Best New Lenses of 2017
This is the latest glass worth looking at...or through.
Lenses are probably the most subjective part of any camera package. Choosing the right glass can create an explicit or subliminal connection with the audience, heighten moods, advance plots, enhance characters, show beauty, transport us to past eras and so much more.
It’s becoming more difficult to point to one lens being better than another—especially if it’s chosen for artistic reasons—but let’s look at some of those that made an impression on us in 2017, listed in alphabetical order.
A longtime leader in high-end zooms, Angenieux has added the EZ series and updated the infamous Optimo 24-290 & 28-340 with the Optimo Ultra 12x. The latter offers full-frame coverage in a completely new mechanical design equipped with IRO (Interchangeable Rear Optics) technology allowing you to change out the rear group and rings to match different sensor sizes which can be configured for S35, U35 and FF/VV. More versatility in one lens.
The EZ series features a standard and wide zoom lens and touts the same IRO technology that allows users to change between different sensor sizes while providing practically for ENG shooters with the ability to switch from PL, Canon EF and Sony E mounts.
Little needs to be said about the UK-based company, but it's had a very busy 2017 introducing Panchro/i Classic in T2.2 to T3.2 primes and a set of S7/i full-frame primes to cover large-format cameras and sensors like the Weapon 8K. The company also took steps to standardize i/Technology. If you have a chance to test any lenses from Cooke, do so.
Both the MK18-55mm and MK50-135mm zoom lenses have been favorably reviewed and for good reason. The T2.9 lenses are lightweight, have a favorable image quality over Sigma glass, minimize chromatic aberration, and are very fast. But you don’t have to take our word for it.
We’re all familiar with Leica, and like Cooke, the company introduced a new large-format lens series this year dubbed Thalia. Based on the Leica S medium format lenses, the new glass offers optical advancement in image circle, coating, and iris design with entirely new mechanics and housings. Available in 24, 30, 35, 45, 55, 70, 100, 120, and 180mm, the glass is clear without being overly sharp and focus is smooth and forgiving without looking soft. Skin tones are natural and smooth with accurate color rendition.
Panavision Primo Artiste
When Light Iron’s Michael Cioni previewed the glass prior to Cine Gear Expo this year, the optics were impressive. The large-format prime lenses are built to handle 8K productions in 9 different focal lengths: 27mm, 35mm, 40mm, 50mm, 65mm, 80mm, 100mm, 125mm, 150mm at T1.8 and a 200mm and 250mm at T/2.8. A 14mm T/3.1 is expected to hit in 2018. What’s interesting about them besides the lens flares they produced is that they are built for artistic perfection over optical perfection to give a soft, smooth look reminiscent of vintage optics.
ZEISS CP.3 and CP.3 XD
There are a number of reasons why this set of full-frame prime lenses covering 15 to 135mm focal lengths stands out, but it’s the XD (extended Data) or lens metadata that gives us the biggest smile. The XD-enabled lenses can record metadata including focus distance, aperture value and depth of field for an easier workflow with visual effects. The i/Technology allows you to adjust distortion, shading and so on in post-production. Jenga.
While most of the glass in our list falls under the rental category, let us know which lenses you've bought this year that you're impressed with. Has anyone used/tested the Canon 70-200mm T4.4, new Sigma options, SLR Magic, Nikon or Sony glass?