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
Leica makes some great lenses. They always have. Even their defunct Leica R series lenses are still working hard all around the world. It would almost seem that Leica is incapable of making low quality products. I just finished our Cine-Mod on a Leica APO-Macro-Elmarit-R 1:2.8/100, or as I like to call it, a Leica 100mm Macro. This lens performs like a dream for motion picture applications. It’s close focus is 2.5′ from the film plane which puts objects about 1.8′ from the front of the lens. Keep in mind, this is 100mm. It’s not THAT close considering the Zeiss ZF.2 100mm f/2.0 cranks all the way down to 18″ from the film plane which is about 8″ in front of the lens. The only draw back, which both the Leica and the Zeiss exhibit, is the massive amount of telescoping from infinity to close focus. Both lenses go from a modest 5″ length to a maximum of about 7″ at close focus. Still, Leica made some amazing glass that still does it’s job quite well.
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.