April 8, 2011

Canon Announces PL-Mount Cinema Zoom Lenses - Large-Sensor Camcorder to Follow?

In a surprise move, Canon has announced two new zoom lenses with the cinema-standard PL mount (note the green rings!). The lenses are 14.5-60mm T2.6 and 30-300mm T2.9-3.7, rated up to 4K resolution, and cover a 27.5mm image circle (plenty large for Super35-sized sensors, but not large enough for, say the RED EPIC's 33mm sensor). Considering Canon does not make a camera that natively accepts PL lenses, it would certainly make sense that their video division would also debut a large-sensor PL-mount camcorder to go along with these new lenses. Right?

Yes, you'd think that Canon will debut a cinema camcorder with a sizable chip sooner or later. Something to compete with the Sony F3, Panasonic AF100, and offerings from RED, perhaps? Something to compete with their own photo division, which has effectively taken over the cinema market from the video department thanks to HDSLRs? We'll see at this year's NAB, though we've seen no glimpses whatsoever of such a camera. If it's not at NAB, you'd think there will be something eventually. Here's a look at the lenses (no word on pricing yet), with the press release following.

Press Release

LAKE SUCCESS, N.Y., April 7, 2011 – Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging, today introduced two advanced-design PL-mount lenses that address the emerging 4K production standards. Designated as the Canon FK14.5-60 wide-angle cine zoom and the Canon FK30-300 telephoto cine zoom, these precision-matched lenses incorporate breakthrough Canon optical designs that simultaneously optimize and enhance multiple imaging attributes while minimizing optical aberrations and distortions. Both lenses are also more compact and lightweight than contemporary PL-mount lenses and both feature a totally new Canon optical design that virtually eliminates focus breathing. As digital cinematography continues to accelerate for theatrical motion pictures, TV movies, episodic dramas, commercials, and other forms of digital high-resolution production, professionals will require the very best in performance and image quality. By already performing in accordance with emerging 4K production image format standards, both of the new Canon PL-mount cine zoom lenses inherently ensure the very highest performance in contemporary 2K and HD digital motion imaging.

“Both the Canon FK14.5-60 wide-angle cine zoom lens and the FK30-300 telephoto cine zoom lens are engineered to meet the most demanding overall imaging requirements of the latest large-format single-sensor digital cinematography cameras, and the creative requirements of the most discerning cinematographers, producers, and directors. Canon’s new wide-angle FK14.5-60 and telephoto FK30-300 PL-mount lenses will be on display at the 2011 NAB Show along with many other Canon HD lenses and advanced imaging products in booth # C-4325 in the Central Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center, April 11-14.

“The 2K and HD digital production formats are firmly established in the global marketplace today, while 4K resolution is poised to further propel the imaging quality of digital cine production. Anticipating this exciting evolution in digital acquisition guided Canon’s developments of a new optical platform in recent years to meet the current and future imaging needs of high-resolution camera sensors,” explained Larry Thorpe, national marketing executive, Broadcast and Communications division, Canon U.S.A. “Canon has extrapolated a new optical platform – first seen during NAB 2009 on a working prototype 8K lens – to bring to market these two new PL-mount lenses. Advanced glass materials, exotic new optical coatings, and new computer-design techniques were all employed to achieve significant overall optical performance in these two lenses.”

Digital Cinematography for Feature Films

Canon’s new FK14.5-60 wide-angle cine zoom lens and FK30-300 telephoto cine zoom lens are both engraved with large, highly visible focus scales for convenient film-style operation. Both also have a common 136 mm front diameter for use with industry-standard optical accessories. The location, diameter, and rotation angle of the lens gears are also identical, which further facilitates convenience in exchanging lenses on-set.

The wide-angle FK14.5-60 maintains its T2.6 maximum aperture over the entire focal range, and with the virtual absence of focus breathing offers new freedom in exploring novel picture creation. The lens preserves a high MTF (modulation transfer function) at wide-open apertures, exhibits well-controlled light distribution across the image plane, and greatly curtails ghosting and veiling glare artifacts from strong light sources. These attributes combine to help ensure superb contrast under a wide range of scene-lighting conditions, help maximize the image-creation capabilities of the current top-of-the-line single-sensor digital cinematography cameras. The telephoto FK30-300 complements the wide-angle FK14.5-60 in larger studios while also servicing many outdoor shots with exceptionally vivid imagery.

TV Movies, Episodic Series, and Commercial Production

The focal ranges offered by the wide-angle FK14.5-60 and the telephoto FK30-300 cine zoom lenses are designed to flexibly address most of the needs of contemporary HDTV episodic program production. The short depth of field, high sensitivity, superb contrast ratio, and excellent picture sharpness of both lenses are designed to provide producers of TV movies, episodic (drama) series, commercials, and music videos with the creative imaging flexibility needed to fulfill a myriad of potential story-telling objectives. Both lenses are equipped with precision back-focus adjustments to expedite lens-camera set-up, which is especially useful in multi-camera TV production environments. The mechanism is concealed beneath a cover plate. In addition, both lenses provide superb control over geometric distortion to prevent visible anomalies when shooting at extreme wide angles on large studio sets that contain extended straight edges.

[via Matthew Duclos]

Your Comment

8 Comments

I would hope they do, but for now, I'm not sure. I have a pair of older Canon 7-63mm pl lenses at my school for our s16mm cameras. I don't recall Canon having made a 16mm camera, so this might not be a predictor of things to come.

April 8, 2011 at 2:56PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

0
Reply

Canon did make at least one 16mm camera, the "scoopic", but interestingly enough it had a non-removable lens, like a consumer camcorder.

April 11, 2011 at 6:28PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

0
Reply
SB

While this may or may not be a precursor to a large sensor camera in Canon's future, Barry Green on dvxuser brought up a good point. Canon has, in the past, made film lenses such as these, and these new ones are likely more of a response to the demand for PL mount lenses today. With the introduction of the RED, the sale and rental of PL mount lenses shot up some 80%. So, right now is a more lucrative time than ever to be selling PL mount cinema lenses, which is likely why Canon introduced these. So, does it mean that Canon is bringing out a new camera? Possibly, but not necessarily a guarantee.

Also, I read somewhere that these will likely retail above $25k. I'll try to find the link.

April 8, 2011 at 3:10PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

3
Reply
Bryant

Yeah, but absolutely everything about the market has changed since Canon made lenses for motion picture film cameras. Such as the fact that thousands of their DSLRs are being modified to accept PL lenses, and every other major camera manufacturer is coming out with a professional large-sensor camcorder. Canon absolutely will come out with one... if not this year, then next. Of course, I suppose it might not have a PL mount -- we'll see!

April 8, 2011 at 4:54PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

13
Reply
avatar
Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

Canon makes ENG video lenses too. No ENG camera though.

April 10, 2011 at 4:21PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

0
Reply

Canon really makes some of the finest ENG lenses, and a lot of them. Here in Germany you don't see anything but Canon or Fujinon from the smallest standard zoom up to the big 100x boxed lenses at sports events. And I think Canon has the lead in the high-quality sector.

However, the eng camera market is relatively small and pretty much saturated with Sony and Panasonic. I think it would be hard for Canon to get a foot there - when you make a steep investment of 20K bucks or more into a camera, you don't want to experiment with a new brand when there's proven quality from brands that have been around for years.

In the digital film camera sector Canon has already proven they can do a good job with their sensors, and people will try out a lot more and test new cameras as they emerge. It will be easy for Canon to hit the market with a new product here.

October 21, 2011 at 3:30PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

0
Reply
Heiko

Whether or not Canon puts a PL mount on there next large sensor camera isn't an issue, we all know you can mount just about any lens on any body. But maybe they will release 2 cameras like Sony; the F3 has a PL mount, and its little brother the FS100 has a native mount for the Sony SLR lenses (I think?).

April 13, 2011 at 1:43PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

0
Reply
Ky

The development is so much interesting but where is it available

April 15, 2011 at 6:42AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

1
Reply
Kisekka Rajab