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 few quick picks from my bench of a Leica 60mm Macro lens being Cine-Modded. I’m sure you’ve all read countless posts about the Duclos Lenses Cine-Mod, but I use find the applications so interesting. People are finding the coolest old glass to use for cinema work and it just intrigues me so much. Have I mentioned that I love my job? – This specific lens received the works: An 80mm front ring, 32-pitch focus gear, damped/de-clicked aperture ring, and a fixed Eos mount. This little beauty will work great on just about an Eos mount camera including a RED Epic. Would love to see those results. Here are a few more pics.
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… 😉
This post is a little self serving in that I’m touting a product that Duclos Lenses sells. However, I love the product and use the product myself on a daily basis. The product I speak of is the Zeiss ZF.2 lenses. I have raved about these lenses ever since I started using them years ago on my Nikon DSLR. I’ve had several posts detailing their use in the motion picture industry and the modifications that make them cinema work horses. Duclos Lenses has been modifying and selling the Zeiss ZF.2 lenses as an official Zeiss distributor for several years now. Zeiss announced that they would be offering a set of five lenses at a reduced price which included a swanky custom foamed transportation case. I thought the idea was great. That is, until we ordered a few and realized that the lenses offered in the set were not the lenses I personally thought performed the best. On top of that, after our Cine-Mods, the lens barrels were expanded to at least 80mm due to the additional front ring and focus gear, the lenses didn’t fit in the case. So we thought, why not make our own set and offer a similar discount. We hand-picked the particular lenses to include in the set, mostly for their overall quality and range from wide to tele.
The set includes a 21mm f/2.8, 28mm f/2.0, 35mm f/1.4, 50mm f/2.0 macro, and of course, the gorgeous 85mm f/1.4. Between these five lenses, 21mm-85mm, just about every shot is covered. The set comes in our own custom foamed flight case, a Pelican Storm iM2600 to be specific, foamed by the fine folks at Innerspace Cases (the same guys who do the RED cases). Each lens is hand selected and features our complete Cine-Mod including a standard 32-pitch focus gear, 80mm front with 77mm filter thread, and of course, a de-clicked, buttery smooth aperture ring. I love this set! It’s every focal length I would want in a portable set of primes. I think the Zeiss ZF.2 lenses appeal to a wide range of cinematographers due to their light-weight, budget conscious nature. On top of that, their image quality is excellent for the price and the image size the lenses produce covers anything from a micro four thirds AF100 to a RED Epic, and all the way up to the 35mm full frame sensor of the 5D MkII. Like I said, this post is a little self serving, but I really do enjoy using these lenses. For more information head on over to www.DuclosLenses.com
If you frequent my website, you are surely familiar with the Zeiss ZF.2 line of lenses. They are considered the high end of DSLR lenses in terms of quality and price, unrivaled german engineering. But recently, a new crop of cheap-o lenses have made their way across the ocean and are really giving Zeiss a run for it’s money. Continue reading “Showdown: Rokinon Vs. Zeiss”
I debated on wether or not to make a new post for this one little item and then I realized that the interwebs are unlimited and if readers don’t want to read an entire post about one little ring, then they wont. 🙂 For those of you who are geeky enough to care about a simple ring, read on. Continue reading “80mm Fronts for Zeiss ZF.2/ZE”
I receive dozens of emails everyday and I want to respond to them all but sometimes it just isn’t possible. I’m not a trade secret kind of guy. I like to spread knowledge and educate as many people as I can. So here is a quick little FAQ in regards to lens modification and a few other common questions I am asked… Frequently.
|EDIT: THIS POST IS OUTDATED AND MAY NO LONGER BE ACCURATE. PLEASE CONTACT DUCLOS LENSES FOR CURRENT INFO|
1) What lenses work well for motion picture?
2) I have a bunch of still lenses. Can they be converted to work for cinema?
3) What is a Cine-Mod?
4) Can my lens be Cine-Modded?
5) What lenses are well suited for a Cine-Mod?
6) Can the mount on my lens be changed?
7) I have Nikon lenses. Can the focus be reversed?
8] The focus throw of my still lenses is short, can it be expanded?
9) Can lens breathing be corrected?
10) Can my lens be re-housed for cinema use? What is the cost?
11) Can my lens be converted to PL mount?