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thinking about Cooke Speed Panchros Ser.II / III


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#1 benjamin aguilar

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 01:37 AM

Hey everyone,

I've been keeping my eye on a set of Cooke Speed Panchros SerII/III.
18mm(this one seems to be a "Ser.I") T2
25mm T2.2 SerIII
32mm T2.3 SerII
40mm T2.3 SerII
50mm T2.3 SerII
75mm T2.3 SerII

I've searched all over(maybe it's just me) but couldn't find too much information regarding these lenses. I've learned that they are a bit warmer in color than Zeiss glass and also a bit softer, but more organic. Also, from the limited footage that I've seen, they seem to be more fitted for commercial work. Geoff Boyle seems to like them for some of his commercial work.
But I have a few questions that maybe someone could help me out with. As of now, my camera is in the shop(getting PL mounted) and have been looking to get some glass and I've come across this set for $1,600. One of my concerns is that I'd have to rehouse them in PL mount and fit with focus gears as they still have the original wings on them. Or I could talk to Les Bosher about a special Std. to PL mount adapter for these types of lenses due to their unique focusing issue. Would I still be able to fit them with focus gears after attaining the adpater?
Would getting them rehoused or buying the adapters be worth it when I could rent T1.3 Optars for $150 a day/weekend? This brings me to my other question(please forgive me for asking these questions, I could not find info on this here,CML or google), how do the T1.3 Optars perform in comparison to Cookes?
Ultimately, I would like to be able to use this set(cookes) of lenses for both commercial and narrative work, but have concerns about them. Another plus would be that I could use the unaltered Cookes(with removable PL adapters) on my 16-S too. Anyways, any info regarding these questions and overall lens performances would be highly appreciated. Thanks guys.

-Benjamin
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#2 Chris Keth

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 01:59 AM

I used a set in school that was rehoused to PL by, I think, visual products. I could find out for you if you really want to know. They're great looking and I really have a soft spot for them now. I was using them on 16mm and they were too soft for that sometimes but I think I would really love them on 35. I'm pretty sure the 18mm is a series III as well. I remember the two widest being series IIIs and the others being series II. The set I used was born in 1963, I think. It's been a while but I'm pretty sure that was the year.

If it were me looking, I would probably get the set. I think that's a steal for some nice older glass. On 16mm you would probably want to light to a 2.8 or 4 for a bit better sharpness. On 35mm I bet the gentle soft look would really be enchanting.
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#3 Chris Keth

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 02:08 AM

Here's a link that someone posted for me a while ago when I was asking about the Cooke's I was using:

http://www.cookeopti...sf/history/1960

Check out all of the decades. The 40s are when the panchros first came out. The 100mm came out in the 60s.
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#4 benjamin aguilar

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 02:18 AM

I used a set in school that was rehoused to PL by, I think, visual products. I could find out for you if you really want to know. They're great looking and I really have a soft spot for them now. I was using them on 16mm and they were too soft for that sometimes but I think I would really love them on 35. I'm pretty sure the 18mm is a series III as well. I remember the two widest being series IIIs and the others being series II. The set I used was born in 1963, I think. It's been a while but I'm pretty sure that was the year.

If it were me looking, I would probably get the set. I think that's a steal for some nice older glass. On 16mm you would probably want to light to a 2.8 or 4 for a bit better sharpness. On 35mm I bet the gentle soft look would really be enchanting.


Chris,

Thanks for the info. I hear rehousing is pretty expensive, but last time that same person told me something was expensive it turned out to only be about $250-$300 for what I'd asked for. I will probably call VP and / or ask around. So would you consider the S2s/3s to be low-contrast glass? Thanks Chris.

-Benjamin
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#5 Chris Keth

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 02:27 AM

Chris,

Thanks for the info. I hear rehousing is pretty expensive, but last time that same person told me something was expensive it turned out to only be about $250-$300 for what I'd asked for. I will probably call VP and / or ask around. So would you consider the S2s/3s to be low-contrast glass? Thanks Chris.

-Benjamin


It's definitely lower contrast than modern glass. Fairly comparable in contrast to super speeds. I often used them in conjunction with a zeiss 11-110 zoom and it matched pretty well. The cookes were always a bit warmer than the zoom. Contrast as well as sharpness both snap up a good bit by the time you get to f4.
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#6 Hal Smith

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 08:31 AM

As Geoff Boyle puts it: You don't need to use an 85 with the 75mm SP. I've run a test with my 75mm Series II where I shined 5500K light in the front and measured almost exactly 3200K out the back. Cooke used radioactive Thorium glass which darkens the glass over time.

$1600 for a full set sounds like a good deal to me. You might want to scare up an 18mm SIII and runs some tests between the set's 18mm SI and 25mm SIII or possibly post on cml-pro and ask for opinions over there as to how SI/SII/SIII's match when used together.

Last year's "The Golden Door" about immigrants coming to America was shot on SII/SIII's. There was an article in American Cinematographer article on it.
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#7 benjamin aguilar

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 12:09 PM

As Geoff Boyle puts it: You don't need to use an 85 with the 75mm SP. I've run a test with my 75mm Series II where I shined 5500K light in the front and measured almost exactly 3200K out the back. Cooke used radioactive Thorium glass which darkens the glass over time.

$1600 for a full set sounds like a good deal to me. You might want to scare up an 18mm SIII and runs some tests between the set's 18mm SI and 25mm SIII or possibly post on cml-pro and ask for opinions over there as to how SI/SII/SIII's match when used together.

Last year's "The Golden Door" about immigrants coming to America was shot on SII/SIII's. There was an article in American Cinematographer article on it.


Thank you Chris for that bit of info. Contrast comparable to super speeds huh? Interesting. Will take that into account.

Hal, I guess I would have to use an 80A filter with my daylight stocks then, whenever on the 75mm. Oh well...
Now would it be possible to removed the focus wings and add a focus gear to each lens? I've removed focus wings before but am not sure on installing a focus gear. If it's possible, I can save many dollars on getting them rehoused.

Thanks guys.

-Benjamin

Edited by benjamin aguilar, 15 February 2008 - 12:10 PM.

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#8 Hal Smith

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 05:29 PM

Now would it be possible to removed the focus wings and add a focus gear to each lens? I've removed focus wings before but am not sure on installing a focus gear. If it's possible, I can save many dollars on getting them rehoused.
Benjamin

I suggest you contact ZGC about about gears. I've seen SP's with focus gears on them so they're out there somewhere. http://www.zgc.com
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#9 Chris Keth

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 08:05 PM

Here's n illustration of how good a price that is for the set you are eyeing:

Cooke Ser. II Set For Sale at Visual Products
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#10 benjamin aguilar

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 08:35 PM

Here's n illustration of how good a price that is for the set you are eyeing:

Cooke Ser. II Set For Sale at Visual Products


Yeah, the more I think about it the more I want to purchase them. I saw some stills for The Golden Door and really loved the way they seemed like paintings. I'm really into soft, painting-like cinematography. Anyways, I just have to get some focus gears, the special Std. to PL mount adapter and make sure my camera comes out of the shop properly PL-mounted and I'll be buying them. A steal compared to VP's prices, as Chris pointed out.

-Benjamin
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#11 Chris Keth

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Posted 16 February 2008 - 12:57 AM

Yeah, if I had the money, I would buy them myself. Unfortunately I'm only 8 months out of college so money is pretty foreign to me.;)
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#12 benjamin aguilar

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Posted 16 February 2008 - 01:29 AM

Yeah, if I had the money, I would buy them myself. Unfortunately I'm only 8 months out of college so money is pretty foreign to me.;)


Unfortunately, I don't even have the extra money to spend right now, but due to the low cost and they're being such a good investment, I MUST. I figured, 1. I can use them with my 35mm camera 2. I can use them with my 16mm camera and 3. I can use them with my Red Rock micro-35mm lens adapter for my XL-2. That's one set that I can use for three different cameras. Also, I've been doing some side work lately and from my day job, I can pay them off within three to four months.
Anyway, I've done more research on them and I think they would really fit my personal style. I like low-contrast, but would rather use high contrast glass and low-contrast stocks, but heh... oh well. I knocked them down to $1500, a little bit back in my pocket at least.

-Benjamin
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#13 Chris Keth

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Posted 16 February 2008 - 01:46 AM

I knocked them down to $1500, a little bit back in my pocket at least.

-Benjamin


That's outstanding! Let me know what you think when you have had a chance to test a little. Make sure you try a closeup wide open on the 75mm, preferably of a good looking woman. It's fairly breathtaking.
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#14 benjamin aguilar

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Posted 16 February 2008 - 02:35 AM

That's outstanding! Let me know what you think when you have had a chance to test a little. Make sure you try a closeup wide open on the 75mm, preferably of a good looking woman. It's fairly breathtaking.



Will do Chris.

Anyone else wanting to add some info regarding these lenses are more than welcomed. It would be helpful for myself and others who might be looking for info on these lenses and much appreciated as the info so far has been.

-Benjamin
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#15 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 18 February 2008 - 05:09 PM

Here's a link that someone posted for me a while ago when I was asking about the Cooke's I was using:

http://www.cookeopti...sf/history/1960

Check out all of the decades. The 40s are when the panchros first came out. The 100mm came out in the 60s.


The dates on the site are quite wrong.
I would guess that a free lance writer, who was not familiar with the subject matter, was handed a stack of old
brochures and articles and paid to write something.

The "Series ONE" Speed Panchros were "Filmo-coated in the 40s, they actually came out in the 20s.
In addition to Speed Panchros, there were also Panchros. Which were slower than the Speed Panchros' f/2.
The 100mm deep Field panchro came out in the 40s or 30s.

Here's a letter of complaint to Cooke Optics I never got around to finishing:

Gentlemen:

Your history section states that the SP SeriesII came out in the early 40s:

"1940s
Bell & Howell

1940s
The Series II Cooke Speed Panchros for cinematography were distributed exclusively through Bell & Howell in London and Chicago. The Series II lenses were developed for higher definition in wide screen presentations and to cover standard format 0.723 x 0.980 inches. By 1945 they came in focal lengths: 18, 25, 32, 40, 50 and 75mm. The 100mm, f/2.5 Deep Field Panchro was released in 1946"

Yet outside sources such as the SMPTE Journals state that The Series II Speed Panchros and the Kinetals were introduced in 1958.
The SMPTE Journal had papers describing these lenses.

That the text states the series II Speed Panchros wer developed for wide screen presentations and full aperture strongly points to a mid to late 50s origin.

Certainly the "Series One" Speed Panchros were Filmo-coated in the early 40s and going
by lens lists in ASC Handbooks the uncoated 24mm was replaced with a coated 25mm.
There were no 18mm cine lens for 35mm cine in the 40s.

The 1950s section also:
"In 1954, design began on the 18mm Series III Cooke Speed Panchro. Two years later, the new lens, of inverted telephoto construction, achieved an angular field of 80 degrees and f/1.7 while maintaining the modern standard of definition and resolution required for wide screen presentation. The other Speed Panchro to share the Series III distinction was the 25mm, again of reverse telephoto construction and also released in the mid-1950s."

Early to mid-1960s would be the correct date for the Series III lenses.
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#16 Hal Smith

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Posted 18 February 2008 - 07:13 PM

Yet outside sources such as the SMPTE Journals state that The Series II Speed Panchros and the Kinetals were introduced in 1958.
The SMPTE Journal had papers describing these lenses.

Have you got a citation for any of those articles? I'd like to see what they had to say.
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#17 benjamin aguilar

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Posted 18 February 2008 - 11:18 PM

I bought the Golden Door yesterday and have watched it, which was shot with SII's and III's as Hal pointed out. In my opinion, this film was well shot and lit. The lenses too performed very well and helped to add to the overall look of the film. They seemed to have been made for the color palette of this film, very complimenting. I would assume, since they must have rehoused the lenses, that they have also been re-coated as well. Maybe I'm wrong, but the look is different from some of the few other things I've seen shot with these lenses, one being consistency in color-reproduction between the lenses. Seems they might have been re-coated...

-Benjamin
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#18 Chris Keth

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 12:08 AM

I bought the Golden Door yesterday and have watched it, which was shot with SII's and III's as Hal pointed out. In my opinion, this film was well shot and lit. The lenses too performed very well and helped to add to the overall look of the film. They seemed to have been made for the color palette of this film, very complimenting. I would assume, since they must have rehoused the lenses, that they have also been re-coated as well. Maybe I'm wrong, but the look is different from some of the few other things I've seen shot with these lenses, one being consistency in color-reproduction between the lenses. Seems they might have been re-coated...

-Benjamin


I don't imagine they recoated them. That's a big part of why they look the way they do.
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#19 benjamin aguilar

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 12:25 AM

I don't imagine they recoated them. That's a big part of why they look the way they do.



Good point.

-Benjamin
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#20 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 04:42 PM

Have you got a citation for any of those articles? I'd like to see what they had to say.


I keep meaning to go over to the main branch of the library to copy an item in the 1957 SMPTE Journal.

I try to get there soon and can get the issues and pages.
However if I Xeroxed them, I don't have access to a scanner.
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