April 18, 2010

Cine lenses for HD DSLRs

Carl Zeiss is creating a set of prime (from 18mm to 85mm) and zoom lenses for HD DSLR cameras.

Its upcoming Compact Prime CP.2 and Lightweight Zoom LWZ.2 lenses will have interchangeable mounts that can be used with Canon EF, Nikon F, and PL-mount cameras.

The primes can be used on full frame cameras (like the Canon 5D Mark II), and will all open to T2.1 (although in the press photograph of the lenses, the 85mm is shown as a T1.5). However, the 15.5-45mm/T2.6 zoom lens can only be used with crop sensors (such as on the Canon EOS 7D – up to 24.9x18.7mm, a Super 35mm film frame). The zoom will weigh about 2kg, which makes it useful for Steadicam applications. Thanks to the interchangeable mounts, the lenses should be very attractive to hire companies, as they will cover a wide range of traditional cine cameras and HD DSLRs.

Prices are likely to be at least as much as many of the cameras they are fitted to, and they should be available from June.

Being designed for moviemaking, they will be a lot easier to use than stills lenses, especially for focusing, with longer focus rotation (making it a lot easier to be precise – particularly for manual use).

The iris opening in the prime lenses uses 14 high-precision blades, which stay consistently round and symmetrical over the entire T-stop range. This should translate into natural and pleasing out-of-focus highlights and a smooth bokeh (the ring around the blurred highlights). The lens design and tight tolerances are claimed to "ensure low distortion, high resolution and excellent colour rendition for sharp, punchy images."

By David Fox

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