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Cooke Speed Panchro

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#1 Robbie Fatt

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Posted 08 August 2017 - 06:47 PM

I'm looking at investing in some old Cooke Speed Panchros and I've heard that they come with an Arri Mitchell mount? I'm really confused about these older mounts.

 

I'm wondering if these lenses can be adapted to EF and how much it would cost? Also, are they optically not great now from being so old?

 

 

http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Cooke-Speed-Panchro-50mm-f2-T2-3-Ser-11-II-lens-39XXXX-Arri-Mitchell-mt-Nice-/182696384953?hash=item2a898d99b9:g:CDcAAOSwfpVZLZWD 


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#2 Michael Rodin

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Posted 09 August 2017 - 03:51 AM

If you need a optically great - as in sharp, contrasty, flare resistant - lens, don't buy an S2. They're low contrast, high enough resolving power but soft. They get yellow with time, if I'm not mistaken, from a cement that holds doublet lenses together deteriorating. And their coatings make for an un-neutral color too. Won't have CA performance of Ultra Primes either. All that said, they're excellent for portraiture and if you're a "hard light / soft lens" kind of a cameraman you'll like how they work on highlights and raise shadows a bit.

 

From what I see it doesn't have a mount at all. I guess, a BNCR mount would be fitted to that focus helicoid with 4 screws as you can see from pictures. If that's true, you'll need to turn the helicoid on a lathe or make a new one to fit a PL mount, as it has a shorter FFD. As to EF mount, that'll almost certainly require a custom helicoid... but why would you want them EF mounted? Even Blackmagic and Canon C-series cameras have PL now.

 

There's no such mount as Arri Mitchell. It's either Mitchell (which usually means BNCR) or Arri (Standart or Bayonet).


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#3 Dom Jaeger

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Posted 09 August 2017 - 07:51 AM

Hi Robbie,

that lens is in the older Mitchell or Newall (a British Mitchell clone) mount, basically a plate with the outer helical that screwed on to the camera turret with 4 screws. It's the sort of mount used on NC Mitchells, the ones with a 4 lens turret (a derivative of the classic Bell and Howell 2709 camera that was the granddaddy of studio motion picture cameras). Very old school, and dates the lens to probably the 40s or 50s. Mitchell introduced their BNC mount (for the blimped NC) in the 60s which was a very sturdy flanged type of mount with a lock ring, that led directly to the PL mount of today.

There were several iterations of Cooke Speed Panchros from their invention in the 20s to their final manufacture in the 60s (I don't think they were made into the 70s, but could be wrong), and during that time they were made in various mounts for many different cameras.

The ones favoured for use these days and best for re-housing are the later series II and for the 18 and 25mm series III, which I believe date from the mid fifties on. There's a bit of confusion about the dating because the Cooke website has a history page which gives some dubious dates, but from what I've researched the series II and III lenses are mid 50s to 60s and usually have serial numbers in the 6xxxx to 7xxxx region. They usually come in Arri Standard, Mitchell BNC, or Cameflex mount, rather than those older mounts.

So I would say the lenses that seller in India has are series I (despite the label) and certainly not worth several thousand dollars. The optical quality is not as good as the series II and III.

Speed Panchros are very expensive these days because of the demand for re-housing, so you're buying into a bit of a bullish market. Ten years ago a full set might have sold for a few thousand, now that's what you pay for a single lens. Without rehousing, they can be hard to use with their small barrels and tiny marks, and if there is wear in the focus helical it can produce image shift and make accurate focus pulling tricky. Internal dust, spots and coating scratches can add softness and accentuate the lowish contrast so be prepared for a different look to modern lenses. But having said that, these lenses have been used on countless films, including now a number of modern classics like Mr Turner and The Witch (rehoused versions these days).

Some focal lengths have a definite colour cast due to the glass composition (not the coatings or the Canada balsam glue), which according to P&S Technik can be reduced through a heat treatment process, but it's not hard to white balance it out in camera.

Because of the rear protrusion, not all of the focal lengths could be converted to EF mount, but I imagine some of the longer focal lengths could be done. It would need machining and optical experience, so not that cheap.

You could rent a set of rehoused Speed Panchros for a weekend to try them out, but you'd need a PL camera.

Cooke are currently releasing a newly manufactured batch of the original Speed Panchro lens formula with modern focus mechanics and mount options that include Micro 4/3 and Sony E, so that may be a better option, although they won't be all that cheap either (and I'm guessing there's already a very very long delivery time).
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#4 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 09 August 2017 - 07:56 AM

Cooke are currently releasing a newly manufactured batch of the original Speed Panchro lens formula with modern focus mechanics and mount options that include Micro 4/3 and Sony E, so that may be a better option, although they won't be all that cheap either (and I'm guessing there's already a very very long delivery time).

 

It's an interesting one, the rehoused older glass is so expensive now, that I wonder if there will actually be much difference in price between the 'new' lenses and the old?


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#5 Dom Jaeger

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Posted 09 August 2017 - 08:03 AM

Probably not!

If enough new sets get made it will probably lower the price of the rehoused sets, but we'll have to wait and see.
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#6 Robbie Fatt

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Posted 09 August 2017 - 11:45 PM

Thanks so much for your answers everyone they are really helpful!!

 

So it seems they really aren't a good option to be "purchased" but rather rented at this point because of the prices and also inconsistencies in quality from used ones. I was looking at an EF mount so that I could use it on more cameras since PL seems quite limiting.

 

I was really only looking at purchasing a few lenses like a 25mm, 32mm and 50mm and getting them for cheaper being not rehoused. I don't mind having small barrels and non professional marks since it seems worth the quality for a cheaper amount.


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#7 Robert Hart

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Posted 12 August 2017 - 04:22 AM

It will depend upon what flavour of EF-Mount camera you intend to use the Cookes on. I know the rearwards penetration of the lens body will impinge on the lens pin block and other structures within the throat of a Canon 7D and likely other DSLR cameras too. I know that on the Blackmagic 4K EF-Mount digital cinema camera, the rearwards penetration will impinge on the lens pin block and other structures too.

These will need protection against short circuiting. You may not be able to move the lens focus rearwards enough to achieve infinity focus before the inner lens body emerges from the outer cylinder and makes contact. I did not examine for this. The closeness to the lens pins was enough to put me off. 

There is some material which you might be able to dress off from the rear of the outer housing and off the rear of the moving barrel within to establish a working clearance.

I would not recommend this for you will destroy the originality of the lens. This is a consideration for re-selling. The work would also require dismantlement of the lens to avoid metal fragments getting into the square-cut helicoid thread which is exposed on the rear.

It is really only a task for folk who have an above average facility for fine metal work, suitable tools and a knowledge of lens construction.


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#8 Robert Hart

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Posted 12 August 2017 - 04:51 AM

Subsequent edit of the above responsive post. I took too long editing and was locked out.
 

It will depend upon what flavour of EF-Mount camera you intend to use the Cookes on. I know the rearwards penetration of the lens body will impinge on the lens pin block and other structures within the throat of a Canon 7D and likely other DSLR cameras too. 

Some EF-Mount to PL-Mount adaptors have an EF-Mount lens profile machined into the rear to engage into the EF-Mount like a lens. These have little rearwards space for the PL-Mount shoulder to penetrate. 

Another style attaches over the EF-Mount using the EF-Mount screws. This style enables a little more rearwards space but most industry PL-Mount shoulder will foul the lugs on the EF-Mount and ride high preventing the clamp ring from being turned to lock.

I know that on the Blackmagic 4K EF-Mount digital cinema camera, the rearwards penetration will impinge on the lens pin block and other structures too.

These will need protection against short circuiting. You may not be able to move the lens focus rearwards enough to achieve infinity focus before the inner lens body emerges from the outer cylinder and makes contact. I did not examine for this. The closeness to the lens pins was enough to put me off. 

There is some material which you might be able to dress off from the rear of the outer housing and off the rear of the moving barrel within to establish a working clearance.

I would not recommend this for you will destroy the originality of the lens. This is a consideration for re-selling. The work would also require dismantlement of the lens to avoid metal fragments getting into the square-cut helicoid thread which is exposed on the rear.

It is really only a task for folk who have an above average facility for fine metal work, suitable tools and a knowledge of lens construction.

There are ARRI Standard/B-Mount to PL-Mount adaptors. The better ones either use a round circlip and a threaded tapered collar to attach to the ARRI mount shank. 

Unfortunately, these types have too much rearwards extension of the shoulder and will impinge on the lugs of the EF-Mount before the lens will seat home to the PL-Mount flange.

There are thinner and simpler PL-Mount adaptors. These consist of a simple ring with PL-Mount pattern and a shallower rear shoulder. These may clear the lugs on the EF-Mount. The downside of these is they are secured by three or four small grubs screws which bind on the shank of the ARRI mount. 

There is not much wall-thickness in the shank structure. It will deform and trap the focus helicoid of the Cooke lens from free movement. In this arrangement, the entire body of the Cooke lens forward of a narrow knurled section closest the mount face turns for focus. It is absolutely important NOT to grab the iris ring when turning the lens barrel for focus movement. It is not well defined. 

 

Best practice is to grasp the very front edge of the lens and rotate from there. If you try to force the focus movement in a full natural grip of the lens body, you will likely over-extend the iris mechanism and ruin the iris.

For old Cine-Xenons of this vintage, typically the 28mm, the opposite is true. The very front edge of the lens body carries the iris ring. The iris in these lenses is more easily damaged by over-extension than the old Cookes.
 
Some aftermarket EF-Mount to PL-Mount adaptors have a sharp corner at the inner front where the tail of the PL-Mount enters. Most PL-Mounts and adaptors which attach to the rear of lenses have a fillet in the inner corner. 

The radius of this fillet varies and some will ride short on the sharp corner inside of the mount. The clamp ring cannot be turned to lock because the lugs remain a fraction high off the flange face. 

 

The cure is to skim a 3/32" chamfer on that inner front edge. This provides clearance for most if not all fillets and allow the mount to rest fully home.


Edited by Robert Hart, 12 August 2017 - 04:51 AM.

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