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Ultra Primes VS Superspeed MKiii


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#1 rashed zaman

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Posted 07 October 2010 - 12:13 AM

Hello Everyone,

I just joined this forum and this is my first posting. Please forgive my mistakes.

I am a cinematographer, working in Bangladesh. I came to USA three days ago to buy a camera package and set of lenses. I am little confused about the lenses. I need your suggestions. Please help.

I have two options:

Option 01 : A set of superspeed MKIII lenses. 18-24-35-50-85 mm . Total 5 lenses. They are USED but in a very good condition. T 1.3
Price is $44,500

Option 02: A set of brand new ULTRA prime lenses. 16-24-32-50-85 mm. T 1.9
Price is approx. $60,000



I spoke to a very experienced lens expert here. He told me that Ultra primes and Superspeeds are exactly same optically. They produce the same quality of image. Only difference is the housing.

I thought Ultra prime would produce better quality since they came after superspeed.

I am very confused. I want to know which set of lens I should purchase.

I would really appreciate if you please let me know your opinions.

Best Regards,

Rashed Zaman

( how do I get in touch with Mr. David Mullen? I really need his suggestions)
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Read more: http://www.cinematog...8#ixzz11eAMIO8Q
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#2 Ben Brahem Ziryab

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Posted 07 October 2010 - 04:11 AM

Hello,
I will break down the similarities and differences between the Zeiss Ultra Primes and Super Speeds:
Ultra Primes, of course, is slower than the Super Speeds (1/2-1 stop slower)
Both have corner-to-corner sharpness, but Super Speed tends to breath more
Zeiss provides a wider range of focal lengths with the Ultra Primes.
Ultra Primes are cleaner in terms of optical purity and less likely to pick flares.

For me it's matter of whether I have sufficient illumination for the shot, but Ultra Primes are defiantly what I would go for. I tend to use the Super Speeds when I shoot Pro35 on 2/3" sensors, because I need something faster to compensate for the light loss.
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#3 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 07 October 2010 - 08:34 AM

Ultras are some very nice lenses. Super speeds are also a good set, but the Ultras are really nice, less prone to flaring etc. and I like them a bit more because it makes sure I give my 1ac a fightign chance; how often will you need to be @ a 1.3 on set anyway? Normally I tend to stick around a 2.8/4 or 5.6
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#4 Tom Jensen

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Posted 07 October 2010 - 10:04 AM

The noticeable difference is when you go to the big screen. The big improvement is in the housing. The Superspeeds have threaded brass rings that wear out after too much use. You can spray them with emralon use lapping compound to fine tune the brass ring threads. Sounds complicated but it really isn't if you know what you are doing. Not all lenses need this. Wear and tear usually are the worse with lenses bought from a rental facility because of the amount of use. The lenses with the least wear are generally the best. Ultra primes are great but there have been no major leaps in lens technology lately, just the housing. It's really up to you. In this market, I would think that with a little shopping, you could find a good set of lenses at a reasonable price. There is a forum member that has several items for sale. Ken Rich sells a lot of items. Paul Duclos may know where there is a set available. American Cinematographer often has lenses listed for sale.
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#5 Mitch Gross

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Posted 07 October 2010 - 12:37 PM

Your experienced lens expert is wrong. While there are some elements shared between some of the Super Speed and some of the Ultra Primes, in general they are not the same. Otherwise they would have all the same focal lengths. The Ultras are generally sharper with better contrast, chromatic abberation and flare resistance. The housings are a much better design and will hold up over time far better.

Before the RED One became available, Super Speed sets were selling for under $20,000. Only demand has raised the price, not quality.
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#6 Tom Jensen

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Posted 07 October 2010 - 02:22 PM

Your experienced lens expert is wrong. While there are some elements shared between some of the Super Speed and some of the Ultra Primes, in general they are not the same. Otherwise they would have all the same focal lengths. The Ultras are generally sharper with better contrast, chromatic abberation and flare resistance. The housings are a much better design and will hold up over time far better.

Before the RED One became available, Super Speed sets were selling for under $20,000. Only demand has raised the price, not quality.


Which one? We're all lens experts here. If you are going to telecine, Superspeeds are fine. I will bet you and ice cream cone that you could not tell the difference between a set of Ultra Primes and a set of Superspeeds. On the big screen, contrast and abberations become noticeable but not to your average viewer. Even color abberations can be difficult to spot unless you are projecting them and even then, they vary from lens to lens and aren't always present. Flares are another issue but most of the time you are flagging, using hard mattes and generally removing direct light from hitting the lens. Superspeed handle flare pretty well in most cases. The big questions are, how will these lenses be used, how much will they be used, and is it really worth the price difference? It is true that the housings are a much better design and will hold up over time far better. When you work at a rental house that demand is high for the latest and greatest, you have to have the best because that's what the consumer wants and expects. Just keep in mind that there are projects that are being shot with Zeiss Standards that are completely acceptable and look just as good as anything else.
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#7 Mitch Gross

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Posted 08 October 2010 - 10:09 AM

Which one? We're all lens experts here.

I quote from the original poster from the start of this threaqd:

"I spoke to a very experienced lens expert here. He told me that Ultra primes and Superspeeds are exactly same optically. They produce the same quality of image. Only difference is the housing."

This is not true, which is what I was explaining. I agree that SuperSpeeds are a viable lens choice. We rent them out all the time and I cut my teeth shooting with them on many projects. But when the question was whether to spend $44,500 on a set of 20+ year old SuperSpeeds or $60,000 on a set of brand new Ultra Primes, I think I gave a fair response. You and I know what it means to deal with old lenses, with a lack of available parts and the wear inherent in their design. If the SuperSpeeds were $25K then the extreme difference in price might be worth considering the old set, but $44.5K v. $60K is too close relative to actual physical value, at least in my book.
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#8 Tom Jensen

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Posted 08 October 2010 - 11:05 AM

I quote from the original poster from the start of this thread:

"I spoke to a very experienced lens expert here. He told me that Ultra primes and Superspeeds are exactly same optically. They produce the same quality of image. Only difference is the housing."

This is not true, which is what I was explaining. I agree that SuperSpeeds are a viable lens choice. We rent them out all the time and I cut my teeth shooting with them on many projects. But when the question was whether to spend $44,500 on a set of 20+ year old SuperSpeeds or $60,000 on a set of brand new Ultra Primes, I think I gave a fair response. You and I know what it means to deal with old lenses, with a lack of available parts and the wear inherent in their design. If the SuperSpeeds were $25K then the extreme difference in price might be worth considering the old set, but $44.5K v. $60K is too close relative to actual physical value, at least in my book.


I'm sorry, I did not see that particular line in the initial post. I was joking when I said we were all experts here. You are correct in your assessment concerning value and design. It's sad to see a Superspeed where there is no hope. It is such a great lens when it is in great shape. When they go bad, they go really bad. The brass rings can be a nightmare, especially if you nick the threads or they get out of round. I would have to say that if I were going off to a foreign country where a replacement lens is days away, I would have to go with the Ultra Primes. If I had to choose between $44.5K v. $60K I would go with the Ultra Primes. If the SuperSpeeds were $25k, I would have think hard and probably go with the cheaper lenses if they were in decent shape. Even then, you could probably have the entire set rebuilt for under $10 k. But, sometimes it's hard to justify an expensive set of lenses when the cash difference could be used for other things. People need to realize that lenses are expensive and need maintenance from a qualified technician with the right tools. Lenses are an investment that should be making you money. If they aren't making you money, it's not worth making the investment because you can rent lenses and invest in something that will make you money.
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