What are the Differences Between Cine Lenses and Photo Lenses? This week we will cover this issue. In recent years, with the cheapness of cinema cameras, we have started to hear cinema lenses frequently. These high quality lenses, which you could only see in big cinema and series sets before, started getting cheaper and descending to the first user level. In this article, we will deal with a lot of topics from the technical features of cinema lenses to the differences of standard lenses. If You Want, What Are The Difference Between Cine Lenses And Photo Lenses? Let’s take a closer look.
Features of Cinema Lenses
You have come across many articles and videos that compare cinema lenses with photo lenses. Generally, these videos and articles are prepared to show that there is no difference in image quality. For example, titles such as “5000 $ lens vs 500 $ lens” and expensive cinema lenses are said to be no different from cheap lenses in terms of image quality.
Is this the case? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Cinema lens does not mean a very expensive lens made of great quality lenses. Yes, some cine lenses are like that, but the basic definition of cine lenses is, ”are lenses produced using high technology in order to meet cinema needs ”.
There are also so-called cine lenses on the market that are sold as cine lenses, but can meet only one or two conditions out of 10 conditions that must be in a cine lens. Manufacturers use such a way to sell the lens at a slightly higher price or to make the lens look better. For example; The lenses sold by Samyang under the name of the cine series are actually lenses created by adding a focus wheel to the photo lens. So there is no difference from the photo lens. (Nevertheless, we love Samyang’s cine lenses due to its extreme function and low aperture.)
The structure of cinema lenses is slightly different from photo lenses, as can be seen from the images. For example; In some of the photo lenses, there is a slight convergence when throwing clear. There should be no such situation in a cine lens. For this reason, cine lenses have a larger design. Because of its larger design, supportive weights and equipment are often used when attaching cine lenses to the camera. The lenses in a cine lens set should have their weights close to each other, or time will be lost as the balance of this stabilizer and camera on the tripod changes each time.
Cinema lenses are usually obtained by renting because they are expensive. For this reason, its outer and inner structure must be very strong. In addition, the airtight feature is an important element for cinema lenses in order to prevent the inner lenses of the lens from misting when moving from hot to cold.
Normally, photo lenses are designed to make it very fast. By rotating the focus ring of a photo lens, you quickly reach the farthest net point with the nearest net point. So the range in which the ring can rotate is short. The situation is the opposite in cinema lenses. With these lenses, the range of the sharpening ring is kept much wider to provide stable, balanced and more precise clarity.
One reason cinema lenses are bigger than photographic lenses are the lenses used. Since the cinema is generally preferred in low depth of field, the light permeability should be higher in the lens. For this reason, the lens diameter is kept large so that more light can enter the lens. Cine lenses are big and heavy as they are added to the features mentioned in the previous premises.
Cinema lenses are one of the most important elements of movie shooting that displays millions of dollars of movies and TV series. For this reason, it should have very consistent and precise settings.
1- Pointers on the Lens
All signs and pointers on a cine lens work correctly at the micron level. This feature is only available on expensive photo lenses. There is a slight margin of error in affordable price performance photo lenses.
2- Zoom Sensitivity
Variable focus cine lenses with zoom feature provide smooth zooming in and out, such as zoom in or zoom out. The lens does not kick at all when performing the zoom movement. In photo lenses, the zoom ring is hard and not suitable for soft movement.
3- Diaphragm Ring
Cine lenses always have a manual diaphragm sleeve. This diaphragm sleeve moves very smoothly without any misfire. In addition, the diaphragm leaves inside the lens work smoothly without any misfire, just like the diaphragm ring. Thus, when switching from a very dark place to a bright place in one plan, the light control is performed so soft that the audience cannot understand. So the diaphragm can be changed during shooting. 90% of newly released photo lenses do not have aperture bracelets. Usually the diaphragm is replaced electronically via the machine. It is aimed to automatically assign the aperture value and take it quickly when taking pictures.
4- Parfocal Structure
Cinema lenses that can zoom are generally parfocal. Parfokal; It is the name given to the lenses that can keep the focal point constant throughout the entire focal length range and do not require adjusting the sharpness again when you zoom in. For example; you do not need to reassign a subject after shooting a subject at a focus of 50mm and then making a sudden zoom in on the subject. Some of the photo lenses also have a parfocal structure, but low or medium quality lenses may not be available. For this reason, we can count this feature as one of the differences between photo lenses and cinema lenses.
Cinema lenses have been developed in a way that allows you to attach some devices and tools developed for VFX (visual effects). Although this feature is not available in every lens, expensive cinema lenses include this feature.
6- Structure of Lens Rings
The clarity and aperture rings of the cinema lenses are generally serrated. The reason for this jagged structure is to enable devices such as wireless follow focus to hold the lens ring better. Photo lenses, on the other hand, have a non-slip structure that will not cause any irritation in the hand. When you want to attach tools such as follow focus to photo lenses, you need to attach the extra apparatus called focus ring to the lens.
Unlike standard photographic lenses, a diaphragm term called T-stop is used in cinema series lenses. T-Stop value is the diaphragm value created by considering the light value falling on the lens and the losses while passing through the lens. F-Stop value is used in photo lenses. Unlike T-Stop, the F-Stop value reflects the light value falling on the lens. In other words, the losses of light passing through the lens are not taken into account. For this reason, there is a brightness difference between a 28mm f2.8 lens and a 100mm f2.8 that contains more lenses. Since it has 100mm more lens, it loses more light and offers less bright image.
Since this is not a continuity factor, photo lenses are not considered important, but continuity in cinema is an important factor. For this reason, lenses with the same T-stop value are used in order to avoid any difference in brightness with two different lenses with the same aperture. (When you look at the cinema lens sets, all lenses in a set have the same aperture.)
8- Compatibility with Serial Lenses
The lenses in cinema lens sets should have very close image quality. For this reason, such lenses are subjected to many tests and their production is carried out with extreme precision. The reason for this is again continuity. Color deviations of successive images should be close to each other so that the viewer can easily watch the movie. For this reason, when a brand wants to produce a cinema series lens set, all the lenses in it should reflect similar image quality. In photo lenses, this situation is not considered. Since there is no continuity in photography, sometimes even the same two lenses may reflect different image quality, albeit at a very low level.
Cinema lenses are designed to minimize the wide-angle distortion we call lens distortion. Normally, photo lenses cause distortion and diffraction in the corners from 28mm. While the distortions in the photograph can be corrected very easily thanks to the software, unfortunately such a correction in the video takes a lot of time and effort. For this reason, cinema lenses are designed to create much less distortion at wide angles than photographic lenses.
10- Focus Breathing
Cinema lenses are designed to prevent the error we call focus breathing. When focusing on meret, which we call focus breathing, the feeling of getting closer or diverging due to the effect of the lenses inside. Most photo lenses have focus breathing, but true cinema lenses never perform lens breathing. For example, if you shine forward with the Canon 50mm photo lens, there will be a 3-7mm zoom, which does not pose a problem for the photo, but it can have an effect that changes the mood of the movie in the cinema.
11- Filter Diameter
The filter diameters are the same in the cinema series lens sets. All lenses from 10mm to 300mm have the same lens diameter. Thus, it is not necessary to install different matteboxes and filters with each lens change. For example; Imagine using Master’s Masterprime lens sets in a movie shoot. All filter diameters and front lens size in this lens series are the same. Imagine you have placed a mattebox and nd filter in front of you after installing this lens. If there is no light change, you will perform all your shots with the same mattebox and nd filter. Thus, even if different lenses are used, you always get the same image quality.
12- Lens Structure (Lens Flare and Bokeh)
High-level lenses are used in cinema lenses, especially in high quality ones. These lenses produce unique flare and bokeh. Of course, the role of light is great here, but if you compare the flare of a cinema lens with a photo lens in daylight, you will get much more soft and more aesthetic flare.