Everyone knows that the best filmmaking investments are lenses. Glass lasts. Cameras get replaced. Unfortunately, until recently, the only way to get good lenses was to throw down a lot of cash. Now we have a ton of options for nearly any budget. Quality is always an unknown when new lens makers come out of nowhere to tout their awesome yet affordable cinema glass.
One of the latest budget lens manufacturers is DZOFilm with a set of Super 35mm cinema lenses. Named the Pictor Zoom series, this pair of optics certainly looks the part, but has a very affordable price point. There is a 20-55mm T2.8 and a 50-125mm T2.8 available. To see if these lenses are actually worth it filmmaker Armando Ferreira put them to the test.
These lenses look big, but after seeing them in Ferreira’s hands they actually seem quite reasonable. At about $2,500 a piece or $4,500 for a set they are very tempting. Also, DZO claims they are parfocal.
This means focus doesn’t shift if you zoom in or out and can make a huge difference between having a usable image or not. Combined, the two lenses provide an incredibly useful range, meaning you could shoot everything on some shoots with just these two lenses.
Checking in with his DP Paul, who was operating the camera for their surfboard shaper short film, the best parts were the parfocal design and practically non-existent focus breathing.
It makes it a lot easier to do run-and-gun filmmaking where you are super mobile and constantly mixing up your shots.
Ferreira then pointed out the standard design with geared focus and zoom rings as well as a 95mm front diameter. You’ll be able to easily set it up with your existing accessories, such as a follow focus.
The only wish for him would be using it on his full-frame C500 Mark II. So he obviously tested it out.
Surprisingly, the lenses seemed to cover a majority of the full-frame sensor—with some strong vignetting. Still, if you wanted to squeeze a bit more out of these lenses you could easily shoot at a higher resolution and crop in to get very usable imagery.
Also, as much as we like to think of Super 35mm as a standard size, many manufacturers, like RED, opt to use slightly different sizes. The larger of the S35 cameras will do just fine with these lenses.
Moving on to the more subjective thoughts on the lens, Ferreira talked about how the lens had an almost vintage look and feel. It still looked sharp, but it had a little something extra going on that makes it stand out. You should definitely check out the short they made for the video.
I’m just about sold. It comes with a Canon EF mount as well as a swappable PL mount so you can use it on any camera you want. There’s also a lens support which you would expect from pro-level lenses. They are affordable but very much worth it.
Have you used these lenses or anything similar?
[source: Armando Ferreira]
- DZOFilm Pictor Zoom 20-55mm T2.8 Lens (B&H, Amazon)
- DZOFilm Pictor Zoom 50-125mm T2.8 Lens (B&H, Amazon)
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