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Musings by Snehal aka Fearless, a filmmaker with a hankering for technology and science.  

Zeiss CP2 lenses reviewed

Zeiss was kind enough to send over a set of five Compact Prime Lenses with Canon EF mounts for evaluation.  They are meant for professional DSLR filming in HD.  The lenses are called CP.2 for short and MSRP is $3,900 for each lens.  The full set of seven lenses includes the following: 18mm T3.6, 21mm T2.9, 25mm T2.9, 28mm T2.1, 35mm T2.1, 50mm T2.1 and an 85mm T2.1. 


I decided to use the lenses for a web commercial I was shooting for a board game with comedian Eric Shwartz of www.smoothe.tv .  I paired them up with my Canon 5D and used the following setup to shoot: RedRock Micro shoulder rig & follow focus, Marshall 7" HDMI monitor, Sachtler sticks and head.

The first thing you notice about these lenses is that they are all the same dimension and weight about the same (1 kg each).  That's great for when using a Matt Box or electronic accessories on the lenses.  Also, the one thing that sets these lenses apart from the Canon still lenses is the geared iris ring which allows for smooth iris control.  Also the focus rotation is large, allowing for more precise markings and an easier time for the AC.

The lenses worked beautifully.  They covered the full frame of the 5D sensor and I could easily swap out from a 21mm wide to an 85mm for close-ups without having to adjust my rig at all.  Even the follow focus can be locked in place while swapping.  That's so different from when I work with Canon L-series primes which are all kinds of different shapes, requiring different rings to work with my RedRock follow focus.

The image quality of the lenses is quite nice.  The sharpness and detail are great plus I didn't see the lenses breathe at all when I racked focus - which was a concern with the Zeiss ZE series.  Also, I didn't see any color aberrations or vignetting on the edges of the image.

Overall I am very pleased with the Zeiss CP.2 lenses because they provide a very cinematic workflow for the cinematographer and AC while being rock solid and precise.  I do recommend you check them out as an option to using PL mount film lenses on a converted 5D or 7D body.

I'll post the web commercial once it's online.

On-set stills courtesy of Tom Myrdahl of www.myrdahlhdvideo.com

Snehal Patel