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Cooke S5's - the forgotten lens


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#1 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 26 April 2017 - 02:24 AM

The Cooke S5's have been out for many years now, but for some reason never really took off. One of the contributing factors was that the powerhouse camera rental place Otto Nemenz in Hollywood never bought a huge inventory (as thy were knee deep in the encouragement and development of the Leica film primes). This kind of "hurt" the S5i's and they really never got the widespread use and recognition the S4's did. They never became that lens that everybody wanted to rent (like the Leica's, MP's and S4's did when they were introduced). So, many cinematographers never developed a relationship with the S5's.

 

I was the same, used them sparingly myself, maybe once or twice when they were new, but that was about it. My reconnection was on a job abroad with limited lens availability just last year, there were no other "good" fast lenses to rent and I thought I'd try the S5's again. And although I do find the series lacking in focal lengths (today, it's imperative to have something in the 20-22mm and 27-29mm range, in my opinion) and that they are way too big (Master Prime big, which is a huge problem in this day and age when everything is handheld), they do really produce excellent images. On a job I'm doing in Toronto now, I combined them with some very mild GlimmerGlass 1 diffusion and am really happy with how they look. They have that organic feel of Cooke S4's we've all come to love, but are faster and have that sense of falloff that I never feel with the Leica Summiluxes, despite them both being the same aperture.

 

So I encourage DP's to maybe "reconnect" with them and try them on a little job again. You might find that they're easy to love. They've become my go-to set of fast lenses these days.


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#2 Freya Black

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Posted 26 April 2017 - 05:26 AM

Hiya Adam!

  Good to see you here again!

  You might be interested in the new Cooke Series 7/i lenses that have just arrived too.

  Cooke goodness in full frame format...

 

https://www.redshark...ame-plus-primes

 

  The lenses will cover dragon 6K too and possibly the new helium 8K sensor. I'm not sure there isn't slight vingnetting with the latter however. Editorial changed my article to say it covers the 8K sensor but I would check to be sure before jumping in the deep end.

 

Freya


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#3 Miguel Angel

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Posted 26 April 2017 - 10:28 AM

Interesting!

The last two commercials i shot in Spain the camera rental house told me that the Cooke S5s were there for me if I wanted to use them.. I never liked the "Cooke" look so I said no thanks. 

 

I am shooting a commercial tomorrow and was super tempted to ask for them but we liked the Master Prime the most for this particular piece (and I'm using Glimmerglass 2 + a very super old black soft net that I don't remember the name of.. it looks like a honeycomb!), however, I promised to the camera rental house that I will use them on the next one.

 

I was today in the camera rental house just to say hello and when I saw the Masters I thought: "I had forgotten how big they were!", but I don't think that the size or weight of them is an issue even when shooting hand-held as the Easyrig and the Serene arm are there to save your back.. and tomorrow's job is 13 hours of hand-held movements :D.

 

So! I will try to use them next! ;) thanks!! :)

 

Have a lovely day!


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#4 Freya Black

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Posted 26 April 2017 - 04:26 PM

The last two commercials i shot in Spain the camera rental house told me that the Cooke S5s were there for me if I wanted to use them.. I never liked the "Cooke" look so I said no thanks. 

 

 

Whaaaa! You don't like the Cooke look Miguel???!!!

Yikes I'm going to have to rethink our friendship! ;)

 

Freya


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#5 Freya Black

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Posted 26 April 2017 - 04:29 PM

[more seriously... if you aren't liking the Cooke look it's kind of fair enough. Everyone does and should have differenet tastes in lenses and stuff... it's a good thing... don't feel peer pressure just because of what some other people are into!]


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#6 Dom Jaeger

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Posted 27 April 2017 - 12:35 AM

I think a lot of rental houses invested in Master Primes and then couldn't justify spending another bomb on a set of lenses with a similar speed, size and performance pedigree. Because Cooke are a much smaller company than many other lens manufacturers they can have a long delivery time, and there were by then other options like the Summilux-Cs. So the S5s never got the market penetration that the ground-breaking S4s got.

 

What I find fascinating is how the design approach of the British vs German optical firms has remained the same since the beginning of optical design history. Even back in the late 19th century when both Zeiss and Cooke (then Taylor, Taylor and Hobson) were breaking new ground and devising lens formulas that would define the future of photography, there were stark differences in their design philosophies. The German designers were much more mathematical and theoretical, while British optical pioneers like H. Dennis Taylor (inventor of the Cooke triplet) took a much more hands-on, almost trial and error approach to solving optical problems.

 

These days, Cooke S5s and Zeiss Master Primes are at the pinnacle of optical excellence, but that continental divide in design philosophy still remains. Zeiss make things that are as perfect as they can make them, almost aberration-free, with top quality control that means virtually no difference between batches, and precise parts manufacture that allows me to fit a replacement part without a hitch. Cooke, by contrast, produce lenses that feel hand-made, that have imperfections and might need a tweak, but create magical imagery that people seem to fall in love with.

 

From my perspective as a technician, that hand-made quality to Cooke lenses can be frustrating sometimes - there might be little shims to tilt a rear group or an element might need rotating to get it perfectly centred or a replacement part may need finessing - but I have no doubt that it's also what makes them special.


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#7 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 27 April 2017 - 02:55 PM

Thanks for the write-up Adam. And also for the additional info Dom.

Found these new lens tests online from user Ivanov Vova which includes the Cooke 5i series:

There's probably 5 or 6 different tests in total comparing Zeiss Masters and Ultras, Cooke S4 and 5i, and Leica Summicron-C. Very interesting results for sure!
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#8 Miguel Angel

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Posted 27 April 2017 - 04:26 PM

Whaaaa! You don't like the Cooke look Miguel???!!!
Yikes I'm going to have to rethink our friendship! ;)
 
Freya


Yeah! sorry! I'm not British hahahaha :P

I promise that I will try to use them soon ok!!? I feel that I HAVE TO after Adam's and the rest of yours' posts
Let's see if I change my mind after using them! :P

Have a good day!
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#9 Adam Frisch FSF

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Posted 28 April 2017 - 07:04 PM

Satsuki - the test says Cooke i5. I don't know what lens that is. It also says it's a 16mm focal length and there is no such focal length in the S5 series. In fact, there is no such focal length in the entire Cooke product range except for in the S4 series. So it's a bit of a mystery what they're testing there. Maybe it's an older discontinued S2 or S3 lens or something and they just labeled it wrong on the video.


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#10 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 28 April 2017 - 07:34 PM

I've used the Leica Summilux-C lenses on two projects lately --  what I like about them is the size & weight compared to Master Primes and Cooke i5's.

 

I don't normally shoot much at T/1.4 at all but on the "Designated Survivor" pilot I found that the director liked shooting key close-up moments at T/1.4 (on Master Primes) at 48 fps to isolate the main character.  And I recall on another series the director being frustrated that he couldn't get the shallow-focus look he liked from using a Canon 5D when working with the T/2.8 zooms we had on the Alexa (by this point, we had sent back most of our primes, but they would have been T/1.9 Primos anyway, being a Panavision show.)  

 

So for creative reasons more than needing the speed, it is useful to have T/1.4 primes. However, I could probably live with T/2.0 lenses...

 

For regular shooting of dialogue scenes, I prefer shooting at T/2.8-4 if possible, the focus is shallow enough and even at that stop, I get enough ribbing from the AC's...


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#11 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 28 April 2017 - 08:31 PM

Hi Adam, I believe the official name of the lenses is Cooke 5/i: http://cookeoptics.c.../fiveilens.html

People often refer to them as S5 and i5 but they all mean the same lens. Maybe the testers made a mistake in labeling the focal length and meant 18mm. Sounds like they were juggling a lot of different sets, so it's not hard to see how that would happen.

But I would assume that they are indeed using the 5/i lenses, as I believe those are the only Cooke lenses that are T1.4.
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#12 Miguel Angel

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Posted 04 May 2017 - 06:25 AM

Adam, I'm shooting a commercial next week, I'm going to ask for the Cooke S5, if the production company is able to hire them I might send you a pic with a "YES" or a "NO" :P

 

Have a lovely day! 


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