We seem to have entered a golden age for affordable cinema lenses right now – first Veydra with its amazing Micro Four Thirds mini primes and now Samyang with its Xeen starter set of three cinema primes for full frame and Super35 moviemaking. The goal posts have shifted once again, or as one online commentator stated recently, let the cinema primes war begin.
Martial metaphors aside, the Xeen lenses in combo with multi-lens-format cameras like the JVC GY-LS300 and other not unreasonably priced, or definitely rentable, cameras like the Sony PS7 and Canon’s Cinema EOS C100 Mark II, Cinema EOS C300 Mark II and perhaps C500 Mark II, and of course good old DSLRs looks like an attractive proposition.
Personally speaking, I may not be stepping back into large format camcorder waters any time soon, but Xeen’s appearance this month makes the possible forthcoming Sony A7S II hybrid mirrorless definitely worth keeping an eye on if low light capability becomes an ongoing need for me.
Super35 and full frame moviemaking, for me, are about precision framing, mounting cameras on sticks, and follow focus and thus about matched sets of cinema primes rather than zooms like Sony’s excellent though slow Sony Zeiss f/4 lenses. Mind you, I am keeping a kindly eye on Veydra’s primes set, which will become even more alluring when their 12mm then 9.5mm (?) wider lenses make their appearance.
The Xeen team has made some interesting choices regarding camera mounts – PL, Canon EF, Nikon F, Sony E and Micro Four Thirds – in combo with a range of frame sizes – full frame, Super35, two versions of APS-C and Micro Four Thirds. The Xeen websites informs us that three lenses are currently available – 24mm, 50mm and 85mm – in what will become at least a six-lens set.
Given that Samyang has a list of already-designed optics existing currently available in its Rokinon video and stills ranges, it is anybody’s guess what the mystery three will be. Given a six-lens set, I would choose to most use three of them, most likely a 21mm, 35mm, and a 50mm or a 85mm depending on emotion and expression. But future Xeen lenses could easily be longer and wider than that. Samyang has plenty of optical intellectual property to draw upon. I am not so sure that Micro Four Thirds owners will opt for Xeens. The crop factor makes Xeen’s current three lenses rather narrow – the equivalents of 48mm, 100mm and 170mm – way too long for most projects. Would Metabones’ current Speed Boosters grant enough width to make the Xeens worthwhile? Perhaps on a one-of-a-kind like the JVC GY-LS300. I am looking forward to LS300 owners sharing more about their lens tryouts with that amazing Super35 but M43 mount camcorder.
Xeen is not without its reasonably affordable Super35 matched prime set competition. Sony seems to have recently dropped the price on its CineAlta 4K six lens set, consisting of 20mm, 25mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm and 135mm T2 primes. Those focal lengths are close to my ideal for Super35 and there is no waiting until more unknown lenses arrive later as with Xeen. If you have the cash and the need right now, consider the CineAltas too. Especially if mating them up with a Sony A7s or A7s II.
Either way, we do live in optically exciting times. I recommend reading up on Hollywood lens guru Matthew Duclos’ insights into the Xeens that he has had in for testing for some time now at Duclos Lenses. And the movie made by Hot Rod Cameras is worth a look too. Enjoy!
An early user test of the three Xeen lenses
Polish movie producer Film Cyfrowy recently released a test of the three 24mm, 50mm and 85mm lenses on Vimeo – Samyang Xeen Test. To see it at its best, I recommend downloading the original 4K footage. [bctt tweet=”First Veydra, now Xeen: affordable, top quality cinema primes for mirrorless moviemaking & more.”]
First Look: Xeen Cinema Primes
Via Cam Noir on Vimeo:
In just 1-minute everything you really need to know about the new Xeen Cinema primes. See images shot with the lenses including images shot in low light and with flares. Hot Rod Cameras has done the most extensive shooting and testing of the new Xeen lenses, which are now shipping and IN STOCK at HRC- supplies are limited! If you have questions you can speak to a real person who knows about these lenses by calling HRC in Hollywood +1 (323) 230-3589 or emailing [email protected]
(cover photo credit: snap from the video)