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NAB 2015: Lenses review, part one

Tuesday, May 12, 2015 12:00 AM

In the second part of his NAB 2015 review, cameraman and WTS production specialist Patrick van Weeren turns his focus (sorry) to lenses.

NAB2015 trade show panorama

With 4K – and more K – as far as the eye could see at NAB, it was no surprise that the leading lens manufacturers were showcasing glass that is capable of performing at such high resolution.

Sony's big announcement of the new HDC-4300 4K/HFR 2/3-inch studio camera gave Fujinon the perfect platform to launch two new UHD lenses for the B4-mount – a portable UA22x8 and a box lens, the UA80x9, which is compatible with 4K cameras.

Fujinon UA22x8 and UA80x9 UHD broadcast zoom lenses

Fujinon has designed the UA80x9 precisely with live sports and event broadcasting in mind. Boasting focal lengths from 9mm to 720mm, the lens addresses a need for 4K B4-mount lenses, says the Japanese manufacturer. “4K UltraHD productions can now be produced with equipment that has the same ‘look and feel’ capabilities of HD, but with a premium picture quality,” according to FujiFilm’s Thom Calabro.

Fujinon wasn't the only one to show up with new B4 mount lenses. Canon has responded with UHD portable and box lenses added to its line-up. Of course, we are well-used to this synchronized swimming from the two giants of broadcast lenses.

Canon UHD Digisuper box lens at NAB 2015

One Canon lens departing the stage is the very popular HD lens, the HJ22. It will be replaced with the HJ24ex7.5B. Available with or without Focus servo, the new lens is due to start shipping by early summer.

Though Canon’s Cn7 arrived on the scene almost two years later than the Fujinon Cabrio 19-90mm, it actually now looks to have overtaken its rival in terms of popularity. Nevertheless, both lenses continue to be big money-makers for these two Japanese giants and are big players in the rental market.

NAB2015: Zeiss CZ2 15-30mm lens

It was the Japanese manufacturers who first started to add broadcast-style servo units in their PL/4K lens line-up, and Zeiss has followed suit with a servo unit for its CZ.2 zoom lenses. Now French manufacturer Angenieux has announced its own servo units. The French manufacturer already has plenty of experience in servo units from its B4 video lenses of the past.

NAB2015: Angenieux cine-servo

Angenieux’s press release explains more:

“The servo unit is compatible with broadcast remote handles, cinema remote controls and wireless remotes…  It generates lens metadata based on the Cooke/i technology protocol. PL mount /i Cooke interface is available on request. ASU and lenses are matched and calibrated at factory for optimum performance. The ASU can also be offered as a stand-alone item as well, however lenses must be returned to factory for the initial calibration.

“The ASU is compatible with all the Optimo Lightweight Cine Zooms : Optimo Style 16-40 and 30-76 , Optimo 15-40, 28-76 and 45-120 lenses, and Optimo Anamorphic 56-152 A2S and 30-72 A2S. It can also be used with the Optimo DP 16-42 and 30-80.”

Canon 50-1000mm zoom lens

Canon's CN20x50 50-1000mm lens, first seen at Bristol's Wildscreen Festival last October, was on show in Las Vegas, and alongside it, the manufacturer revealed its 8K-compatible SHV lens – albeit confined to a glass cabinet.

NAB2015: Canon 8K SHV lens

Hopefully we can keep up before we have to take out a second mortgage just to fill our lens bags. Interestingly RED’s forthcoming 8K Weapon camera will have a sensor size of 21.60 x 40.96mm, so most longer lenses – including 24mm x 36mm still photography lenses – will get close enough to work with the newer sensors.

NAB2015: Leica rangefinder PL

German company Leica launched its S-type 007, a medium-format and 4K photography-style camera, at Photokina last year. But for a lot of people, NAB was their first encounter with this Rolls Royce of the stills camera world. Apart from adapting its classic cameras to be able to film, Leica have now made it optional to use their PL-glass on the ‘original’ M-mount Leica M rangefinder. To do so you have to get an LCD viewfinder, which admittedly would be a painful moment for the die-hard rangefinder fan – but the Summicron or Summilux PL lenses are just too big.

The mount will be easily interchangeable – great for street photographers who would like to switch between cinema and photography; but it can also work as a director’s viewfinder, albeit an expensive one.

The Summicron-C T2.0 series lenses are the ‘budget’ version of the Oscar™ Science and Technology award-winning Summilux-C T1.4 lenses. Last year’s Summicron line-up has now been extended to nine different focal lengths.

Long time Arri collaborator IB/E Optic – renowned for their B4/PL mount adaptors, amongst other products – together with Handevision have introduced “the fastest lens in the world”, according to their press release. It’s a new 40mm F0.85 lens which would be suitable for E-mount cameras such as the FS7.

NAB2015: Samyang Rokinon 135mm lens

At the cheaper end of the prime lens price range, we have a set of lenses with a CineStyle interface from Samyang/Rokinon set. It's proven to be a very popular set with many Sony FS7 users and the range has now been extended with a 100mm F3.1 and a 135mm F2.2 (according to the manufacturer we are talking about T-stops – but I am yet to see evidence confirming this. Focal lengths start at 10mm and include all the usual suspects. A full set of these can beat the price of one high-end photography lens.

No news on the Schneider front during this NAB; nevertheless the German manufacturer warrants a mention. Its Xenar III cinema lenses exist in both PL or EF mount incarnations, and offer a full range of focal lengths: 18mm, 25mm, 35mm, 50mm, 75mm, 95mm and 100mm.

In its stills/photographic lens range, Canon has launched an impressive L-series 11-24mm (EF-mount) – and with the 5DS camera boasting more than 50 megapixels the quality of the new Canon L series glass simply can’t be ignored by even the most stubborn cinema lens junkie. The rectilinear quality is impressive. Some people say it's equal or better than the 14mm rectilinear prime from a couple of years ago.

That's a whistle-stop tour of the lenses that were on display at NAB, with the notable exception of anamorphic lenses, which will be the subject of my next blog.

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