Lens Comparison Guide for Directors & Producers

by planetMitch2 Comments

While this may not be totally scientifically accurate, for someone who might not be that familiar with the differences that lenses create in the filmmaking process (and photography too), this test really appealed to me

It can be eye opening to realize that the lenses have so much impact to your process.

You may be smacking your head after watching saying “of course” – and many of you are well beyond this knowledge, but I just thought it would help some of you newer converts to filmmaking to see someone who's put a whole bunch of different lenses on and shot the same subject over and over under the same lighting conditions.

Yu may want to do your own testing as well when you begin a new project – or just do this when you can so you can learn what lenses do to your images!

RED Dragon Visual Lens Comparison



Via Explore Media in Youtube:

Welcome to the Lens Comparison Guide for Directors & Producers! Shot on RED Dragon 5K, this guide is displayed in 4K if you've got an ultraHD monitor check it out!

We compared Angenieux, Cooke, Zeiss, ARRI Fujinon, RED Pro and Canon Prime lenses, both primes and zooms, to give us an idea of what each lens visually looked like compared to each other. To compare these lenses, we used Daufenbach Camera's Epic-M RED Dragon 6K sensor (captured in 5K) to capture the image. We also used 50mm as our base focal length, and for the one lens where a 50mm wasn't available, we used a 35mm.

This is not meant to be a technical specifications comparison. Mostly because we don't know the technical answers! But we can see the characteristics, qualities, and even the emotion of a lens, especially when different cinema lenses are compared side by side. We hope this guide helps you make the right lens choice for your next commercial or film production.

NOTE: For a baseline Color Correction, Kelly Armstrong from Color Playground says, “we chose the most “color neutral” lens to set our initial, “base” grade to, the RED Pro Prime. Primarily using the supplied chip chart, gain levels were kept under peak 100 and pedestal was left well above 0 so any anomalies with how each lens handled shadows or highlights could be easily seen and compared. This base correction was applied to each image regardless of which lens was used.”

There also is a ProRes 4:4:4 option if you are interested in seeing full color space, but it's 10.5GB so send a note and we'll get you a link!

Special thanks to Lights & Motion and Deep Elm Records for the music track “Texas” www.deepelm.com/lightsandmotion , Lawrence Daufenbach, Stephen Wheeler, and the entire Daufenbach Camera Crew. Dave Wingate of Auslynn Films for sitting in for us as on-camera talent. John Waterman for assisting us on camera. Jamieson Mulholland for ideas and for the gorgeous professional cinematographer's eye. Kelly Armstrong of Color Playground for patiently putting together the baseline correction. Michael Dicken of Explore Media for revising and uploading this file countless times.

(cover photo credit: snap from the video)


chief astronomer at planet5D LLC
Mitch "planetMitch" Aunger is the creator and mastermind behind planet5D.com

He's incredibly happy running planet5D and sharing so much joy of photography and filmmaking with his readers.


  1. Thanks for using a nice-lookin’ fella as the model, rather than some pouting female with her blouse unbuttoned to the navel.
    As a casual comparison, this is an informative test. I wasn’t aware there were such great differences among lenses. (Lenses from a given manufacturer tend to have similar color balances.)
    But as with another recent comparison, there is no attempt at calibration. Why aren’t isn’t the exposures set for the same values of square 19 or the 18% gray square? How about measuring the model’s skin tone with a colorimeter, then grading each take to force the tone to those values, so we can see what happens to the other colors?
    Also note that the model’s face varies in height, making it difficult to judge relative sharpness or detail.
    Interesting? Yes. Useful in making a purchase decision? Probably not.

  2. shirt could of served as gray card of sorts. some of those shots could of used 2 stops ND as they are certainly over. just goes to say how even T stops on a lens may be a bit subjective when they shouldn’t be. Canon 50 looked like it was wide open based on the DoF.  wasn’t thrilled with the red 50 and all its flare, not for a modern lens, vintage would be another story. also missing was a canon cine prime which would of been nice.  while I”ve seen older lenses vary in color like this, more surprised at modern or nearly modern glass having this much variance… or that canon / zeiss super speeds are so cool in comparison… provide the “base” grade applied was really neutral and didn’t bork the test.

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