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Sony XDCAM PMW-F3 CineAlta
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Old February 23rd, 2011, 12:07 PM   #1
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Nikon/Sony SLR vs Zeiss SLR vs Cine Lenses

Can someone help me understand why a $3900 Zeiss CP2 prime is so much better than a $1000-1500 ZF2 SLR lens and a $1600 Sony Zeiss 24mm 2.0? Optically, the Zeiss SLR lenses for Nikon and Sony are the best money can buy; so, I don't understand what benefits you get from spending several thousand $$$ on 'cine' lenses.

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Old February 23rd, 2011, 12:50 PM   #2
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Re: Nikon/Sony SLR vs Zeiss SLR vs Cine Lenses

For you, it may not be worth the extra cost.

Reasons why it's worth it to many who can afford it:

*Longer throws means it's easier to focus accurately.
*Pitch gears mean you can use a follow focus system natively, without the hassle of addon gears.
*Nikon still lenses (including Zeiss ZF lenses) turn the opposite direction of cine lenses. Focus pullers have a lot of muscle memory in pulling the "correct" way. This can be overcome with a reversing gear follow focus unit.
*Cine lenses are housed in such a way that it's easy to fit a follow focus on both the iris and focus rings (and zoom, when applicable).
*Cine lenses are given witness marks - actual human tested distance readings. Still lens marking are not necessarily accurate. Witness marks mean a good focus pullers can pull by distance readings alone.
*Cine lenses have a declicked and manually acessible iris. Many still lenses do not have this on the outside, and even when they do, they frequently have click stops, and may not be in a convenient position to put a pitch gear on.
*Cine lens sets tend to be housed similarly, expediting lens changes, and meaning the same mattebox and follow focus positions can be maintained.
*Cine lens are designed to minimize breathing, which is a zoom that occurs as you change focus. Still lenses - even the Zeiss ZF lenses, have significant breathing.

That's what I can think of off the top of my head. If these things don't matter to you - don't spend the extra money.
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Old February 23rd, 2011, 01:20 PM   #3
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Re: Nikon/Sony SLR vs Zeiss SLR vs Cine Lenses

Hi Steve. To add to what James has outlined. In summary, the Zeiss CP.2 lenses are designed to be used on a set where there are expectations with workflow, not the least of which is the consistent placement of the gear rings so Assistant Cameramen call move from one lens to the other in quick succession. If a camera rig is setup with motors for focus, iris and even zoom, then if your lenses have the rings in different places, it means increased downtime on the set. If you have a crew standing around waiting for lens changes, this becomes a costly and unproductive exercise. Also, the scale of economy is different on film sets as well. Things just cost more. Not justifying it. It just is.

The hard plain truth of the matter is the CP.2s are simply rehoused ZF.2s. I didn't come up with this. I heard it right out of a Zeiss Manager's mouth in this excellent must see video presentation.


This presentation will most likely give you more knowledge and confidence in making your decision.
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Old February 23rd, 2011, 01:55 PM   #4
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Re: Nikon/Sony SLR vs Zeiss SLR vs Cine Lenses

I own a set of ZE's and also use the CP2's from time to time. All of the above info is well-presented and correct. Workflow is indeed the bottom line, as you will not detect a difference in the actual image. For a lot of people who pull their own focus and have time to make lens changes, it's not worth it.

As an FYI I use the Preston FIZ HU3 system with these lenses--it's the latest generation remote lens controller that allows you to program in the individual lens with a set number of focus points and it interpolates the inbetween points. As a result, you have a knob with full 300 degree+ turn and accurate markings down to inches on the hand unit. This effectively levels the playing field between the ZE/ZF's and the CP2's when it comes to pulling focus--they respond exactly the same. I already owned the system from my Steadicam days but it's in no way cost effective to purchase for this purpose--it's extremely expensive! At some point I should put up a video demo of it though--it's a fantastic way to work with DSLR's (the AC can, if they choose, do their work at the monitor to ensure sharps, good for performance music videos where everything is moving all the time).
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Old February 23rd, 2011, 02:34 PM   #5
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Re: Nikon/Sony SLR vs Zeiss SLR vs Cine Lenses

Also, in general PL lenses are built with the rigors of the production environment in mind. The types of focusing and Iris mechanisms, are more robust. Cine lenses are designed to last a "lifetime". Although a 20k set of CP's may not. Hence the low cost.
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Old February 23rd, 2011, 03:35 PM   #6
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Re: Nikon/Sony SLR vs Zeiss SLR vs Cine Lenses

Charles, I have a question about calibrating the digital systems, specifically the fairly new Bartech digital receiver when you wish to only utilize part of the travel along a lens ring. I am thinking about a situation where you have vignetting at the far end of a zoom range and you want to eliminate the possibility of the vignette coming up when in the heat of a shoot. Here's the set of questions...

Is it possible to manually calibrate a digital system so it only uses a portion of the travel along a given lens ring? If not is there another solution?
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Old February 23rd, 2011, 05:05 PM   #7
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Re: Nikon/Sony SLR vs Zeiss SLR vs Cine Lenses

Let me say to those that have contributed to the above, thank you for your shared experiences. You have all added tremendous advise to those who may be considering to move forward on a "prime way" of acquisition.

Having rented Zeiss Master/Super Speeds, P+S Pro 35 for many years/gigs, and also placing my still collection of ZF's on an EX Letus combo or 5D, and now dealing with what to do with lens on an F3 (Tapa adapter not yet to arrive), I too am staged to make a large long term investment into a set of primes.
I used today, for the first time the Sony Primes, which performed wonderfully. I will be comparing it to my ZF's once the Tapa adapter arrives. My hope is that Sony will add a <35mm and a >85mm lens to the present selection. The price for the three included in the "k" package is more than most new comers to the world of primes could imagine. They are giving away a teaser of a package to initiate the masses.
So what to do. Well most will benefit right from the start with the Sony 35/50/85. Speed was terrific, 2.0 and minimal breathing. We shot/cut a series of matched sequences without an issue.
So, it now as always depends on your market. Does your client base have the ability to hire a set of Cooke, Zeiss Master, et al..
These lens could cost up to three times the imager "F3". It has always been about the glass, after your skill set as a DP.
What is great about the compartmentalizing of new imagers is that you now decide what to add.
Stay tuned for S Log/RGB. The next best thing to great glass.
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Old February 23rd, 2011, 05:41 PM   #8
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Re: Nikon/Sony SLR vs Zeiss SLR vs Cine Lenses

Hey guys, Thank you very much for the great info.

When I showed my biz partner the CP2 lenses on B&H, he almost $h!t a brick because he is financing the F3 purchase and thought we would need a set of those lenses. However, I am buying the lenses for the F3; so, I am trying to come up with a plan. For the immediate future (til Nov 2012 when elections are finished), we don't plan on having any productions costing over $50k with most between $5-20k not including multi-cam/Tricaster shoots. This estimate/plan is for TVCs only with many political commercials on the lower end. With my current funds and future productions, I am hoping to start off with good Nikon SLR lenses and slowly add great Sony Zeiss lenses because I want to get a Sony Alpha DSLR as I miss still photography a great deal. And the look of the A900 and Sony Zeiss glass is my favorite.

Furthermore, with all the great success Canon users have had with all the shortcomings of the 7D & 5D, I figured the F3 + SLR lenses would be a comparative breeze.

Just found Duclos cine-modded lenses. Does anyone have experience with them and are they reliable?

Last edited by Steve Kalle; February 23rd, 2011 at 06:30 PM.
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Old February 23rd, 2011, 10:07 PM   #9
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Re: Nikon/Sony SLR vs Zeiss SLR vs Cine Lenses

I just saw the F3 for the first time today and played (only played) with the Sony lenses. I could not evaluate them at all. In fact the only thing we could evaluate were things like the viewfinder and its amazing ability in low light. What struck me the most though was the enormous size of those lenses. Why in the world are they so big? It seemed like it would require twice as many case just to hold them. Was that to get a longer focus throw with a follow focus? I'm not proud of my reaction, but just on an aesthetic level I was repelled. Am I ridiculous?
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Old February 23rd, 2011, 10:20 PM   #10
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Re: Nikon/Sony SLR vs Zeiss SLR vs Cine Lenses

Andrew:

Yes, it is possible to define a limit to the travel of the lens to prevent vignetting etc. You would obviously need to create a new set of focus marks when you do this. On the Preston, it's a simple matter of dialing to one end, holding down a switch and dialing to the desired end mark, then releasing. You can stretch a tiny range of travel on the lens to the entire turn of the knob this way, helpful for extremely delicate focus pulls. I haven't played with the new Bartech receiver yet so I'm not sure how it works in this way.

Steve:

The Duclos mods are great, in particular the iris de-clicking and the gears, which are such close tolerance as to appear factory installed (but can be removed if necessary--they are press-fit). I didn't get their 80mm step-ups as some of the Z series are 82mm and it seemed a little strange to not have them all conform to that, so I got third-party 82mm step up rings and now they all have the same front diameter.

Lenny:

Modern cine lenses are all that size, mostly due to the internal gearing as you guessed. Honestly I find it a little amusing that you were aesthetically repelled!! That's a new one.

Welcome to the PL world folks...
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Old February 24th, 2011, 01:27 AM   #11
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Re: Nikon/Sony SLR vs Zeiss SLR vs Cine Lenses

With so many people thinking that they need great PL glass for this camera, I am starting to think that Sony is targeting possible Red owners/operators rather than the plethora of XDCAM EX owners (such as me).
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Old February 25th, 2011, 03:45 AM   #12
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Re: Nikon/Sony SLR vs Zeiss SLR vs Cine Lenses

One downside to the size of modern PL prime lens is that you can't use a lens turret. These could mount 3 lenses, which was a big advantage in pre zoom lens days. 35mm cameras like the Arri 35 II series were fitted with these.

I'd be surprised if turrets came back, but quite a few cameras were fitted with them in the past. Handy for people shooting docs with primes.
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Old February 25th, 2011, 09:01 AM   #13
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Re: Nikon/Sony SLR vs Zeiss SLR vs Cine Lenses

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Drysdale View Post
One downside to the size of modern PL prime lens is that you can't use a lens turret. These could mount 3 lenses, which was a big advantage in pre zoom lens days. 35mm cameras like the Arri 35 II series were fitted with these.

I'd be surprised if turrets came back, but quite a few cameras were fitted with them in the past. Handy for people shooting docs with primes.
When zooms, especially bigger ones came into play in the 60s/70s, a lot of IIc's were converted to hard fronts because the zooms would flex the turrent out of alignment and cause backfocus problems. And that was with the turrets and underlying body construction made out of thick cast aluminum, nothing like what we have now.
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Old February 25th, 2011, 10:34 AM   #14
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Re: Nikon/Sony SLR vs Zeiss SLR vs Cine Lenses

Absolutely, the zooms need solid mounting and people were no longer using their Arri 35 IIs as newsreel cameras. .
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Old February 25th, 2011, 10:47 AM   #15
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Re: Nikon/Sony SLR vs Zeiss SLR vs Cine Lenses

I think the modern day equivalent of this is the concept of being able to select a windowed portion of the sensor, effectively multiplying the focal lengths. That will be very helpful.
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