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 eBay1.

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]