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James R Martin

Zeiss CP.2 Superspeeds (and Alexa)

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We’re currently building and kitting out a studio, largely to be used for shooting products. We’re getting an Alexa, but are stumbling on our lens choice, mostly because the budget is not infinite. Our MUST HAVE primes are 35mm, and 50mm. We are looking at CP.2 super speeds – the cost is attractive, but more than that the speed is important – we often open up to f1.4 to knock the set background out of focus (rather than for exposure). I’m concerned about the performance of these lenses - I’ve not used them much - what are they like wide–open (T1.5)? We’re not looking at cinema projection here, TV or digital is where our shots will be seen, so I’m trying to be pragmatic. Am I worrying about nothing? Is there another line (other brands) of fast lenses that sits between Master Primes and CP.2 super speeds that I’m missing?

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CP2s don't open to f1.4 they're a T2.1, the earlier model did, but Zeiss decided the performance wide open wasn't satisfactory for a cine lens.

Edited by Brian Drysdale

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Sorry, can't comment on those, I've only used the older Zeiss Contax lenses, which were a bit softer than the old 16mm Superspeeds when wide open.

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I short a short on this combo last year. They play nicely together for the most part, but I'd be wary of shooting the CP.2 Superspeeds wide-open for product photography. They resolve nicely, and contrast is good - but wide-open, CA can be noticeable around bright part of the frame - most of it goes away by T/2, but it's something to be aware of.

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As far as I recall, the story went a bit like this

 

Zeiss bring out the CP.1s with T1.5 max aperture on three of them, a load of people complain they aren't good wide open

 

For the CP.2s, they just limited the max aperture to T2.1, everyone says "wow these are much better"

 

Then Zeiss release a CP.2 "super speed", which is the same glass but they now open as far as they should and charge more for it. I have seen a lot of tests that say they are far from great wide open.

 

Also, FWIW, Ultra Primes sit between CP.2s and Master Primes.

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Ultra Primes and Cooke mini s4 lenses are in between MP and CP. Also you should check out the Schneider Xenar and Schneider Xenon FF primes as an alternative.

Have you considered buying a Red Epic instead of Alexa and spend the rest of the money on some good glass like the Ultra Primes or Cooke S4/S5 instead? I mean whats the point of an Alexa if you dont have good optics :) thats equally important!

 

You could also rent lenses based on project requirements, in that case I'd say go for the Alexa.

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