Foton 25-300mm T2.8 Cine Zoom – Not Ready for Primetime

A new lens company called Foton, owned by China-based parent company DZO, has a new spherical T2.8 25-300mm S35 12x zoom on display at NAB. We tried the very, very large lens on the show floor and had some thoughts…  

Lens manufacturing is tricky and this lens is admittedly not yet in production, but we noticed a few flaws during the show. For one, the lens was displayed on a large format RED Monstro, so the S35 lens would crop at anything over 5K as displayed in the booth.  The build quality is also a little suspect. We tried to set the lens to T2.8 and the lens ring stopped just short of the point marked at T2.8 on the lens body.

I also had trouble finding focus in the booth for just a quick test because the min focus distance is 6.5 ft (or 2 meters) and the booth wasn’t quite large enough for focusing on too many different objects. The lens also appeared a little soft in my opinion. While the price point is more affordable to other zooms of this scale there are a few things that need to be worked out before this zoom is ready for primetime in my opinion.

It is also a little strange that the parent company of Foton, DZO, is based in China yet all the marketing materials say Foton is made up of engineers and cinematographers based in California. Note the image below:

While the attempt is admirable this lens needs additional time in development before it can be seen as a serious contender to other high-end manufacturers with zooms in this range.

What do you think? Is there room in the market for a $22,000 S35 cinema zoom that covers 25-300mm like this one? 

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CurtisManu LarocheBen JDavid Forresterblazintommyd blazintommyd Recent comment authors
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Curtis
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Curtis

This is typical Chinese company using a new company name that they try to front as an American company in order to Garner a better reputation instead of the knockoffs that they probably started off with. Similar business model with what Aputure did with Deity after years of making cheap knockoffs. Once they eroded the competition enough and get a hang of things they make a company that they distance from the parent company in order to feel more legitimate. This is a practice that Chinese companies use over and over in multiple markets. Cellphone’s, cameras, computers, etc.

Lenovo buys Motorola name, polaroid has it’s name whored out to numerous Chinese knockoff companies etc etc.

 blazintommyd blazintommyd
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blazintommyd blazintommyd

It would be Awesome – if it worked exceptionally well, I suppose it’s reasonably priced for tax breaks and professionals, but if it’s not so exceptional maybe they ought to lower the price.

David Forrester
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David Forrester

This is a market for the serious professional who gets anal over pixel peeping and buys the best there is for the most part – or rents it. When money becomes an object, they now have superb optics from Sony, Fuji as well as the option to buy legacy Zeiss, Canon or Nikon glass that has a proven track record. This glass was made extremely well back then and today is readily available. They like the smaller prime optics that are lightweight, perfect and have a tone and unique look. Why would anyone take a chance on softer performance with a monster that is unproven doing an expensive shoot – doesn’t make sense.

Some gearheads like stuff and may jump at it, but I think this crowd is beyond that when they are buying RED, Sony, Canon,Arri with insanely good specs. They know that glass is king in the department and will not sacrifice that crucial element.

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