Thread: Vintage lens investment with growing sensor sizes!

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  1. #1 Vintage lens investment with growing sensor sizes! 
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    Was in the process of buying a vintage 25mm Cooke Speed Panchro, ser III - quite a lot of money to put down and wondered, is this potentially a really bad inestment considering sensors are getting larger and larger and in a few years, this lens may no longer cover most sensors? Any thoughts would be great!
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  2. #2  
    Senior Member Michael Lindsay's Avatar
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    I love old Cooke glass... but it would really depend on the price?.. also a big driver will be the power of Arri's (delayed) S35 4k+ camera... if Arri's camera has 1/2 the sucess of the Alexa then S35 glass is a more secure investment.

    BUT personally I have moved away from S35 lenses..

    PS Also the 25mm is quite tight when Cooke remade for the classics they opened up the 18mm and the 25mm ... if you where about the drop cash on a double speed 30mm! different answer... ;-)
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    Thanks Michael - good answer... It seems like a bit of a punt really!

    Ha, a double speed would be lovely, finding an affordable one would be the first challenge!
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    I have this same question-- have played around with the idea of investing in a reasonably priced s35 set (something like Zeiss standards). I do believe that s35 will remain relevant for years to come, but keep thinking that the wiser personal investment might be to buy a less expensive and fairly neutral set that works for full frame, and rent the lenses that I really love (s35 or otherwise) for the specific jobs. Especially since parts of this business are so trend-driven, I feel like there'll be too many times when a director or producer decides they need "the full frame look" without weighing the alternatives.

    FWIW, I agree with Michael's note on the 25mm speed panchro-- lovely lens, but it does vignette a bit on Epic Dragon at 6k when not a close focus. That can be part of the look you're after-- I'd personally use it again for a lot of things. But PM me if you haven't yet had a chance to test yourself and want a frame grab or two.

    [Edit: just to be clear, the 25mm does perfectly cover 5k on an Epic Dragon, which is close to actual super 35mm format, with room to spare. It's just at the larger 6k where you get some darkness at the edges.]
    Last edited by M Harvey; 07-31-2020 at 10:56 AM. Reason: clarified
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    Cooke S2/S3 has pretty good coverage. 3.2K on Alexa. S35 I think will remain a viable format, maybe more so with the 4K+ Alexa next year.

    I do think the double speed etc. will go up in value even more, but largely due to scarcity.

    I think you have to ask yourself what camera you're going to shoot on and what you can afford. But I don't think there is an affordable way to get a vintage Cooke look on full frame.
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    Quote Originally Posted by M Harvey View Post
    I have this same question-- have played around with the idea of investing in a reasonably priced s35 set (something like Zeiss standards). I do believe that s35 will remain relevant for years to come, but keep thinking that the wiser personal investment might be to buy a less expensive and fairly neutral set that works for full frame, and rent the lenses that I really love (s35 or otherwise) for the specific jobs. Especially since parts of this business are so trend-driven, I feel like there'll be too many times when a director or producer decides they need "the full frame look" without weighing the alternatives.

    FWIW, I agree with Michael's note on the 25mm speed panchro-- lovely lens, but it does vignette a bit on Epic Dragon at 6k when not a close focus. That can be part of the look you're after-- I'd personally use it again for a lot of things. But PM me if you haven't yet had a chance to test yourself and want a frame grab or two.
    Been looking at the Zeiss Standards as well with the same conundrum! I think you're absolutely right with the point that these should be relevant for some time, but, ugh, everything's changing so fast and what was once a dead cert investment is no longer the case. It's a really good point on purchasing a more neutral, safe (possibly boring) lens - been looking at the Sigma Cine's and the Xeens but they just don't excite in the same way! Will take you up on some frame grabs and PM you - thank you!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt W. View Post
    Cooke S2/S3 has pretty good coverage. 3.2K on Alexa. S35 I think will remain a viable format, maybe more so with the 4K+ Alexa next year.

    I do think the double speed etc. will go up in value even more, but largely due to scarcity.

    I think you have to ask yourself what camera you're going to shoot on and what you can afford. But I don't think there is an affordable way to get a vintage Cooke look on full frame.
    Thanks for the reply Matt - reassuring and, at the end of the day, if a lens works for the style of film making your doing, then I guess no problem. I'm actually shooting Super 35mm film, so clearly not a problem for now but the lens will definitely outlive the camera and format and, as it's not throwaway money, would love to get something that doesn't become obsolete as systems move on.
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  8. #8  
    IMHO there's more of a cachet about vintage Cookes than practicalities. I had a bunch of them at one point handed down from my father. I used them for a while and like the look but the look isn't that different from other lenses of the time. Funnily enough some of the Russian Lomos were almost indistinguishable from the Cookes (so no guessing where the optical formula came from!). I sold them for an insane amount of money.

    I think there's such an enormous range of glass around these days that you can be a lot more frugal with the same results. In fact i'd argue there's a lot not to like about the look but that's personal experience. They were made in the day when there wasn't a huge amount of flexibility in post and therefore the look of the lens was more important - down to the colouration of it.

    If you're renting then maybe that name is important but if you're shooting yourself them personally i'm not so sure.

    I *love* vintage glass and have happily been through so much of it. But when shooting now i'm prefer modern glass with all the mechanics and focus rings for modern times.

    Shooting stills i'm mostly Lecia M and Canon RF (have a wonderful 1.2 from the 50s). Cine wise i've been through cookes, old voightlanders, lomo, SLR lenses and so on. The Lomos can look great but the mechanics suck.

    This is just IMHO your needs are yours alone!

    cheers
    Paul
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  9. #9  
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    Quote Originally Posted by paulcurtis View Post
    IMHO there's more of a cachet about vintage Cookes than practicalities. I had a bunch of them at one point handed down from my father. I used them for a while and like the look but the look isn't that different from other lenses of the time. Funnily enough some of the Russian Lomos were almost indistinguishable from the Cookes (so no guessing where the optical formula came from!). I sold them for an insane amount of money.

    I think there's such an enormous range of glass around these days that you can be a lot more frugal with the same results. In fact i'd argue there's a lot not to like about the look but that's personal experience. They were made in the day when there wasn't a huge amount of flexibility in post and therefore the look of the lens was more important - down to the colouration of it.

    If you're renting then maybe that name is important but if you're shooting yourself them personally i'm not so sure.

    I *love* vintage glass and have happily been through so much of it. But when shooting now i'm prefer modern glass with all the mechanics and focus rings for modern times.

    Shooting stills i'm mostly Lecia M and Canon RF (have a wonderful 1.2 from the 50s). Cine wise i've been through cookes, old voightlanders, lomo, SLR lenses and so on. The Lomos can look great but the mechanics suck.

    This is just IMHO your needs are yours alone!

    cheers
    Paul
    Thanks Paul, that's helpful! I think it's all too easy to fall down the rabbit hole of lens research and get tangled up. The Cookes do appeal but the prices for un-rehoused examples cause me to pause, especially considering not long ago they were't worth nearly as much! I remember when Lomo anamorphics littered ebay and sold for only a few hundred (wish I had grabbed some then and sold on for a healthy profit now - oh for a time machine).

    Getting caught up looking at lens tests really is nitpicking - the average viewer doesn't care I guess. I do love the look of the Cookes but perhaps the money is spent better elsewhere.

    I actually got a Biotar 58mm to try out on the Arri and am keen to see what results I get (focus ring is insanely close to the body so a fun challenge) - https://www.instagram.com/p/CBkgVqBpHMq/
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  10. #10  
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    Quote Originally Posted by paulcurtis View Post
    IMHO there's more of a cachet about vintage Cookes than practicalities. I had a bunch of them at one point handed down from my father. I used them for a while and like the look but the look isn't that different from other lenses of the time. Funnily enough some of the Russian Lomos were almost indistinguishable from the Cookes (so no guessing where the optical formula came from!). I sold them for an insane amount of money.

    I think there's such an enormous range of glass around these days that you can be a lot more frugal with the same results.
    I considered buying a set of S2/S3 recently, but it's this same reasoning that made me hesitate. I'm of two minds about it:

    On my EVA1, I have a set of Schneider Cine-Xenons and Cinegons. Apparently this is what Kubrick mixed with Cooke on Barry Lyndon. They're similar, not that similar, and the 28mm doesn't even quite cover S35 3 perf let alone 3.2K Alexa as the Cookes do, but... they have more consistent coatings and cost far less and have focusing mounts, so I can convert them to EF mount (for mirrorless only) whereas with Cooke that is not really possible. Also, the 75mm isn't radioactive.

    I also own a set of Lomos (22mm, 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, 75mm) but the 22mm vignettes a bit at 3.2k whereas neither the 18mm nor 25mm Cooke do. The 18mm vignettes heavily and is only f2.5... Also the mechanics are terrible.

    Are Cookes three or four times better? Not for me if I can't afford them. If I'm going to rent lenses would I prefer the Cookes to the others? Absolutely, no question. The additional coverage, nice look on skin tones, etc. all adds up.
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