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.
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
Zeiss recently announced that they will be utilizing the Micro Four Thirds standard on their sought after CP.2 Compact Primes. This will come in the form of an interchangeable mount in addition to the existing Nikon F, Canon Eos, and PL mount. The Micro 4/3 mount will allow the cinemaesque CP.2s to be used on the popular Panasonic AF-100 camera instead of adapting the Nikon, Canon, or PL mount. Just another example of Zeiss keeping up with the latest and greatest. The CP.2 lenses have an optional support hole on the bottom of the lens that I would strongly suggest utilizing since the Micro 4/3 mount is very fragile compared to a PL mount. I certainly wouldn’t suggest relying on only the Micro 4/3 mount to support a lens as heavy as a CP.2.
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”