November 14, 2013

Panavision Announces Primo V Lenses, Their First Glass Made Just for High-Resolution Digital Cinema

Panavision Primo VIn the past few weeks we've talked multiple times about high-end cinema lenses. First, we shared a brief comparison of the Zeiss Compact Zooms and Arri-Zeiss Ultra/Master Primes. Then last week, we talked about Cooke lenses and why the "Cooke Look" is so desirable to filmmakers. However, there's one major brand of high-end cinema lenses that hasn't gotten much NFS love yet, and that brand is Panavision. That trend is about to change, though, because Panavision just released their Primo V series of lenses, which just so happen to be the first cinema lenses designed specifically for large sensor, high-resolution digital cinema cameras. Read on to see what these lenses are all about.

Even though Cooke S5's and Arri-Zeiss Master Primes are about as top of the line as cinema lenses can get (they all cost more than my car), Panavision glass has been the gold standard for cinema glass since the late 1950's. Their various sets of both spherical and anamorphic lenses have been used on many of the greatest films of all time, and the Primo line of lenses has even won an Academy Award for technical excellence.

Despite the fact that Panavision equipment isn't as widely used throughout the industry as it once was, the company is still pushing the limits of filmmaking technology. They're currently working on a prototype of a digital 70mm cinema camera, and they released their brand spanking new line of digital cinema lenses, the Primo V's. Here's what sets these lenses apart from the competition (from Panavision's press release):

Panavision Primo V

The Primo V lenses are designed to bring the look and feel of Panavision Primos to digital cinematography, using the lens elements from existing Primo lenses, long an industry standard for top cinematographers. Primo V lenses take advantage of specific design adaptations to work in harmony with digital cameras, maximizing image quality while delivering Primo quality and character.

Digital cameras require additional optical elements including low-pass and IR filters that increase off-axis aberrations. Primo V lenses have been re-engineered to correct for this. Patent pending modifications eliminate the coma, astigmatism, and other aberrations introduced by the additional glass between the lens and the sensor, while preserving the desirable imaging characteristics of the Primo optics. The resulting image appears more balanced center-to-edge.

Over the past few years, many lenses have been marketed as being digital cinema lenses, without there really being any significant differences from traditional lenses. To my knowledge, the Panavision Primo V's are really the first lenses to be made with both the advantages and limitations of digital sensors in mind. Through compensating for the additional optical elements that are built directly into most digital cinema cameras (like optical low pass filters), these lenses achieve pure optical perfection, or at least something close to it.

Of course, the optical differences between these and the traditional Primos could very well be negligible to the naked eye, so it would be wise to shoot some tests if you're considering renting out a set of these for your next production.

The full set of Primo V primes will include 14.5, 17.5, 21, 27, 35, 40, 50, 75, and 100mm focal lengths. You can read more about these lenses in the Panavision press release, and you can see their exact specs in this nifty pdf.

What do you guys think of the Panavision Primo V's? Do you see any reason to choose lenses specifically designed for digital cameras over traditionally designed lenses? Do you think that more manufacturers will follow suit with their own lines of digital-only lenses? Let us know in the comments!

Link: Panavision Unveils New Primo V Lenses Optimized for Digital Cameras -- Panavsion

Your Comment

26 Comments

Good enough you love writing and know how to capture your readers. On the other hand I'm sure there are visual artists like myself who will wait for a video to surface before we can actually give proper critic about this V lens. So for now V just have to line up in queue like the others. ..

November 14, 2013 at 1:58AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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These were apparently designed by the same guy that designed the Metabones speed boosters glass.

November 14, 2013 at 3:05AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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IAN

Can someone please explain briefly how the Metabones speed boosters work, I don't really understand how they can increase the amount of light transmitted, I've been to the site but still don't really get how they work technically although I understand the concept.

November 14, 2013 at 4:11AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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James

Lens is designed to provide a certain amount of light to the area of certain size film/sensor. If you use this lens with a camera that's sensor size is smaller than the area it was designed to, you loose some of the light that lens is capable delivering because lots of it falls outside the sensor's frame. When you put a corrective lens between you change the area that light is delivered to. Amount of the light the lens delivers is still the same, but it is now all captured within that smaller frame, none of it is wasted (well some of it is still outside the frame and u loose some extra light when adding optics but you still gain more than you loose)… therefore it seems to increase the amount of light.

November 14, 2013 at 6:00AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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ts

It isn't light transmitted by the lens in total that's changing, but the light transmitted to the surface area of the sensor. Photo lenses are designed to cover the area of a single frame of photographic film (full-frame sensor size), the speed booster changes this so the light converges onto a smaller area. Whilst you lose a little due to the extra piece of glass that's outweighed significantly by the amount gained by focusing the light that would otherwise be wasted.

Hope that helps :)

November 14, 2013 at 6:52AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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AdamS

I swear ts' reply wasn't there a minute ago, how odd!

November 14, 2013 at 6:53AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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AdamS

Don't sweat it both answers are good.

November 14, 2013 at 8:22PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Gary

The accessibility of these lenses are likely going to follow suit with other Panavision products no?

PV Generally doesn't sell anything. Period. They also generally don't like renting out JUST glass. Often times you'll need to get a camera with the glass and with their PV mount.

Which brings me to my next point. Expensive mount PV adapters in the event that you do need it w/ another camera.

I am a big sad though that Leica isn't making their glass anymore. Loved the Primos.

November 14, 2013 at 3:54AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Steve Lee

My understanding is that these will more freely available for rental, and (possibly?) available in different mounts.
To be honest, Panavision needs the money.

November 14, 2013 at 11:36AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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marklondon

I understand PV's desire to keep themselves in the loop by being rental only, and that's actually kept them in business all these years...but the business has changed (for that millionth time) and they haven't. Now that Arri, Angénieux, and Cooke are making four-perf sized anamorphic lenses in PL mount (not relying on Panavized Reds and Arris), along with the fact that they don't currently have a popular digital camera (maybe that will change soon when their new format comes out), if they don't continue to stay relevant, they deserve whatever comes to them. The anamorphic format was mostly their game for many years, and they unwisely didn't even embrace it with their own digital camera. Their closed loop has (finally) lead other brands (besides Hawk) into this market without them.

November 20, 2013 at 3:58PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Daniel Mimura

I'm excited to throw these up and see what they look like. If they're intended for digital cameras I wonder if they have a similar flange distance as the Optimo DPs.

November 14, 2013 at 9:26AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Lee

Pardon my ignorance, but i'm a little confused, high resolution digital cinema? The original lenses were meant to be shot with a film camera, which in theory, doesn't Film have a higher resolution than digital cinema cameras in the market? So are these lenses just a down graded version of there other lenses?

November 14, 2013 at 9:34AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Edward

Yeah, that was a bit mis-phrased. These have the same optics as the original Primos, so in theory, they should resolve the same amount of detail, just without some of the aberrations that are caused by the optical elements in digital cameras.

Also, even though lots of lenses are marketed as 4k these days, almost all of them, especially the higher end ones, are capable of resolving images much, much larger than 4k

November 14, 2013 at 10:33AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Rob Hardy
Founder of Filmmaker Freedom
4496

Panavision are touting it as a feature that these lenses are not the sharpest.

“Cinematographers tell us that the hyper-sharp sensors in today’s digital cameras can result in images that are harsh and lack personality,” says Panavision’s VP of Optical Engineering Dan Sasaki. “The Primo V lenses bring the smooth, organic flavor of Primo lenses to the high fidelity digital image.”

November 14, 2013 at 1:51PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Pippy

A 35mm film scans down to ~ 3.5K (although, that also apparently depends on the grade of film and that is way beyond my area of expertise). I assume Panavision has designed these for today (4K) and tomorrow (8K). As mentioned above, they are just emerging from bankruptcy. Their previous source of income from from both camera and lens rentals, where they had a de facto Hollywood monopoly (unless you wanted to shoot on Arricam, which were bigger in Europe). With digital film making, the PV pricing power is gone. They have recently appointed a new CEO and, I assume, are trying to readjust their site. They're also developing new (4K or even 8K) cameras but, in that category, they're facing stiff competition from the global conglomerates too.

November 14, 2013 at 1:54PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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DLD

Don't forget about Leica's Summilux-C line.

November 14, 2013 at 11:44AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Matt

"Even though Cooke S5′s and Arri-Zeiss Master Primes are about as top of the line as cinema lenses can get (they all cost more than my car), Panavision glass has been the gold standard for cinema glass since the late 1950′s."

Strictly speaking it shouldn't be there, but I'll allow the first apostrophe for clarity's sake. The second instance I cannot let pass.

November 14, 2013 at 2:02PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Pippy

Using an apostrophe to turn S5 and 1950 into their plural forms is a perfectly acceptable (and formally correct) use of an apostrophe, guy.

November 14, 2013 at 2:21PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Rob Hardy
Founder of Filmmaker Freedom
4496

You don't use an apostrophe to pluralise, fellow.

November 14, 2013 at 5:09PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Pippy

After looking it up, you are indeed correct. But that doesn't mean I have to like it. It looks damn funny to my eye to write out plural forms of numbers without an apostrophe. So there you have it, guy.

November 14, 2013 at 5:53PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Rob Hardy
Founder of Filmmaker Freedom
4496

Re: Pippy - You forgot something. Strictly speaking is an adverbial conjunction and needs a comma after it, fellow.

November 15, 2013 at 7:24AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Razor

I embrace the fast-read nature of the internet and, as long as things remain clear, omit the comma where there would not be a pause in reading. I was hesitant at first but now I'm a convert.

November 15, 2013 at 7:39PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Pippy

So are these Super35mm lenses or what?

I thought Panavision was working on a new set of 70mm lenses.

If I'm reading this release correctly, these are slightly modified Primos for digital cameras only. If they made changes to the glass to account for IR, etc., how will they perform on film cameras (or not at all)?

November 14, 2013 at 2:16PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Anon

From what I've read, these will not work on film cameras at all. Frankly though, I'm not sure why that would be the case.

November 14, 2013 at 2:25PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Rob Hardy
Founder of Filmmaker Freedom
4496

lenses... lenses... two bits of definition doesn't create a new story...
...
but give me the money and I buy those... and don't look back...

November 14, 2013 at 6:32PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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I buy lens made in the 80's to 92 prime lens like LOMO the one on OCT 19 mount ( Russian lens a kind of Zeiss copy ) Zeiss from medium side photography like the Pantacon Six ( you could convert them on PL mount )
Canon FD they are manual and easy with an adapter to go to the new canon mount.( on a Blackmagic )

Last mount i buy a foton zoom made by LOMO 37mm to 140mm on PL with a kind of universal mount so it's easy to change the lens mount to oct 19, Canon,and PL this zoom was in mint condition and only 5 inch 1/2 long and made in 1986.This lens cover the super 35mm ( film format ) I am in Canada and i buy it from Ukraine from a ebay seller.

I think a good lens still a good lens... Maybe one day i will have the chance to buy some angenieux prime like the one used by Stanly Kubrick
I also buy a SPIRATONE fish eyes lens made in Japan in the late 70's filmmaker buy them to using it with arri 2 C and at this time this lens cost 175.00 $

November 15, 2013 at 1:13AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Pierre Samuel Rioux