October 28, 2013

A Brief Comparison of Arri-Zeiss Cinema Lenses from AbelCine

One of the important characteristics of a set of cinema-style lenses is that each and every lens in the set is manufactured to have the same visual characteristics. They should each maintain a certain level of sharpness and render colors and contrast in the same way as the other lenses in the set. However, it's often necessary to use more than one set of lenses on a production, and in those cases it's important to know the visual similarities and differences between the lenses. In AbelCine's look at Zeiss's new Compact Zoom cinema lenses, they compared them to the famed Arri-Zeiss Ultra Primes and Master Primes. Here are the results:

Here's AbelCine's "At the Bench" video, which provides a brief introduction to Zeiss's line of CZ.2 lenses, then compares their aesthetic to other high-end cinema lenses from Arri-Zeiss, the Ultra and Master Primes:

Why might you choose to differentiate from your main set of primes on a set and choose a cine-style zoom? Perhaps you want a B or C camera that can be mobile and change focal lengths at a moment's notice. Perhaps you have budgetary restrictions that makes another full set of primes a no-go. Whatever the reason, cine-style zooms are oftentimes and integral part of the production process.

In those cases, when you want to shoot with different lenses on your production, shooting lens tests like these can be an important step in the pre-production process. Through determining how each lens handles sharpness, color, contrast, and distortion, you can be best prepared to correct the differences between the lenses in post production, which makes cutting between different cameras with different lenses a seamless process.

What do you guys think of Zeiss's new CZ.2 lenses and how they compare to the Master and Ultra Primes? Let us know in the comments!

Link: Testing the Zeiss CZ.2 Compact Zoom Lenses -- AbelCine

Your Comment

16 Comments

The audience sees what the camera sees ... the lens is the eye of the director ... The rest is just imagination ...
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Bring me a flavour ... I'll see what I can do...

October 28, 2013 at 6:20PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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So i've always wondered with the CP.2's if there is a crop factor when using them with S35 cameras instead of full frame. Can anyone enlighten me? thanks.

October 28, 2013 at 7:55PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Jerome

S35 sensors have a 1.5x crop, slightly less than a ASPC sensor. So a 50mm would be similar to a 75mm on a S35. Not even Zeiss can get around crop factors.

October 28, 2013 at 8:36PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Keeping in mind a S35 has been the standard WAY before we started using shitty DSLRs to get video. Nothing has changed, but peoples view. 35mm is still a 35mm.

October 28, 2013 at 9:23PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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John

Lenses don't have crop factors. Sensors do. The crop factor is measured by ratio compared to full frame still cameras. However, films have been shot in S35 format for decades. While film runs through a stills camera sideways, it runs through a cinema camera vertically, meaning that each frame is about 24mm wide and 16mm tall (compared to the (35mm x 24mm of still frames).

Most cinema lenses are designed to work optimally with S35 sensors and film. Using a cinema lens on a full-frame camera may result in aberration and other artifacts in the image. I'm interested to see how typical lenses perform on the new dragon sensor, as it is larger than S35.

October 28, 2013 at 9:33PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Kenneth

VistaVision was sideways too.
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PS. Robert, thanks for the reply (below). I am curious to the F/T lens numbers. We all recall the famous Carl Zeiss Planar F/0.7 that Kubrick and John Alcott used on "Barry Lyndon", but is there a general F/T Stop limit above which a major studio cinematographer (working with a high end camera) will prefer not to exceed? In other words, a 5.6 may be acceptable but 8.0 is not? (Or is that a dumb question?)
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PPS. The new Sony RX 10 has a constant aperture lens.

October 28, 2013 at 11:29PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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DLD

Definitely not a dumb question! Since most lenses are sharpest through the middle of their aperture range and tend to soften up at the extremes, a lot of cinematographers play it safe with their aperture choices, keeping it anywhere from 2.8 to 8 or so. The thing to keep in mind though, is that how you set your aperture is a big creative decision, and not just a technical one. I often times find myself stopping down to 16, or sometimes even 22, when I want that crisp, endless depth of field. Conversely, it can be fun to shoot wide open on longer lenses because of that super shallow dreaminess, although your 1st AC will probably hate you.

All in all, there really aren't rules for how to set your aperture. As long as you're making those decisions based on the script and the characters and their emotions (and getting a correct exposure), no decision is necessarily an incorrect one.

October 28, 2013 at 11:53PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Rob Hardy
Founder of Filmmaker Freedom
4750

@ Robert: well said, sir. I think popular ideas of what constitutes a 'cinematic' look have considerably broadened out from the bokeh obsession of a few years back. 2.8 is not only a good general principle, it's also the aperture common to a lot of damn fine vintage glass, which gives everyone a common set of creative parameters regardless of their spending or renting power.

October 29, 2013 at 2:32PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Dolly

Mucho thanks again, Robert. And naturally, a follow-up.
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Let's look at Sergio Leone's 3-man "The Good, the bad and the ugly" shootout sequence in a recent post. How would you work your cameras and lenses for that scene? Would you zoom out for the wide shot or would you change your lenses between the wides and the close-ups? Or would you make it a 2-3-4 camera process and then splice the edit later on?

October 29, 2013 at 7:23PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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DLD

Hi Kenneth. If sensors are where the cropping occurs, can I use a M43 Voigtlander lens on a camera that isn't M43? I'm personally worried about investing in more M43 lenses, as the format may disappear and/or I can't attach the lenses to anything but M43. Or am I wrong? Investing in a full frame Zeiss makes more sense.

October 29, 2013 at 11:25AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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You can't use a M43 lens on a bigger sensor - like S35 - because the image circle of the lens does not cover the entire frame. More precisely, you can mount a M43 lens on a bigger sensor but the image will suffer of a strong vignetting

October 29, 2013 at 2:12PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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G. C.

Thanks for your reply G.C.!

October 30, 2013 at 9:50AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Are most of the ultra high end cinema zooms constant aperture?

October 28, 2013 at 8:33PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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DLD

A vast majority of them are, but every now and again I come across one that is variable aperture like the Fujinon 85-300, which goes from T2.9 to T4. That's like a $40,000 lens I'm pretty sure.

October 28, 2013 at 10:54PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Rob Hardy
Founder of Filmmaker Freedom
4750

We just worked with a Fujinon 18-85 T2 lens. 89 THOUSAND DOLLARS.

October 29, 2013 at 12:12PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Thom

We used a fuji 19-90 cabrio as a secondary lens for a short

i wouldnt pay 40 grand for that thing, its boring and doesnt flare at all, such a prude lens

October 30, 2013 at 3:24AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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john jeffries