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July 10, 2012

Which 24mm Lens is Better for the Blackmagic Cinema Camera, Canon or Sigma?

Dave Dugdale over at Learning DSLR Video is often reviewing gear from a practical and non-biased viewpoint, and the newest video with DeeJay Scharton from DSLR Film Noob is no exception. With the new Blackmagic Cinema Camera, a 24mm lens is going to become your normal lens, so if you're interested in shooting in lower light at a reasonable focal length, you're most likely going to want a fast 24mm lens. Dave and DeeJay take a look at the Canon 24mm f/1.4 and the Sigma 24mm f/1.8 Macro on both full frame and crop cameras, but the part of the review that will apply most to those who've preordered the BMCC is the performance on the crop sensor camera. Though the crop factor of 1.6 still does not match the 2.3x crop of the BMCC, it's a much better representation of performance than on the full frame camera.

Here is the video review:

This is a little of what Dave had to say about it:

So for build quality it sure seems like the Canon is far superior just because of some of the focus issues we had by just breathing on the Sigma.

So overall I think the Sigma works pretty well for the crop sensor cameras for video, maybe not so much for stills and the Canon works well for both.

There aren't too many fast lenses at this focal length, but it will be an important one because it is the normal lens for the Blackmagic Cinema Camera. We've talked about some other options, like the Samyang 24mm f/1.4, but if you're a stills shooter as well, that lens will not be able to autofocus. There are many factors to consider when buying lenses, and often those on a budget should decide whether they need lenses for video, stills, or both, and buy accordingly. As Dave says, the higher priced Canon seems to do both stills and video just a little better, so that may be something to consider if you also want a good wide lens for taking stills. On the other hand, the Macro ability of the Sigma might make up for its slower speed and sharpness depending on the shooting you do.

If you're not looking at the BMCC, and are shooting video with DSLRs, the sharpness of the lens won't be quite as noticeable since the Canon cameras themselves throw away so much resolution in video mode. This isn't to say you can't notice it, but I've often found that the differences between lenses in video mode isn't nearly as dramatic as it is in stills mode. Certainly, if you're buying a lens to use on a full frame camera like the 5D Mark III, the Canon might be the better option since it was slightly better in the corners on full frame at wider apertures.

In the end it comes down to price, and none of the lenses mentioned will give poor results. I've usually recommend that people buy lenses in Nikon mount since they can be adapted to Canon cameras and will obviously work on Nikon's F-mount, but if you're looking for autofocus, you'll need to get a native Canon mount lens.

Which 24mm lenses do you guys prefer?

[via Learning DSLR Video and DSLR Film Noob]

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58 Comments

I know it wasn't in the list, but I am a huge fan of the Canon 24mm T/S-E F3.5L. It has great color, resolution and sharpness. And with perspective control and focus shift, a standard lens just can't approach the creative control.

July 10, 2012

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I completely agree with you there. The 24 TS-E (new version) is one of the sharpest lenses I've ever used. It is cornersharp (even shifted) on Fullframe and even holds up for medium format use (Hartblei). Heck, you can even shift it on medium format. If it wasn't for the f3.5 it would just be the only 24 you'd want in your bag.

July 12, 2012

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Raphael

Zeiss 25 f/2 and done.

July 10, 2012

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Peter

You can't go wrong with Zeiss, but many are turned off by the price since it's a manual only lens.

July 10, 2012

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Joe Marine
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I cannot blindly agree on everything ZEISS being that impressive. I've tested the 85 1.4 (Nikon-mount) and it was just a pure disappointment. Even ZEISS has to be questioned from time to time. Well, the 85 1.4 did go back and was replaced with a 85 1.4 Nikkor (for photographic purposes). The Nikkor did perform better.

July 12, 2012

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Raphael

Lenses can vary from sample to sample, so it's very possible to get a bad Zeiss and a great Nikon. I would expect Zeiss to have a little better tolerance, but let's not kid ourselves, these aren't the cinema lenses that have hand picked perfect glass and are made in Germany. I actually have owned both the Zeiss 85mm 1.4 and Nikon 85mm 1.4 and I didn't have the problems you mentioned. Both lenses perform flawlessly. So there's a good example of lenses varying between samples.

July 12, 2012

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Joe Marine
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I don't rule out the possibility that we've gotten a bad/flawed Zeiss there. May very well be. After all, as you mentioned, not all Zeiss are made in Germany these days. So the tolerance level on these products has most certainly increased by outsourcing the manufactory. But the image quality in regards to cromatic aberration, corner sharpness was too much off for us to keep the lens. The mechanical build quality of these lenses on the other hand, one has to admit that this is truely a big step up from canikon glass. And if one wants awesome Zeiss lenses, there's always the compact primes. On that note, I haven't had the opportunity to use/feel the new canon's, but I expect them to be quite good. Maybe almost on par with the cp2's?

July 12, 2012

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Raphael

I wouldn't expect them to be quite that good, and certainly for motion the Canon lenses will breathe a lot more than the CP.2s (which don't really breathe at all). I know that they tend to pick the glass a little better for the CP.2s and they also have greater tolerances. As far as tests go I couldn't point you in the direction of one, but I know Shane Hurlbut has used pretty much every lens imaginable and he liked the Zeiss lenses a little more than the Canon lenses, though both should give a great image.

July 12, 2012

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Joe Marine
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cheers Joe

July 13, 2012

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Raphael

Zeiss 25mm is f2.8

July 10, 2012

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Felipe

They also make a 25mm f/2.0 now.

July 10, 2012

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Joe Marine
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And I enjoy it, and its long-throw manual focus.

July 11, 2012

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Peter

I have the Zeiss f2 and it's amazing and worth the extra few quid

July 11, 2012

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Peter

You are right...I have the 25mm 2.0 by Lock Circle and the Canon 24mm 1.4 and the Canon can´t be included in the "prime" category when we talk about Zeiss....Only by not having hard stops and manual aperture without 1/3 stop steps the Canon is not even comparable to the Zeiss...

July 12, 2012

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Augusto Alves d...

I, probly won't buy a BMC any time soon but, I have a Sigma 14mm 2.8 that's pretty impressive. It's supposedly a little soft in the corners but, I'm using the center section (1.5 cf).

July 10, 2012

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dixter

Actually, a 21mm will be your normal lens (21 x 2.3 = 48.3mm as opposed to 24 x 2.3 = 55.2mm).

Zeiss 21mm f/2.8, light your scene, done.

July 10, 2012

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Chet

Yes but there aren't many lenses available at 21mm (even less of them are faster than 2.8), so for all intents and purposes the 24mm is going to be your normal lens. I'd much rather have the option of 1.4 if I can get it. Above all, that 1.4 lens at 2.8 is probably going to be sharper than the 21mm lens wide open. For me personally I'd much rather have have my normal lens (or close to normal lens), be a fast one since I use that focal length so often. Again this comes back to wishing it had a Micro 4/3s mount, as there are plenty of fast lenses at weird focal lengths.

July 10, 2012

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Joe Marine
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With the center cropped from that 21mm... trust me, sharpness @ f/2.8 is not going to be a problem with that Zeiss lens. It's a fine piece of glass.

July 10, 2012

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Chet

I would definitely have the Samyang 1.4 available for static/low-light/iris pulled shots if needed. Other than that it garbage as they breath quite heavily... and the Canon... yeah, you can't declick that.

July 10, 2012

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Chet

no Samyang/Rokinon 24mm f/1.4?

July 10, 2012

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MRGABE

They blow. But the 35 f/1.4 and 85 f/1.4 varieties are gems.

July 10, 2012

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Chet

Out of curiosity, what about them blows? I have the 35 and 85 and agree, they rock. I've seen more negative reviews about the 24/1.4 but am always interested to see what people's first hand experience with them is.

July 10, 2012

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Doesn't perform as good as it's siblings wide open; softer. There's some distortion. It breathes heavily. Not really a f/1.4.... maybe a f/1.5-f/1.6 in actuality.

July 10, 2012

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Chet

Really? I was considering the Samyang 24mm as a good option for a wide lens. The 35 and 85 perform very well.

July 10, 2012

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Are you basing your judgments on more than the lenstip review? Apparently they reformulated this lens, withholding it for a few months after that.

And there may be cine versions of all of these coming out at some point to follow the 8mm (you really don't need a cine 8mm as the hyperfocal distance covers most of your needs), at which time we should revisit them.

July 11, 2012

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Peter

This may sounds like a dumb question to some... does anyone know if all current zeiss lenses fit on BMCC? I have a few nikon zeiss lenses for my letus just wondering if they will fit on the BMCC. Thanks in advance

July 10, 2012

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BIG M

Yes, Zeiss ZF is the way to for this camera. They'll cover all your focal lengths except the wide, which the obvious Tokina 11-16mm is the preferred option as of right now.

July 10, 2012

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Chet

Yep, you just need a cheap F-Mount to Canon EOS mount adapter and they'll work great.

July 10, 2012

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Joe Marine
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Thanks guys appreciate the prompt response : )

July 10, 2012

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BIG M

I wouldn't go so far as to recommend cheap (as in Fotodiox cheap). The last thing you want it play in your lenses. Leitax adapters are good alternatives, reliable alternatives and recommended by many.

July 10, 2012

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Chet

You can take out most of the play in those adapters if you have to (there are some simple solutions) - the issue is that different lenses might be tighter or looser, and obviously some have tighter or looser focus rings.

July 10, 2012

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Joe Marine
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Why don't you enlighten those who use cheap adapters as to what solutions you're talking about. I'm sure they'll be most grateful for such information.

July 10, 2012

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Chet

Either this with the grooves: http://forum.mflenses.com/viewtopic.php?t=26659&view=next

Or you can add a very, very thin piece of plastic or folded paper (maybe thin cardboard) between the lens and the adapter. I've done both, and they both work. Obviously the only fool-proof way is to physically attach a Canon mount. I've got a lens with one of those, and it works great.

Again different lenses will have different tolerances when an adapter is attached, some will be tighter than others. So you've got to be careful with the more permanent method of widening the groove.

July 10, 2012

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Joe Marine
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I also recommend the Leitax adapters, IF you are planning on leaving the adapter on the lens. You remove the original screws and screw the adapter right onto your lens with the longer screws provided. Cost of shipping to the USA might make it a less attractive option for those in the States, though. It wouldn't be an ideal solution if you have a large number of lenses or use cameras from different makers -- or foresee doing so in the near future.

July 11, 2012

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taylor

Let's wait till the cams come out to start all these considerations...in the meantime, let's start a petition for an optional 4/3's mount

July 10, 2012

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Roberto C.

There's nothing to consider when you have a set of Zeiss lenses waiting. Blackmagic are aware of the desire for MFT, but they don't plan on doing it anytime soon, so a petition would be pretty pointless. If/when they want to implement that mount, they will.

July 10, 2012

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Chet

I have cine lens, aperture declicked, Angenieux 14,5mm f 3.5 for sale. FOV BMC is +- 35mm full frame. interested please email felipeleo@estudionatural.com

July 10, 2012

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Felipe

The real question is, what super wides are there other than the popular tokina 11-16mm?
Any chance you will do a list of such super wides that you feel are more adequate for the BMCC Joe? Or a list of cheaper super wide like M42 mount lenses since many, like myself, might not be up to have big expenses after buying this camera?

July 10, 2012

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Raphael

Sigma 8-16mm, Samyang 8mm to name a couple.

July 10, 2012

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Chet

I'll never get my hands on all of them so I'd be guessing about the quality of some of them, but we've had some comments on previous Blackmagic posts talking about all of the wides available.

BMC User ( http://www.bmcuser.com/ ) is a great resource for this kind of thing - lots of knowledgeable people there talking about lenses of all kinds.

July 10, 2012

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Joe Marine
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Why are you showcasing the WORST possible wide lenses, have you seen the distortion and CA on these lenses, and let's not start about the detail rendering and color. Imagine if you have to filter these lenses with Pol 4x4 or ND's, it wel decrease in quality even more

No film should have abnormal 'fisheye-ish' distortion.

The way to go is old contax Zeiss lenses with adapter (I own a set)
For wide there is only 1 propper choice for cinema and that is the Tokina 11-16 due to it's straight distortion, there is simply no other choice that is respectable for cinema, unless u want to buy a leica 16mm or Nikon 15/18mm which run into the 800+ euros as well.

July 10, 2012

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Sico

Sigma 14mm 2.8 is a good option, or the Canon version if you have a lot of money. Straight distortion so no fisheye.

July 10, 2012

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Andreas Lange

Neither lens. Get the samyang/rokinon/vivitar lens. Much sharper than sigma. Cheaper than canon.

July 10, 2012

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vincegortho

I own and shoot both video and stills with Canon lenses and the 24 f1.4 L series is a beautiful piece of glass. It holds up really well in low light and makes a beautiful image.

Here's a short trailer we did using the 24mm L series lens in low light conditions.
I think the images speak for the performance of that particular piece of glass.

http://vimeo.com/40567977

July 10, 2012

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well since they are both still lenses, they suck ass at proper filmmaking.

July 11, 2012

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john jeffreys

Wait. Aren't you the 'true art' troll? Shouldn't you be all 'bah look at these guys trying to find good, clear, sharp, fast, cheap lenses. I use a dirty old plastic lens with a crack going down the middle'?

Do I have the wrong guy?

July 11, 2012

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Jason

no, right now im like "bah look at these guys using photo lenses for video, and dealing with short focus throws and no hard stops, a lack of aperture rings, and clunk AF mechanisms polluting the lens"

July 11, 2012

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john jeffreys

I can't believe I post the weird artsy stuff and you don't say anything...Slightly disappointed.

July 11, 2012

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Joe Marine
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ive been away from the computer for the past few days, so ive been checking the site on my phone and i hate commenting on my phones little software keyboard but that sigur ros contest article was chill. id be so down to enter it.

July 11, 2012

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john jeffreys

Did you get a chance to watch any of the music videos - specifically the Shia LaBeouf one?

July 11, 2012

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Joe Marine
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