If there’s one thing a cinematographer is quite fastidious about, it is his camera. As much as we would like to bestow the credit on the camera itself, it would only be reasonable to acknowledge the importance of accessories that a camera requires: to perform its function in entirety. There has always been a debate around what is the most important part of a camera. One would think, the camera body perhaps? While that isn’t entirely wrong, I’d urge you to think better. Lenses? Yes, camera lenses. It is certainly imperative for a good camera to pack-in a truckload of megapixels, controls, an efficient light meter, reliable noise reduction, great shutter speed, and a wide ISO range, all of these comprise one aspect of the story. Lenses, by themselves, form another.
Lenses get better with age. Consistency is one of the key elements that needs to be taken into consideration whilst choosing the perfect lenses. Think consistent coverage, colour rendering, aperture size, weight and ergonomics.
A GREAT OFFERING
The ZEISS Supreme Prime lenses, popularly used across the globe, cover full frame and even bigger sensors with an image circle of 46.3 mm—across its family. The Supreme Prime lenses are colour-matched across the full range and most feature a fast T-stop of T1.5.
The small front diameter of 95 mm on almost all lenses, along with the standardised positioning of the focus and iris rings facilitates fast and easy equipment changeout. The compact and lightweight design allows for easy and comfortable handling. The ultra-smooth focus rotation of the Supreme Prime lenses even in extreme temperatures, allow for small motors to make sure the set-up is easy and fun to work with.
A few films, which explicitly portray the beauty of cinematography, include Hometown Déjà Vu, shot on ZEISS Supreme Primes and RED Monstro VV; Passing, shot on ZEISS Supreme Primes, Sony Venice/Phantom 4K/RED Monstro VV; Weekend Dads, shot on ZEISS Supreme Primes and ARRI Alexa LF, amongst many other films.
The ZEISS Supreme Prime lenses are designed for cinematic large-format sensor coverage, making them the ideal choice for current and future camera systems. At T1.5, the lenses demonstrate their craftsmanship in tricky low-light environments. A smooth transition between in-focus and out of focus areas characterise the unique look of the lenses, adding rich texture and depth to the image. Especially when capturing crucial textures such as skin tones, the ZEISS Supreme Prime lenses provides a gentle sharpness that renders a crisp but organic look.
The unique ZEISS eXtended Data echnology offers lens metadata critical for VFX-intensive productions and workflows on set. The frame-accurate information about focal length, focussing distance, T-stop and depth-of-field enables the camera assistant to work more precisely and eliminates guesswork for the DIT. The ZEISS specific distortion and vignetting data makes shooting grids redundant and accelerates compositing and stitching in post-production. The technology unifies two data sets: key lens data based on the Cooke /i* Technology and the ZEISS distortion and shading lens data. After recording on-set together with the video files, they can be applied in post-production for compositing for example by using the ZEISS developed lens plugin.
ANOTHER GREAT CHOICE
The ZEISS Supreme Prime Radiance lenses enable cinematographers to create beautiful, consistent and controlled flares in the image while maintaining contrast and avoiding transmission loss. Yet, they offer all attributes of a modern cinema lens: large-format coverage, high speed, robustness and smooth and reliable focus—all in a small, light-weight package.
They come in a set of seven: 21 mm, 25 mm, 29 mm, 35 mm, 50 mm, 85 mm and 100 mm – all T1.5. Although being slightly warmer than regular Supreme Primes, they pair well with them. Instead of just uncoating lens elements, the company revisited its T* coating formulae and reworked them—the birth of T* blue. It was made sure that resulting flares could be planned and reproduced, while being able to maintain contrast and avoid transmission loss that one normally experiences with uncoated lens elements. Under regular lighting, Supreme Prime Radiance render like modern and versatile cinematography lenses. With appropriate lighting however, the lenses start to flare.
The lenses are designed for cinematic large-format sensor coverage, making them the ideal choice for current and future camera systems. At T1.5, they work great in a low-light environment. Rest of the features are in tandem with those of the ZEISS Supreme Prime lenses, including the eXtended Data technology.
It’s not uncommon for new ideas to hit the market and then disappear just as quickly. Lens manufacturers nowadays look to minimising the ‘fad’ effect by ensuring that new products contribute and bring a new dimension to production; completely informed by real-world customer experience. They are striving to empower cinematographers to achieve something that they either previously couldn’t before, or couldn’t do without additional fuss, downtime, and associated costs.
In today’s market, most camera accessories are designed for specific cameras and/or applications, which can eventually restrict creativity and performance. Few accessory vendors create solutions that are versatile and designed to be camera-agnostic. This makes it possible to swap out accessories reliably and with ease.
The operational needs cannot be ignored and should be essential criteria for designing camera solutions. Thanks to technology, it has made things easy especially for occasions when conditions are not conducive to a shoot. For instance, when shooting in rainy weather in a windy outdoor location, with water droplets splashing on the lens. An important factor that helps a company retain acclaim and goodwill in the industry, is, a varied cinema and documentary experience, along with working closely with generations of camera operators and cinematographers. This helps them develop products that stand the test of time, even when the market is thronged with a herd of products to scout through. Even in the current, rapidly changing technology-driven market place, customers need to be reassured of ‘future-proof’ products that can deliver upgrades and updates.
ZEISS understands the above and makes a strong impact on the cinema industry, by virtue of their specialised cinema lenses.