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New Zeiss ZF lenses vs. Old Zeiss/Cooke Std. cine primes


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#1 Bryce Lansing

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Posted 02 April 2010 - 12:38 PM

after much contemplation about what to invest in, I've finally decided that lenses and lighting are the few investments that I won't regret in a few years.

I've got a pretty good set of Nikon Primes that have been very good to me the last year, but any ACs thatcome from cinema, always seem to have a little trouble adjusting to them. I'd really like to have a set of Cine lenses, but due to my budget/income, I'm limited in that department.

I was thinking I could get a set of either Zeiss or Cooke Arri STD. mount primes, maybe B-mount. That way I could have a decent set of Cine lenses that I could use with a PL mount adapter.

My other option is Zeiss ZF still lenses in Nikon mount. I've heard these are very sharp, but that working with them on set will be the same as the Nikons.

I was thinking of these pros and cons:

Standard or B mount Cine Primes:
Pro: they're cine lenses, accurate focus distance, good for follow focusing
Pro: they take a PL adapter, can be used with Arri 35mm, Alexa, F35, D21, RED, etc.
Con: they're old lenses, will I look unprofessional?
Con: they could be tough for DSLR use

Zeiss ZF primes:
Pro: Easy use with DSLR use via adapter
Pro: Covers full frame and can shoot film on my Nikon body
Con: They're still lenses, same on set as the Nikons
Con: Film, and High end digital cameras rarely have Nikon mounts, unless privately owned

Also, which are sharper?
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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 02 April 2010 - 01:42 PM

I don't think that older lenses will make you look unprofessional. Often we're not after the sharpest lens out there but a lens which gives us a certain look. If anything I think you'd look a lot less professional showing up with some stills lenses v some older cine glass. And, on top of that, you already mention that you can PL them which allows you, rightly so, to use them on a variety of cameras.
However, honestly, I don't think that you'll get a good ROI investing in lenses... chances are production will rent those with the camera, and for smaller shoots unless you're supplying a camera of your own, how often will you be pulling out lenses? Also there is the issue of upkeep... which can get costlier for lenses as you can't really do it yourself -v- lighting instruments which hell, it's a few wires and a bulb! That being said, I would invest in Lighting and grip equipment, perhaps some filters (special filters that you use a lot) and maybe, maaayybee, a rare lens or two that you prefer for some reason that you can't normally get at a rental house....
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#3 Paul Nordin

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Posted 01 May 2010 - 02:45 PM

I don't think that older lenses will make you look unprofessional. Often we're not after the sharpest lens out there but a lens which gives us a certain look. If anything I think you'd look a lot less professional showing up with some stills lenses v some older cine glass.

However, honestly, I don't think that you'll get a good ROI investing in lenses... chances are production will rent those with the camera, and for smaller shoots unless you're supplying a camera...


Mostly I agree with this. Lenses -tend- to be selected on a per-job basis for the characteristic and budget size of the shoot. David Mullin, who was probably over-simplifying a bit, said he just rents the most expensive lenses his budget allows regardless. Although he also said he gravitates towards contrastier lenses. But the point of this, is that while lenses can have a significantly longer useful life than any form of digital camera system, a full set of quality lenses are so expensive that you will likely not get an ROI for many years unless you are a rental house.

However, there are people that really like the old-Cooke look, and while I think they may be a bit over-nastalgic, some vintage lenses have an active market. There is a real advantage to having a set of house lenses for you to use on your own project and to offer lower budet shoots. But if those house lenses are from the SLR world, and not Cine world, they will be viewed as unprofessional/or-very low budget. Options are good though.

The new CF.2 lenses from Zeiss are something you might look into.
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