Web Analytics
Re: Mid-level cine prime recommendations

Re: Mid-level cine prime recommendations

Philip Holland

Hello all,

Seems like the questions here are for mostly FF35 or VV coverage glass.  I've been shooting RED VV for around 2 years now and have lots of thoughts and experience.  I own and use a fair amount of the mid-level glass ($,$$$ price point per lens) that's out there and the very good news is many of them punch well above their weight just on a purely optical level.  Matthew posted are somewhat recent Salt VV lens test and it was lit to be a moderate stress test to "reveal some of the gremlins".

Before I spew out some thoughts, just some notes on format size and coverage.  RED VV is the largest image circle out of the recent crop of larger format digital cinema cameras.  If it covers RED VV it will cover the Sony Venice and Arri Alexa LF.

That said, quick thoughts on some decent investments.

 - Tokina Cinema Vista: Actually designed for the RED VV image circle (46.31) and cover generously beyond that if you're super curious.  T1.5, nearly zero breathing during the pull.  Larger than many others, but also designed for a larger format.  Very nice performance wide open and have some nice character to them.  These are a newly designed lenses for motion picture use.  

- Sigma Cine: Smaller than Tokinas and more compact on the body, designed for FF35 (43.27mm-ish) and cover RED's VV format size.  Also T1.5 and a bit more of a compact focus pull with a couple T2s in there.  Their look is modern and clean.  Breathing a bit more than Tokinas as a set, individual lengths are nice in there however.  These are based on their still lens counterparts, the Art series.

- Zeiss CP.3: Mostly T2.1 with T2.9s in there.  Many of the optical benefits of newer lens designs and coatings from the CP.2s in a smaller housing with more consistent character.  They are the lightest weight option here, so if you're working gimbal or handheld they are pretty ideal.  Nice focus pull actually on these.  Also have XD for lens metadata, which is useful for VFX and other work.  Also designed for FF35, but cover RED 8K VV.  In many ways these are Milvus primes taken up just a notch with some added seasoning.

 - Schneider Xenon-FF Primes: T2.1 and one of the earliest in the game on this front.  Also designed for FF35 (RED VV wasn't around yet).  Most cover VV cleanly.  I think the 25mm was the one that has smidge of vignette occlusion at full 8K FF on VV, HD or WS are clear.  I famously have stated these are sort of a sudo modern and classic design.  If you are looking for a modern take on Standard Speeds for a larger format, nice there.  Minimal breathing, nice housing, also designed for motion picture use.  

 - Canon CN-E:  Stock they are EF, Duclos can surgically attach a PL mount and make life easier.  Familiar Canon look from some of their popular still lenses translated into motion picture lenses.  I'm fond of the faster primes overall and that sneaky 135mm.

 - Xeens: Lightweight, but for me there's much better glass out there for a smidge more cash.  I would say these are pretty entry level, but that's just me.  Similarly to Canon, their 135mm is pretty nice.  These are based on the Rokinon Cine DS line, which are commonly used as crash cam lenses due to their rather aggressively affordable price.

I'll clamp things off there for motion picture glass.  All of the above are widely serviceable lenses, meaning lenses you can actually send in and get repaired or serviced all over.  Which to me means they are good investments.  There's a couple other sets out there that are mostly a rehousing effort and even two sets that never came to market, one of which I really wanted.

Honorable and notable mentions as I do use them on the VV.  EF mount isn't exactly the most ideal for motion picture use, but I've gone through great lengths to modify some lenses for a variety of reasons.  

Zeiss Otus Primes: All f/1.4, 3 exist today with more on the way. 28, 55, 85mm equals a nice wide, medium, and tele working set for VV.  Clean modern look and decent focus pull on the 55 and 85.  The 28mm is a shorter throw.  Duclos modified my set with metal gears and 114mm fronts so I can toss them into the helicopter/Shotover F1 setups.  Some of my favorite night work to date has been done with these wide open in the air.  Most land in the T1.5-T1.7 range when actually measured.

Zeiss Milvus: Similar to the CP.3s these can be very, very lightweight.  If that's your goal for your rig, certainly worth exploring.

Some nice vintage still stuff that works well like the Leica-R, Canon-FD, and Olympus-OM.  All are flawed to some extent for motion picture work, but each have their own general aesthetic and the lenses are generally compact.

Side note, I also own the Schneider Cine-Xenar III primes for S35 and those are honestly some of my favorite glass for the S35 format.  To me they are one of the most underrated prime sets out there.  I purchased them over a few usual suspects and have shot some lovely images with them over the years.

Hope that helps,


Phil Holland - Cinematographer
818 470 0623

From: cml-glass@... <cml-glass@...> on behalf of Cloudchaser <david@...>
Sent: Thursday, March 8, 2018 2:25:00 PM
To: cml-glass@...
Subject: Re: [glass] Mid-level cine prime recommendations
I’m wondering why the Cooke miniS4i lenses aren’t in this discussion. I shoot with them a lot and while the 2.8 speed isn’t ideal, the Cooke look is.

David Mallin, Cinematographer & Educator
(415) 378-7573
On Mar 8, 2018, at 20:25, Leonard Levy <nsll@...> wrote:

Would love to see comparative tests of those or any lenses that do and dont exhibit “character” .
I have been convinced by Cooke’s if I could afford them though .

Join cml-glass@cml.news to automatically receive all group messages.