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Keith Tippit

Red Pro Zoom Lenses

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We're purchasing a Red camera and I'm wondering about your experiences with Red Pro zoom lenses. There is a thread on the primes that got a lot of positive feedback but the jury seems to be out on the zooms. Thoughts?

 

Since this is my first post (long-time lurker) I feel compelled to thank you all, especially David Mullen and similar posters for all the valuable information I've gleaned over the years. It's much appreciated.

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We're purchasing a Red camera and I'm wondering about your experiences with Red Pro zoom lenses. There is a thread on the primes that got a lot of positive feedback but the jury seems to be out on the zooms. Thoughts?

 

Since this is my first post (long-time lurker) I feel compelled to thank you all, especially David Mullen and similar posters for all the valuable information I've gleaned over the years. It's much appreciated.

 

 

I've tested a couple of the RED zooms, but never been able to choose them over other lenses on jobs where I've shot RED.

 

They are really excellent value for money, but there is a difference at the top end. I'm lucky enough to work on gigs that can afford to pay the premium price, but I always found them amazingly good optically (for the price), and perhaps a little bit of a let down in the actual mechanical side of things.

 

I think they are ideally suited to owner operators that will take good care of them.

 

jb

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I have used the 18mm-85mm a couple times, but never on any projects of substantial importance. It blooms terribly in the highlights or around bright objects. I would put your money toward an older Angineux zoom that has been taken care off. You will be much more pleased.

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Thanks for the feedback. I was hoping for a bunch of rave reviews on the zooms so I could save 10k but I think maybe the primes are the way to go.

 

We're starting a low-budget feature at the end of the month. I can rent a good zoom for that if needed or maybe buy an older zoom as suggested. I've worked on a few shoots with the red camera and the DPs on those shoots rented a quality zoom.

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Zooms are complicated, hence expensive, and need to be more precise than a prime lens. I mean, in essence, you're making a lot of primes in one housing and trying to keep the same amount of light traveling through no matter what, and all falling onto the same spot. Go with primes for when you've got control of filming, and a zoom for those times when you don't. That's always my feeling.

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Ever since we got our RPPs we've been favoring them over our zooms, and once our 18mm arrives to complete the set, we'll probably only bring out the RED 18-50 for handheld shoots, otherwise the Primes cover everything.

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I've serviced a couple of RED zooms and not enjoyed the experience. They seem to be rehoused stills lenses, so optically they're not too bad (good enough for RED at least). But you'd be very lucky if you found one that held focus through a zoom, and the amount of backlash in the focus mechanism means that the scale is virtually useless. Also the entire zoom range is achieved in less than half a turn of the ring, so you've got no finesse available.

Even though they're dirt cheap for a Cine lens, you really get what you pay for. If you need a zoom I'd recommend hiring an older Angenieux every time.

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The 18-50mm optics are fine. They project well. The mechanical quality is really poor. That is my opinion based on 4 examples of this lens that I've projected and examined. Including one that RED sent out as a loaner while the owners lens was being serviced for many weeks. Zoom barrel action is ok. The focus barrel action was stiff and gritty on all examples. All had good contrast and sharpness. No a one held focus during the zoom. All had issues with the focus mark accuracy. These lenses are not bad when treated as a variable primes and focused by eye. With these issues is it worth the price...

 

I've projected one example of the 18-85mm. Much better build quality than the 18-50mm. The action on the zoom and focus barrels was smooth. It had good contrast and sharpness. The example I projected had some back focus issues. Not sure if it came that way from Red or was dropped or mishandled by the owner. The two striking things about the lens is the quality of the PL mount. It seemed to be a very light grade aluminum instead of steel. The second thing was the giant front diameter 142mm???. For a lens in this focal length and physical length this is way big. A 110mm or 114mm would be more in line with other lenses in this focal range. 142mm limits you in terms of matte boxes and filter sizes.

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But I guess the OP was asking about the "pro" zooms.

 

that's the 18-85 and the new 17-50

 

the old 18-50 and 50-150 have serious issues.

 

I thought the newer ones were much better, but have never had a chance to play with them...

Edited by Gunleik Groven

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