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).
RED recently announced that they were redesigning the front housing on their 17-50mm T 2.9 zoom lens. The previous housing had an abnormally large front diameter. The optics measured roughly 80mm at the front whereas the housing was a whopping 144mm. This made it very difficult to use the lens for 3D work since the lenses couldn’t be positioned close together. The lens is relatively light weight, but when paired with a matte box that was able to accommodate such large front, the rig suddenly becomes quite heavy.
Well, this is proof that REd listens to their customers. There is absolutely no reason, other than pleasing their customers, to change the housing of their lens. BAM! Well done RED! The new housing is a rather common 114mm diameter and will look relatively similar to the RED Pro Prime lineup. As far as I can gather, this is how the lens will ship from here on out. RED is offering an upgrade for existing lenses for a mere $250. If you ask me, this is a great deal. The material alone probably cost close to $200 for RED. So stop complaining about the salad bowl that is your 17-50mm RED and send it in for this upgrade.