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thinking about Cooke Speed Panchros Ser.II / III


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Hey everyone,

 

I've been keeping my eye on a set of Cooke Speed Panchros SerII/III.

18mm(this one seems to be a "Ser.I") T2

25mm T2.2 SerIII

32mm T2.3 SerII

40mm T2.3 SerII

50mm T2.3 SerII

75mm T2.3 SerII

 

I've searched all over(maybe it's just me) but couldn't find too much information regarding these lenses. I've learned that they are a bit warmer in color than Zeiss glass and also a bit softer, but more organic. Also, from the limited footage that I've seen, they seem to be more fitted for commercial work. Geoff Boyle seems to like them for some of his commercial work.

But I have a few questions that maybe someone could help me out with. As of now, my camera is in the shop(getting PL mounted) and have been looking to get some glass and I've come across this set for $1,600. One of my concerns is that I'd have to rehouse them in PL mount and fit with focus gears as they still have the original wings on them. Or I could talk to Les Bosher about a special Std. to PL mount adapter for these types of lenses due to their unique focusing issue. Would I still be able to fit them with focus gears after attaining the adpater?

Would getting them rehoused or buying the adapters be worth it when I could rent T1.3 Optars for $150 a day/weekend? This brings me to my other question(please forgive me for asking these questions, I could not find info on this here,CML or google), how do the T1.3 Optars perform in comparison to Cookes?

Ultimately, I would like to be able to use this set(cookes) of lenses for both commercial and narrative work, but have concerns about them. Another plus would be that I could use the unaltered Cookes(with removable PL adapters) on my 16-S too. Anyways, any info regarding these questions and overall lens performances would be highly appreciated. Thanks guys.

 

-Benjamin

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I used a set in school that was rehoused to PL by, I think, visual products. I could find out for you if you really want to know. They're great looking and I really have a soft spot for them now. I was using them on 16mm and they were too soft for that sometimes but I think I would really love them on 35. I'm pretty sure the 18mm is a series III as well. I remember the two widest being series IIIs and the others being series II. The set I used was born in 1963, I think. It's been a while but I'm pretty sure that was the year.

 

If it were me looking, I would probably get the set. I think that's a steal for some nice older glass. On 16mm you would probably want to light to a 2.8 or 4 for a bit better sharpness. On 35mm I bet the gentle soft look would really be enchanting.

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I used a set in school that was rehoused to PL by, I think, visual products. I could find out for you if you really want to know. They're great looking and I really have a soft spot for them now. I was using them on 16mm and they were too soft for that sometimes but I think I would really love them on 35. I'm pretty sure the 18mm is a series III as well. I remember the two widest being series IIIs and the others being series II. The set I used was born in 1963, I think. It's been a while but I'm pretty sure that was the year.

 

If it were me looking, I would probably get the set. I think that's a steal for some nice older glass. On 16mm you would probably want to light to a 2.8 or 4 for a bit better sharpness. On 35mm I bet the gentle soft look would really be enchanting.

 

Chris,

 

Thanks for the info. I hear rehousing is pretty expensive, but last time that same person told me something was expensive it turned out to only be about $250-$300 for what I'd asked for. I will probably call VP and / or ask around. So would you consider the S2s/3s to be low-contrast glass? Thanks Chris.

 

-Benjamin

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Chris,

 

Thanks for the info. I hear rehousing is pretty expensive, but last time that same person told me something was expensive it turned out to only be about $250-$300 for what I'd asked for. I will probably call VP and / or ask around. So would you consider the S2s/3s to be low-contrast glass? Thanks Chris.

 

-Benjamin

 

It's definitely lower contrast than modern glass. Fairly comparable in contrast to super speeds. I often used them in conjunction with a zeiss 11-110 zoom and it matched pretty well. The cookes were always a bit warmer than the zoom. Contrast as well as sharpness both snap up a good bit by the time you get to f4.

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As Geoff Boyle puts it: You don't need to use an 85 with the 75mm SP. I've run a test with my 75mm Series II where I shined 5500K light in the front and measured almost exactly 3200K out the back. Cooke used radioactive Thorium glass which darkens the glass over time.

 

$1600 for a full set sounds like a good deal to me. You might want to scare up an 18mm SIII and runs some tests between the set's 18mm SI and 25mm SIII or possibly post on cml-pro and ask for opinions over there as to how SI/SII/SIII's match when used together.

 

Last year's "The Golden Door" about immigrants coming to America was shot on SII/SIII's. There was an article in American Cinematographer article on it.

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As Geoff Boyle puts it: You don't need to use an 85 with the 75mm SP. I've run a test with my 75mm Series II where I shined 5500K light in the front and measured almost exactly 3200K out the back. Cooke used radioactive Thorium glass which darkens the glass over time.

 

$1600 for a full set sounds like a good deal to me. You might want to scare up an 18mm SIII and runs some tests between the set's 18mm SI and 25mm SIII or possibly post on cml-pro and ask for opinions over there as to how SI/SII/SIII's match when used together.

 

Last year's "The Golden Door" about immigrants coming to America was shot on SII/SIII's. There was an article in American Cinematographer article on it.

 

Thank you Chris for that bit of info. Contrast comparable to super speeds huh? Interesting. Will take that into account.

 

Hal, I guess I would have to use an 80A filter with my daylight stocks then, whenever on the 75mm. Oh well...

Now would it be possible to removed the focus wings and add a focus gear to each lens? I've removed focus wings before but am not sure on installing a focus gear. If it's possible, I can save many dollars on getting them rehoused.

 

Thanks guys.

 

-Benjamin

Edited by benjamin aguilar
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Now would it be possible to removed the focus wings and add a focus gear to each lens? I've removed focus wings before but am not sure on installing a focus gear. If it's possible, I can save many dollars on getting them rehoused.

Benjamin

I suggest you contact ZGC about about gears. I've seen SP's with focus gears on them so they're out there somewhere. http://www.zgc.com

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Here's n illustration of how good a price that is for the set you are eyeing:

 

Cooke Ser. II Set For Sale at Visual Products

 

Yeah, the more I think about it the more I want to purchase them. I saw some stills for The Golden Door and really loved the way they seemed like paintings. I'm really into soft, painting-like cinematography. Anyways, I just have to get some focus gears, the special Std. to PL mount adapter and make sure my camera comes out of the shop properly PL-mounted and I'll be buying them. A steal compared to VP's prices, as Chris pointed out.

 

-Benjamin

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Yeah, if I had the money, I would buy them myself. Unfortunately I'm only 8 months out of college so money is pretty foreign to me.;)

 

Unfortunately, I don't even have the extra money to spend right now, but due to the low cost and they're being such a good investment, I MUST. I figured, 1. I can use them with my 35mm camera 2. I can use them with my 16mm camera and 3. I can use them with my Red Rock micro-35mm lens adapter for my XL-2. That's one set that I can use for three different cameras. Also, I've been doing some side work lately and from my day job, I can pay them off within three to four months.

Anyway, I've done more research on them and I think they would really fit my personal style. I like low-contrast, but would rather use high contrast glass and low-contrast stocks, but heh... oh well. I knocked them down to $1500, a little bit back in my pocket at least.

 

-Benjamin

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I knocked them down to $1500, a little bit back in my pocket at least.

 

-Benjamin

 

That's outstanding! Let me know what you think when you have had a chance to test a little. Make sure you try a closeup wide open on the 75mm, preferably of a good looking woman. It's fairly breathtaking.

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That's outstanding! Let me know what you think when you have had a chance to test a little. Make sure you try a closeup wide open on the 75mm, preferably of a good looking woman. It's fairly breathtaking.

 

 

Will do Chris.

 

Anyone else wanting to add some info regarding these lenses are more than welcomed. It would be helpful for myself and others who might be looking for info on these lenses and much appreciated as the info so far has been.

 

-Benjamin

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Here's a link that someone posted for me a while ago when I was asking about the Cooke's I was using:

 

http://www.cookeoptics.com/cooke.nsf/history/1960

 

Check out all of the decades. The 40s are when the panchros first came out. The 100mm came out in the 60s.

 

The dates on the site are quite wrong.

I would guess that a free lance writer, who was not familiar with the subject matter, was handed a stack of old

brochures and articles and paid to write something.

 

The "Series ONE" Speed Panchros were "Filmo-coated in the 40s, they actually came out in the 20s.

In addition to Speed Panchros, there were also Panchros. Which were slower than the Speed Panchros' f/2.

The 100mm deep Field panchro came out in the 40s or 30s.

 

Here's a letter of complaint to Cooke Optics I never got around to finishing:

 

Gentlemen:

 

Your history section states that the SP SeriesII came out in the early 40s:

 

"1940s

Bell & Howell

 

1940s

The Series II Cooke Speed Panchros for cinematography were distributed exclusively through Bell & Howell in London and Chicago. The Series II lenses were developed for higher definition in wide screen presentations and to cover standard format 0.723 x 0.980 inches. By 1945 they came in focal lengths: 18, 25, 32, 40, 50 and 75mm. The 100mm, f/2.5 Deep Field Panchro was released in 1946"

 

Yet outside sources such as the SMPTE Journals state that The Series II Speed Panchros and the Kinetals were introduced in 1958.

The SMPTE Journal had papers describing these lenses.

 

That the text states the series II Speed Panchros wer developed for wide screen presentations and full aperture strongly points to a mid to late 50s origin.

 

Certainly the "Series One" Speed Panchros were Filmo-coated in the early 40s and going

by lens lists in ASC Handbooks the uncoated 24mm was replaced with a coated 25mm.

There were no 18mm cine lens for 35mm cine in the 40s.

 

The 1950s section also:

"In 1954, design began on the 18mm Series III Cooke Speed Panchro. Two years later, the new lens, of inverted telephoto construction, achieved an angular field of 80 degrees and f/1.7 while maintaining the modern standard of definition and resolution required for wide screen presentation. The other Speed Panchro to share the Series III distinction was the 25mm, again of reverse telephoto construction and also released in the mid-1950s."

 

Early to mid-1960s would be the correct date for the Series III lenses.

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Yet outside sources such as the SMPTE Journals state that The Series II Speed Panchros and the Kinetals were introduced in 1958.

The SMPTE Journal had papers describing these lenses.

Have you got a citation for any of those articles? I'd like to see what they had to say.

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I bought the Golden Door yesterday and have watched it, which was shot with SII's and III's as Hal pointed out. In my opinion, this film was well shot and lit. The lenses too performed very well and helped to add to the overall look of the film. They seemed to have been made for the color palette of this film, very complimenting. I would assume, since they must have rehoused the lenses, that they have also been re-coated as well. Maybe I'm wrong, but the look is different from some of the few other things I've seen shot with these lenses, one being consistency in color-reproduction between the lenses. Seems they might have been re-coated...

 

-Benjamin

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I bought the Golden Door yesterday and have watched it, which was shot with SII's and III's as Hal pointed out. In my opinion, this film was well shot and lit. The lenses too performed very well and helped to add to the overall look of the film. They seemed to have been made for the color palette of this film, very complimenting. I would assume, since they must have rehoused the lenses, that they have also been re-coated as well. Maybe I'm wrong, but the look is different from some of the few other things I've seen shot with these lenses, one being consistency in color-reproduction between the lenses. Seems they might have been re-coated...

 

-Benjamin

 

I don't imagine they recoated them. That's a big part of why they look the way they do.

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Have you got a citation for any of those articles? I'd like to see what they had to say.

 

I keep meaning to go over to the main branch of the library to copy an item in the 1957 SMPTE Journal.

 

I try to get there soon and can get the issues and pages.

However if I Xeroxed them, I don't have access to a scanner.

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I keep meaning to go over to the main branch of the library to copy an item in the 1957 SMPTE Journal.

I try to get there soon and can get the issues and pages.

However if I Xeroxed them, I don't have access to a scanner.

If you do get a chance please make two copies, one for you, one for me. PM me and I'll get the $$$ to you for your expenses.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Those interested,

 

I finally received my Cookes in today. The glass is almost too clean to be true. There are a few small nicks on the 18mm front element but other than that, they are pristine. The only problem I've found is that some of the iris rings are too easy to adjust and too close to the focus ring. In other words, when I try to focus on some of the lenses, there is about a 90% chance of accidently adjusting the aperture(about a stop if not careful). I hope that when I get them geared, it will allow for more width and more space between the two rings, whenever I pull focus manually.

Will post more info when I've had more time to work with them. Also will try to get some test footage up as well.

 

-Benjamin

Edited by benjamin aguilar
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Those interested,

 

I finally received my Cookes in today. The glass is almost too clean to be true. There are a few small nicks on the 18mm front element but other than that, they are pristine. The only problem I've found is that some of the iris rings are too easy to adjust and too close to the focus ring. In other words, when I try to focus on some of the lenses, there is about a 90% chance of accidently adjusting the aperture(about a stop if not careful). I hope that when I get them geared, it will allow for more width and more space between the two rings, whenever I pull focus manually.

Will post more info when I've had more time to work with them. Also will try to get some test footage up as well.

 

-Benjamin

 

Awesome. You're going to love them. Even if you don't, you could probably make money reselling them with what you paid for the set.

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Awesome. You're going to love them. Even if you don't, you could probably make money reselling them with what you paid for the set.

 

Yeah, I bet I will. He sent me a digi-beta of some footage about a week ago and the stuff was just fantastic. There was a lot more contrast and sharpness to those lenses than I had originally thought. Granted it was a best-light, but it really shows the potential. Hopefully I will be getting my Arri Std to PL adapter in time to test these lenses out while I do some tests with high speed Optars and Zeiss Super Speeds. But I can definitely see the cookes could being used for commercial work.

 

-Benjamin

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  • 1 month later...

Those interested,

 

I started this thread a while back when I was thinking about getting some Speed Panchros. Well, I've had them for a bit and have had a chance to shoot a project with them. You can check out the other thread I started "Asymptomatic" a 35mm trailer

to see how these lenses performed. Check it out if you have some time. Thanks.

 

-Benjamin

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