Angénieux is a lens company that has been around for ages, but unless you're a regular on set, you may not know the brand. Famous for its zoom lenses, Angénieux also has a line of primes, a set of which were used in the recent production of The Whale. Check out our interview with the film's DP, Matthew Libatique, to learn more about why he chose those primes. 

But Angénieux isn't done innovating and has recently announced the full pack of full-frame cinema-grade zoom lenses with an optional easy-to-install mount for filming in Open Gate image capture. The new Angénieux Optimo Ultra Compact 37-102mm and 21-56mm Full Frame lenses were introduced at Camerimage 2022.

Let's see what this old guard is bringing to modern productions. But first...

A Little History

“Since the beginning of the 20th century, the formats have been subject to regular changes generating complete revolutions for cameras and lenses,” writes the Angénieux history page. “The latest ones come with the Full Frame cameras Sony VENICE, RED Monstro, and others to come. This new market trend is pushing lens manufacturers to adapt.”

Angénieux has been in the camera lens game since 1935. Created by French optical engineer Pierre Angénieux, the company has been creating custom lenses for cinema, television, space travel, and medicine since the 1960s before being acquired by Thales Land & Air Systems in 2017. 

A Prolific Pedigree

Based on Angénieux’s current Optimo design (found in its prime series), Angénieux says that the Optimo Ultra Compact 37-102mm and 21-56mm zooms are “direct descendants” to the original Optimo 15-40 and 28-76 lenses that have been popular with cinematographers for nearly two decades. The full-pack lenses come with an optional U35 back as part of their Interchangeable Rear Optics package, which can be swapped out with the conventional full-frame rear to shoot an open gate on the ARRI ALEXA 35. 

Ang\u00e9nieux Optimo Ultra Compact ZoomsOptimo Ultra Compact ZoomsCredit: Angénieux

With the U35 back installed, the lenses do experience a bit of a crop in focal length, with the lenses becoming a 28-76 T/2.2 and a 16-42 T/2.2, respectively. However, that translates to a 30% performance boost in gathering light for shooting at night or in darker scene conditions. The lenses can also be completely closed down without compromising contrast, color, and resolution to the overall cinematic look.

Matthew Libatique on 'The Whale''The Whale' Director Darren Aronofsky and DP Matthew Libatique using Angenieux Optimo Prime LensesCredit: Niko Tavernise

Angénieux developed the optical rear group design to meet these challenges and give cinematographers the ability to change camera platforms and multiple image formats on a dime.

“With such a system,” the website continues, “Angénieux offers its clients a great way to adapt their lenses for a large majority of image formats, and at the same time minimize the investment, resulting in a faster return.”

The lenses are also designed to support Vista Vision, making them very popular with rental houses that offer all three camera configurations for rent. This innovative new design will likely give filmmakers a triple threat of options to deploy with just one set of lenses and a focal range of 21mm-102mm at a constant speed performance rate.

AngoptimolineCredit: Angenieux

The Circle Is Complete

With the addition of new Optimo Ultra Compact 37-102mm and 21-56 Full Frame lenses, Angénieux declares the full frame set of optics to be complete with zooms and primes for all kinds of applications. However, the price is not for the faint of heart and will most likely be for rental houses only. Unless your name is Mr. Moneybags. That said, this glass is some of the best in the industry with character to match. 

Angenieux Optimo Ultra Compact Zooms

New Release!
  • Covers Full-Frame Sensor Size
  • 2.7x Zoom Ratio
  • PL Mount, T2.9 Aperture
  • 2' Minimum Focus Distance
  • Lightweight yet Durable 5.7 lb Form
  • 114mm Front Diameter
  • Appealing Cinematic Look Across Series
  • User-Changeable Feet/Meters Focus Marks
  • Cooke /i Metadata Connector
  • Interchangeable Rear Optics (IRO) Ready

They are available through Angénieux’s network of authorized distributors, most of which are spread throughout Europe. There is, however, one location in Los Angeles. Users can also find the nearest outlet on the Angénieux website if B&H isn't their go-to store. 

What do you think about this new lens set from Angénieux? Let us know in the comments!

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