Thread: How Good are Cine Lenses for Still Photography with The New Canon 5D MarkIII?

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  1. #1 How Good are Cine Lenses for Still Photography with The New Canon 5D MarkIII? 
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    How Good are Cine Lenses for Still Photography?

    Basically, I'm interested in purchasing some Zeiss CP.2, but I don't want to limit myself exclusively to Cine work, I also want to do still with my soon to be new Canon 5d MarkIII. I'll probably be doing 50% stills and 50% cine work with the new 5D MarkIII.

    I've already read most of the arguments for or against choosing between Cine or Still lenses for making movies, but haven't seen anything regarding Cine lens application for still photography.

    Are there any issues or concerns? Would a 50mm Zeiss CP.2, T2.9 be a better choice for stills than a Canon 50mm L Series 1.2F?

    Also, I could buy three Canon L series lenses for the price of one Zeiss CP.2, so that is definitely something worth considering. For my Cine work I do a lot of different stuff, commercial, music videos, shorts, student films, indie films, etc...
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    Cine Lenses usually will not cover the FF35 sensor in the 5D, they are designed for s35 sized sensors.

    The EOS lenses work fine. They are designed specifically for the 5D sensor (and vise versa) and there are enough posts about how well the Canon lenses perform on Epics and Scarlets that I would not worry about performance.
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  3. #3  
    Not only do most cine lenses not cover FF photography sensors, but they are not made for photography.

    I love cinema lenses. Love them. But they are made for another world, not for photography.

    If I can borrow from another article I wrote:
    The photographer captures a single frame, a frozen moment in time. His images stand on their own, telling a story with just one frame. The cinematographer works within the medium of time. His images are juxtaposed together by the art of editing. His images tell a story with multiple shots usually meant to create the illusion of continuous passage of time.

    As obvious as this statement is, it fundamentally changes the needs of the man behind the camera.

    ... basically, if you take all the reasons photography lenses are wrong for film production, you can reverse that and give many reasons Cinema lenses are wrong for photography. YES, Cinema lenses will take good photographs! Master Primes, Cookes, Optimos, and other lens sets are among the best lenses in the world, and they are capable of tremendous photographs... but that doesn't mean there aren't trade offs. The need to get rid of even the mildest vignetting in lenses is not needed in photography, in order to keep the lens small and light. Very short focus throws, which are awful in cinema, help the photographer land focus faster in unscripted and spontaneous moments, such as photojournalism and war photography. The lenses don't need to be color matched perfectly because they won't be juxtaposed together. Mild distortion remains hidden in photographs better than in motion pictures. The lenses have to stay small and light too. I've put Hawk Anamorphics on my photography camera, and my wrist almost broke off after two minutes. There is a reason handheld cinema cameras are shoulder mount and not handheld. Even the Epic/Scarlett, with a decent cinema lens can break your wrist off after an hour or so. :P


    So as amazing as cinema lenses are. And they are... using them for photography is usually not the best idea. Perhaps if you were in a studio or in a very controlled setting this would be a positive. Cinema lenses have just a very slight optical advantage over photography, but mainly have mechanical advantages. No Breathing, color matching, no vignetting, long focus throws, well laid out witness marks, t-stops, etc... all of those things mean much more on a moving image upon the big screen, than a photograph.

    I have a set of Cooke cinema lenses, and I take photo's with them all the time. It's not an easy and fast thing to do. It requires much more strength, care, and focusing is a bitch. But when I'm on a film set, Cooke's are the absolute best. Focusing is easy, accurate and smooth!

    It is like using a formula one car and entering it into a Rally car race. They are both well engineered cars made for two different purposes.





    With that said, CP.2 are rehoused cinema lenses, so they are a hybrid of sorts. They still have characteristics of photography lenses but with some well done cinema lens modifications. They are relatively light, and will cover FF sensors. This seems to be the only choice that could be justified, imo.
    Thank you Red Team for unlocking/correcting the i/data technology. Cooke lenses are reading correctly and all his happy in Cooke/Epic land. Thanks!
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  4. #4  
    Desmond, don't worry CP2s will cover full frame sensor on your 5D mark III, cause they are full frame lenses, the only lens that doesn't cover full frame is 18mm, but it's not a very good lens anyway.

    The main issue you will face when using cine lenses (say CP2s) for stills is ergonomics. These lenses are huge compared to regular still glass, and their focus ring is designed to be pulled by a follow focus, not by hand. Also you can forget about AF.

    Ultimately you have to ask yourself what's more important for you stills or motion. I suppose that you are a "motion" guy, since you're here, so the best way for you to benefit from both worlds is to invest into Zeiss ZE/ZF glass. The glass inside is the same as in CP2s, the only difference is that it's picked more carefully (meaning that almost all samples of each lens are close to the high standard), the housing and 9 iris blades. Buy Zeiss ZFs, cinevise them and use them for motion and stills. I wouldn't recommend to invest in Canon glass for motion, it is certainly possible to use them but ergonomics and build quality are nowhere close to cine lenses. Yeah, the Redmote Pro is going to change the way we see still glass as a motion picture tool, but it's not here yet and we all need to shoot something here and now.

    It's great to have both Canon and some manual glass, but it's a lot of money and if you have to choose between the two, I suggest going the manual way.
    Last edited by Demetri Zuev; 03-11-2012 at 02:25 PM.
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    Senior Member Domenic Barbero's Avatar
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    isnt the cp2 just a rehoused zf2 andyways? ive taken stills on the 5dmii with cp2's and they looked great. but real heavy compared to an ef 50 prime. i would say that with the cp2, since its a still lens anyways, you would be safe.
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    Senior Member Brian Iannone's Avatar
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    All right, a lot of people are going to get mad at me for saying this, but please, please, please avoid Canon lenses. L-series lenses only offer between 16-20 MP of resolution. Meaning, using them with a 22.3 MP sensor is only going to get you the equivalent of 16 MP of resolution.

    Basically, they lack clarity.

    Zeiss lenses would indeed be a better choice. If you're shooting video, you can go with the CP.2s (which, to be honest, I personally don't like also; I prefer the RPPs). If you're shooting stills, the ZEs are excellent. (Also, keep in mind that the CP.2s are just rehoused ZE/ZFs.)
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    Senior Member D Fuller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Iannone View Post
    All right, a lot of people are going to get mad at me for saying this, but please, please, please avoid Canon lenses. L-series lenses only offer between 16-20 MP of resolution. Meaning, using them with a 22.3 MP sensor is only going to get you the equivalent of 16 MP of resolution.

    Basically, they lack clarity.
    Interesting. Where does this info come from?
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  8. #8  
    Senior Member Brian Iannone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by D Fuller View Post
    Interesting. Where does this info come from?
    Which part? (The my opinion part, the 16 MP of resolution part or the lacking clarity part?) :-)
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  9. #9  
    Senior Member Jacek Zakowicz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Iannone View Post
    All right, a lot of people are going to get mad at me for saying this, but please, please, please avoid Canon lenses. L-series lenses only offer between 16-20 MP of resolution. Meaning, using them with a 22.3 MP sensor is only going to get you the equivalent of 16 MP of resolution.

    Basically, they lack clarity.

    Zeiss lenses would indeed be a better choice. If you're shooting video, you can go with the CP.2s (which, to be honest, I personally don't like also; I prefer the RPPs). If you're shooting stills, the ZEs are excellent. (Also, keep in mind that the CP.2s are just rehoused ZE/ZFs.)
    Some Canon lenses are much better performers than ZFs (especially 50f1.4 and 85 f1.4 ZFs)
    Yes I've seen the difference in projection.
    The part about 16-20Mpix is absolutely NOT true.
    And it should not be referred to because it's wrong assumption. 20 Mp on M4/3, APSC, FF put completely different demands on lenses and the Mp count is a wrong point of reference..
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  10. #10  
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    Brian, dont worry I dont think anyone is going to get angry with you. However, I think your assumptions are wrong. A bit of softening with digital sensors is a marriage made in heaven. Personally, I want to tame high resolution on digital sensors not increase it. So if what you are saying is true I am suddenly extremely interested in Canon L lenses.
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