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Affordable CP2s quality compared to more expensive cine lenses?

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Seth Marshall
Affordable CP2s quality compared to more expensive cine lenses?
on Oct 6, 2013 at 5:30:39 pm

If I were to be in a position to purchase lenses the CP2s obviously look very attractive. I haven't worked with Canon or Red cine primes and admit I may be biased against them for being so new (although I really like my Canon B4 Cine lens).

My concern would be buying something compatible with future cameras (and oversized chips) and all the high image quality concerns. I remember John Sharaf answering a thread a few years ago mentioning the Leica Summerilux-C as being the best available at the time. But the CP2s should also cover an oversized sensor. I hear the Leica's have the same focus marks (not sure if that's true) but are over 4x the cost.

Why are the CP2's so cheap?


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john sharaf
Re: Affordable CP2s quality compared to more expensive cine lenses?
on Oct 6, 2013 at 6:22:05 pm

Hi Seth,

This is a very common and now more frequent concern and question, especially with the increasing number of choices in larger imager, PL Mount cameras and their availability at price points that are much more attractive.

Once you are considering this type of camera purchase, you are immediately thrust into the choice of lenses dilemma. It kind of breaks down like this; at the low end is using still photo lenses (they are cheap and readily available, but often require kluggie adapters, and do not have proper focus gearing or wide range of focus markings), then there are the low cost PL mount lenses like the CP's you mention as wells as the Reds, the Sony's and even the EF mount Canons, etc. and finally the high end legacy and new PL mount primes and zooms some of which are specifically designed with large CMOS imagers in mind (offering telecentricity and contrast more appropriate for digital capture).

Like most decisions these days, your ultimate choice will be driven by economics. It's natural to want and to assume that the highest price lenses, like the Summicrons, the Master Primes and the Cook 5i's are the best. For the most part, this is true, but if your end product is for the small(er) screen or even internet, then the expense of the "best" lenses is clearly overkill. The exception is of course if you also intend to use dry hire rentals as a way of recouping your investment and/or as a business in itself. In these cases, I advise buying the best lenses as they are what the rental community wants and will have a much longer life cycle.

You ask specifically why the CP's are so cheap by comparison, the answer is quite simple and obvious; they are made from cheaper materials, in an assembly line fashion, and have less stringent quality control. Furthermore, their design incorporates the interchangeable mounts which opens the product up to a larger market. This is not to say that they are "bad" lenses. Clearly for the price they are very good, and with the Zeiss name attached come with a certain confidence of quality.

One thing to consider is that all individual lenses are unique. That is to say that if you take any two examples of the same lens and project them in the lens lab it's quite possible that you can objectively see differences in edge sharpness, contrast and chromatic aberration. If it is possible when you buy lenses this is a good due diligence to preform. It presumes however that the vendor has a stock of multiples of what you want and the projector setup to actually view them on. Sadly, this is not often the case. When you buy expensive, top of the line lenses you can often insist on this process.

There is nothing wrong with buying used lenses, but if they're older style film lenses they will not have the clean, contrasty look that the newer ones have, and it's likely they'll vignette at the corners at the wide focal lengths because they're not telecentric (parallel light transmission). In this case however, you should really take the lenses to a lens shop and have them evaluated on a projector. The lens expert will point out any specific issues and advise you if it's just a matter of adjustment or repair or whether its a chronic concern.

As I say, buying lenses for your move to a larger format camera is an agonizing, time consuming and expensive project, but the reward can be many years worth of beautiful images. Try to think in the long term, not just about the project you need the lens for next week!

Good luck,

JS



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Seth Marshall
Re: Affordable CP2s quality compared to more expensive cine lenses?
on Oct 6, 2013 at 6:58:10 pm

thanks John. Just trying to figure out my future move. No camera selected yet, waiting for the market. I've always bought gear, most people don't bother with it. I, however, have always managed to pay everything off with rental and would prefer to own.

I love your Canon 21x7.5 and have been using it on a F5 recently with Abel's HDx35 adapter. We're only shooting 1920x1080 but even with the adapter and light loss it looks pretty darn good. I've been trying to find info online about image quality loss using such an adapter but it's sharpness appears the same on my HDX900 with no chromatic issues.

Does anyone (or do you know John) of Image Quality issues using this adapter with high quality B4 mount lenses when shooting 4k? For daytime exterior I may consider buying this adapter and having the full range available to me from a B4 lens. Other than low light I'm not sure what makes this combo any less attractive than even a Master Zoom, it's that good (at least at 1080).

As you can see maybe I'm sensing out what to buy next, don't worry, I don't need a lecture on holding onto my money. Everything I buy I research to death, which is why I'm asking here. Primes are nice, so would a nice PL zoom. Just weighing my options.


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john sharaf
Re: Affordable CP2s quality compared to more expensive cine lenses?
on Oct 6, 2013 at 7:13:14 pm

HI seth,

I'm glad that the Canon Cine Zoom is working out for you, but honestly the quality of that through the B4 Adapter on the F5 is going to suffer. It's all relative though; as long as you are just shooting one camera and stopping down a little bit to get to the sweet spot of the lens you'll do OK, but if you A-B'd that rig with a proper 4K zoom lens like the Fujinon Premier 24-180 you'd see a night-and-day difference and especially if you did it in the lens lab with a chart.

It's been more than a few years since you bought that lens from me, so you clearly made a good investment in terms of the life cycle and making your money back on what I recall was a very fair used price. In the 2/3" world, that lens is still as good as it gets. The equivalent purchase of a PL mount zoom lens does not really exist. The closest is a used 24-290 Angenieux Optimo which might cost about $60K. In that realm I'd suggest the new 25-250 Optimo at about $45K, except that it won't be available until next fall at the earliest, but take a look at that if you get a chance at the next trade show you attend. One lens that is similar and available now is the Canon 30-300 which is very sweet at about $42K (with 0% financing I think).

JS



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Seth Marshall
Re: Affordable CP2s quality compared to more expensive cine lenses?
on Oct 6, 2013 at 7:57:57 pm

thanks again, and also thanks again for that "very fair used price", it was and the lens is still my favorite!

Those other zooms are gorgeous, especially the Optimos. Probably a little too much lens at this point for me to purchase, support wise with what I'm doing. I believe I need to be a little lighter even if a prime package ends up costing more. All things to consider. A used legacy zoom sounds attractive, but for those super long zooms I'll probably either rent or consider the adapter on my B4 if it makes sense.

Just trying to see what's next. It's always good to chat with you, forgive me for mentioning the 21x7.5 every time-- just a friendly hello! Do you post anywhere else? I've noticed these forums have run a little quite (with the exception of calls for novice help) and I always like to lurk where there's good information to be had!


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Todd Terry
Re: Affordable CP2s quality compared to more expensive cine lenses?
on Oct 7, 2013 at 5:46:16 am

Jumping in just a sec... John's advice is, as usual, spot on.

I too would steer clear of any adapters, especially any that have an optical element in them (not just a pure mechanical adapters). They're certainly not going to do you any favors, image quality wise.

I always encourage people to in use the best glass they can, you obviously never want the lenses to be the weak link in your chain.

One of the good things about lenses (at least for the mid- and higher-end ones) is that they really are an investment. Every single piece of equipment in my place has depreciated since it was purchased, that's only natural. And anything electronic especially has depreciated like a rock. Not the lenses. My primes though, slightly vintage as they are, are worth a fair bit more today than when I bought them. And I only expect them to continue to appreciate.

"Vintage" or "used" isn't a bad word either, as far as lenses go. There's a reason that vintage Cookes have gotten so difficult to find (and so expensive, when you can find them)... often still preferred by DPs who have the resources to pick any glass they'd like.

I'm the third owner (at least) of my set of primes... the two previous owners being bigshot ASC cinematographers. That line of succession will probably end with me (at least for the foreseeable few years), but not because they aren't in demand.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Seth Marshall
Re: Affordable CP2s quality compared to more expensive cine lenses?
on Oct 7, 2013 at 4:17:10 pm

Good advice, thanks for chiming in. Not defending the use of adapters, you are certainly right about that. But Abel has put a lot of care into this particular adapter as it is an optical one. In case you haven't heard or seen it, it costs $5000. It's still best to not add glass, but if I had to use one it would be one built with a similar amount of care.

thanks!

By the way, I love Cooke's, but I recently used an older 20-100 and wasn't too impressed with it at it's wider apertures. Are their zooms not as coveted as their primes?


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John Fishback
Re: Affordable CP2s quality compared to more expensive cine lenses?
on Oct 7, 2013 at 8:21:42 pm

You might want to checkout the new Schneider Xenon-FF primes While the CP2s are based on still lens designs, the Schneiders are said to be based on cine prime designs. I'm no expert about this, but I've read some excited reviews of these new primes.

John

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