French lens manufacturer, Angenieux, has been the industry leader in high end zooms for decades, and now they have added a line of full frame primes, so if you’re department is well-heeled, you’ll now have the option to match that opulence optic at fixed focal lengths. The set will eventually be comprised of twelve customizable lenses. The first of the set to step blinking into the sun was the 40mm at this year’s Cine Gear on the Paramount Lot. Read more below.
At the end of May, my colleague Olaf wrote about Angenieux’s original announcement HERE, so if you’re interested in these primes, be sure to give that article a read!
With the announcement being so recent, we didn’t have high hopes that Angenieux would even bring the primes to Cine Gear this past weekend (May 31st-June 2nd), but we held onto the hope of seeing one in person. Walking past the Thales tent, it seemed business as usual, so we hurried off to a panel hosted by the Digital Cinema Society on full frame lens purchasing, where reps from almost every major manufacturer came to make the case for their glass. Art Adams from Arri told us PL was over and Les Zellen from Cooke said that “technology is wagging the dog.”(As usual, he also said we all owe any progress in optics and our first born children to Cooke, but he keeps that panel entertaining.)
Amidst the throwing of the shade and the very cordial “Buy what you like, but what we’re doing is the newest and the best,” speeches, Jean-Marc Bouchut offered very casually that everyone could come by and take a look at at the 40mm Optimo, the first Angenieux prime to be presented at Cine Gear. When Storaro, Kaminski, Libatique, and the like lean on your brand, I guess you can be much more casual about exciting news. It’s the sort of quiet confidence that comes with being a Hollywood standard. As most reps offered one version or another of rehoused vintage glass, Jean-Marc explained that although the primes are gorgeous as is, one can build that vintage into their primes if he or she so chooses. With the Optimo line’s replaceable rear elements, the possibilities are almost limitless in how you can characterize your aesthetic.
As they were mopping up the blood from this friendly panel, we headed to “Lens Alley,” located on New York Street of the Paramount lot, where Graham could talk to Jean-Marc one-one about these new beauties. We turned the corner, and sure enough, mounted to a RED Ranger was the T1.8 40mm Optimo. All twelve lenses provide full frame 46.5mm (diagonal) coverage and most have a consistent 1.8 T-stop. The company is quick to mention that the 18mm and 200mm may not be quite as fast, but we will have to wait until the end of 2020 to find out. The full set will be available near the 3rd quarter of 2021. Duclos Lenses has made this handy chart showing the launch window of all twelve Optimo primes:
The set features fully interchangeable mounts for LPL, XPL, PL, Canon EF, Nikon F, and Panavision. All the lenses will be manufactured in France and Germany and will support both Cooke/I and Arri LDS for transferring lens data.
All lenses have common gear sizes and positions. Focal lengths included in the full set: 18mm, 21mm, 24mm, 28mm, 32mm, 40mm, 50mm, 60mm, 75mm, 100mm, 135mm, 200mm.
Angenieux assures us the prospect of multi-faceted customization for the Optimo series is very real. However, we couldn’t nail down exactly which features are fair game for alteration. It’s a safe bet to say that flaring, chromatic aberration and ya know, all the quirks we previously tried to eradicate that now cinematographers seek in vintage lenses will be achievable with the replacement of the rear element. While the company says that each lens set will have a uniform look out of the box, with the assistance of a great lens tech, you may be able to make these work for you in any number of ways.
Pricing: Between $23,000 – $31,000 per lens.
If you’ve been working with Angenieux zoom lenses, share with us your thoughts and let us know if working with their new primes is an option for you