Cooke Optics is on a roll with new glass. Will its new S8/i Full Frame Spherical Lenses keep up the momentum?
Cooke lenses are good. So much so that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences bestowed the company an award of merit for helping define the look of motion pictures over the last century.
The natural and warm characteristic of Cooke lenses is now called the Cooke Look.
Today, Cooke Optics takes another step toward modern image acquisition with a new line of full-frame lenses that will give filmmakers dedicated lenses for large-format cinematography.
For a company that defined the look of motion pictures, it might be silly to ask, but are they going to be any good?
According to Cooke, the new lenses are faster, lighter, and smarter. These three words are the foundation upon which the Cooke S8/i lenses are built.
What does that mean? Let's find out together.
Fast and Bright
When talking about faster lenses, creatives often think about aperture. With the S8/i line, Cooke will have the vast majority of its lenses at T1.4, making them a perfect solution for low-light cinematography. It will also give filmmakers incredible control over their depth of field as more cinematographers rely on ND filters to control the aesthetics of their image.
The 9-blade iris is also designed to give organic, natural, smooth, symmetrical bokeh across all lenses.
But fast also means efficient when it comes to working on set, and Cooke lenses are calibrated to get accurate focus. There’s a reason they’ve been so loved for decades.
The new S8/i lenses will also have a dual scale cover that can be flipped to show imperial or metric measurements depending on which side of the pond you’re shooting on. Unfortunately, this is not a quick swap and will have to be done by your local lens shop.
If you’re feeling brave, you could probably do it on your own, but with what Cooke lenses cost, you may want to leave it up to the pros.
Light as a Feather
Okay, maybe the new S8s aren’t as light as a feather, but when compared to Cooke’s S7 line, the new lenses are said to be more compact and light enough to be used with one hand. At least according to Cooke. We’re pretty sure filmmakers will still use both hands to ferry the S8s around set.
But the new compact design will make them a lot more versatile in different situations.
Will they be a good fit for gimbal or drone use? That depends on how big your gimbal or drone is. Until we get final specs, you’ll probably want to stick with a tripod or go handheld. With both hands.
Brawn and Brains
Keeping with their three-word theme, Cooke has elevated the intelligence of the new S8/i line.
Much like its other lenses, the S8s will include Cooke’s /i Technology. But this line has been modified with a larger board that has been moved behind the dual iris scale cover for easy maintenance. This will make them cheaper and faster to service.
All of the lenses will also have Cooke’s new /i3 Technology System. This builds upon the current metadata system and provides inertial tracking and shading data in addition to lens metadata. This data is used by applications to improve matchmoving and 3D camera tracking, making the S8s a great solution for VFX work.
While we usually ask if you should buy these lenses, Cooke glass is highly sought after for productions with the budget to handle them. With the pedigree that Cooke has, the new lenses will probably fall in the same category.
The initial release will consist of seven lenses and will include a 25mm, 32mm, 40mm, 50mm, 75mm, 100mm, and 135mm. All of these lenses will have a T1.4 aperture and will start at $34,650. That's a bit on the pricey end, so this will definitely be a set that you rent.
Another nine lenses will fill out the line in late 2022 with an 18mm, 21mm, 27mm, 35mm, 65mm, 85mm Macro, 180mm, 250mm, and 350mm for a total of 16 lenses.
While most of these lenses will also be at T1.4, Cooke has confirmed that a few lenses will top out at T1.8, T2.5, and T2.8. For most, if not all productions, this will be more than enough.
Cooke lenses aren’t something you think about buying for your kit—these are lenses you dream about. The S8 line is a strong step forward for Cooke, and we’re pretty sure cinematographers will be having dreams about these as well.