Zeiss pulled the veil of their long anticipated update to the Compact Prime line which will officially be called the CP.3 and CP.3 xD. The new line will consist of FF35 primes ranging from 15mm to 135mm in a lightweight, compact cinema housing. The new lenses will feature high performance optics at affordable prices with a couple of features not yet seen in the Sub-$5K market. Let’s take a look at the details of Zeiss’ new cinema primes.
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.
Zeiss recently announced the addition of Nikon (official), Sony, and 4/3 mounts for their Compact Prime series. I expected this since it’s a simple mount and the interface was already interchangeable. I also expected new focal lengths which they announced just this morning. The adaptation of existing ZF/ZE 50mm f/2 macro and the 100mm f/2 macro. These are two of my favorite lenses in the series. The 50mm macro has far better image quality than the 50mm f/1,4 and focuses down to about 10 inches (1:2) but it does lose that little bit of speed over the 50mm f/1,4. Meh… And then there is the insane bokeh of the 100mm macro. With a close focus of 18 inches (1:2) the background is thrown so far out of focus, it’s gorgeous. I can’t wait to get my hands on this macro duo. Continue reading New Zeiss CP.2 Macro Duo