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Cine glass decisions (Schneider Xenon FF prime lenses)


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Hello. 

 

I’m about to abandon my old Nikon photographic lenses I’ve been using for my video productions for quite a while and buy a set of prime cine lenses.

I started off looking into entry level lenses as Rokinon/Samyang/Xeen, Meike and DZOFilm and I wasn’t so convinced by some of the reviews. So, this brought me to looking into the more reputed lense makers but there weren’t many within my price limit. I had set my maximum price limit at 2.500 euros per lens and that left me almost with no choice. I’ve been mainly searching for used Zeiss CP2s but they are hard to find and usually go for more than 2.500. Then I was also afraid of buying used glass with the investment being that great (relative to my means of course). 

 

But then I stumbled upon new Schneider Xenon lenses at just around 2.500 euros per lens! I have been looking all over for some honest thoughts on these lenses but they seem to be somehow rare even if they were first released almost ten years ago (at a much higher price tag back then it seems). It feels as if they are not so much used in the industry and that alone makes you wonder.

They are somewhere in between the entry level cine glass and the much more pricy industry standard lenses and one might think they should be appreciated as such. 

 

I’d like to hear any thoughts on these lenses if there is somebody out there ready to give his or her opinion. And maybe there is a lens option I’m missing out and that’s within my price limits. 

 

My present camera is a Sony A7Siii and that’s another question, if I should get a lens with the Sony E-mount or if I should get it with a PL mount for sturdiness or a Canon mount for greater compatibility? 

 

Thanks.

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I had a set on test for a bit, and I used them very briefly once at Canon's demo suite in Los Angeles on their new full-frame camera, so I can't pretend any huge expertise, but I've had them in my hands.

It's a lot of lens for an A7s but I suspect any PL lens purchase will hold its value reasonably well. They are well made and will satisfy camera assistants. As I recall - and I could be wrong - the original design of the 35mm was significantly less good than the rest of the range, and there is an updated design. Double check this is true before asking awkward questions, but if it is true, then make sure you're getting the recent version of the 35mm. Or whichever focal length it is.

The only consideration I'd have with this is whether you're throwing away a lot of autofocus capability, the usefulness of which will vary with what you're shooting. I honestly don't know how good it is on that camera, although presumably you're not going to drop five figures on glass to use it on one body, and compatible Sony lenses are presumably a lot less expensive so you could have both.

I have seen DZOFilm used and they also seemed fine. Personally I think the choice might come down to going really inexpensive with those, middling with the Schneider, or stretching for the CP.2. I think the Zeiss might be the best long-term bet. Are you looking to use them, rent them, what?

P

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Thank you Phil for takinu the time to answer.

I will be using these lenses on more personal shootings that are less budget oriented and that often expand over a long period and that don't allow for renting equipment.

So I'm basically looking for durable and good built piece of lenses.

You mentioned Zeiss could be my best bet, but like I said I started off looking into the CP2s but it seems to me that I would be paying even more for them second hand than I would be paying for the Schneiders brand new.  Now, I'm no lens geek, but I'm afraid that old glass is less reliable than new one. What's your take on that?

Also, would you pick up the lenses with a PL-mount instead of an E-mount? The idea here of course being that these lenses are going to outlive my camera and they will still be around after I change out my camera. But still, a PL-mount adapter on the Sony might be very bulky given that these kind of lenses are already quite bulky for such a small camera.

Thanks again for pitching in!

PS. And yes, I'd read somewhere about them original 35mm being somewhat less good than the rest of the lot. If I end up buying rpthese lenses, I will try to make sure they are recently manufactured. Thanks!

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If you buy lenses with E mounts, the bulk of the adaptor will effectively be part of the lens. The optical design of the lens dictates that it is a certain distance from the sensor no matter what, and the adaptor is just a spacer. You might as well put the adaptor on the camera, and buy much more widely compatible lenses. I would never, ever spend significant money on lenses that wouldn't fit PL mounts (some, including the Xenons, have interchangeable mounts). Duclos has a mount kit for the Xenon FF which runs about $450 each as I recall, though you can get simple E to PL adaptors much cheaper than that.

Yes, the CP.2 will cost more. Possibly they would hold their value better, but possibly not by much. And if you really don't care about ever renting them out, you can get whatever you want.

I'd at least look at the DZOFilm stuff, maybe side by side with the Xenon. For personal projects, you don't need to impress someone with a name.

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Thanks again Phil!

Yes, the DZOFilm stuff did catch my attention, but I saw a comparison with Sigma cine glass and they seemed significantly less sharp. But the price tag is very appealing and you're right I don't need to impress anyone with a name!

If anyone has any suggestions about what is the best mount configuration in my case I'm all ears. Which mount adaptor to use with PL lenses to fit a sony e-mount camera?

 

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100% go with a PL-mount for manual glass. 

A simple adapter and you can use them with your Sony camera, but they'll also adapt to any other camera you might encounter these days - if you go e-mount you'll be stuck. So definitely stick with a PL-mount, it's the only sensible option.

As for the Xenons, they certainly wouldn't be high up in my personal choices, but they're perfectly decent lenses (they have a fair bit of CA, but some CP.2 focal lengths have that too, and the DZO appear to as well). 

Xenon's will be much easier/safer to service from France than the DZOs I'd imagine, so that should certainly be a consideration. At the same time, the Xenons are so rare, it might be worth calling Schneider directly to enquire about the availability of spare parts for the lenses (to check that you'll be covered for years to come).

That's one area where the CP.2s would hold a lot of appeal to me over the other options.

2500 euro per lens does sound like a very reasonable price for Xenons, though if you are willing to buy used, you can absolutely find CP.2s for that sort of money (or less) particularly if you buy them in a set.

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Thank you Mark!

I’m glad I was able to post here on cinematography.com, very helpful and enlightening!

I hear you, PL-mount it’s going to be! Just need to find that one “simple adapter” like you said Mark. (If there is one more worth than another please let me know:))

And sorry for my ignorance, but when you speak of CA, are you speaking of chromatic aberrations visible in flares?

And it’s a good suggestion to call Schneider up directly to check up on spare parts 😉

Thanks again!

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