This Battle of Compact Cinema Primes Gets Up Close and Personal

by steven schwartzLeave a Comment

There's an abundance of new cameras choices these days, but one area that lags behind is in cine lenses. In this face-off by Jonah Rubash, Magnanimous Media: “Compact Cinema Lens Comparison”, he pits the Scheider Xenon FF series compact cine lenses against Zeiss CP2s and Canon CN-E primes.

Check out the two videos to see how these three compact cine lenses performed for sharpness, color rendition and skin tones.

Compact Cinema Lens Comparison

From Magnanimous Media:

I first checked out the Schneider Xenon FF primes at NAB in 2013. I was impressed by the barrel design, unnoticeable breathing and their approach of building a cinema lens derived competitor to Zeiss CP2s and Canon CN-E primes, which are both adapted from still lenses. However, I didn’t have much of a sense of how they would perform otherwise, so it was difficult to get excited about them. After working with the Schneider Cine-Xenar III’s with the Epic, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on their little brothers, the Xenon FF.

I hesitate to call the Cine-Xenar III’s “creamy” only because they somehow manage to smooth out the harshness of 4K & 5K sensors, especially in the skin tones, without losing resolution or clarity. The focus fall off, low diffraction, consistency, skin tones and contrast were far more appealing then the CP-2s and CN-E lenses, but Cine-Xenar IIIs are far more expensive. I was hoping that the Xenar’s little brothers would bring a similar level of performance and when Magnanimous acquired the Xenon FF primes I found that DNA in a smaller package.

Corey Lillard made some observations after a comparison of the Xenon FFs with their main rivals:

Lens Comparison – Resolution – 50mm Schneider Xenon, Canon CN-E, Zeiss CP2, and Canon L – Magnanimous Media from Magnanimous Media on Vimeo.

“I noticed the Canon L Series lens starting to soften up at F8 while the Zeiss and CN-E lenses began softening up around T/F 11. The Schneider, however, stayed sharper throughout the range when compared to the other 3. Even at T16 it seemed to keep the resolution and contrast at a higher standard than the rest.”

While the Zeiss and Canon glass may soften up sooner they remain quite valuable by bringing variety to the fastest growing part of our industry, which is often underserved in optics. To tell a story properly you must have the right tools for the job and the primary instrument in creating character is the glass you choose. So, look at the Xenons as another tool in the basket that provide a different look compared to other glass in their range.

Lens Comparison – Skintone – 50mm Schneider Xenon, Canon CN-E, Zeiss CP2, and Canon L – Magnanimous Media from Magnanimous Media on Vimeo

Read the full review at Magnanimous Media: “Compact Cinema Lens Comparison”

Schneider Xenon FF primes

Schneider FF PRIME XN 2.1 / 100 FEET CANON

Schneider FF PRIME XN 2.1 / 100 FEET CANON

Schneider FF PRIME XN 2.1 / 75 FEET CANON

Schneider FF PRIME XN 2.1 / 75 FEET CANON

Schneider FF PRIME XN 2.1 / 35 FEET CANON

Schneider FF PRIME XN 2.1 / 35 FEET CANON

Schneider FF PRIME XN 2.1 / 25 FEET CANON

Schneider FF PRIME XN 2.1 / 25 FEET CANON

What do you think? Can you see what the author sees in the Schneider Xenon FF compact prime lenses? Get involved with the discussion by making a comment below.

(cover photo credit: snap from bhphotovideo.com)


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