ZEISS lenses have long been renowned for capturing sharp, accurate imagery for still photo and cinematographic applications. As some manufacturers continue to blur the line between still photo and digital cinema cameras, ZEISS has introduced several lens series that are ideal for content creators who are moving from stills to video or who work in both mediums. The lenses in these Batis, Loxia, Otus, and Milvus series all feature smooth focusing, attractive bokeh, low or no chromatic aberration and distortion, and an advanced ZEISS T* anti-reflective coating for significantly reduced ghosting and flaring. Read on to discover which series best suits your shooting style, format choice, and budget.
A key difference between cine-style and still photography lenses is how they are focused. In brief, cine lenses are manual focus and are encircled by a geared ring that interfaces with a matching gear on a follow focus system, either hands-on or wireless. Still lenses can be either manual or autofocus but usually lack the cine-style focus gearing. A typical film-style setup would have a camera operator maneuvering the camera while an assistant camera person (first A.C.) “pulls” (adjusts) the focus on a manual-focus cine lens as the action unfolds. On smaller-crew productions, the operator might pull the focus themselves, especially when shooting with a shoulder-mounted camera and a grip-style focus controller like the top-of-the line ARRI MRW-1 Master Grip or the more affordable Tilta Nucleus-M Handgrip.
Developed by ZEISS for use with full-frame, Sony E-mount cameras, the Batis line blends the consistently accurate ZEISS Distagon look with cutting-edge features like an OLED screen on the lens barrel that displays your focus distance and depth-of-field information. With a lightweight, compact design and maximum apertures of f/1.8 to f/2.8, the weatherproof 18, 25, 40, 85, and 135mm Batis lenses are a natural choice for handheld, run-and-gun-style work, and you can focus them manually or use your camera’s AF features depending on your shot. The 85 and 135mm primes even offer image stabilization, letting your take advantage of that full-frame resolution while maintaining shallow depth of field with wider apertures. Sony a1 Mirrorless Camera fans can get started with a Batis 25 and 85mm Lens Kit for Sony E or go right to the Batis 4-Lens Kit with 18, 25, 85, and 135mm lenses; both of these B&H kits also include UV filters that subtly correct daylight while protecting the front element of the lens.
Descended from the ZEISS Planar line but optimized for digital sensors, the Sony E-mount Loxia lenses feature creamy bokeh, slip-on geared focus rings, and a full metal body that’s built to last. These f/2 to f/2.8 primes straddle the still/cine lens divide with manual focus, engraved focus marks, and an aperture ring that can be “de-clicked.” The de-clicking means that instead of rotating through the hard aperture stops preferred by still shooters, you can quietly and smoothly stop down or open up your aperture during a video take, for example, if the sun comes out or clouds over while you’re rolling. This Loxia 5-Lens Bundle with 21, 25, 35, 50, and 85mm lenses has you covered for everything from establishing shots to close-ups, or choose the Loxia 4-Lens Kit with UV Filters with 21, 25, 35, and 50mm primes put together by B&H.
Use the fast f/1.4 25, 35, 50, and 85mm Milvus ZE Superspeed 4-Lens Bundle with your Canon R5 Mirrorless Camera or Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K, 6K Pro, or 4K to create your own indie feature package with outstanding selective-focus abilities. These Canon EF-mount manual focus primes have rubberized focus rings and a wide barrel rotation for precise control, and a weather-resistant form that’s a boon to fast-paced, small- or no-crew productions. The Milvus lenses’ sharp, high-contrast images are a perfect match for high-performance digital cinema camera functions including HDR (high dynamic range).
The top-of-the-line, manual focus Otus series features an apochromatic optical design that significantly reduces color fringing and chromatic aberrations. Pair a high-resolution, full-frame camera like your RED V-RAPTOR 8K VV Camera with the Otus lenses for velvety, richly detailed imagery or use them with an S35 camera like the RED KOMODO 6K Digital Cine Camera or a mirrorless format camera. These investment-quality lenses feature slip-on geared focus rings, hard stops, and a wide barrel for smooth pulls. While the RED KOMODO is an RF-mount camera, it comes with a mechanical EF-mount adapter compatible with these manual focus lenses. As with the other ZEISS series, you can select a lens kit like this Otus ZE 3-Lens Bundle for Canon EF with f/1.4 28, 55, and 85mm focal lengths or build a collection lens by lens, including the f/1.4 100mm prime.
Which ZEISS lens series would you prefer if you had an option to choose? Let us know in the Comments section, below, and tell us which cine-style camera and lens series you’ve used for your content.
I didn’t think the Komodo was a FF camera
We've updated the KOMODO info; thanks for catching that.