Video / Buying Guide

ARRI Lenses—the Current Professional Standard in Cinema


ARRI is a brand name that has been long associated with cinema, and products that bear the ARRI name are renowned for the utmost in quality, usability, and reliability. Optics are no different. ARRI lenses are used the world over for cinema, television, and commercial production. As a matter of fact, ARRI developed the PL mount, which is the current standard for cinema lenses to be mounted on cameras. It is robust, yet simple in its design. Regardless, ARRI does not just rest on its laurels—the company continues to innovate in the cinema-lens space, introducing new technologies and implementing creative designs without compromising any of the positive aspects of its production.

Prime Lenses

Working with Zeiss, a stalwart of the cinema-lens industry, ARRI has put together some of the most classic lens lines that are in use by cinematographers today. Zeiss manufactures, grinds, polishes, and coats the glass elements.

The ARRI/Zeiss Ultra Primes are possibly the most widely used lenses in ARRI’s repertoire. With a positively huge focal length selection, ranging from the legendary ultra-wide 8mm Rectilinear to the long 180mm T1.9, many of the Ultra Primes share similar dimensions plus 0.8 MOD focus and iris gear positioning for easy accessory placement. The 20mm through 100mm Ultra Primes all feature the same length, outer diameter, and fast T1.9 maximum aperture. Lenses increase in size toward the extremes of the focal-length range. Ultra Primes utilize Zeiss’s T* coating, heralded as one of the best in the industry at flare resistance and overall contrast retention.

ARRI Ultra Prime 8mm Rectilinear 8R 2.8 F Lens

For those looking to get into more advanced workflows, all Ultra Prime focal lengths, except for the 8mm Rectilinear, are also available with ARRI’s LDS, or Lens Data System. This technology allows lenses with LDS contacts (four pins located 90° from 12 o’clock) to communicate with compatible cameras such as ARRI’s own ALEXA and AMIRA lines, as well as select Sony and Panasonic cinema cameras. While the technology is similar in function to the open-source /I technology from Cooke, it is more integrated. With LDS, the lens information is recorded directly into the video file, rather than as a separate file that would require syncing later. LDS is especially helpful in workflows heavy in VFX and/or 3D. While optically equivalent to the Ultra Primes, the Ultra Prime LDS lenses have an updated exterior with a decidedly more modern design.

Taking a step up from the Ultra Primes, you have the Master Primes. These lenses sit atop the ARRI spherical lens lineup, with the entire range featuring a maximum aperture of T1.3 (except for the Master Macro 100, which maxes out at T2), and sporting Zeiss’s premier T*XP coating, which improves upon the already great T* coating. Focal lengths from 12mm to 150mm are available and, like the Ultra Primes, focal lengths from 16mm to 100mm all feature the same dimensions. LDS is built in as standard on the Master Prime lenses, making them VFX and 3D ready. Mechanically, the Master Primes employ cam-driven focusing mechanisms, for smooth and precise focusing actions. Their versatility and reliability make these lenses extremely popular for commercial work, as well as episodic TV and cinema.

ARRI 100mm Master Prime Lens

Let’s not forget the Ultra 16 primes. Designed for productions using the smaller area of Super 16mm film, these compact lenses have wide apertures that open to T1.3 for rendering smooth out-of-focus backgrounds. The focal lengths available range from the wide 6mm to the long 50mm. All Ultra 16 lenses feature the same dimensions for easy lens swaps without having to move rod-mounted gear. Like the Master Primes, the Ultra 16 lenses employ the T*XP coating for superior flare reduction and contrast rendering. In modern digital production workflows, the Ultra 16 lenses are useful for slow motion where a cropped sensor is used, or for smaller cameras that record using smaller sensors. These lenses use a standard PL mount for compatibility with most modern cinema cameras (because these lenses extend rather far into the lens mount, make sure your camera does not have any optics that would get in the way of the rear lens baffle).

ARRI Ultra16 6mm T1.3 Prime Lens

While these product lines are classics that have been cemented into the annals of cinematic production history over time, ARRI made waves when it released its groundbreaking Master Anamorphic lenses. Unlike many other manufacturers that have embraced the flaws inherent in anamorphic optical design, ARRI and Zeiss set out to make a decidedly modern anamorphic optic set. By utilizing cylindrical optics in multiple locations inside the lenses (most anamorphic optics have only one cylindrical optical block in front of or behind the iris) and T*XP coating, Master Anamorphic lenses are superbly corrected for distortion, mumps, breathing, and flare. All the while, these lenses offer a wide T1.9 aperture throughout the 28mm to 135mm range, with only the telephoto 180mm lens having a slower aperture of T2.8. The 35mm through the 75mm lenses all fit in the same-sized housing, while lens gear position on the entire range is consistent. LDS functionality is integrated into the PL mount for advanced production workflows. Additionally, being of a modern design, none of the mechanical issues of past anamorphic optics, such as telescoping barrels or rotating front elements, plague the Master Anamorphics.

ARRI Master Anamorphic 180mm T2.8 F Lens

Some cinematographers believe optics that are overly corrected lack “character.” For aesthetic purposes, ARRI offers Master Anamorphic Flare Sets. Each set contains a front and a rear replaceable lens element, which introduces flaring into the image. If you require more flare, add a flare set optic to the lens. Because the optics are designed for each lens, the high performance of the lenses is not compromised, but rather, altered for flexible flaring options that can be added or removed, depending on the production.

ARRI 50mm Master Anamorphic Flare Set

Zoom Lenses

Few companies are as prolific as Fujifilm (whose lenses are branded “Fujinon”) when it comes to designing and manufacturing high-performance professional zoom lenses in either the cinema or ENG/EFP market. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that ARRI has partnered with Fujifilm for zoom-lens production. All ARRI zoom lenses, except for the UWZ and Anamorphic UWZ lenses, feature Fujinon glass.

ARRI/Fujinon Alura zoom lenses come in two lines, Studio and Lightweight, each line consisting of a pair of lenses. Both pairs conform to ARRI’s prime lenses in terms of overall color, contrast, and robust build. The studio zooms both feature constant maximum apertures of T2.6, consistent focus, zoom, and iris gear spacing for easy lens swaps, consistent front diameter, centering adjustments, compatibility with the 1.4x and 2.0x, Alura Extenders, and ARRI’s LDS technology for communicating with compatible cameras. Throughout the entire 18-250mm focal length range covered by both lenses (18-80mm and 45-250mm) optical aberrations, vignetting, and focus breathing are minimized, 9 iris blades ensure out-of-focus elements remain smooth. The Lightweight Alura zooms are exactly what they claim to be. While the focal-length range is not as large as the Studio zooms, both the 15.5-45mm and 30-80mm retain the optical and mechanical characteristics of the Studio zooms. However, the Lightweight zooms feature smaller chassis that work well handheld or mounted on a Steadicam or motorized gimbal stabilizer, while retaining a respectable constant maximum aperture of T2.8.

ARRI Alura 45-250mm T2.6 F Telephoto Studio Zoom Lens

Last, and certainly not least, is the UWZ, or Ultra-Wide Zoom. This beast has a wide-angle range from 9.5-18mm and uses an advanced optical design to achieve extremely low distortion, minimal aberration, and a wide aperture of T2.9. The UWZ is also offered in a 19-36mm T4.2 Anamorphic variant, which employs a 2x squeeze factor for epic wide-angle shots.

ARRI Anamorphic 19-36mm T4.2 F Ultra-Wide Zoom Lens


ARRI lenses, like ARRI cameras, have been used on countless Hollywood productions, million-dollar-budget commercials, and more. B&H is proud to offer these lenses to our customers. If you are interested in finding out more about ARRI products, head over to the B&H SuperStore website, or visit The Studio at B&H. These lenses are made to order in small quantities, and we may have some in stock, so don’t hesitate to contact us if you’re interested in ARRI lenses.