Cinematography

Professional cinematography with the Apo Sonnar T* 2/135

Watching the documentary “Undercity“ you get the feeling that New York cinematographer Andrew Wonder enjoys doing crazy things. So when we asked him to test our new Apo Sonnar T* 2/135, we were keen to receive his pictures and user feedback.

Wonder decided to make a fashion video because it gave him the perfect opportunity to experience the creative potential of this telephoto lens.  The result is a film with incredibly beautiful pictures.

SLR lenses from Carl Zeiss are popular with both photographers and HD video cinematographers thanks to their precise manual focusing and robust design. Whereas the Compact Prime CP.2 lenses have features designed especially for professional use, camera lenses from Carl Zeiss are used mainly by cinematographers who are just starting out in making movies with interchangeable lenses, or looking for very compact gear.  Especially in combination with HDSLR cameras, the SLR lenses’ compact size opens up completely new creative perspectives and allows for a more authentic look: people tend to behave more naturally in front of a small HDSLR camera with a small lens than a large professional movie camera.  Which is why this combination is often used for interviews, documentaries and music videos.

Andrew Wonder on working with the new Apo Sonnar T* 2/135: “I consider it a great honor to be selected as one of the first users of this lens. I have been a big fan of Carl Zeiss lenses for a long time. I especially like the Distagon T* 2/28. But until now I always had to rely on the zoom lenses of other manufacturers to be able to cover the tele range. When the new ZEISS telephoto lens arrived, we were right in the middle of shooting a scene with a long zoom lens from another company. We immediately mounted the Apo Sonnar T* 2/135 and everyone was thrilled. Afterwards we felt like throwing out the material we had shot with the other lens.” Photo by Eric Westpheling

Andrew Wonder on working with the new Apo Sonnar T* 2/135: “I consider it a great honor to be selected as one of the first users of this lens. I have been a big fan of Carl Zeiss lenses for a long time. I especially like the Distagon T* 2/28. But until now I always had to rely on the zoom lenses of other manufacturers to be able to cover the tele range. When the new ZEISS telephoto lens arrived, we were right in the middle of shooting a scene with a long zoom lens from another company. We immediately mounted the Apo Sonnar T* 2/135 and everyone was thrilled. Afterwards we felt like throwing out the material we had shot with the other lens.” Photo by Eric Westpheling

Compared to the professional Compact Prime CP.2 lenses from Carl Zeiss, filming with SLR camera lenses has certain disadvantages. For example, camera lenses have no uniform rotation angle; the focus swivels are located in different positions; the iris consists of 9 instead of 14 blades; and the lens measurements vary significantly between different  focal lengths, making it more difficult to use matte boxes. Changing to another focal length is therefore difficult and costs time on the set. In order to have more flexibility, cinematographers therefore like to use photography zoom lenses. But the disadvantages remain the same as with fixed focal lengths. Weaknesses such as focus shift can become even more apparent with zoom lenses due to their construction.

Carl Zeiss introduced the Compact Zoom Family in 2012 to combine the best of both worlds. The new Compact Zoom CZ.2 lenses are intended for HD video applications, as well as professional motion picture productions. The lenses have the following characteristics:

  • Interchangeable mount
  • Full-frame coverage (36 x 24 mm)
  • No focus shift over the zoom range
  • Robust cine-style housing
  • Circular shape of iris
  • Great flare suppression
  • Calibrated focus scales

 

“The Sonnar design ensures brilliant contrast and minimal ghosting. I love to point the light under the lens to create clean, dynamic flares. The Apo Sonnar T* 2/135 is perfect for doing that and creates images without any ghosting or other imperfections. In order to get any flare at all, I had to put the light directly in front of the lens.” Photo by Eric Westpheling

“The Sonnar design ensures brilliant contrast and minimal ghosting. I love to point the light under the lens to create clean, dynamic flares. The Apo Sonnar T* 2/135 is perfect for doing that and creates images without any ghosting or other imperfections. In order to get any flare at all, I had to put the light directly in front of the lens.” Photo by Eric Westpheling

 

“At f/2.0 the lens was in its element and created a lot of room to compose.  I felt I was doing an oil painting thanks to the fantastic bokeh. I was particularly impressed by the lens’s close focus performance. Even at a close focus of around three feet, I was able to get the sharp close-ups that I had previously only been able to achieve with my ZEISS Makro-Planar T* 2/100.” Photo by Eric Westpheling

“At f/2.0 the lens was in its element and created a lot of room to compose. I felt I was doing an oil painting thanks to the fantastic bokeh. I was particularly impressed by the lens’s close focus performance. Even at a close focus of around three feet, I was able to get the sharp close-ups that I had previously only been able to achieve with my ZEISS Makro-Planar T* 2/100.” Photo by Eric Westpheling

The optical Sonnar design of the Apo Sonnar T* 2/135 is reflected in the Compact Prime CP.2 135/T2.1. This CP.2 lens is perfect for use with HD video shoots and integrates seamlessly into the Compact lens family from Carl Zeiss. The Compact Prime CP.2 lenses have 14 rather than 9 iris blades for an even more harmonious bokeh and, compared to camera lenses, they offer handling advantages, for example through a uniform focus rotation angle and identical barrel and front diameters.

Read a more detailed description of Andrew Wonder’s experiences on his blog.

http://andrewwonder.com/blog/entry/goddesses-zeiss-135mm-f20-film

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