Thread: Aesthetics of Zeiss Superspeeds vs CP.2

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  1. #1 Aesthetics of Zeiss Superspeeds vs CP.2 
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    You may have caught my other post asking of CP.2 vs Nikon aesthetics (not mechanics or cine setup, just image look and feel). Sounds like I might be better sticking with Nikon in that regard for an upcoming project. But what about Zeiss Superspeeds. How do they compare aesthetically to the CP.2s and even the Nikons? (which I think are a bit like the poor-man's Cooke).
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  2. #2  
    Senior Member Matt Ryan's Avatar
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    I love Super Speeds. They are softer wide open (t1.3) but get just as sharp as Ultra Primes at 2.8 and up. They are still decently sharp wide open, just give a smoother appearance rather than crisp. Skin looks many times better on Super Speeds. They have less chromatic aberration than CP.2's (Especially purple fringing which I found excessive with the CP.2's). Contrast and color matches throughout all the Super Speeds as opposed to the slight variations in CP.2's. They have consistent apertures throughout the set unlike CP.2's. The are light weight, and have a smaller front diameter than Cp.2's (Cp.2's are 114mm and SS are 80mm). For my money Super Speeds are worth more than double the cost of CP.2's. I have used both sets now on several projects so I have hands on experience with both. The only advantage to CP.2's I see is that they cover full frame and are more affordable to rent. But I would personally choose Super Speed's whenever I could. I love being able to open up to 1.3 if need be.

    If your looking to buy I highly recommend Super Speed Mark III (The most recent version). Stay away from first version (B mount or converted PL). Version II is good as well.
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    Senior Member Alan Peterson's Avatar
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    Matt, do you have any experience with the current superspeeds (the 35/50/85 t/1.5 versions)? If so, how do they compare to previous versions?
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    Senior Member Matt Ryan's Avatar
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    I have yet to see them but I'm guessing they are still not quite as good as the Super Speeds. I'll hold off on assumptions until I test them for myself. Once again these "new" Super Speeds are rehoused still lenses. These new super speeds are rehoused Zeiss ZE 1.4 lenses (rumored and not sure if that claim has been validated yet.) So i can't properly answer that question.
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    Senior Member Nick Morrison's Avatar
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    Another MAJOR difference not to be overlooked is in the coating. The older Zeiss coating on Super Speeds has a lower contrast, organic, "filmic" look that is very hard to replicate these days. There has been much talk of "rare earth elements" that Zeiss used to use on their old coatings.

    I think many would agree that CP2's and ZF/ZE's have a contrastier yet cleaner coating that...while color matching with the older zeiss lenses...may not retain all the "character" for which the Super Speeds are well known.
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  7. #7  
    Senior Member Matt Ryan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Morrison View Post
    Another MAJOR difference not to be overlooked is in the coating. The older Zeiss coating on Super Speeds has a lower contrast, organic, "filmic" look that is very hard to replicate these days. There has been much talk of "rare earth elements" that Zeiss used to use on their old coatings.

    I think many would agree that CP2's and ZF/ZE's have a contrastier yet cleaner coating that...while color matching with the older zeiss lenses...may not retain all the "character" for which the Super Speeds are well known.
    Good point
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  8. #8  
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    I'm guessing Leica is the only stills glass that isn't very contrasty these days, huh?
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  9. #9  
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    Haven't had much experience with the modern Zeiss lenses (too expensive for me when Canon and Samyang lenses are so much cheaper and quite decent), but I am a fan of old Nikkors and Superspeeds alike.

    I find that people who like Cooke lenses don't like Superspeeds, which is odd because they're pretty similar. The Cooke lenses have a really soft, warm feel whereas the Zeiss superspeeds have a weird character wide open, more like a classic soft on top of a modern, aesthetically clinical lens, or more like coma than spherical aberration. And the bokeh on superspeeds isn't soft or beautiful at all; stopped down they are pretty generically good with a bit of an old school feel. I kind of love them wide open, though, to be honest. Sharp and edgy, but in an organic way. Not "beautiful" though. Stopped down I feel like they have a similar vibe to contemporaneous Nikkors, but Nikkors vary in quality. Some are great wide open (50m f1.4) some are garbage unless stopped down (35mm f1.4, 24mm f2), and bokeh varies.

    I REALLY dig Nikkors, but my camera (5D mark III) is so soft in the first place that they impart a resolution hit more than they do any character, which is a shame, so I've been using L lenses and Samyangs with that camera. Red is a very clinical but sharp camera and needs all the character it can get. But I really dig the super speeds and they seem like a good match with the red to give it a little more character without reducing resolution entirely. Not beautiful lenses, though, edgy and nervous bokeh. Not great close focus. Less "boring" than Samyang and Red Pro Primes, but also worse optically maybe.

    But they're small, sharp, totally lacking in CA, and super fast. Really nice lenses if they're your style, give them a try and see if they are.
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  10. #10  
    Senior Member Timur Civan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt W. View Post

    I find that people who like Cooke lenses don't like Superspeeds, which is odd because they're pretty similar. The Cooke lenses have a really soft, warm feel whereas the Zeiss superspeeds have a weird character wide open, more like a classic soft on top of a modern, aesthetically clinical lens, or more like coma than spherical aberration.
    I like SSpeeds....

    The SSpeeds have a cooler flare. They tend to flare white/blue. The Cookes flare a warmer/White or in a slight rainbow. On a 5K chip, the SSpeeds even wide open deliver an awesome look, almost like all the "defects" are perfectly rendered, thus making them sem alive.
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