charlie Pickle and myself. I’d like to begin by thanking our Sponsors who not only donated their time, but their facilities, insurance services, and their lens sets: Continue reading “SALT III – High Speed Prime “WFO” Results”
Schneider-Kreuznach has a broad history in the world of optics. They’ve produced many sets of motion picture lenses as well as a plethora of photographic lenses for just about every format imaginable. A few NABs ago they announced that they were introducing a new line of motion picture lenses, the Cine-Xenars. I was particularly excited because they had long since absorbed Century Precision Optics back in 2000 and I had been expecting great things from both companies with the impending motion picture revolution. …And then I saw the prototype lenses.
I’ve touched on Zeiss’ success over the past decade, all based on their old Zeiss ZF and ZE line of lenses. The ZF lenses started to become extremely popular with the VDSLR revolution and low point of entry into the world of motion picture acquisition. The ZF lenses were updated and replaced with the ZF.2 line which made using them on modern Nikon cameras easier and more feature rich. Zeiss proceeded to take those same internals and implant them into bigger better housings in the form of Compact Primes, their first new cinema lens in quite a while. The compact primes were good but they had a few problems. The speed from one lens to another was inconsistent and the mounts were fixed. Zeiss addressed both of these issues by limiting the entire range to T2.1 with the exception of the already slower 18mm, 21, and 25mm and introducing their interchangeable mount system. This pleased most users that wanted a versatile set with consistent aperture throughout the set. But where did those faster primes go? Continue reading “Do Your Speeds Need to be Super?”
Yes! I have some material in the pipe on just this subject but I wanted to give a quick example. While taking some beauty shots of recent Cine-Mod performed to a Samyang 24mm f/1.4, I was pleased by the results of my initial photos. A bit of info: I had been using my camera for some casual street photography with a very nice, recently overhauled Angenieux 3 inch, f/2.5 lens attached to my Olympus OM-D. The lens remained on my camera over the weekend. When it came time to take some product photos back at the Lens Lab, I grabbed my camera with the Angenieux still attached and I figured I would just leave it there to see how it fared for product photos. The results were interesting to say the least. Not exactly product photo worthy so I decided to swap back to my go-to product photo lens which is currently an Olympus 45mm f/1.8. Continue reading “Does a Lens Really Provide a Look?”
In a recent post I declared that it’s better to invest in glass than in cameras since new cameras come out every few months. I wasn’t just saying that to get people to buy glass, I meant it. Just this year there have been at least half a dozen cameras released or announced, if not more. With more cameras there comes more choices for lenses. Wether it’s a BlackMagic camera with it’s mighty little crop sensor or the new 5DMk14B-R whatevermagig. Lenses will always be required for cinema and in todays economy it’s all about compromise. So where do you compromise and what lenses make the most sense for you? Continue reading “More Lens Options Than Ever”
As any of you who follow me on twitter know, I’m a total Olympus fan boy. I have everything from an original OM to an E-620, an E-PL1 and an E-P3. How could I possibly resist the newest addition to the Olympus line-up, the OM-D E-M5. Sure then name sucks and can easily be confused with a fax machine model number… But lets just call it the OM-D for now since there isn’t another OM-D model to confuse it with. There are a lot of haters out there that say this isn’t a real OM since it isn’t even a range finder. It’s basically a re-bodied E-P3 with a few new tricks. Continue reading “Olympus OM-D E-M5 Quick Take”
I ♥ Lenses.
This has been my mantra for over a decade and recently put onto fabric in the form of t-shirts that can be had here. I love lenses so much, I have a hard time not purchasing all sorts of lenses including cheap little iPhone lenses. There’s a flurry of iPhone lenses scattered about the interwebs that can be had for as little as $5 or as much as several hundred dollars. I was at my local Apple store this past weekend killing time while my wife shopped for whatever she shops for. I picked up a new AppleTV (cause, you know… 720p just wasn’t cutting it) and while I was waiting for a smurf to become available I saw a nicely packaged Olloclip “iPhone 4 lens system” for the iPhone 4s. I checked the price tag and just as I expected, the little accessory sat right in the middle of the iPhone lens range. I figured why not… I use my iPhone so often for Instagram and Facebook, why not give this little guy a try. I proceeded to flag down one of the blue garbed employees who was ready to check me out. New AppleTV and Olloclip bagged and anxious, I headed to the nearest seating area to tear open and anywise this cute little piece of glass, aluminum, and plastic.
I recently put up a post reviewing my new Olympus E-P3 and briefly discussed some of the lenses I use regularly including the Olympus M. Zuiko 45mm f/1.8. I wanted to go a bit more in depth regarding this particular lens now that I’ve had a chance to really try it out and about. I had holiday plans to go visit my fiancé’s family in Oklahoma for thanksgiving this year and thought that would be a perfect opportunity to do some photography around town and capture some of the mid-west charm. I haven’t done a post quite like this before so feel free to comment and let me know what you think, how I can improve such posts. Also, if you have any requests, I’ll be updating this post with more photos throughout the week, so feel free to request specific tests. Onto the good stuff.
Back in December of 2009 Band Pro unveiled their “Mystery Primes”. At the time Band Pro held the event at their Burbank facility, they hadn’t secured all of the legal mumbo-jumbo to use the name of a prominent, exotic German lens manufacturer. The fact that Iain Neil, a legendary optical designer, was standing next to the lenses during the unveiling, left little doubt as to who the manufacturer was. A few months later, Band Pro admitted that the lenses were in fact designed and built by none other than Leica. One of the most respected and sought after names in photographic optics, Leica stamped their badge on an impressive line-up of high-speed primes and set a delivery date for cinematographers to look forward to. That date came and went, Band Pro announced that Otto Nemenz International was already slated to receive the first 25 sets of lenses, and the rest of the industry was left to wait for a new delivery date. The lenses have finally started shipping and now I get to put them through their paces.
Zeiss released their CP.2 (Compact Primes) cinema lenses about a year ago, not long after they dropped their original Compact Primes on the market. There has been a lot of debate about the value of the Compact Primes. With an influx of new primes with a range of price tags, there is no shortage of choices for the budding cinematographer or even the veteran looking to invest in some glass. At $3,900 a piece, or a set of five lenses just shy of $20k, the Compact Primes are some of the cheapest options out there for what I would consider professional cinema lenses. However, a lot of cinematographers are opting for the ultra budget conscious still photo lenses with Cine-Mods to bring them up to cinema spec. But what makes the Compact Primes so much more expensive than, say, a Zeiss ZF.2? After all, they are in fact the exact same glass but in a different housing, right? Sort of… There are quite a few features that really separate the two lenses no matter how similar their heritage is. The ZF.2s are Zeiss’ latest all manual still photo lenses. They just happen to make very pretty images when mounted to a motion picture camera as well as a still photo camera. The Compact Primes take it a step beyond pretty images and provide a professional set of features that can be very valuable to a cinematographer and his/her crew. I’ll start with the optics. Zeiss says that the CP.2 lenses use hand-picked elements that really increase the consistency and accuracy of the lenses. I can’t attest to this as I haven’t seen any difference in the glass or the test results produced by the Compact Primes, but it looks good on a brochure.
A perfect example of the versatility of the Zeiss ZF.2 series. This 85mm f1/.4 comes in a Nikon mount from the factory. With a few upgrades and modifications, it’s perfectly suited for motion picture use. I performed the standard three part Cine-Mod which includes an 80mm front ring (77mm filter thread), 32-pich (0.8 module) seamless focus gear, and of course the de-clicked, dampened aperture ring. In addition to the standard Cine-Mod, I also added one of our semi-permanent Canon Eos mounts. This mount conversion physically attaches to the body of the lens and essentially takes the place of the original Nikon mount, effectively making the Zeiss ZF.2 a native Canon Eos mount lens. An excellent mount modification for use on a 5D or 7D. I just happened to have received a Canon Eos mount for my FS100 that I thought I would try out with this lens and it worked great. There is a little bit of play between the mounts, but no more motion than I would expect from a Canon lens attached to a Canon camera. The focus and aperture movement on this lens are like soft butter, creamy smooth. With a Super 35mm sized sensor on the FS100, the bokeh from this f/1.4 85mm is simply dreamy. I love it! I’ll be shooting some test footage in the near future with a few different lens makes and models. I just need to find an interesting topic and create some decent content. I’m tired of test charts… 😉