NiSi ATHENA Full Frame Cinema Prime Lens Series – First Look

April 19th, 2023 Jump to Comment Section

Right before NAB 2023, Chinese manufacturer NiSi teased a new family of full frame cinema prime lenses, called ATHENA, as well as a new set of full-spectrum ND filters. The 5-lens series is currently on display at the show, so we stopped by their booth to take a closer look!

It’s not the first time that Chinese lens and filter manufacturer NiSi launches a 5-piece set of full frame lenses for cinema applications. Indeed, back at NAB 2018, the company introduced the F3 prime set, consisting of a 25, 35, 50, 75 and 85mm.

Five years later, on the show floor at NAB 2023, my colleague Graham asked Jim Reisman from NiSi to elaborate more on the design and look of their newly-announced ATHENA lenses. Let’s see what he found out!

NiSi ATHENA full frame cinema lens series
NiSi ATHENA full frame cinema lens series. Source: CineD

NiSi ATHENA full frame cinema lens series – overview

Upon launch, the NiSi ATHENA lens series includes five focal lengths, namely a 14mm T2.4 and the faster 25, 35, 50 and 85mm T1.9. The lenses have an impressive image circle of 46mm, thus making them suitable for use with full-frame and even large-format sensors.

NiSi ATHENA 85mm T1.9 on Sony FX3
NiSi ATHENA 85mm T1.9 on Sony FX3. Source: CineD

Users can choose between ARRI PL, Canon RF or Sony E lens mount options and what’s interesting is that all 3 versions are compatible with a proprietary rear filtration system. The PL mount variant takes rear screw-on filters, while the RF and E-mount models have a drop-in filter slot. Moreover, all lenses, except the 14mm, can accomodate 77mm front filters via a dedicated thread or 80mm clamp-on matte boxes.

NiSi ATHENA 14mm T2.4
NiSi ATHENA 14mm T2.4. Source: CineD

Another major selling point of the NiSi ATHENA lenses is the unified position of focus and iris rings across the whole set. But that’s not all. Indeed, all family members share exactly the same weight (under 900g/2lbs) and 300° focus throw. This greatly facilitates the process of working with gimbals and lens control systems.

NiSi ATHENA lens series specifications
NiSi ATHENA lens series specifications. Source: NiSi

The focus distance is displayed in both imperial and metric units, and the luminous paint should make all markings easily readable even in low-light environments. Lastly, the ATHENA lenses are claimed to deliver razor-sharp images with soft bokeh and low chromatic aberration, and the 14mm shouldn’t show pin-cushion distortion.

Price and availability

The new NiSi Athena lenses are now available for pre-order and will start shipping in late July 2023. The company will release all focal lengths simultaneously. You can purchase the lenses individually or as a set that includes a hard case.

All lenses share the same official retail price of $1,098, with the exception of the 14mm prime which retails for $100 more. The complete 5-piece kit will set you back $5,298.

For more information, please visit NiSi’s website here.

Have you ever shot on the NiSi F3 lenses? What do you think of their new ATHENA cinema prime series? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!

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