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Pure Heavyweight Class

Posted on Jan 3, 2017

Cooke’s new 35-140mm Anamorphic zoom lens is a monster in more ways than one. But if you’re lucky enough to try one you may be spoilt for life. Words Jonathan Jones.

We were lucky enough to try out this lens recently and use it with our RED EPIC DRAGON cameras, which suited it well. Firstly, I would warn you that apart from being quite expensive (around $60,000), it is also very heavy. Now this is fine but it does ultimately limit what you shoot on the lens.

For Ember films, our film company, we would look to use it on movies, drama or commercials, but not natural history. We wouldn’t want to take it up Everest!

If you have the lens supported properly you don’t need to worry, but the support has to be the right one. I would go for at least a 150mm bowl head for your tripod or support it on a dolly so that you don’t have to worry about it. On a drama production or similar you have the crew support and real support so the weight’s not such a problem.

Once you’ve done that you can enjoy the benefits, which are many. Firstly, the range is fantastic; you have all those anamorphic artefacts and this fantastic resolution right through the range and all at fast speeds, around f/2.8 (T1.3). A good test would be to cost out how much a set of primes would be to imitate the zoom range and then count the cost of changing all the time. You may find that the initial cost is actually worth it.

Look-wise it is very sharp and the way it holds the bokeh through the zoom is very interesting. It was similar in quality to the 65mm macro anamorphic we looked at earlier this year, because all the anamorphic aesthetics are there through the range it’s very quick to use and find another frame to shoot with. Mount it properly and just use this lens and you’ll find that weight isn’t an issue. As long as you don’t have to move too far to achieve what you want.

It’s also great that you have the /i technology there so all your metadata will come through from the lens settings to show the time and place you were shooting. This information is vital if you’re returning there to shoot or if you have any graphic element or VFX content as part of the production. Also, it helps with backplates and set extensions.

The lens is very easy to use and is terrifically well made. Everything you would expect from Cooke.

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