Venus Optics looks like they're about to get serious when it comes cine lenses. The brand is known for developing unique focal lengths but has mainly concentrated its efforts on the stills side. Until today, only 5 cine lenses were available and those were solely wide angle primes of 15mm or wider. The company has introduced its first cine zoom, the Laowa OOOM 25-100mm T2.9.
The development of the lens took over 3 years and Venus Optics is hoping to attract filmmakers looking for a budget-friendly parfocal cine zoom that provides a signature look.
While the OOOM in its name stands "Out Of Our Minds" might be a marketing ploy more than anything, the optics do not cut corners. Designed from 20 elements in 16 groups, the T2.9 aperture is constant throughout the focal range. With Super 35 coverage and a 9-blade aperture design, the lens provides a 300° focus throw with minimal breathing for a smooth, buttery rack focus.
More impressive is its minimum focusing distance of 1.97 feet (60 cm) which makes it comparable to the Fujinon Premista 28-100mm T2.9, a fantastic yet pricey lens. This Laowa zoom nearly covers the full range of both Fujinon MK zoom lenses, which is nice if you're looking to travel with a smaller footprint. But keep in mind, this is a parfocal zoom lens.
Venus Optics says the lens can cover RED Monstro 6K, Gemini 5K, Helium 8K, and ARRI Alexa Mini 4K UHD, so you're getting slightly more than Super 35 coverage which should lead to less vignetting on Super 35 sensors.
In terms of image quality, the company says the lens is a blend of "modern and vintage optics," and the image is "not overly contrasty nor flat but with a very good sharpness of modern lenses" while rendering "a natural healthy skin tone and silky smooth transition."
The zoom, aperture, and focus rings are designed with 0.8 mod gears, and the 100mm front diameter can be stepped up to 114mm via the included step-up ring. The front filter thread is 95mm and is equipped for filters. On top of that, the lens has user-interchangeable PL, EF, and E mounts. The lens comes in PL mount by default and separate EF and E bayonets are included along with shim tools to tune the flange distance. Hopefully, more lens manufacturers pick up on this and make it standard.
The 4x zoom factor makes it ideal for narrative and documentary work to one-man-band setups. With a weight of only 5.5 lbs (2.5 kg), it's sure to please. The Laowa OOOM 25-100mm T2.9 is available to order for $5,000 USD. Additionally, Venus optics has announced a 1.4x FF expander and a 1.33x rear anamorphic adapter for the lens. Expect those to be released in about 3 months. Each adapter is around $999 respectively.