If you aren't familiar with the Ronin 4D by now, you should absolutely dive into the realm of what this camera can do. By fully integrating a camera body into a stabilized gimbal system, you can move the camera in new and fascinating ways.

But by putting a full-sized cinema camera body at the back, capable of shooting RAW and interfacing with a larger workflow, DJI didn't just make a new action camera, they made a new cinema platform.

The biggest question, then, is what lenses can you use? Because there are major limits to the lens equation with this camera. 

Check out our video here, then the breakdown for more info.

Ronin 4D Lens Choices 

Since the sensor and lens mount (what we might call an image block) is being stabilized, it needs to be a physically compact lens that is also lightweight. DJI's lens list seems to top out around 1.1lbs or so.

For comparison's sake, the XEEN CF lenses are a "compact and flexible" solution that are well known for their lightweight carbon fiber construction, but they all weigh around 2 lbs each. Even though that is what we think of as "light" for a cinema lens, that would be too heavy for the Ronin 4D. The universe of what we traditionally think of as "cinema glass" is unfortunately out.

1416834437_1100188The excess strip that sticks out is going to interfere with movement in the tight confines of the 4D camera.

Still lenses, though, are doable. So, we're talking about exploring a few key areas; first, modern still photo lenses that have internal focus motors, so that the 4D can control focus with its amazing LiDAR autofocus or with the remote control.

The other option is vintage still photo lenses that have been adapted for cinema use. This needs to be something with a completely unified focus ring, not a zip ring, since the space in there is tight and anything using a zip ring is going to run into interference.

Whenever anything new comes out, we want to do what we always do, which is to shoot a test!

The good folks at B&H and LensRentals were nice enough to loan us lenses, so each lens will have a link to buy through B&H or rent through LensRentals.

The Zeiss Batis Line

The most obvious major player in this space is the Zeiss Batis lineup of lenses. Zeiss lenses are popular with filmmakers, and while the Batis lenses are clearly focused on still photographers, that halo effect bleeds over.

The Batis also have a lot of the features that filmmakers are going to want in a lineup of lenses. They are very well color-matched to each other, have very pleasant skintone reproduction (a good balance of detail and smoothness), a smooth bokeh, and well-controlled flare. They are lightweight and come in around $1,500/lens.


One major caveat with the Zeiss Batis is that they are so modern, they have nothing on the outside, just an OLED screen with no switches. This is mostly fine, but one of the lenses we rented didn't switch easily between Manual and Autofocus modes.

This is generally done via the menu on the Sony cameras the Batis lineup is designed for, but it wasn't easy to accomplish with the Ronin 4D. It's a small thing, but it made us lean toward lenses with physical switches. 

Sigma Contemporary and Art

Sigma offers probably the widest array of different lenses that all work with the Ronin 4D in the Sony E mount, even more options than Sony. Sony lenses are sometimes a little heavy.


A few of the Art lenses will work, but the widest selection, and the one we focused on testing, was the Contemporary DG DN lineup. We like these lenses in general, with their compact construction, physical focus and iris rings, and old-school aesthetics.

We especially love the price point. They all come in at less than 40% the price of their Batis competition ($1,500 vs. $650 or so), which is a major cost savings when you look at building up a whole set of lenses.

Along with the increased affordability, we found the image on the lens quite pleasing, very clear, very crisp, and just slightly more flare than the comparable Batis. For some, this could be a welcome aesthetic over German precision. 

DJI D-mount


Many reviewers have been frustrated with the native D-mount lenses available from DJI, and while we only got to test one, the 35mm, there were benefits we found that outweighed some of the drawbacks.

The native DJI lenses are very lightweight with their carbon fiber construction, and have great integration with the 4D. The close-focus wasn't amazing, but that is to be expected considering their heritage in drones.

The image didn't have a ton of personality, but sometimes you just want a nice clean image.

Leica Summicron


At the top end of the budget, we have the Leica Summicron.

The lenses are undeniably nice. You absolutely see the least flaring on these lenses from any of the examples, which really speaks to the types of things you can get from top-of-the-line glass. In addition, you also get really nice skintone reproduction.

However, there is one thing to be aware of. They have these little nubbins on the side that you would need to remove to create a lens focus ring. If you are thinking about these lenses, you want to be sure you get them set up properly for cinema use if you buy or if you rent.

These will likely be a popular rental item for the 4D that will lead to most rental houses getting them set up properly at least as an option.

Canon FD

We absolutely had to find a way to fly some vintage lenses on here, and the brilliant folks at CinemaGlass were nice enough to loan us a few Canon FD lenses that had been fully converted for cinema use that we were able to fly on the day. 

What can we say?  We loved it.

Vintage lenses have a personality and a look that is impossible to recreate with modern lenses, no matter how hard you step on the footage in post. There are materials in those lenses that are sometimes illegal to work with now, cause the past was a crazy time. The FD glass is the least consistent lens to lens, but so what? It's got personality, it's got flare, it just looks good.


On top of that, the combination of a vintage FD with the slight autofocus integration of the 4D is a dynamite combo. It gives you the ability to craft images you just couldn't before. If you wanted that kind of autofocus backup, you needed to be on a modern lens. Now, you can have LiDAR powered autofocus, but with vintage glass.

We're looking forward to seeing some other vintage lens sets that fit within the limits of the 4D hit the streets.

Zoom Lenses

We also tested a Tamron zoom, but honestly, it's not a great fit for the 4D. To get the maximum benefit of the amazing autofocus and remote focus features on the 4D, you need a parfocal zoom, and the Tamron isn't.

Now, to be clear, this isn't a dig at Tamron. Still, photo zooms don't need to be parfocal. But we don't think it makes sense to use a non-parfocal zoom with this camera. 

Hopefully, we'll see somebody roll out a compact, parfocal, internal motor zoom for this camera soon. But I don't even know who would, and there will absolutely be other sacrifices in the lens design to make a lightweight parfocal zoom that covers full frame.

What We Think

Conclusions are really tricky since this is just a new space, and the answer with lenses is always "it comes down to what you want to do."

If I were buying for an institution, I'd probably go with something from Sigma. They're durable, robust, really nice-looking, and adaptable to a wide array of situations.

If I had all the money in the world, those Leicas are nice, and a proper cine-modded set for the 4D would be killer. But honestly, they are absolutely not 10x better than the Zeiss Batis. Assuming firmware issues get worked out, the real competition here is between the Zeiss and the Sigma, and you have to ask yourself if it's worth 2.5 times as much for the Batis lenses. 

For most users, our first recommendation would be to give the Sigma at least a test shoot, and we think you'll be happy with the results.

Personally, if I were investing in a 4D, I might be tempted to go for vintage. You'll need to pay to convert them, and you'll constantly be hunting for a pristine copy, but the combination of how beautiful those FD lenses looked while flying on a modern setup was a really dynamite combo. You are going to get more flare, and more personality, and they have a look that is just hard to nail in post. It's not going to work for every client, so if you are doing a lot of corporate or sports work that might not be the move. But for narrative or commercials, it's got a real style.