19 Aug Cooke Panchro/i Lenses
After much… and I mean MUCH hemming and hawing, I have finally settled on a set of lenses for our Red One. The problem (and benefit) with PL mount cinema cameras is the endless parade of lenses you can mount or adapt to them. Everything from ancient BNCR cinema glass to still photography lenses from Nikon, Leica, Canon, etc to the latest digital formula lenses from Red, Schneider, Zeiss and others. In fact, several threads have gone up over at RedUser.net detailing all the possible lenses one might mount on the new Epic camera.
Initially I considered the Zeiss Compact Primes. They’re inexpensive (comparatively), have real Cine housings with built in gears and a common front diameter. They tend to be slow on the wide end and lack a common maximum aperture and happen to be exactly the same optically as the Zeiss ZF’s of which I already own a couple. Hmm… moving on.
Next up are Red’s own Pro Primes. From all reports these are great lenses and not too much more expensive than the Zeiss CP.s. They are said to be very sharp, well built and extremely neutral with a feel similar to Zeiss’ higher end Ultra and Master Primes. Also, at T 1.8 these are very fast for the money. A top contender for sure.
Another set I was considering were Schneider’s new Cine Xenar series. These cost a little more than the Red’s, are about as big and heavy as them but feature 18 blade irises and a look that is described as a bit warmer than Reds and Zeiss. I thought I was all settled on these until early testing reports uncovered some mechanical flaws as well some optical issues. Since Schneider’s strength is really in still lenses (which I own and love) I decided to pass.
Then I decided to investigate Cooke’s re-development of their venerated Panchro line of lenses. The Cooke ‘look’ is not only renowned but coveted by many top DP’s. The look has been described as creamy, warm, luscious with excellent sharpness while retaining beautiful bokeh and falloff. Something dreamy, romantic and with a quality that no one seems to be able to tangibly describe really appealed to me. I thought they might both soften the hard edges of so much of the modern architecture I shoot as well as add a surreal quality to the film that I was planning to shoot with Jennifer Reeder. I was totally sold.
I’ve had the set a few months now which includes 18, 25, 32, 50, 75 and 100mm lenses. They’re all T/2.8 and I tend to shoot them wide open. How do they look? Add me to the set of cameramen who adore them without being able to actually describe why and have a look for yourself…
A few shots of Katherine from our new short film.