Purpose-Built Cine Lenses for Serious Video Shooters

Purpose-Built Cine Lenses for Serious Video Shooters


Specialized cinema lenses are the hottest big-ticket category in the upmarket optical space. Moreover, the category is expanding at a furious pace. Indeed, more than half the lenses covered here are new for 2022. And they are only a fraction of the ones that debuted over the last 12 months. Purpose-built cine lenses are specifically targeted at the burgeoning ranks of video shooters focused on taking their filmmaking and video productions to a truly professional level.

Designing and manufacturing true cine lenses is especially demanding because it requires an exceptionally high level of mechanical and optical precision. As a result, cine lenses are generally quite expensive. Two of the newest lenses covered here are more than $20K and another is around $8K. However, when you consider the time and effort expended on creating a high-end video production, acquiring a lens that can give you an edge is often a wise investment.

Fortunately for dealers and consumers alike, the leading optical manufacturers have stepped up to the challenge. Consequently, there is a host of awesome new cine lenses, including the outstanding examples covered here.

No matter what kind of cameras your customers are using to capture video, true purpose-built cine lenses provide a great way to achieve pro-caliber results. That’s because they provide more precise control of all imaging parameters; enable a more seamless shooting experience; and ultimately deliver greater flexibility for objectively superior video performance.

Why Purpose-Built Cine Lenses Are Best for Pro-Level Videos

  1. Cine lenses have smooth operating (de-clicked, stepless) mechanical aperture rings; extremely smooth zoom controls; and ultrasmooth, long-throw manual focusing controls. Further, these controls usually have standardized external gears that mate with integral or modular servo-control mechanisms for even smoother, more predictable operation in the field. However, many experienced filmmakers prefer manual control rings because they’re quicker (no time lag), more intuitive as well as provide a more sensitive feel than electronically controlled systems.
  2. Cine lenses are almost always parfocal. In other words, they maintain focus at the set value as users zoom or change apertures, instead of “breathing,” (shifting focus when settings are altered). Focus breathing can happen with DSLR and mirrorless lenses designed for general-purpose or still-picture shooting. Many cine lenses also use internal focusing (IF) that suppresses focus shifts and off-axis changes.
  3. Cine lenses typically feature very high build quality. Most employ rugged, weatherproof construction. They also feature internal zoom and focus controls to maintain constant physical length and weight balance at all settings.
  4. Cine lenses are usually precision calibrated in T stops to ensure uniform light transmission. In fact, their calibrated scales are totally reliable. Moreover, the diameters of their front filter rings as well as their overall feel and balance are typically uniform over a given lens line. In addition, they usually don’t have parts that protrude during focusing or zooming.
  5. Cine lenses generally have matching imaging characteristics, such as color balance and contrast, within a given brand. They’re also designed for easy service. Also, they typically deliver optical performance of the highest caliber.
  6. Cine lens manufacturers strive to keep the most common focal lengths at roughly the same weight, and with similarly configured controls to assure uniform balance and handling characteristics.
Tips for Dealers

While cine lenses often represent a substantial investment, if your customers are really serious about capturing pro-caliber video, or if they’re moving up from shooting with a DSLR or mirrorless camera to a full-fledged pro video rig, make sure to take a close look at the cine lenses detailed here. All are great choices for accomplished and emerging videographers.

               A Dozen Purpose-Built Cine Lenses

Sigma 18–35mm T2 Cine

In Sigma’s Cine High Speed Zoom line, this lens has a wide 28.4mm image circle that easily accommodates Super 35mm sensors. Also, a fast T2 maximum aperture allows for low-light shooting. Furthermore, the compact zoom delivers outstanding image quality and covers a popular focal length range. It also provides ultrasmooth, long-throw, 180º turn for optimum control.

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Sigma 18–35mm T2 Cine

Moreover, its click-free, 60º-turn, 9-blade iris enhances bokeh. As a result, it yields smooth, natural out-of-focus image areas. Its IF design also maintains a constant length for consistent balance. In addition, its zoom ring rotates in a smooth 180º turn for precise control. And all three lens-control rings incorporate standard 0.8 Mod gears compatible with optional servo systems. A removable lens support foot is included. Canon EF, Sony E and Arri PL mounts, $3,999.

Meike 85mm T2.1 Prime

Recently released by Meike in the E mount, this impressive, fast, tele prime focuses down to 33.5 inches for frame-filling close-ups. It also provides a wide 45mm image circle. What’s more, it has standard 0.8 Mod focus and iris gears for motorized coupling; an 11-blade diaphragm for smooth natural bokeh; and a 330° focus ring rotation to facilitate focusing precision.

Meike 85mm T2.1 Prime

The 14-element, 8-group lens is calibrated in feet as well as meters and stops down to T22. In addition, it covers a 23.6° angle of view and takes 82mm filters. It’s 5.4 inches long, weighs in at 2.4 pounds and is available in Sony E, Canon EF/RF, Leica L and Arri PL mounts. $998.

Rokinon 85mm T1.3 XEEN Meister
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Rokinon 85mm T1.3 XEEN Meister

Just announced, this professional, Rokinon high-performance superspeed telephoto prime covers full-frame sensors. Notably, it meets the requirements for high-resolution 8K video capture. It has standard 0.8 Mod focus and iris gears; a 300° lens rotation for precise focus; a 13-blade diaphragm that yields smooth oval bokeh; and Rokinon’s X-coating to minimize reflections and ghosting.

The lens also provides a wide 43.2mm image circle and a 28.5° full-frame horizontal angle of view. Furthermore, it has luminous focus and iris markings to facilitate low-light use. Ideal for creative depth-of-field control, the lens focuses down to 2.6 feet and extends 6.1 inches from the camera. It weighs in at 4.6 pounds in the E mount and 4.2 pounds in EF as well as PL (with Cooke /i Technology) mounts. $8,495.

Tokina 21mm T1.5 Cinema Vista

Tokina’s brand-new, high-speed, full-frame wide-angle prime employs an advanced 19-element, 18-group optical formula with aspheric elements. Moreover, it is optimized for capturing high-res 8K video. Its wide aperture also facilitates creative depth-of-field control. The lens uses an internal focusing design and covers a very wide 46.7mm image circle. It also focuses down to 14 inches and has a 9-blade diaphragm to enhance its beautiful natural bokeh.

Tokina 21mm T1.5 Cinema Vista

Other features include standard 0.8 Mod gearing for focus and iris control; minimal breathing; dual lens barrel markings in feet; T22 minimum aperture; and a 112mm front filter ring. The lens extends 6.4 inches from the camera and weighs in at 5.1 pounds (PL version). PL, EF, MFT, LPL and E mounts, $7,499.

Zeiss Supreme Prime 15mm T1.8

This exceptional, new high-speed, full-frame ultrawide prime from Zeiss rounds out the acclaimed 14-lens Zeiss Supreme line with a flourish. Its IF design delivers outstanding sharpness at all apertures from T1.8 to T22. In addition, it covers a wide 46.3mm diameter image circle and includes a LEMO port for eXtended Data technology metadata exchange. Also, its 16-blade diaphragm achieves beautifully smooth, natural bokeh. Moreover, the 15mm T1.8 provides an impressive 98.9° coverage on full-frame cameras and 77.9° coverage on Super 35.

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Zeiss Supreme Prime 15mm T1.8

It also features standard 0.8 Mod gearing on the focus and iris controls; focuses down to 14 inches; and has a focus ring rotation of 300° to facilitate precise focusing. Further, it extends 5.9 inches from the camera, weighs in at 4.9 pounds; and comes with a removable 3/8×16 support foot. Renowned for its consistent color, “gentle sharpness” and extremely wide dynamic range, it sets an industry standard. PL mount, $31,625.

Canon CN-E20–50mm T2.4 L F/FP

Just released into Canon’s new Flex Zoom lens series, this outstanding high-speed, constant-aperture T2.4 masterpiece combines expanded low-light shooting possibilities with 2.5x zooming flexibility. Designed for 4K to 8K cine-style HDR capture, it provides an 11-blade iris for pleasantly rounded natural bokeh. It also features standard 0.8 Mod gearing on the focusing and iris rings for convenient control options.

Canon CN-E20–50mm T2.4 L F/FP

What’s more, interchangeable Canon EF and Arri PL mount options add operational flexibility. The lens focuses down to 2 feet for compelling close-ups as well as has a focus ring rotation of 300° for enhanced focusing precision. Moreover, it supports Cooke Optics /i Technology and EF-mount transmission data for enhanced intersystem metadata transfer. $21,999.

Sony E PZ 18–110mm f/4 G OSS

This versatile, lightweight Sony cine zoom has separate smooth-action control rings for focus, zoom and aperture. What’s more, a Super 35mm/APS-C-format power zoom lens, it incorporates Optical SteadyShot image stabilization (OSS) to minimize the effects of camera shake. It employs six aspherical elements and three ED (extra-low dispersion) glass elements as well as a 7-blade circular aperture design. In addition, with a 6.1x high zoom ratio, even with inner focus, it maintains a constant f/4 maximum aperture throughout its range for beautiful depth-of-field effects.

purpose built cine lenses Sony-E-PZ-18-110mm-f4-G-OSS
Sony E PZ 18–110mm f/4 G OSS

Moreover, it provides manual and servo zoom options. Parfocal, it maintains precise focus over its entire zoom range. Beautifully finished in satin black, it offers apertures of f/4–22. With a removable tripod foot in Sony APS-C/Super 35 E mount, $3,649.

Venus Optics Laowa 12mm T2.9 Zero-D Cine

This Venus lens features an ultrawide 122° angle of view with impressive image quality and low distortion on full-frame sensors. Consequently, it’s ideal for capturing landscapes and shooting in tight interior spaces. Lightweight (1.5 pounds) and compact, its relatively wide aperture facilitates creative depth-of-field effects. In addition, a 7-blade diaphragm creates pleasing natural bokeh, and the lens focuses down to 7 inches for dramatic close-ups.

Venus Optics Laowa 12mm T2.9 Zero-D Cine

Additional features comprise standard 0.8 pitch gearing on focus and aperture rings that accommodates most motorized control units; a wide 102mm diameter front ring that steps up to 114mm with the included adapter to fit standard matte boxes; and a shim set as well as hard-shell, custom-foam-lined Pelican case. E, PL and EF/RF mounts, $1,499.

Schneider Xenon 50mm T2.1 FF-Prime Cine-Tilt

An innovative Schneider-Kreuznach full-frame normal lens in the E mount, the lens provides a +/- 4° tilt option via a 120° rotation of the tilt control ring. Consequently, it enables precise changes in the focus plane and provides extended creative control of depth of field. However, when the tilt is set to 0º, it functions like a conventional lens. Color matched to other Schneider cine lenses, it also features minimized breathing and covers the full frame with no vignetting.

Schneider Xenon 50mm T2.1 FF-Prime Cine-Tilt

For 4K video capture, the lens incorporates a 14-blade diaphragm to create classic Hollywood style bokeh. In addition, it features industry standard 0.8 Mod gearing for controlling focus, iris and tilt. Plus, its 300º lens barrel rotation facilitates precise focus point control. Other features are a 40° angle of view on a full-frame camera and 28° on Super 35, as well as a 19.7-inch minimum focusing distance. It measures 6.4 inches and weighs 3.1 pounds. E mount, $5,599. A non-tilting version is available in EF, F, PL and E mounts, $3,350.

SLR Magic Anamorphot Cine 35mm T2.4

Up until this lens, SLR Magic offered traditional cine-style lenses and anamorphic adapters. However, they took the logical step and combined the two concepts in their first anamorphic lens. Built for cameras with Micro Four Thirds mounts and sensors, the lens provides a 2x anamorphic squeeze; it yields a 2.35:1 aspect ratio in the 16:9 format. As a result, users can record an aspect ratio wider than the sensor’s native aspect ratio without cropping the image, thus maximizing resolution and detail.

SLR Magic Anamorphot Cine 35mm T2.4

The lens also focuses down to 3.5 feet; employs standardized gearing on the focus and iris control rings; and has an 82mm threaded front ring for mounting filters. It measures 7.6 inches in length and weighs in at 3 pounds. It comes with a robust hard case to facilitate storage and transport. MFT mount, $2,099; PL mount, $2,800.

Fujifilm Fujinon MKX18–55mm T2.9

This advanced Fujifilm manual X-mount cinema lens with electrical contacts is optimized for 4K video capture. It covers the Super 35 format in the 16:9 aspect ratio and provides a constant T2.9 aperture over its entire zoom range. In addition, it incorporates three rings with standard 0.8 Mod gears for motorized control.

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Fujifilm Fujinon MKX18–55mm T2.9

It also has a click-less 9-blade diaphragm for smooth, quiet aperture settings and artistic bokeh. Additional features include a shim-less flange focal distance adjustment system; long-throw 200° focus rotation; macro mode; and a 28.5mm diameter image circle. The lens is also color matched to Fujinon HK/ZK/XK series lenses and weighs in at a portable 2.2 pounds. X mount, $3,999.

Sigma 105mm T1.5 FF

This impressive lens in Sigma’s FF High-Speed Prime cine line comes in the PL/i mount. The mount incorporates Cooke /i Technology to generate lens metadata to assist in post- and visual-effects production. The compact, lightweight, medium-telephoto lens provides full-frame coverage at 6–8K resolution. In addition, it incorporates a rounded 9-blade diaphragm to augment smooth bokeh. It also provides a 180° focus rotation for precise focusing. Moreover, the 105mm T1.5 features 0.8 Mod gearing on all control rings, including the click-less 60° rotation iris diaphragm.

Sigma 105mm T1.5

In addition, it provides a horizontal angle of view of 19.5° on full-frame, 13.4° on Super 35 and 12.9° on APS-C-format sensors. All markings are engraved for durability, and select scales are in luminous paint for low-light visibility. Other features include dust/moisture resistance, as well as a commendably close 40-inch minimum focus distance. It measures 6.3 inches and weighs 4.0 pounds (E mount). PL, E and EF mounts, $4,999; PL/i mount, $5,499.