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Meet the Extraordinary Zeiss Otus Lenses

What does the perfect lens look like? Is there even such a thing? We have a lot of philosophical lens conversations here at Rule. We’ve always had an affinity for vintage glass, and all the gritty imperfections that come with them. There are, however, plenty of shooting scenarios where a vintage look isn’t appropriate. Those modern, cutting edge, sharp-as-a-tack shoots. We’ve always had sharp glass, but the Zeiss Otus Primes (avail in 28mm, 55mm, 85mm) are a cut above.

As we work within the film and photography world when it comes to glass, there has always been a clear division between the two. Lenses that were very sharp, but not suited for on set use. Lenses that were geared and friendly for all our film accessories, but weren’t really that crisp — and if they could be both, they were pretty pricey. In this way, the Zeiss Otus series is a bridge between worlds. An expensive stills lens, and an affordable cine lens. Whichever way you decide to group them, the fact of the matter remains – this is extraordinary glass. 

The Zeiss Otus series was designed over a 3-year period, deep in the underground Zeiss bunker — somewhere, I assume, in the Alps. Zeiss made one thing clear upon announcing their new “affordable” lenses — they would not be compromising quality, in any regard. Did you know there are 6 elements in the construction of these lenses that are more valuable than gold? Vibranium unconfirmed. The body is a beautiful machined metal, and the overall feeling one has when shooting with them is a profound sense of modernity. These are the lenses of right now, and they’re great. 

Using these, I’ve found myself saying things like “Wow, the GH5 looks great!” “Wow, this FS7 looks great!” It took a second to realize that this lens is just a very nice addition to any camera. We can get into the weeds all day long about sensors, debayer patterns, relative sharpness, crispening — but at the end of the day, it comes down to the thing you put on the front of the camera. They are, on one hand, larger than every stills lens I’ve ever used or even heard of, which can be a bit of a bummer for compact shooters. They are no bigger than a Canon 24-70, though, and the weight trade-off is certainly warranted. Speed is also a consideration, as our 28mm, 55mm, and 85mm are all f1.4. While some lenses can achieve an f1.2, I find that to be an aperture I seldom use. I’ll trade a stop for the improved performance, no questions asked. 

In addition to freakish clarity, the Otus primes handle chromatic aberration with ease. Edges I found ringed with purple with my Canon L series glass were made pure and clean with the Otus. Even the edges of frame are well-defined and are not only very sharp, but match the sharpness of the entire frame. They are extremely reliable in their projected image, and certainly deliver on the promise Zeiss made — they’re the new standard. 

For me, I’m finding them to perform as a budget-friendly option to the Zeiss Supremes – and that’s an enormous credential to boast. So, if you’re looking for the Lens of The Future (or, perhaps, today), give rentals a call (or click here to email), and come check these things out!

– Alex Enman, Engineer

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Meet the Angenieux Optimo Ultra 12x Multi-Format Monster

As dependable as ever, Angenieux has released another perfect lens. The Optimo Ultra 12x cine zoom is really the next bar to measure other zoom lenses against. This time, they’ve created a multi-format monster that can cover 3 sensor sizes — including the new and exciting Full-Frame format that is on track to be this year’s summer jam.

As the format can change, the zoom range also changes slightly in regards to which lens element you’ve chosen. The options are for standard Super 35, Ultra 35 — a format created for S35+ formats like ARRI Open Gate, Sony Venice 5.7K 16:9, 6K RED Dragon, 8K RED Helium — and Full-Frame/Vista Vision targeted at large format cameras like the ARRI ALEXA LF, RED Monstro, RED 8K Vista Vision, and Sony Venice Full-Frame 6K.

The zoom ranges break down into these groups, and you’ll see that change in speed as well:

  • S35 [31.6mm] 24-290mm T2.8
  • U35 [34.6mm] 26-320mm T3.1
  • FF/VV [46.3mm] 36-435mm T4.2

Tests below are from the Sony Venice at 5.7K 16:9, with the Ultra35 format.

26mm [note the vingette is only visible in the “look around” setting at 16:9, and is not recorded].

 

320mm

This flexibility in format is exactly what rental houses are looking for — a lens that you can depend on, and that can change to fit your format needs from job-to-job. Just let your Rental Agent know which camera you’re using, and we can make sure it matches up.

The build quality is exactly what’s to be expected from the Optimo line-up, which is a visually near-perfect parfocal zoom that is very pretty, very heavy, and very expensive. No, this lens won’t be the everyday shooter’s go-to, but commercial and episodic productions will certainly get use out of this artillery-style zoom. With the 12x range, this isn’t something that’s meant to be taken off the camera that often. It’s your “on sticks, workhorse zoom”, just like the previous 24-290 models.

What excited me most about this lens is the Ultra 35 option. Yes, S35 is the standard, and, yes, Full-Frame sure is the cool, new kid on the block; but so many cameras have odd, non-standard sensor sizes. Having a lens that works well, specifically for Venice 5.7K, RED Helium 8K, and ARRI Open Gate is pretty phenomenal. Of course, designing a lens just for these odd sizes would be insane, which is where the flexibility of the multi-format option saves the day. I don’t know what the future will hold for imager sizes, but I do know that this lens will probably fit them.

More good news: You can take this lens for a spin at a 25% off in June. Just contact Rentals for details.

– Alex Enman, Engineer