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ULTRAPRIME VS COOKE S4


Matias Nicolas
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What differences doy you find between these lenses? in quality, resolution, ...etc?

 

Lately I keep noticing with any movie shot on Cooke S4 lenses that sunny glints off of cars or other bright spots always have a reddish fringe to them -- saw this a lot in "Casino Royale". This adds to a certain "warmth" to those lenses versus Zeiss lenses. As other people have noted, Cooke S4's are less contrasty too, which adds some feeling of softness.

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This question has been answered so many times, please search the archives. The one thing that I would add is that I do not care particulalry for the bokeh of Cooke S4 lenses. Closed down the out-of-focus highlights are not round or even the shape of an octagon as one would expect (the lenses have 8 iris blades), but instead the sides of the octagon are bend inwards. It's the dead give-away that Cooke S4s were used and it looks very funny to me. You can see that a lot in 'Casino Royale' for intsance. Zeiss would never make that lenses that have such a bokeh.

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Well - Zeiss made the worst bokeh lenses ever produced - the tre blade iris Super Speeds that are still everywhere. In fact, every time you get a set of 16mm lenses out made by Zeiss, you can bet the farm that they're the 3 bladed ones. And the trouble is, there is no alternative to use - that's the only complete 16mm lens series out there. Cooke has got some s16 S4's out now, but nobody has them.

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Zeiss made the worst bokeh lenses ever produced - the tre blade iris Super Speeds that are still everywhere.

Can someone post an example of this, or point out a movie that shows this? I'd think if you shot close to wide open, the effect of three-blade iris wouldn't be as pronounced.

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Can someone post an example of this, or point out a movie that shows this? I'd think if you shot close to wide open, the effect of three-blade iris wouldn't be as pronounced.

 

Hi Thomas,

 

Midnight Express, sure wide open bokeh is OK but they look quite soft & low contrast then. FWIW I like the S4's wide open.

 

Stephen

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Well - Zeiss made the worst bokeh lenses ever produced - the tre blade iris Super Speeds that are still everywhere. In fact, every time you get a set of 16mm lenses out made by Zeiss, you can bet the farm that they're the 3 bladed ones. And the trouble is, there is no alternative to use - that's the only complete 16mm lens series out there. Cooke has got some s16 S4's out now, but nobody has them.

That was 30 years ago. I was talking about current lenses.

 

Zeiss now offer the Ultra 16 lenses, which go from 6mm to 14mm and then you can use Ultra Primes or Master Primes for longer lenses.

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Stephen , yes and doesnt it look great !! . John Holland.

 

 

The S4s are optimized for shooting at T2.

As a focuspuller i have to add once again that the different internal mechanism and the spacing of the marks of the Cooke lenses feels much better to me then the Zeiss lenses do.

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The S4s are optimized for shooting at T2.

You hear a lot that lenses are optimized to be shot wide-open, but the fact is that every single lens becomes optically better (i.e. sharper with less chromatic abberations) once you stop it down (up to the point when diffraction starts setting in, which is at the other end of the stop scale). That's just simple physics. Putting them on a projector or getting an MTF reading will invariably confirm this.

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You hear a lot that lenses are optimized to be shot wide-open, but the fact is that every single lens becomes optically better (i.e. sharper with less chromatic abberations) once you stop it down. That's just simple physics. Putting them on a projector or getting an MTF reading will invariably confirm this.

 

Well, let's clarify. Most lenses can be opened very wide, to the point where they do not perform as well as they do when stopped down a bit. Cooke essentially designed the lenses so that they couldn't be opened much past the point where the optical performance dropped. So one sees very little difference in performance as the lens is stopped down. To be fair, the same is true for the Zeiss Ultra, Master and Digi primes. It is part of modern optical design. Compare this to even the last of the Zeiss Superspeeds when opened beyond 2.8 and the difference is evident. Modern glass v. old glass.

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Well - Zeiss made the worst bokeh lenses ever produced - the tre blade iris Super Speeds that are still everywhere.

 

Any reason why a company like Zeiss would design lenses with a three-bladed iris? I can't imagine they were trying to save money--the Super Speeds were designed as ultra-high performance lenses and priced accordingly. Could it be that the designers chose a three-bladed design because it offered, in some way, superior optical performance?

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Can someone post an example of this, or point out a movie that shows this? I'd think if you shot close to wide open, the effect of three-blade iris wouldn't be as pronounced.

 

Brazil, Time Bandits, and Raging Bull are good examples.

 

I like the three blade aperture look.

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That was 30 years ago. I was talking about current lenses.

 

Zeiss now offer the Ultra 16 lenses, which go from 6mm to 14mm and then you can use Ultra Primes or Master Primes for longer lenses.

 

Max, nobody has them. You can't get them out practically on a job - and I live in one of the biggest production centres in the world!

 

That leaves us with Master Primes - which are to big to fit on the SR3 (their cost would also make them the first thing to go for producers) and their widest isn't nearly as wide as a 9.5mm on 16mm. The S4 16 ones are nowhere to be had either. So the fact is that one is kind of stuck with the 3-bladed ones.

 

As a side note - I tend to shoot S16 wide open. I might stop down half a stop just to help them resolve a little better, but already at that stop do you start to see the 3-blade tendencies on out of focus rings.

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Max, nobody has them. You can't get them out practically on a job - and I live in one of the biggest production centres in the world!

I'd check with Munich as to their availability. It was the same with the Master Primes which had a slow rollout in the begining as well.

 

Kieslowski's Dekalog too. I guess we're the only two people on the planet that atually like the triangular bokeh.

The only time I liked it was in the Depeche Mode video, 'Barrel of a Gun' I think, where the singer wears a coat with small lightbulbs attached. When he's out-of-focus the lights become triangles and the bokeh looks very nice. But in general I really don't fancy that look which one can see in 'Taxi Driver' as well.

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Max, nobody has them. You can't get them out practically on a job - and I live in one of the biggest production centres in the world!

 

That leaves us with Master Primes - which are to big to fit on the SR3 (their cost would also make them the first thing to go for producers) and their widest isn't nearly as wide as a 9.5mm on 16mm. The S4 16 ones are nowhere to be had either. So the fact is that one is kind of stuck with the 3-bladed ones.

 

As a side note - I tend to shoot S16 wide open. I might stop down half a stop just to help them resolve a little better, but already at that stop do you start to see the 3-blade tendencies on out of focus rings.

If you're now talking about lenses on 16mm cameras, let me note two things. First there are very good wide-angle options out there from other manufacturers, noteably Optar (8, 9.5, 12), Optex (5.5, 8), Century Precision Optics (6mm), and Elite (a whole bunch--can't recall the sizes). And even better, if you shoot with any Aaton instead of the SR3 then all those other lenses -- even the new MasterPrimes -- will clear no problem.

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