Outstanding Lens - Buy Used
Rated 5 out of 5
Quick background - I do film/video production for different platforms, some broadcast, though primarily online use. My own background and education is in film production. The contracts I'm working on now have a lot of post-production, so I've had a lot of time to reflect on lens choices for shoots. Generally, I'm not a fan of Canon glass compared to Nikon, Voigtlander, or because of owning the GH-4, the Panasonic M43s lenses. When shooting video, I've used the Canon still photography L-Series a lot. Canon's still lenses in video always felt a little weird to me, the colors feel funny, and the mid tones don't seem to exist much. Rather the lenses focus a lot of information in the shadows, and then very little in the upper part of the midtones. The only time the lenses worked for me from an aesthetics point of view was when the end result had a lower contrast and softer look. However, the lens construction of Canon L-series makes them workhorses. They provide a lot of stability, reliability, great features, and sharp images. When this line was first announced, I was very skeptical and sought other options. For a couple of projects, I was able to work with these lenses. The Canon Cinema line had a different aesthetic overall that I initially was surprised to like. Now, I'm a big fan of theses lenses. When possible, I still avoid the Canon photography lenses and opt out for Nikon, so I'm not a total convert to the EF world. I shoot on the FS7, and so also couple this with the Metabones Speed Booster EF to E mount. I wanted to buy this lens for a while, and wanted to start with the 85mm series as the first entry point into the lens due to my wanting to have a solid interview lens ready to go. For some clients, I do a lot of sit down interviews and b-roll, and what I found from shooting DSLR was that of course the lens matters quite a bit, but additionally, the aesthetic more and more between camera to camera was slowing disappearing and it was coming down to lens as the differentiator. Also, for filming commercial content, this lens is outstanding for the classic tight Medium Close Up or Close Up shot that can be used to grab Inserts and Cutaways when needed. Personally, I love detail and shooting close on people, objects, and textures, so this lens was probably the most interesting one to purchase to see if I would like owning the lens and presumably the rest of the series. With the Speedbooster, I'm impressed at how I'm able to start capturing some of the subtle lighting I'll notice but on camera, either the image is too contrasty, or there's not evident enough. Of course, the camera and lens combination helps to this end. The great thing about the lens is how it flows easily from focus to focus mark, how though it is heavy, it's still compact enough to travel with, and how the build of the lens is strong. I was considering this series of lenses or the Zeiss series for a long time. I talked to a lot of DP's and many re-routed me to this Canon Cine family. Even though the FS7 native ISO is 2000, there are times when I want to move up the gain a bit, and when I do, there's this unappealing noise. The C300 noise I'm not against, but the Sony noise feels very digital. Therefore, I knew I needed as fast lenses as possible. With the GH4, I own Voigtlander F/.95 series of glass, and shooting on those is a dream. Wide open, you're dealing with a lot of interesting ghosting and vignetting, but it's an attractive look. For this reason, I thought that even if I see some image degradation wide open with this lens, I'll take that over camera noise. Ultimately, I decided to go with this series because of the consistently fast aperture across the lenses. The T/1.3 is outstanding in a lot of natural lighting situations, and even when lighting a scene or interview, the fast aperture means I can use softer light to create an effect, and be more subtle with the positioning. This also means for run and gun shoots, you can light with daylight and bounce, which was a big advantage. I'm looking forward to acquiring the rest of the lenses myself. I've worked with the lenses a lot in the past few years, but because of the price, had considered perhaps going another route. In fact, there are some strong contenders from the Zeiss Otus 85mm still lens, the Zeiss 85mm cinema lens, to the Veydra lenses, and even now the Rokinon Xeen lenses. But, since I spend a lot of time in post-production, I've started noticing the limits of what we can do to an image after it has been captured. The aesthetic of this lens and the series of lenses for me stands out a tiny bit for me as feeling a little more organic and creates images with a sense of 3D depth, and sometimes it's that tiny bit that makes a difference - for me personally at least. I will say I bought my lens used as well to help offset the cost. Finally, I've also used this lens to take stills on a GH-4. The lens is indeed heavier than the camera body, and the images were stunning and what I wanted to achieve out of a telephoto lens. What's not so great about the lens is how heavy it is, how it does feel a bit brittle and therefore fragile, how you pretty much have to have some kind of adapter for Super 35mm sensor cameras otherwise the lens is super tight to the point of not being pragmatic in a lot of close interiors. Overall, I'm quite happy with the lens and family of lenses, and I feel good about the purchase. It's important to have a solid camera support system and tripod as well. Would I recommend this to a friend? I would certainly recommend exploring all their options, and seeing where the fit is; for some, it'll be elsewhere, for me, it was in this solid piece of glass.
Glad I waited for this one!
Rated 5 out of 5
My main content creation is new product videos, instructional, and documentary styles. I still use my Canon C100 Mk 1 with the Dual pixel autofocus upgrade, as most is web-based anyway.
I almost bought the Rokinon cinema lens a few years ago, but decided to “save up” for the real deal - this Canon CN-E 85mm! And I’m sure glad I did! Is it THAT noticeable compared to the 24 - 105 L camera zoom, yes, but only when compared side by side, otherwise most people can not tell the difference as they are usually just watching what the video is about and not the fine detail in quality. They both look good.
But the real benefit is the usefulness, feel, and professional image the clients gets when you bill them out for a professional service. This magnificent lenses does just that. It’s paid for over and over again, and my next buy will be the 35mm CN-E, and then the 50.
Very happy with this purchase.