AWARDS GEAR OF THE YEAR
LENSES S o many people love the simplicity and ease of an autofocus zoom lens. But when it comes to choosing winners in our lens of the year category, it’s clear the most popular choices are high-end, manual focus cinema options. The uncompromising quality, fast maximum aperture, tactile handling and lack of focus breathing make these optics so incredible for shooting video – something not lost on the Pro Moviemaker readership. AF might be popular and growing, but MF cine glass is where it’s at for serious shooting. Even in the zoom category, where the competition between AF manufacturers proved as hot as ever, the legendary Zeiss LWZ.3 21-100mm T2.9-3.9 was the undisputed victor. It’s a lot of lens, weighing in at 2kg/4.4lb and costing £9300/$10,400. The Zeiss is certainly no lightweight bit of kit, stripped of its rugged build or legendary optical performance to save a few grams and pennies. It uses all of the legendary Zeiss know-how and build quality, just in a slighter, lighter package
that matches the slimmed-down cameras of today far better. At the wide end it’s a T2.9, but at the long end it’s rated at T3.8. Zeiss claims to have engineered the way the lens gets darker in a very controlled way, but it still happens and is something to be aware of if you are planning to zoom in. Of course, the firm could have made a constant T2.9 full-frame lens, but the price would have rocketed along with the weight. The LWZ is designed to replace a range of primes. You can get the composition exactly right before you start filming and, of course, actually zoom during a shot! That is the benefit a true parfocal cinema zoom design has over DSLR-type lenses. The sophistication of the Zeiss also means that there is virtually no focus breathing, so the apparent focal length doesn’t alter as you change focus. And neither does the central axis of the lens when focusing or zooming. It’s the mark of a brilliantly engineered lens – as you might expect for one costing so much. In the prime lens category, the winner emerged as the latest Xeen Meister 50mm T1.3 from mid-
Irix’s Cine range offers an entry- level price into the world of cinema glass, but don’t look or perform like cheap options. They are smooth to focus, breathe very little and the cinematic look you get from shooting the 45mm lens wide open is stunning. Build quality is amazing and there are some great features, like a magnetically attached lens hood. This system also works with the Irix filter range. There is an 86mm front filter thread, but the front is a standard 95mm size for easy fitment of a matte box. The top and bottom have threaded holes for a lens support. The aperture ring is smooth with a decent amount of damping, and a long 75° throw. The focus ring is also just right and has a 180° throw. Manual focusing is joyous, with the tactile and direct feel you can’t get from AF lenses. It has standard 0.8 pitch gears, slightly recessed into the body, so works well with standard follow- focus attachments. Lens markings are available in imperial or metric and even glow in the dark. The lens is designed for 8K shooting, with minimal vignetting – but, of course, it does soften slightly when wide open. It’s a low-budget, top-performing cine lens. EDITOR’S CHOICE: IRIX 45MM T1.5
WHO’S ZOOMING WHOM The incredible Zeiss 21-100mm lens is a dream buy and an award-winner!
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