Thread: Luma Tech Illuminas vs. the new Cooke Panchros...a review

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  1. #11  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Nordin View Post
    Yes, apples-to-apples. Shot both lenses at 2.8, and did a spot check at 5.6. I agree with you Michael, those extra 2 stops are a huge advantage when you need them. Speed as we know is only part of the story though. I'm just downloading the footage now and will try to post something later today.
    I'm excited to get more details and see your test images.

    I've been VERY eager to test these lens sets myself, as I am VERY interested in the Illuminas.

    One place I am eager to test the Illuminas against the Cooke is in close up. I really adore how the Cookes treat faces. I've toyed with the idea of getting the Panchros in just a couple focal lengths specifically for CU even if I settle on another lens set.
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  2. #12  
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    Yah agreed Jacek. For me, it's still difficult to ever get Panchros over two Optimo DP's which cover 5k at the same speed, over a similar focal range (though a bit wider at 15mm and less on the telephoto side).

    Optimo Rouge DP (15-42;30-80) = $40,000
    Cooke Panchro Set (18, 25, 32, 50, 75, 100) = $40,000

    In a sense, comparing Rouge DP's to Cooke Panchros would perhaps be more fitting .... and man, if Optimo can keep the DP version of the 45-120 in the $20-25k price range it makes
    it even more preferable.

    Anyway, sorry for the minor derail - still looking forward to how the Illuminas compare to Panchros.
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  3. #13  
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    Quote Originally Posted by AnthonyFlores View Post
    Yah agreed Jacek. For me, it's still difficult to ever get Panchros over two Optimo DP's which cover 5k at the same speed, over a similar focal range (though a bit wider at 15mm and less on the telephoto side).
    Size is a big reason

    (uploading test clips to my webserver, will post results as soon as that is done)
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  4. #14 REVIEW Part 1 
    Senior Member Paul Nordin's Avatar
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    OK, so now Iíve had a chance to review the footage I shot. It was all shot on an Epic-M 5k with RC 6:1. First let me qualify this information by being very up front in that I am not a lens tech. Iím a DP. Normally when Iím evaluating a lens or set of lenses, I go and shoot something and see how it performed in my grading suite (which is currently Resolve). For many logistical reasons, Iíve not been able to do that in this case. Iíd also like to give big thanks to Eric and his team at IndieRentals in LA who graciously allowed me to hold up in their facility and use their projector and Epic-M.

    I wonít go too much in detail on the Cooke Panchros with this review because they are Ėvery- well understood lenses. The Illuminas on the other hand are new on the scene, so trying to figure out where they fit is really what I was trying to do.

    Illuminas1.jpg

    Illuminas2.jpg

    Preliminary view:
    Cooke Panchros (18, 25, 32, 50, 75, 100): They are just like S4s, but are limited to t2.8, and are smaller than the S4s. The build quality is off the charts awesome. They are like jewels. The Iris and Focus rings both have identical mechanical feel, which was extremely smooth and required a light touch. Focusing is internalÖno lens extension occurs. Each lens is a different length, but with the exception of the 18mm all have the same diameter at the end of the lens.

    Luma Tech Illuminas (18, 25, 35, 50, 85): These lenses remind me a lot of superspeeds in size/weight although they are a bit bigger. They are also a bit smaller and lighter than the Cooke Panchros. All Illuminas have the same diameter at the end. General build quality seemed quite good. They are a bit more boxy in style than the Panchros. They were made of a solid feeling metal, which appears from the outside to be fine at taking normal set abuse. Marks were clear and easy to see. 9-bladed Iris which gave a nice bokeh. Focusing is internal, so like the Panchros, no lens extension happens when focusing. Focus and Iris rings are in opposite sides of the lens from the Panchros (and most other lenses Iím used to). That doesnít seem to be a real problem but is one thing that you have to get used to if quickly grabbing the lens to adjust focus. The mechanics of the iris and focus ring were stiffer than the Panchros but still they had a smooth and consistent feel. With the Panchros I could make a minor focus adjustment with the light touch of a finger. The Illumina focus and iris rings were not hard to turn, but a firmer hand was needed, which in my mind makes the need for a FF to pull without moving the camera more necessary in some situations.

    From the outside comparing the two is like comparing Jarredís International Scout (when it was new) to a BMW. Both get the job done and seem solidly built, the Cookes do it with a bit more panache than the Illuminaís utilitarian nothing-but-business approach. Iím not an expert, but it seems like the Illuminaís bodies are stamped metal, where the Cookeís are machined.

    On the Projector:
    Joe of IndieRentals and I went into their back room and put the Illuminas up on the projector. It was very interesting to see how consistent the differences were on the projector between the two sets (Panchros and Illuminas) across all lenses.

    Barrel distortion was very well contained on the Panchros, and less so on the Illuminas. You can see that for yourself on the charts I shot. Unfortunately, I was not vertically centered on the charts so when you view them bear that in mind. The Panchros held edge sharpness better than the Illuminas which tended to fall off somewhat. Same with illumination. Both suffered mild fall-off, with the Panchros doing a bit better. Same with CA. This was very consistent. Of the Illuminas the 50 was the real standout followed by the 35.

    All-in-all, on the bench, the Panchros were optically superior. That said, the Illuminas held focus well, and they still performed admirably.

    All lenses tested provided full coverage of the Red Epic 5k sensor.

    On the Camera:
    Iíve included links to full-res TIF images for all the lenses I looked at (not the Panchro 85). Shooting the chart at T2.8 and a split with the chart and a background tree at infinity at t.8.

    Flaring was much more prevenient on the Illuminas. The Cookes were amazingly resistant to flaring. And when they did the flares were nice. The Illuminas had at times a strange heart shape to the flares, and also were more prone to milking out when hit by side-light.

    Iíve also included links to h.264 clips showing various things (chart, distortion, breathing, and soft/hard flaring for each lens. Here are the links:
    TIF Images (full-res) chart
    Illumina_18mm_t2.8.tif
    Illumina_18mm_t8.tif
    Illumina_25mm_t2.8.tif
    Illumina_25mm_t8.tif
    Illumina_35mm_t2.8.tif
    Illumina_35mm_t8.tif
    Illumina_50mm_t2.8.tif
    Illumina_50mm_t8.tif
    Illumina_85mm_t2.8.tif

    Cooke_18mm_t2.8.tif
    Cooke_18mm_t8.tif
    Cooke_25mm_t2.8.tif
    Cooke_32mm_t2.8.tif
    Cooke_32mm_t8.tif
    Cooke_50mm_t2.8.tif
    Cooke_50mm_t8.tif
    Cooke_100mm_t2.8.tif

    35mm Illumina at 3 different t-stops
    Illumina_35_t1.3-chart.tif
    Illumina_35_t2.8-chart.tif
    Illumina_35_t5.6-chart.tif

    h.264 Quicktimes (HD: 200-275mb)
    Illumina_35mm_flare_examples.mov
    Illumina_18mm.mov
    Illumina_25mm.mov
    Illumina_35mm.mov
    Illumina_50mm.mov
    Illumina_85mm.mov

    Cooke_18mm.mov
    Cooke_25mm.mov
    Cooke_32mm.mov
    Cooke_50mm.mov
    Cooke_100mm.mov
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  5. #15 REVIEW Part 2 
    Senior Member Paul Nordin's Avatar
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    My feelings: Iím not a rental house, so getting a brand that will be in high-demand is not really a major concern. Although its always nice when a client recognizes he quality in my kit. If I were a rental place, I think Cooke Panchroís are a better bet. Although IndieRentals say even the Panchros are not in high demand yet because people donít know about them, plus there is an association in the mind of many DPs with Panchro being a vintage look lens. So Panchros are not exactly a slam dunk for rental market but get the nod over Illuminas, although the T2.8 is a real limitation.

    On almost all fronts the Panchros were a little better than the Illuminas. With the notable exception of breathing which was won by the Illuminas. I was surprised by that one. The Illuminas have a really nice rock solid frame with focus pulls. Both lenses were about even sharpness and contrast in the middle and within each set the lenses in the series were well matched color/contrast/sharpness. The Cookes had less distortion and less light/sharpness fall off.

    In general the Illuminas seem like nice lenses that are small, light, well made, and fast. Not the sharpest or most even image when stacked against more expensive options, but nothing really that will detract from the average shot. The only really big ding I found was the flaring. Particularly how they did not resist washing out with hard side-light. Of course that can be controlled. But the Panchros dealt with that without a hitch. Their coatings are beautiful.

    However the speed! The Illuminas are bloody 2-full stops faster and wide open is still pretty darned usable. Not as sharp especially on the edges, but 2-stops is huge! In the test bay I could just get a good exposure on the chart at 2.8. I shoot a lot of independent features. And the trend is faster cameras, faster lenses, less lighting. Bottom line is for me t2.8 is an acceptable speed for a zoom because there is an offsetting gain with quicker setups. And for daytime shooting who cares anyway. But for nighttime, its hard to not want more than 2.8 at times. And the notion of ďwhen I want faster Iíll rentĒ really is not in step with the occasional improvisational shooting that happens in mid-low budget features.

    If I seem to be going back and forth, its because I am. Neither of these lenses is perfect. Perfect on all fronts for me from a optical Ė size Ė sharpness Ė mechanical perspective are the Leicas. But they are out of my price category. So Iím juggling compromizes. What I know for sure is I do not want to use lenses on a day by day basis that are as large and heavy as a set like the RPPs.

    What do you think?
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  6. #16  
    Thanks Paul! Question for you: Do you know for sure that these are the latest version of the Illuminas? It seems that they have been making revisions over the last year or two... just want to make sure we're looking at the 'latest/greatest', so to speak.

    I'm surprised about their breathing. That's great. An interesting option. Speed, size, little breathing, good image (not best, but it sounds like quite good). Need a mattebox.

    For me, the Cookes are just too slow. I would rather have the two Optimos at that speed. But I see why people would chose differently than me. I love the mechanics and look of S4s
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  7. #17  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Nordin View Post
    What do you think?
    Well, I chose to build up a set of Pancho/i lenses. I haven't found the T2.8 speed a problem, I usually shoot at that or T4. Modern cameras can see amazingly well in the dark, and I'm not too fond of super soft backgrounds. I like the background pleasingly out of focus and not the big blobs of fuzz you get at the faster stops, and the Panchros have that, plus silky smooth mechanics and a gorgeous image, especially the human figure and face. They should also retain their value over time. If faster is needed on a given day or two, S4s and 5/is are just a rental away, and they'll match all of the other footage you're shooting.

    You have lenses for a long time, and cameras are only getting better and better in the dark (and are already more than good enough). Personally, I'd go for the lenses with the best image, 2-stops be damned. So I did.
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  8. #18  
    Thanks for posting Paul. Have yet to find any real test's done out there with the Illuminas, not sure why? So, your test's were a great help! Thanks for taking the time to share...

    Alex
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  9. #19  
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    Paul, did the two have a noticeably different aesthetic? The only reason I favour the Panchros is how nice they make faces look - that is a very big plus given that that is what most movies are really about.
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  10. #20  
    Senior Member Paul Nordin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by paul engstrom View Post
    Thanks Paul! Question for you: Do you know for sure that these are the latest version of the Illuminas?
    Yes, they are the latest version.
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