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'Zeiss's CP rehousings of the ZF line'
Sweet cheeses on a bicycle. In the interests of informing readers, here is a fact containing piece on the matter:
"After all, they are in fact the exact same glass but in a different housing, right? Sort ofÖ There are quite a few features that really separate the two lenses no matter how similar their heritage is.
The ZF.2s are Zeissí latest all manual still photo lenses. They just happen to make very pretty images when mounted to a motion picture camera as well as a still photo camera. The Compact Primes take it a step beyond pretty images and provide a professional set of features that can be very valuable to a cinematographer and his/her crew.
Iíll start with the optics. Zeiss says that the CP.2 lenses use hand-picked elements that really increase the consistency and accuracy of the lenses. I canít attest to this as I havenít seen any difference in the glass or the test results produced by the Compact Primes, but it looks good on a brochure.
The next item is the aperture. The ZF.2 lenses use a fairly standard 9 bladed iris whereas the CP.2 lenses utilize a much more rounded 14 bladed iris. This isnít just a numbers game. A rounder aperture makes for rounder bokeh, smoother background blur at wider apertures.
This brings me to my next difference. The Compact Primes will provide a much smoother, creamier bokeh thanks to the 14 bladed aperture design but you wonít be able to pull off the crazy shallow depth of field shots because the CP.2 lenses are all limited to f/2 (T2.1) at most. For example, the 50mm ZF.2 tops out at f/1.4, a commendable aperture. The same lens, optically, is limited to f/2 (T2.1) on its CP.2 cousin. This means that youíll have to work a little harder to get that nice creamy bokeh to really melt in the background. Onto round two, the housings.
The CP.2 lenses wipe the floor with the ZF.2s in this category. ÖAlmost. The Compact Primes all have a uniform, internal focus housing which means the is no telescoping of the barrel and the focus and iris gears are all the same distance from the mount. This is handy when swapping lenses during a shoot since you donít have to think about repositioning your follow focus or motors.
Speaking of gears, yeah, the Compact Primes come equipped with cine-standard 32-pitch gears where the ZF.2 lenses sport a knurled grip instead. This can be overcome fairly easily with the addition of a Cine-Mod focus gear but youíre still not going to gain an aperture gear even with the Cine-Mod on the ZF.2 lenses.
The focus movement of both lens series is superb. Smooth, viscous, and accurate. But the Compact Primes take the movement a step farther, rotating almost 300į. The ZF.2s vary from lens to lens ranging from a manageable 90į to a pleasing 275į on some focal lengths. This isnít a deal breaker considering some shooters these days have become accustomed to quicker, shorter focused pulls on still lenses but there is no denying the expanded focus throw of the Compact Primes is far more accurate. The focus scales on the CP.2 have far more marks that are spaced nicely and very easy to read with precise witness marks for each distance.
The ZF.2 lenses use a traditional photo distance scale with a convenient depth-of-field range engraved right on the lens, but lack the quantity and accuracy of distance marks that the CP.2s feature. On a similar note, the focus rotation direction of the ZF.2 lenses is what most cinematographers would consider backwards."
Thanks for your contribution, Lee.