ZEISS Supreme Prime cine lenses might not be the go-to glass for an average indie job but these lenses certainly are a cutting-edge state of the art pieces of technology. The latest addition to the family goes by the name ZEISS Supreme Prime Radiance. Optically superb, yet slightly warmer and with added character.
This new line of high-end cine lenses comes in seven focal lengths to start with: 21mm / 25mm / 29mm / 35mm / 50mm / 85mm and 100mm. All of them share the same specs other than focal length:
- fast T1.5 aperture
- length: 119mm (4.7″) / front to PL mount flange
- 95mm (3.7″) front diameter
- weight: 1.22 kg (3.13 lbs) -> 50mm up to 1.7 kg (3.74 lbs) -> 100mm
- close focus (from image plane): 0.26 m (10″) -> 25mm up to 1.1m (3’9″) -> 100mm
- new T* blue coating
These are the facts, but what’s the story?
ZEISS Supreme Prime Radiance
These new lenses are branded Radiance, as in Glow or Luminosity, even Vibrancy, maybe. According to ZEISS, they produce a slightly warmer overall look in comparison to the original Supreme Primes. However, the real magic here is how these Radiance lenses handle flares. The cinematographer should be able to obtain control if and how a given lens is flaring and to use these ‘optical errors’ to a creative benefit. And that’s exactly the promise of the new T* blue coating.
Rather than removing the lens coating in order to gain character, ZEISS decided to improve the formula of their already unique T* coating in a way that flares can be reproduced and controlled while still fighting nasty side effects.
Watch a sample clip below but keep in mind that YouTube’s auto-compression algorithms are not considered a cinematic gold standard. At all.
According to ZEISS, they intentionally left out the more extreme focal lengths the regular Supreme Primes offer, 15mm or 200mm for example. Both lines mix’n’match just fine so you could add one or two Radiance versions along with a set of regular Supreme Primes.
Here’s a behind the scenes of the above clip:
Controlling flares without their nasty side-effects such as loss of transmission or loss of contrast should be easier using these new lenses and adding a bit of a character to modern cine glass really seems to be the path the industry is heading down. With all these high-K cameras with ultra-low-noise sensors, the glass in front of it becomes the one thing in the chain you can choose deliberately to apply a certain look to your footage.
The blue-ish flares of these Radiance primes are just gorgeous, at least to my eye. Judge for yourself in this final clip, a side by side comparison between Supreme Primes and Supreme Prime Radiance lenses:
Just like the Supreme Primes, these Radiance variants come with support for ZEISS eXtended Data technology which is based on Cooke’s /i technology but adds ZEISS’s own distorting and shading lens data for streamlining post-production.
Pricing and Availability
As mentioned earlier, this is not a cheap set of lenses. To be honest, this not even a set of lenses you would buy at all. It’s more targeted at rental houses or really big production companies, I’d say. One lens is about $24,000, the whole set of 7 clocks in at around $170,300.
The ZEISS Supreme Prime Radiance lenses start shipping in March 2020.