Director of Photography / Lighting Cameraman

The differences between Canon Cine lenses & Canon stills lenses

Morning All! I recently bought a set of Canon Cine Prime lenses 14mm, 24mm, 50mm, 85mm & 135mm. They are being sold at a fantastic introductory price at the moment & include a flight case ( more about that later!) & you also get £300 back from Canon per lens so in the end they cost £9000 for a full set of 5 prime lenses. VFM! Anyway how do they differ from the Canon stills lenses we use on a lot of different cameras these days. The 3 most obvious differences you can see straight away are that you now have an external iris so stop pulls are easier & the focus barrels rotates through 300 degrees with really good sensible marking. So focus pullers will be happy.If your having to pull focus yourself you’ll need a follow focus to help you though. ( I use a Genus one it’s very good & VFM) Also the lenses all have 114mm front barrel so you don’t need to keep changing the doughnut in the matte box. I have “Nun’s Knickers’ in my matte box so this wasn’t such a massive bonus. But writing ” I have Nun’s Knickers” really makes me smile! So what about the glass? When I do my seminars a lot of people assume that all Canon have done is re house their stills lenses to make a set of cine style lenses, like Zeiss did. Well this is not the case. Canon have used completely new glass for these cine primes & have added a warmer feel to the lenses by using a different lens coating on the front element. It’s quite hard to see but if you compare the lenses you’ll see the cine lens front element is more orange than the stills front element. The cine prime lenses have been made with cinematography in mind to allow for warmer skin tones where as the stills lenses have been made for a slightly cooler feel which is a more photographic feel. It’s also worth pointing out that the Cine style lenses do not have any auto focus or auto iris or image staberliser features. Being the busy freelancer that we all are I spent the day yesterday looking at different flair!! It was a nice morning so I went into the garden & filmed a bit with these new cine lenses. My first thoughts where how you really do get edge to edge sharpness & brightness. Also that they are very sharp lenses as you would expect from Canon. I then panned my C300 camera through the sun to get a flair ( Or highlight… the difference is in the cost :-) & it was very funny but straight away I noticed that the sun flair was different. So I went & got a Canon EF stills lens & put it on the camera & did the same shot. Once again the flair was different to that of the cine lens. The Cine lens flair was predominantly blue & also the droplets of flair where round, it was also a lot more regimental in it’s alignment. The stills lens flair was different though as it was predominantly orange the droplets where octagonal & it was much more blooming all over the lens rather than regimental.

The reason for the shape of the flair is due to the 11 blade iris within the cine style lenses which will give you a rounder flair & also bokeh. Where as the 8 blade iris of the stills lenses gives you a more octagonal shape flair & bokeh. As for the difference in colour I assume it’s because the lenses have different coatings as I mentioned before. Two last things I feel I should mention are that the Cine lenses resolve the image at a much higher level than the stills lenses do if I can get these two images uploaded you will see that the cine lens image shows detail where the stills lens doesn’t. And finally the cine lens focus roll off is a lot softer than that of the stills lenses. I hope that this isn’t too flowery & that I have been able to describe my findings well enough. Here is a link to a 1 minute video I shot on the lenses mainly the 135mm.

Cine Prime Blue flairCanon L stills lens flairCN-E 14mm T3.1 L F (3) CN-E 135mm T2.2 L F (2)

One response

  1. Awesome! Thanks for the insight

    September 13, 2013 at 11:59 pm

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