The Most Popular Cinema Lenses Pt. 1
by Eguaogie Eghosa Apr 27, 2021 Views (1.5K)
Most of us have never seen these lenses in person, but having lenses that are specifically crafted for professional filmmaking that are ergonomically made and easy to work with while on a team is paramount to a high-end film crew. Quality film and video production, to a certain degree, depending on the quality of production equipment; not the least, lenses. The standards that have been developed over the years have guided the training of the world’s greatest operators and assistants, who have had a great impact in film and video production.

Quality equipment is critical to achieving the perfect shoot in video and film production because achieving a good initial raw footage goes a long way in making the post-production process relatively much easier and effective to achieve. Though some may argue that it is not the equipment that guarantees a good video production, but rather the person or professional using such equipment, well, I guess an argument could be made for both. 

Cinema lenses from companies like Zeiss, Panavision, and Cooke don’t get as much attention online as the affordable stills and modified/rehoused cinema glass that many producers use from companies like Rokinon-Xeen, or Meike. That’s because high-end cinema glass, with price tags higher than most houses, isn’t intended to be purchased by individual camera operators. Instead, they’re intended to be rented through rental houses that maintain them for decades.

These lenses are professional, standardized tools that have specific purposes in their construction, deliver consistent looks, and offer the best ergonomics for getting the job done the right way. This article gives us this overview of the top pro cinema lenses in use today with a bit of their history and an explanation of why they’re so sought after. Let’s check it out!

Zeiss Super Speeds
The Zeiss Super Speeds have been around for decades and are a popular choice for productions with their small bodies, lightweight design, and super fast T1.3 apertures. They come in a standard set of 18mm, 25mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm with all of the lenses featuring an 80mm front diameter for super-fast lens changes; however, they’re not without their flaws.

The extending front barrel means that only clip-on matte boxes will work, and if they’re clipped on too tightly it might prevent the lens from focusing. However, their subtle sharp, low contrast, milky characteristics with neutral cool color rendition and flares that fill the lenses up with color make them the perfect choice for DPS looking for a lens to form the basis of the color pallet of their films.

Panavision C-series
Originally released in 1968, the Panavision C-Series is an anamorphic set of lenses that are a favorite among DPs looking for a classic film look.
The lenses are incredibly compact and lightweight considering all the glass elements require to produce an anamorphic image, making them the clear choice for projects requiring Steadicam or handheld shots.
They’re not overly sharp, have a nice graduated depth of field, offer the classic anamorphic bokeh with eye-popping blue streak flares. The main drawback of these lenses is that they pre-date the use of clip-on matte boxes and the entire front diameters differ in size, meaning each lens changes requires a new clamp which drastically slows down lens changes.

Hawk V-Lit
Vantage, a German-based company, has been making these stellar modern anamorphic lenses since 2001. Specifically designed to have no shift in T-stop while focusing, these 8 anamorphic focal lengths are lightweight and consistent with increased definition, increased contrast, and feature an accurate, nicely spaced focus scale which makes them very easy to work with onset. When using wider focal lengths there is a significant amount of distortion, but even with that bending, the quality of the picture it produces is very cool.

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