Home of Professional Cinematography since 1996Red Primes
Published : 22nd May 2010
Was wondering what people think of the Red Primes. I have worked with all kinds of lenses but not those. Any good. For an upcoming job, smaller budget, not sure prod house is going to go for UP or equivalent.
So might end up with Zeiss HS. So how do Red Primes compare to Zeiss HS.
Any comment welcome.
1st Asst Cameraperson - 1st Asst Kameramann - 1er Asst Operateur
bvk-SSFV European based
Emmanuel at suys.de
Cinematography Mailing List Moderator - CML
We compared Cooke S4, Ultra Prime & Red Primes in the Santa Fe workshops in Amsterdam.
Optically there wasn't a lot in it and I'd have happily used them on the basis of those tests.
Yes we could see the differences between the lenses when projected with a 2K DCI projector but they weren't objectionable in any way.
However, you know that was coming didn't you J, physically there were big differences, they didn't feel as good, I know, hugely subjective but nonetheless...
We had problems with collimation as well but they were a very early set and I've been told that they're much better both physically and in terms of collimation now.
Geoff Boyle FBKS
mobile: +44 (0)7831 562877
We just received our first set of the Red primes. We have not been able to test a lot, but my first impression is that you get a lot for your money. Sharpness / resolution is pretty good. We have tested on the F35 and the resolution was only limited by the sensor, so I can't tell exactly how good they performed, once we get them on a projector, we'll know that.
"Fortunately" the Master Primes looked better, but in my opinion, the Red Primes are well worth the money. Mechanically, the lenses feel very good, not like the first 18-50 Red Zooms. I like the look of the housing, focus and T-Stop scales turn smoothly. The index could have more marks (and longer travel), it's more like the HS Primes than like Cooke or UP / MP's. Have not checked collimation yet, but there should not be a problem to fix that, if it is a problem at all.
In my opinion, the only real drawback of the set is the lack of a wide angle lens. 18 mm and/or 14 mm would be great.
MBF Filmtechnik Hamburg GmbH
I used the red primes and tested their ability with flares and close focus...overall I was impressed, however, The flares, while they are sorta cool, are not to my liking, very stylized and I bet that style of flaring gets abused in the MV world.
Otherwise all lenses seemed to be a true 1.9 stop, focus held nicely. gearing felt good.
With that said I would seriously compare it to the Cooke Pancro's and The Unique optics prior to purchase. Also read the mtf data, significant diff, between lenses made for film and those made for digital, all lenses mentioned fall into this category.
Peace out and happy shooting
DP, la ca
I own a set and here are my observations:
On the good side:
-very good edge to edge brightness and sharpness
-Excellent Price point
-Markings and collimation dead accurate from factory
-Overall a clean, sharp, modern lens, very pleasing if slightly "clinical"
On the bad side :
-Markings: Focus travel is not far enough for a lens this size and the markings are not plentiful enough for a lens this size (Acceptable on something small and compact like SuperSpeeds)
-Markings: Especially on the Iris: there is a distance between the marking line and the line on the iris (&focus) which will cause false readings up to 2/3 stops when looking down or up at the lens as
opposed to perfectly straight.
-the iris resistance is too loose for my tastes. It takes very little to accidentally move the iris.
-inconsistency in flare characteristics between different focal lengths (when compared to Cooke S4's)
-25mm and 35mm are physically longer and heavier than the rest and the Mattebox must be adjusted forward and the camera rebalanced.
-They are big and heavy
My set of Zeiss Standards has been gathering dust (except the CF wides) while the S2's still see occasional use...
Florian Stadler, D.P., L.A.
I have just unboxed my own set and done a quick check before packing them up and shipping them off to yet another destination - didn't even have the camera here, so haven't shot with them yet.
Bought the full set plus the 300mm (I like nature schtuff far away). I noticed SOME of the lenses had a very light resistance on the iris, but not all of them. And yeah, the 25 & 35 are long and heavy.
As a not-a-lens-guy I was surprised at the variance in size of the pupils and front elements - didn't seem to follow a logical progression, seemed to skip all over, which made me wonder if these were from-the-ground-up designs, or modified from other designs, or if other factors led to the variances - again, I don't particularly know what I'm talking about (at all!) when it comes to lens design, but
these were simply questions that occurred to me.
Why, for instance, did it seem on quick inspection that the pupil on the 35mm lens was so much larger than all the others? Why is the front element on the 300mm so huge, but so relatively small on the 85mm and 100mm? I would have thought there would be some gradual progression in front element size and pupil size, but no logical progression that I could figure out. Took pics of everything before I boxed'em back up, looking forward to playing with them soon on my own.
A quick visual check indicated that the irises all ran the full range, I've seen at least one Red 18-85 lens where that was not the case - iris didn't promptly respond (slack?) at the end of the throw (but Red promptly replaced and were very good about it - no quibbling at all, just here's-a-new-lens-so-sorry-have-a-nice-day).
Mike Curtis, freelance post toast-y guy in Santa Monica
>> Why, for instance, did it seem on quick inspection that the pupil on the 35mm lens was so much >>larger than all the others? Why is the front element on the 300mm so huge, but so relatively small >>on the 85mm and 100mm?
I suspect a lot of what goes into making a lens set consistent is also what makes them so expensive. It's like the Angenieux Rouge vs. the film version of the same lens: the Rouge sticks out a bit in back and would hit a film shutter if put on a film camera, but it's cheaper because getting rid of that extension makes the film version considerably more expensive.
If you want physical consistency within a lens set you'll have to spend a lot more money. If you just want lenses that will work, then you got a good deal.
Art Adams | Director of Photography
4 1 5 . 7 6 0 . 5 1 6 7
ICG, SOC, NWU
Art Adams wrote:
>> If you want physical consistency within a lens set you'll have to spend a lot more money. If you just >>want lenses that will work, then you got a good deal.
I just want quality, good price, and consistency, in that order.
If what I got is the fit for that prioritization, that's OK - I was just curious why it was so, not condemning it for being so.
Mike Curtis, freelance post toasty guy in Austin for a few more days
>> Why, for instance, did it seem on quick inspection that the pupil on the 35mm lens was so much >>larger than all the others?
Entrance pupil is determined, solely, by F-stop and focal length (or, properly, the other way around -- but it's equivalent). I'm really not sure why they would vary within a lens set (at least, more- or
less-widely than in other lens sets). More experienced eyes are welcome to disagree; I'm just thinking of the physics of it.
>>I suspect a lot of what goes into making a lens set consistent is also what makes them so >>expensive. It's like the Angenieux Rouge vs. the film version of the same lens:
To elaborate, the reason the digital version is cheaper -- again, speculation, but educated speculation -- is probably that by relaxing the allowable flange focal distance, the lens designers were able to use less exotic glasses or less demanding curvatures. The extreme retro-focal nature of certain cinema glass is a pretty difficult design requirement -- being able to extend the back element closer to the sensor is actually a fairly significant advantage.
DP, Virtual Active
San Francisco, CA
Art is quoted as saying this:
"If you want physical consistency within a lens set you'll have to spend a lot more money. If you just want lenses that will work, then you got a good deal."
Based upon my research for the article I wrote for hdvideopro, about these new lense offerings. Uniqoptics http://www.uniqoptics.net/ seems to have one of the best and most consistent designs, however Unique are all handmade, not mass produced, and made right here in SoCal, they are designed by the legendary Kenji Suematsu. This makes them less accessible and more exclusive, but their price point is right in line with all the others.
Also the Cooke Pancros, are made and manufactured by the same people designers and team that gave us the s4's many things were learned in the creation of the s4's this research allowed for a more cost effective and consistent design. again however these lenses are handmade, which means there are less available. with most of these 'digital' lenses the mtf is very low, which is how the price points have been reduced.
Art you are correct that the one little issue of rear element depth on the rouge is what brought the price down but not the quality, per sey. ultimately and many times you get what you pay for, do your research and don’t rely on hearsay and conjecture.
DP, la ca
Based on my experience projecting many different lenses almost every day I agree that the MTF of the digital lenses is lower than the expensive no compromise cine counterparts. It's strange approach as simple calculation shows that to fully utilise even 6 stops of dynamic range you would need about 92% mtf (at these resolutions/frequencies)- a number impossible to achieve across 35mm field. But I guess good enough is the leading phrase these days and our fragile economy makes price points crucial in purchasing decisions.
As far as the angie rougue lenses having to protrude further (IMO) it has nothing to do with engineering and everything to do with protecting the 2, 3 times the price cine line that angie is selling
Just my two pennies,
Jacek Zakowicz, optitek.org, now in Newbury Park
>> and everything to do with protecting the 2, 3 times the price cine line that angie is selling >>concurrently.
very interesting thought
Mark H. Weingartner
LA-based VFX DP/Supervisor
>> As far as the angie rougue lenses having to protrude further (IMO) it has nothing to do with >>engineering and everything to do with protecting the 2,3 times the price
Soooo.... can one get the spare parts to turn one version into the other?
Santa Monica, CA
>>But I guess good enough is the leading phrase these days and our fragile economy makes price >>points crucial in purchasing decisions.
What are the support/repair options on the lesser cost lenses? Who is doing repairs, warranties etc?
I've been really happy with how my Zeiss primes can be serviced and maintained.
"Digital lenses have to have a near telecentric angle of incidence (ray trace angle); it is why they have larger exit pupil (rear element group). In order to accomplish the near telecentric design (covering
edge pixels fully - no fringing or cross talk), all elements become larger and thus heavier. These lenses are not designed like film lenses. One of the features is that these lenses cover at least 5K (35mm to 43 mm Diagonal image circle-depending on focal length). The spectral range is changed as well and the uniQoptics lenses have IR protective coatings as well. The lenses are designed to favour digital Cinema lenses and work on film just as well. Lens elements are extra and super extra dispersion and have shot glass in them.
The MTF rivals that of Cook and Ultra primes - check them out and compare. The mechanics in these lenses are designed and built to last.
There is a full explanation on www.uniQoptics.com website on "Digital Lenses" -including illustrations by Matt Whalen (Applied Colour Science, Inc.).
PETER REPICH, "already living in Newbury Park, California (for 30 years)"
UniQoptics LLC www.uniQoptics.com
2320 Shasta Way, Unit A
Simi Valley, CA 93065
Office Tel.: 805 577 8227
Which resolutions/frequencies are you referring to.� Can you please elaborate?
I'm referring to pixel density of the digital sensor. For example 5.4 micron pixel of the RED sensor s an equivalent of 90+ lines per height i.e. cycles in MTF terms. So, in theory , in order to have 6 stops of contrast between two pixels next to each other(something that, theoretically the sensor is capable of) you would need 6 stops of contrast in a lens at that resolution. That translates (loosely) into 92% MTF. Very few lenses achieve that in center and virtually none off axis.
(Something I calculated sitting in traffic on LA freeway)
Of course it goes south from there: OLFP filters, debayer, etc throw the proverbial monkey wrench into things but the theory is sound IMO.
on another note "Digital lenses have to have a near telecentric angle"
and "we had to make lenses big so they are telecentric" FAD starts to wear thin on me: I don't see 8LBS primes and huge rear elements in full frame still lenses and they are doing just fine on 20mpix still cameras. These are still zooms near the speed of these primes.
Telecentricity alone has a small(ish) effect on performance- it has to be combined with retrofocus, heavy aspherics and low dispersion glass. Nikon and, now, Canon are experts in this field and it shows-just look at their offerings and compare. Mechanics aside.
Jacek Zakowicz, optitek.org, now in Newbury Park
Please keep in mind the speed T-1.9) and very shallow DOF you have to achieve in the cinema lenses-unlike the still lenses and the back focus of 52 mm vs. 45.6mm. Why do you think the Cook and Zeiss MP's and UP's look so big? When you decrease the angle of incidence, you wind up
needing larger rear elements as well. Industrial telecentric lenses require near the same front and rear element size it is why the cinema lenses are not telecentric. There is much involved in the design of true digital lens design and fabrication. This is a new venture-unlike the
conventional cinema lens design.
As I recommended, look at our website and click on "digital cinema lenses..." in red colour. Matt Whalen explained it well what the differences from a film lens and digital lens is. By the way, aspheric elements cause other unwanted problems as well and are more expensive.
By the way, Uniqoptics lenses weigh 4.12 lbs (50mm-100mm) and 5.7 lbs (25mm and 35mm) not 8 lbs. These are lighter then Cook's S-4's or MP's and are internal focus-not retro. Or were you
talking about another set of lenses?
UniQoptics LLC www.uniQoptics.com
Firstly I would like to say that out of the current offerings I like UO lenses the best. I haven't projected them but I love Kenji's designs, they just look gorgeous.
We go way back with Peter so I think I can say this:
Flange has nothing to do with performance, you can just slap PL mount on canon-it's been done. also depth of field is the same regardless of application, still or cine. What Mr Whalen is saying is correct but also a common knowledge, or it should be by now to anyone involved with optics in any way.
Of course aspherics are more expensive, because they are better, otherwise who would bother....
My point is missed again, but that's OK I get that quite a bit just hope the ones that get it appreciate it.....
Jacek Zakowicz, OptiTek.org now in Newbury Park.
yes we both go way back with Century Optics. Although I am fully involved with prototyping and manufacturing of our prime set, I am not the designer. My information comes in very layman’s terms as the optical design is super complicated. The "digital" technologie in the lens business is relatively new and brand new in the field of digital cinematography.
Peter (in Newbury Park since 1977)Repich
"This results in diffraction at the edges of the photosite, which in turn produces light falloff and a form of chromatic aberration that appears as "purple fringing" along high contrast edges."
For one, no one really knows for sure what the purple fringing is. IMO it's IR pollution and since the IR is a longest wave it will bend and image where the visible won't. I think that my purple fringing theory is as good as any other. This is just an example that an article in a magazine is not a know it all bible and should be read with a grain of salt. Broad band AR coatings have been used for years and not only on digital- T-coating by Zeiss or Cooke's multi red recipe to give it the cosy look as just two of the many examples.
Again, I don't see huge primes or zooms in the still world and they image on 20+ Mpix sensors just fine.
Jacek Zakowicz, optitek.org
>>Again, I don't see huge primes or zooms in the still world and they image on 20+ Mpix sensors >>just fine.
I don't think that's necessarily correct. If you look at the Nikkor or Canon professional lenses, they do tend to be larger and heavier than the lower-end lenses.
If I look at photos from my Nikon D2X at 1:1, I can see chromatic aberrations and/or fringing on all inexpensive lenses, and even on the more expensive Nikkor lenses in some situations. And that's only a 12 Megapixel sensor.
Just this week, I happened to stop by Sammy’s Camera when the Hasselblad reps were in doing a show-and-tell, and they had samples comparing images from their digital backs (30+ Megapixels) to the 35mm-sensor competition, and one of the big items they were illustrating was the chromatic aberration that was visible on the 35mm-sensor images - the big lenses made for Hasselblad combined with the bigger sensor definitely produced cleaner images!
Director/DP, Downstream Pictures
Listmum, Cinematography Mailing List
It proves my purple fringe theory :
larger sensor= larger pixels =better fill= better visible to IR ratio=less purple fringing.
The medium format lenses are lager, sure but so is the sensor so the off axis incident angles remain the same and should present the same refraction issues. Since there are less it means that the refraction is not the main cause of purple fringing- the IR is.
Jacek Zakowicz, OptiTek.org
"the refraction is not the main cause of purple fringing- the IR is."
The first time I ever saw a Zeiss MasterPrime, it was put on a lens projector at Arri Canada in Toronto. Although it looked amazingly sharp, I could see a slight amount of violet fringing at the very edges of the field. I’m quite sure it must have been a very small amount of residual chromatic aberration of some sort; even these super high end lenses are left with a small amount. As lens design involves so many tradeoffs, I guess something always has to give!
Douglas Koch cscDPToronto