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December 3, 2011

Cinematics CT.2 Lenses are Chinese Knockoffs of Zeiss CP.2s for Half the Price

After speaking at AENY, a great community of film/MGFX folks in NYC, I was chatting with some DPs and one of them mentioned Chinese knockoffs of the Zeiss CP2 lenses. My ears perked up, as there's a dearth of low-cost cinema primes in the world. The Zeiss CP2s, at $4k a lens, are in fact some of the cheapest available at roughly $20k a set. It turns out the Chinese knockoffs he mentioned retain the genuine Zeiss optics, for half the price. The question is, are they any good?

First of all, an overview of prime lenses: most sets run $30k or more (here's a great breakdown), and when your camera costs $50k, that makes sense. But with cameras like the Sony F3, RED SCARLET, and Canon C300 hitting the market for $15k, there's a decided need for more inexpensive cinema primes. The Zeiss CP2s are, after all, rehoused Zeiss ZF still lenses for three times the price, and while there's a rumor that CP2 Mark II lenses are on their way, in the meantime one of the best budget options is Duclos Lenses' Cine-Mod. The Cine-Mod is a modification to the Zeiss ZF still lenses, which is exactly what these new CineMatics are. In fact, here's Matthew Duclos himself with the details:

As far as I can tell, the lenses are not re-barreled, but just... Barreled. It looks like the original lens is left intact and the housings are added on top of the original lens. Not a bad thing, just curious... The site says they can add a aperture ring for an additional charge, I assume to ZF models only which already have an aperture control ring. It also notes that to remove the click-stops, there is another additional charge which tells me that the original aperture assembly is kept intact. I would love to see these lenses in person as they could be a good alternative to the much higher priced CP.2.

As someone who sells CP.2 lenses and runs the Cine-Mod program, Matthew is being very generous with his description. It seems like he couldn't get any more details, and I've also inquired about doing a review of the lenses here in NYC (on my pending SCARLET, as well as perhaps the Sony F3 and Canon 5D Mark II as well).

If the brand Cinematics sounds familiar, they have a variety of accessories including matte boxes, some of which are on eBay.

The Cinematics CT.2s are priced between $1k and $3k a lens (hit the link below for the full store listing), with most of them coming it at roughly half the price of the CP.2s proper -- though getting a de-clicked aperture with ring runs an extra $77/lens. The CT.2 lenses also come with a variety of mounts (PL mounts incur another unknown extra charge), here are the options:

Lens Standard Interface: Optional Canon EF bayonet mount, Nikon F-bayonet mount, Pentax K-bayonet mount.

Optional switch interface: Olympus, Panasonic 3 / 4, PL films mouth (extra cost).

One thing that's not exactly confidence-inspiring: they spelled "customized" wrong. And naming your product "high cost," in the States at least, isn't the best marketing practice. I'll post with updates as we hear more...

Link: Cinematics - High cost costomized film lens

[via Matthew Duclos]

Your Comment

41 Comments

To the best of my knowledge, the premium price with CP2s has always been due to the build quality and the fact the optics match across the range of focal lengths. They aren't just rehoused ZFs as ZFs don't necessarily match across the range.

To be honest I would probably be more comfortable buying ZFs and get Matt to do his Duclos mod on them, as I think that's what these Chinese knock offs effectively are.

That being said, I'd love to be proven wrong and for these to be like bargain CP2s. If so I'd certainly buy a set.

December 3, 2011

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CraftyClown

the CP.2 are hand-picked ZF, rehoused

and whether they match throughout the set or not depends on how demanding you are: for me, they probably do, but much more experienced people say they don't:
http://timurcivan.blogspot.com/2011/07/examination-of-lenses-carl-zeiss....
(yes, those are CP.1, but I think the message holds true for the CP.2)

December 4, 2011

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That is rather fascinating, but you're paying quite a bit extra for basically a fancy "wrapper". Without the longer focus throw of the CP.2 lenses, I would say you're better off with the Duclos mod.

December 3, 2011

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They also have zoom versions which look to be rehoused Nikons http://www.pchood.com/zoom%20film%20lens

December 3, 2011

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I would like to see some test footage with thoses lenses. I got some chinese LED light panel a year ago at very good price and they still working great.

December 3, 2011

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Panasonic AF300...

Hi, what about Carl Zeiss Contax lenses with C/Y mount
did you test them? just want to know, they have focus like Zeiss Planar T* ZE or Zeiss ZF have?

December 3, 2011

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Marat

I'm curious if you couldn't just get a cine-housing for your older nikon primes, I wouldn't mind having a bunch of .08 pitch gears on my apertures and focusing rings in a clean design, not to mention the sexy look of the lenses. I would think it would be interesting to have clean focus marks and the like on my lens...

December 3, 2011

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Can someone help me out here.....cos I'm missing something. what's the point of wrapping these still lenses. Ok, I get the declicking , but even so, a quarter of a stop here and there can be sorted in most grading programmes. I understand that it will make follow focus less hassle, ( I use Leica r lenses with cinevate ff and the rings do keep falling off!) but other wise, should I really be planning enter the world of these expensive primes? This is a genuine question in that I know that lens quality is paramount, I understand the differences in apparent depth, light fall off etc? I already have a wide range of Leica r lenses all with solid canon mounts built up from a career as a photographer......should I really be long at these new primes with envy?......am I going to gain much by investing a substantial amount of money in a new set.....? Any comments greatfully received

December 3, 2011

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I also use Leica-R lenses and they're awesome

modern zeiss glass is sharper, but that makes it more clinical, many people think Leica-R is nicer

also, all my Leica-R lenses have long-throw focus, and many of them also have matching iris and focus ring positions, so it's halfway there to cine mod already

I'd say:
* if you want or need that, get them declicked (I declicked most of mine, but I understand it's a dangerous adventure not everybody wants to experience)
* get step-up rings to 67mm or 77mm, and glue them in front of each lens (you'll obviously also need matching front caps)
* find a FF gear design that you like, buy one for each lens, and carefully glue it in position
after doing all that, the only thing to envy from a CP.2 set are the precise focus marks (and I can live without those for $20K price difference on the set)

as for image quality again, I guess you have already seen this:
http://www.hurlbutvisuals.com/blog/2010/02/06/still-lenses/
http://www.hurlbutvisuals.com/blog/2010/07/03/leica-r-mount-lenses-for-t...

December 4, 2011

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"And naming your product “high cost,” in the States at least, isn’t the best marketing practice."

I read the Chinese cinematics page -- "high cost" should have been "high value-to-cost ratio"

December 3, 2011

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Dan

They don't do anything but put a hood on te lens. It's just a silly cover to make them look like PL lenses. Same focus. Same ring. Does not work.

December 3, 2011

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Well, Looks kinda can get your clients to pay more. XD

December 3, 2011

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Putt

Just curious but does anyone know how to declick the aperture ring for any lenses at all? I own a set of leica R primes and have zero complaints except for the clicking aperture. It would be phenomal to have smooth aperture espeically for tracking shots going through varying light sources.

December 3, 2011

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It is actually pretty simple, if you can remove the aperture ring, you'll find just a tiny little ball bearing. take that out and you have a de-clicked aperture. Look up guides for each specific lens online. They have most, with pictures. It's not hard though!

December 4, 2011

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Moore

what Moore said, plus:

if the lens is correctly assembled to begin with and you have infinity focus (which I've found is not always the case with vintage lenses), you don't need to fully dissassemble it: just get the mount out, get the iris ring out, remove little ball and spring below it, add thin layer of plastic somewhere to get right amount of friction (otherwise the aperture ring won't stay in place!!), and reassemble

the most difficult big is dissassembling and then reassembling the thin, flat, black metal circular piece you'll find just around the back element, with the tiny black screws; take a picture of it before you dissassemble, and maybe put your camera on a tripod and record all the process if you're not confident with what you're doing

December 4, 2011

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Anyone know of a guide to de-click Leica R lenses? A quick google search yielded nothing. Really appreciate the info though and might try removing the bottom mount and take a look.

December 4, 2011

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I didn't find anything either, so I just put my Indiana Jones hat on and went for the adventure

I may have some time to shoot a guide in January, but certainly not before that

December 5, 2011

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and I should also say: not all Leica lenses are the same: the 35mm and 50mm are very easy to disassemble and reassemble; I think the 90mm was easy too; the 135mm, I haven't opened it (that would be the one I'd use for shooting the guide); the 180mm was absolute hell, I had already done 4 vintage lenses, including the elmarit 35 and the elmarit 90, and I just couldn't re-assemble this one correctly; I ended up "modding" one bit that didn't look all that important (read: breaking in purpose just so it would fit; like when Homer was obsessed with puzzles: "but pros use scissors!!") (it works perfectly, but it's not something you're supposed to do!!)

December 5, 2011

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Just to be clear, I wasn't just referring to these Chinese versions, but also cp2s, red, Sony etc.....

December 3, 2011

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The main advantage, beyond the improved optics, better build quality, and follow focus friendly throw, is that all of the lenses have the same form factor. So that you can quickly change from one to the next without having to change matte box position, FF position, etc.

Part of why they make more sense for a major production is that it costs a lot of money to have a large crew waiting around for you to reconfigure your rail system. Within a few days or weeks you might recover the cost of the cinema lenses in labor savings, by shaving 5 or 10 minutes here or there.

For an indie production - the benefit is somewhat less, since the crew is probably you and a few friends whose time is "free".

December 4, 2011

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Jim Chisholm

@Austin ducloslenses.com can de-click you lenses.

December 3, 2011

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Justin

Thanks! Just emailed them for a quote, might try to do it myself. Really excited to make my Leica R set perfect :)

December 4, 2011

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Duclos lens emailed me back, 60 dollars per lenses... pretty damn reasonable if you ask me. Going to have them mod it for me asap and will post a review as well. Thx for the info!

December 6, 2011

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Wow, I'm going to order my scarlet and was looking for a lens that isn't too expensive and this is the one. Thanks, Koo!

December 3, 2011

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Putt

Austin,

I have declicked a minolta rokkor 58. It was not difficult (depending on keenness of eye & steadiness of hand) ;-)
It has been a couple of years, so I can't give a tutorial right now (I would search google/ youtube), but I can tell you that IMO, the risk is minor that you will ruin lenses. You have to keep track of the parts. For me it was actually a pretty simple process (different lenses may vary, of course). I did have to modify the shape of the Aperture ring so that wide open would lightly lock into place and not slip back slightly. Also, de-clicking leaves the aperture ring pretty loose. This has not been an issue for me, but I am reminded that I have been meaning to come up with a slight dampening solution.

Norman Lomax,
Are you are getting the results you want with the Leica lenses?
To me the best way to see differences with lenses is testing them side by side. Not just chart tests, but field tests that give a feel for the different lenses. I will sometimes choose a slightly softer lens if it has that certain unnameable something.
You could rent/ test lenses and gain some relativity.

Marat,

I have experience with the Zeiss C/Y 50 1.7 and 85 1.4. Both very nice optically. They both have plenty (more than 180º) of focus throw.

December 3, 2011

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Granville

I love my vintage Leitz glass: much better than anything else I've used (which includes other vintage glass, mostly zeiss jena, and some modern primes and zooms, but no canon L and no samyang) and the price is great (I got my 35+50+90+135+180 for about $2K) (on the wide end, 28mm and below, they're not so great, that's why I don't have any)

they're quite sharp:
http://www.similaar.com/foto/lenstests/lenstestsa.html
http://www.similaar.com/foto/lenstests/lenstestsv.html
but the thing I love them for is the absolutely gorgeous bokeh:
http://www.similaar.com/foto/lenstests/bokehtests.html

the only side-by-side real world comparison I have is this shot (which doesn't say anything about sharpness, I was just looking at bokeh):
http://www.similaar.com/foto/tuten/330.html

I have some lovely footage from the leitz elmarit-R 35mm f/2.8 on the bits in the mountains in this video:
http://vimeo.com/28918901

in any case, everybody beware: vintage glass is a lottery, not all lenses are well preserved or correctly assembled, no matter who the seller is or what he says:
http://www.similaar.com/foto/lenstests/lenstestsc.html

December 4, 2011

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Shot most of my reel with the gorgeous Leitz glass- http://vimeo.com/24895308

December 6, 2011

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Do want! Hmmm $10,000 for a kit is close to do able.

December 3, 2011

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Proceed with caution - the "rehousing" is just a shell over a standard, un-modified lens that's not designed to take the strain and may break, leaving you with a busted ZF out of warranty. Duclos clarified via twitter that he was being too nice to these lenses... Now, Duclos' own cine-mods are amazing. If you want to save some money from a set of CP.2's, that's the way to go.

December 4, 2011

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They didn't misspell it... that's how it was meant to be read. COST-O-MIZED being that it will help save you money.

December 4, 2011

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I have a GH2 and it being a micro 4/3 sensor I wonder if the fitted mount would ether make it an accurate mm on the lens or I need to still keep in mind the 2x crop. like a 25mm would be a 50mm equivalent.

December 4, 2011

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Ryan Elliott

Ryan,

It doesn't quite work like that. Adapter mounts usually err on keeping the collar distance of the lens the same so the focus marks remain constant. In other words, a 50mm lens is still a 50mm lens. With smaller sensors you're looking at a different *field of view* or *angle of view* because your camera's sensor crops into (aka uses a smaller portion) of the circle of light a lens projects.

The focal length of a lens is the distance between the nodal point of the lens and the focal point of the light when the lens is set to focus at infinity. Because photographic lenses are compound lenses, a millimeter rating is an "effective" rating of the lens.... yeah, the whole science of optics can get complicated.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Focal_length
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crop_factor

December 6, 2011

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Angelo

I LOVE the look of these lenses. I'm definitely going to try them out. Thanks!
Once I have to try I'll review and post.

December 7, 2011

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mark london

The company Cinematics just sent me out one to review here very soon. I'll do a review for you all.

December 10, 2011

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yay were looking forward to your review!!

December 28, 2011

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michelle

WHERE IS IT THEN CHUMP??? All talk and no action..........

November 12, 2012

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Daan Gray

It's good to be able to get equipment or a cheaper price. In this industry, without the big bucks you will find yourself going broke. I welcome quality knock offs at a cheaper price. I here a lot about build quality. That's just a term they use to jack up prices. Would it kill them to keep lenses that are just plastic, glass, and metal under $1000?

December 12, 2011

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adrian bethea

Anyone buy these lens yet? Thinking of getting them for myself. Would love to see sample vid.

December 28, 2011

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Pete Kanis

So if they are so bloody good, why arent they widely available and WHERE are the VIDEO reviews and footage??? Until then, most of us here aren't going to budge!!!

November 12, 2012

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Daan Gray

Just wondering if anyone has yet got there hands on either one of the primes or zooms that Cinematics offer? I'm especially interested in the Nikon re-housed zoom lenses they have on their site. Would be very keen to purchase if I could find some unbiased opinion and video online.

May 19, 2013

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I do not know how the company spelled customized, but they are just outside of Hong Kong. Hong Kong was governed by the British for many years and the British spell customized as "customised". Also, having studied Chinese at PSU, the Chinese use only descriptive terms like high cost. They don't usually put any marketing spin on descriptions. I know this is not film related but perspective is always good. So a misspelled word should in no way make you think the lens is no good. Actually check it ou then talk about it.t

January 31, 2014

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Spencer