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Zeiss Master Prime Questions


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#1 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 20 February 2007 - 12:25 PM

First I would like to hear if the difference between the Ultraprimes and the Master Primes is really, really significant besides the 1/3 stop increase in speed.
Second, I don't see them listed with CSC so are they available elsewhere?
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#2 Max Jacoby

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Posted 20 February 2007 - 12:40 PM

Depends what's your definition of 'really really significant' is. Obviously the 1 stop speed increase is very useful, especially since the Master Primes are sharper wide open than any other lens at T2.8. The look they give is also a bit different, they are very neutral in a sense that you don't feel like you're looking through a lens, but rather like your eye sees. They don't distort, even on the wide end and they are very hard to flare. Of course their advantages are more obvious when you shoot in difficult situtations, like available light and lots of lights in the frame.

I am sure CSC has them, since they are run by Arri.
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#3 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 20 February 2007 - 12:58 PM

Thanks Max!
They sound perfect for an upcoming music video in New York.
The show is an available light (mostly) show with lots of locations and I would like the images to be as sharp as possible. I would really like an improvement over the Superspeeds that I used on my last project.
The next issue is the same old story of convincing the producers that the additional cost is justified.
There will be some speed ramps and I only have experience with the 435 ES. For this I would like to use a more handholdable camera that is RCU compatible.
The choice is between a 235 or an Arricam LT.
I can already see the producer's hair fall out when this gets budgeted.
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#4 Mitch Gross

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Posted 20 February 2007 - 02:37 PM

FYI, the Master Primes are very large and very expensive. They are certainly heavier than the superspeeds although not as heavy as their additional size might make them seem. But they are significantly more expensive, $300/day each as opposed to $75. This may be a budgetary issue.
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#5 Jarin Blaschke

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 10:10 AM

I know most of the Master Primes are available at TCS in New York, as some friends and myself just tested them there for three days versus Superspeeds, Ultra Primes and Cooke S4s. The results have yet to come in, as some tests need to be enlarged into C-prints and the resolution tests need to be spliced out and put under a microscope to count chart line-pairs. We tested the 25mm, 50mm and 100mm from each of the four sets on a resolution chart at every stop from wide-open to T11 (ran out of film after that). We also tested the 12 lenses for color characteristics and contrast, breathing, focus fall-off, bokeh, flare and veiling. We shot Big-TV to get an idea of true Super35 coverage. We might organize a public/invitation screening once this is all finished.

I can only comment on what was visible in the finder during the tests. The superspeeds were the only lenses that were visibly softer than the others through the zoom finder. Any fair distinction among the others will have to be analysed. The Master Primes breathed the least - the MP 100mm and MP 50mm still breathed some, although less than the other sets tested. The breathing with the MP 25mm was virtually zero. Flare was apparently significanly improved, but this is difficult to quantify through a viewfinder. Bokeh was tested by several planes of christmas lights. It was indeed neutral with the MPs, although I found the superpeeds the most "magical" wide open, with nice football-shaped globs of light near the corners, making a nice circular 'swirl' background to the image, especially at 50mm. For my tastes, the Cookes had the ugliest bokeh at 2.8 with their S-shaped iris blads, rendering out-of-focus points of light as harsh, pointy, octagonal stars. After 4 1/2 to 5.6, they become "stop signs." Even at wide open the S4s don't fully open their iris blades, and the opening is still not really round (with tiny points still).

In general, the Master Primes were generally wide for their focal length, the Ultra Primes were tightest and the S4s and the Superspeeds fell in the middle. The Master Primes are also quite large, the size of some anamorphics - the superspeeds look like toys in comparison. I would imagine that handheld work with the Master primes could be cumbersome in some cases.

I should note that by comparison to contemporary lenses, the superspeeds appeared the softest, but they were the standard for Arriflex for a long time and much fine cinemagraphy was created with them. I have shot with them wide open many times and they looked quite adequate projected. For something that will end up as standard definition video, at least in the field of shapness, the difference is probably negligible. Breathing with a locked frame and flare, however are something else.
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#6 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 02:01 PM

Yes, Yes, Yes that's what I call information and thoroughness!
I (and I'm sure quite a few others) would love to see the results of these tests.
Any chance of posting them here when they are done?
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#7 Jarin Blaschke

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Posted 23 February 2007 - 03:34 PM

Yes, Yes, Yes that's what I call information and thoroughness!
I (and I'm sure quite a few others) would love to see the results of these tests.
Any chance of posting them here when they are done?



I think so, I'd have to talk to my other collaborators in the test.
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