Objects of Desire: Carl Zeiss Compact Prime CP.2 Lenses

June 2, 2010
By Dan Havlik

Objects Carl Zeiss

A venerable name in still photography is now giving videographers the tools for making high-def movies with their HD-DSLRs: a first-class set of cine lenses. Carl Zeiss, which has been making optics since before the first World War, announced its Compact Prime CP.2 lens series at the NAB show in April, by saying: "The trend of filming in high definition using a digital SLR camera is unstoppable."

We'd tend to agree with good old Carl and if you're looking for solid cine glass, this line-up is, excuse the pun, prime. Focal lengths range from 18mm to 85mm and Zeiss says the lenses will be based around a maximum aperture of T2.1 for the standard set. The lenses are designed to cover the entire sensor in a full-frame (24 x 36mm) camera with no vignetting.

The price? You can get the complete set of seven lenses for around $26,400. (Individual lens pricing was not available at press time.) No, Carl Zeiss glass doesn't come cheap especially in the cine variety.

Along with what should be excellent image quality, the CP.2 line has several unique features. For one, they offer interchangeable lens mounts which make them extremely versatile. So whether you're shooting with Canon (EF-mount), Nikon (F-mount) or traditional cine (PL-mount) camera, all you need to do is add the appropriate mount to the CP.2 lenses.

Zeiss has also tried to make these new lenses easier to use for filmmaking with cine-style housings; easier to adjust gears for focus and iris; and a longer focus rotation with a manual control option. The iris opening has 14 blades designed to produce round, natural, out-of-focus backgrounds for attractive "bokeh."

Dedicated, high-quality cine lenses for HD-DSLRs sounds like another step forward to us. We wonder if Canon, Nikon and others will follow Carl Zeiss's lead.

Cost: 26,400 for set of seven lenses.

Further information: www.zeiss.com/cine

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