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Your thoughts on the Zeiss Super Speed


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#1 Menad Kesraoui

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Posted 15 September 2009 - 05:19 PM

Hi all!

I'm shooting a short film on RED in November, wished it was film but the budget is very tight... At first, I was supposed to shoot with Cooke S4 which I absolutly love, but the shooting is being extended and now the only set of prime lenses we can afford are the Zeiss Super Speed. I've never ever used them, so I was wondering what were your thoughts on these lenses? How do they compare to S4, Ultra? I'm not sure if ill be getting MKIII or MKII or even MKI, depends on what's available at the rental house.




I'll be shooting 4K, RED at native 5000K, lense around T2 for my Night Int and T2.8/4 for my Ext.

Every comments are welcome.

Thank you!

Ménad Kesraoui
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#2 Chris Keth

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Posted 15 September 2009 - 06:10 PM

I like superspeeds as long as it's not the three-iris-blade model we're talking about. They get pretty mushy wide open so I would just consider them a T2 unless it's an emergency.

If you like S4s, have you considered looking for a set of S2/3 cooke panchros to test?
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#3 Menad Kesraoui

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Posted 15 September 2009 - 06:39 PM

The three-iris-blade would be which MK?

As for the S2/3, here in Montreal it seems that every rental house has pledged allegiance to Zeiss. The only cooke I've come around are s4, the rest is all zeiss ss/ultra/master primes!
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#4 Chris Keth

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Posted 15 September 2009 - 08:58 PM

The three-iris-blade would be which MK?

As for the S2/3, here in Montreal it seems that every rental house has pledged allegiance to Zeiss. The only cooke I've come around are s4, the rest is all zeiss ss/ultra/master primes!


MKIs have the triangular bokeh. Perhaps you can get a set of ultras, they should be cheaper than S4s. You could also do something like a "light" set of every other ultraprime rather than the full set.
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#5 Mihai Nicolau

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Posted 16 September 2009 - 05:10 PM

I'm also interested in the characteristics of the Superspeeds. Is there any quality difference between MK 2 and MK 3 other than the exterior design and mechanics ?
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#6 Chris Keth

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 12:57 AM

I'm also interested in the characteristics of the Superspeeds. Is there any quality difference between MK 2 and MK 3 other than the exterior design and mechanics ?


Not that I know of.
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#7 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 02:22 AM

I'm also interested in the characteristics of the Superspeeds. Is there any quality difference between MK 2 and MK 3 other than the exterior design and mechanics ?

Nope, same glass, same coatings. Mk.3 lenses might be in better condition, being newer. I agree with Chris, at T1.3 they have a diffused Pro-Misty look. Stop down to T2.8 and they look sharp. They also tend to have some purple color fringing (chromatic aberration). The 85mm has lovely bokeh, good for CUs. Not as clean and sparkly looking as Ultra Primes or S4s. I think they're a little boring looking, but maybe that's because I use them so often.
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#8 Phil Savoie

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 09:36 PM

The Zeiss Super Speeds are excellent optics. Like all high speed lenses (and most lenses for that matter) they have inherent flair wide open as others have mentioned - one stop in kills most flair and two stops in should yield flatness of field. The Zeiss SS lenses commonly perform best and offer top resolution @ 5.6 ish. As each lens is an individual you'll have to project them to find the optimum stop, if thats what you seek. Jorge Diaz-Amador has a informative website that details them and their history.

http://cinematechnic...1,2_lenses.html
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#9 Tom Jensen

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 09:53 PM

Nobody lights interiors to a 5.6. There's too much light and too much depth of field. If you shoot at a 2.8, you'll be fine. OK, I'll go on record again and defy anybody that you can tell the difference from Cooke S4's, Ultra primes or Super Speeds when going to telecine. The big screen is another story. A major problem with Speeds and Super Speeds are the threaded brass rings inside for focusing. They wear out and get play in them. You can spray them with Emralon but that stuff is nasty and then you lap it. Once the ring gets worn badly there is not much you can do.
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#10 Tom Jensen

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Posted 17 September 2009 - 09:55 PM

What the hell did I do double post or something? :unsure:


I will also say that the optimum performance of any lens will be about 2 stops from wide open.

Edited by Tom Jensen, 17 September 2009 - 10:00 PM.

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#11 A. Whitehouse

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Posted 18 September 2009 - 01:13 AM

Not that I know of.


Don't the MK3s have the neon yellow lens markings as opposed to white? I thought that was one difference. Ive been shooting with mixed sets of superspeeds and ultras to fill out the range at either end and I can see a big difference especially when intercut. That's through light promists and soft fxs as well. Even at 2.8 the contrast snaps much better on Ultras and the 14mm is much sharper than the 18mm SS.
Not that there's anything wrong with Superspeeds. Hey, If they were good enough for Kubrick...
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#12 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 18 September 2009 - 04:28 AM

Don't the MK3s have the neon yellow lens markings as opposed to white?

The ones I've used have had white marks. The Mk.2 footage marks are orange (with white metric marks on the opposite side), which can be hard to see in low light. Though I've used sets that have had them repainted neon yellow. So I guess it's possible that there are Mk.3 sets out there with yellow marks too.

I think the differences between UP, SS, S4 are noticeable when they're used wide open and intercut. I think it's a lot harder to tell once you start stopping down, other than certain distinctive artifacts like iris shape, bokeh, flares, distortion, CA. And if you're not intercutting them, I agree the differences are not as noticeable.
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