Prime and Zoom Lenses Update

  • With David Kirk

Prime and Zoom Lenses Update

Reporting on new broadcast technology in the run-up to the April NAB Show always feels a risky enterprise but here goes with prime and zoom lenses - by Contributing Editor David Kirk...

On the non-disruptive front, flat lens technology in development by various research organisations around the world continues to be resolutely absent from the actual marketplace. Glass remains king:

Angenieux’ EZ-3 S35/FF Pack, introduced at IBC2023, is a new addition to the EZ series. Based on the same concept as EZ-1 and EZ-2, this is described as compact and affordable cinestyle tele zoom lens including improvements such as a quick IRO Technology mechanism and dual focus scales (feet and metres). The EZ-3 lens is designed for full manual operation and includes PL, EF, RF and E mounts. Its high-quality, lightweight metal mechanics and temperature compensation ensure precision and durability. The lens is compatible with lens motors and follow focus units for cine-style acquisition. For ENG shooting, the EZ-3 lens is also compatible with a broadcast servo unit and a variety of hand controllers for remote lens control. It is available as a S35 & FF/VV package and covers an image circle up to 30mm diagonal for HDTV/UHD modes and APS-C format DSLRs. The large format option makes the lens cover an image circle up to 46mm. In S35 cameras, the rear group also functions as a 1.5x extender providing a 22mm/T3 wide-angle end for large format cameras and converting to a 15mm/T2.0 for S35 cameras with a similar field of view and extra gain in T-stop. The lens allows quick conversion between FF and S35 formats.

ARRI recently announced four zoom lenses designed to intercut with any of its 16 Signature Prime focal lengths. ARRI says its Signature Zooms "preserve all the key attributes of the Signature look - smooth, warm skin tones; soft, delicate bokeh; high colour fidelity and exceptional dynamic range - in a lightweight package optimised for flexibility and speed. Together, they cover the largest zoom focal length range in the industry: 16mm to 510mm." Their native LPL mount allows them to be used interchangeably on any S35 or large-format camera. The 45-135mm T2.8 and 65-300mm T2.8 zooms first shipped towards the end of 2021, while the 16-32mm and 24-75mm T2.8 zooms shipped early in 2022. Every 65-300mm zoom comes with a 1.7x extender "turning it into a very high quality 110-510mm T4.9 zoom". All Signature Prime and Signature Zoom lenses are equipped with a magnetic rear filter holder to facilitate the use of behind-the-lens filtration and optics. In early 2023, ARRI launched a new line of Impression Filters that attach to the back of any Signature lens using this magnetic system. First to be released are eight Impression V Filters that give Signature lenses a vintage look. By incrementally shifting the focus characteristics of the image, the four positive and four negative diopter filters allow a range of detuned looks to be created via a single set of lenses.

Canon describes its RF 24-105mm F2.8L IS USM Z as the first RF zoom lens to combine a dedicated iris/ aperture control ring and servo functionality via optional power zoom adapters. The lens is designed to combine the reach of the RF 24-105mm F4L IS USM with the creative and low-light capability of the RF 24-70mm F2.8L IS USM. It also maintains 5.5-stop optical image stabilisation (up to 8-stops when combined with in-body image stabilisation). Fujifilm’s Duvo1 HZK24-300 is a dual format lens with 12.5x zoom, covering 24-300mm. A built-in expander shifts the focal length by 1.5 times to 36-450mm. The lens is 270.5mm in length and weighs 2.95kg. “Offering as long a focal length in as small and lightweight a package as possible, the Duvo 24-300mm gives handheld positions in live production the opportunity to take advantage of the classic Fujinon cinema look that’s been developed over Fujifilm’s almost 90 year heritage,” says Stosh Durbacz, National Sales Manager, Optical Devices Division, Fujifilm North America Corporation.

“The most dramatic, shallow depth-of-field shots in live shows often come from intimate handheld positions, providing viewers with an immersive cinematic experience; Fujifilm's expanded range of our portable and long Duvo lenses provides directors with that highly desired cinema look from nearly any position.” The lens works natively works with a Super 35mm sensor and supports a sensor equivalent to full frame by engaging the built-in expander to expand the image circle by 1.5 times.

At the BSC Expo in London, mid January, Fujifilm showed its new Fujinon HZK24-300mm PL-mount zoom lens plus the company's full range of Premista series lenses. The new lens supports 12.5x zoom across 24-300mm as standard. This can be extended to 36-450mm range using a built-in expander which shifts focal length by 1.5x. Also exhibited were the 102 megapixel GFX100 II mirrorless camera and 6.2K model X-H2S.

IB/E Optics is a designer, manufacturer and service provider of customised optics. The company has collaborated with various lens manufacturers, notably Tribe7 on the development and manufacture of the Blackwing7 lenses and Arri Rental on the development and manufacture of the Prime DNA, Prime 65S, and Prime 65 lenses for the Alexa 65. IB/E Optics Raptor lens series is designed for use with large format sensors.The Raptor Macro set is available in four focal lengths: 60, 100, 150 and 180mm. They feature full frame (24 x 36) coverage, 1:1 magnification, T2.9 stop and cine-grade construction. Also available is the Velociter x0.8 optical converter which reduces the focal length of the Raptor Macro lenses by 0.8x. At the same time it increases the lens speed by almost one stop. The Raptor 100mm/T2.9 becomes a 80mm T2.3.

Laowa’s T2.9 Zero-D Cine lens 12mm lens allows cinematographers to fill the Vista Vision sensors on Red Digital's Monstro and the sensor on the Arri Alexa LF (44.7mm) as well as full frame sensors (43.14mm). The lens' 17mm equivalent field of view is also claimed to be ideal for Super 35 sized cameras. It measures 87mm long, weighs 675g and comes in three versions: PL, EF and E mount. Shims with different thicknesses are also included so users can perform flange calibration.

Leitz’ Hugo cine lenses comprise a set of seven full frame lenses ranging from 21mm to 90mm, all T1.5, with 18mm and 135mm focal lengths to follow soon. A 50mm T1.0 lens is also available. Developed from the Leitz M 0.8 series, the Hugo lenses use the same Leica M optics but feature a new housing design to match existing Leitz cinematography lenses. Thelenses have an LPL mount as well as the traditional cine orientation of focus and iris scales, expanded focus scales with a 270 degree rotation, and increased close focus ability. Lens mounts can be swapped to Leica M mount or Leica L.

Rokinon’s Cine AF series lenses are designed to support resolutions up to 8K in a small and lightweight form, suited for use with handheld gimbals and drones as well as for studios and location productions. The series offers five different focal lengths (ultra-wide to medium-tele). A tally lamp located on the front helps the user to check whether a video is recorded or not while shooting. All lenses within the new Cine AF series are colour-matched to avoid shifts when swapping lenses. A focus save function is included.

Sigma’s 70-200mm F2.8 DG DN OS Sports lens offers an F2.8 aperture at all zoom and focus ranges. Features include autofocus plus an optical stabiliser. An inner zoom mechanism is designed to allow easy handling. Also incorporated are an aperture ring and switches with various customisation functions. The lens is equipped with two operating modes: Mode 1 is suitable for general shooting and Mode 2 is intended for panning shots.

Zeiss’ Nano Primes are claimed to be the first high-speed (T1.5 throughout) cine lenses made specifically for mirrorless full frame cameras. They are initially available with Sony E-mount.

"Thanks to the close focusing distance and the high speed of T1.5, Nano Primes enable images with an extremely shallow depth of field, even in the wide-angle range,” says Christophe Casenave, Head of Category Management & Sales at Zeiss.

“These primes offer a pleasing, versatile look that is adaptable for an extensive range of shooting situations and a compact, lightweight design that makes them easy to use on any set or location. Available in six focal lengths (18mm, 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, 75mm, 100mm), this matched set conveniently covers wide-angle to telephoto.

"The elegant bokeh and the harmonious focus fall-off ensure a versatile look that meets different artistic requirements, whether for indie productions, documentaries, commercials, series, or feature films. The universally applicable look can also be combined with the high-end lenses of the Supreme Prime family With a similarly gentle sharpness and aesthetic focus fall-off, the Nano Primes are an ideal complement to the Supreme Primes and, in combination, are also ideal for B and C cameras and lower-budget productions.”