Difficult Lens Choices Made Easy with These Extensive Comparisons

Have you ever had to make the difficult (and rather expensive) call of which set of lenses to pick for a given shoot? Vintage glass, tack sharp modern lenses, consumer or pro grade cinematic ones? Well, these two extensive comparison projects are here to help you make this profound decision. Lens choices made easy, well done!

lens choices

image credit: grab from intro video (http://blog.sharegrid.com/ultimate-vintage-cinema-lens-test)

Lens Choices Can Affect Your Whole Project

There are so many creative choices when it comes to filmmaking. In fact, I would say that dealing with available equipment and resources creatively is way more important than having an abundance of the most expensive gear. Sure, it helps to be able to work with a brimful toolbox, but in the end it’s all about creativity, really.

So, let’s talk about choices: which camera and lens combination should you use? Being a DP, this is your call of course, but not everybody has a rack full of cine lenses handy all the time to test their distinct look and characteristics. Luckily, a few people out there passionate enough about lenses have conducted two individual approaches for testing a whole bunch of lenses for you.

Cine Lens Test

First up, a highly skilled bunch of German cinematographers and fellow filmmakers conducted the so called Cine Lens Test in which they set up a whole website with a custom video player and comparison slider built right in. You can choose from a vast range of different lens brands, focal lengths and apertures. The site is still in beta, but is already tremendously helpful, so thanks for putting this together!

lens choices

How the cine lens test works (credit: http://www.cinelenstest.com/)

The Team conducted both a high and a lo key set in order to get the most out of these comparisons. You can observe your lenses of choice in every scene, just dial in your desired settings, sit back and watch. Most of the footage has been caputured with RED Epic Dragon, ARRI Alexa Mini  and Canon C300 Mark II cameras.

Vintage Cinema Lens Library

Next up, a group of LA filmmakers, directors, DPs and ACs around ShareGrid’s Brent Barbano and Duclos Lenses’ own Matthew Duclos built up this huge database called the Vintage Cinema Lens Library. As you can tell by the name, it’s mostly about vintage glass, but a whole set of modern Zeiss/Arri Masterprimes were used as a reference, too. You can watch side by side videos with your lenses of choice, study bokeh charts and get lost in spreadsheets filled with all the specs of these lenses.

lens choices

bokeh comparison (credit: http://blog.sharegrid.com/ultimate-vintage-cinema-lens-test)


There you have it, a whole lot of lenses to discover, not only by name and price tag but also by their inner astethics in terms of bokeh, flaring, overall look and so on. I think this is a huge resource we’re looking at, and I want to thank each and everyone who was/is involved with these tests. I’m sure it was a lot of fun putting these together, but it must have meant a huge amount of work, I’m sure.

Do you want even more? Have a look at these other articles here on cinema5D: In-Depth Lens Tests – Interview with DP Volodymyr Ivanov and Thomas Fletcher’s 2016 Lens Comparison Chart.

What do you think? Might this be useful for any lens choices you might have for a given project in the future? Let us know in the comments below!

sources: cinelenstest.com / Vintage Cinema Lens Library

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