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”
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… 😉