Should You Buy a Cinema Lens?

I’m asked quite frequently by viewers of my YouTube channel whether they should get say, a photography lens like the Olympus 25mm f/1.2 or a cinema lens like one of the Veydra Mini Primes. There are dozens of differences between photography and cinema lenses, but I’m only going to touch on a few of the most important here. A set of cinema lenses is designed to have consistent color rendition from one lens to another and they use T-stops rather than f-stops for consistent exposure. Apart from the usual criteria used to evaluate lens performance – resolution, lack of aberrations and vignetting, and so on – perhaps the single most important optical characteristic of cinema lenses is the near absence of breathing, so critical when pulling focus. Typically, cinema lenses are completely mechanical and all metal for durability in a production environment. The entire lens is designed with the purpose of making the life of a focus puller easier – from gears on the focus rings to consistent front outer diameter and length, making changing lenses much simpler when used with rails and a matte box. Because cinema lenses live on rails: primarily so they can be operated with a follow focus. And as the principal reason for using cinema lenses in the first place is consistency, the question is no longer whether to buy a single photography lens or cinema lens, but whether you are prepared to invest in a complete set of cinema lenses. And are you also ready to purchase a sturdy tripod, rails, a follow focus, a matte box, a cage, an external monitor/recorder (hopefully, you’re not rack focusing using the camera’s 3″ LCD), batteries, cables, SSDs and all the rest? If not, I’d suggest sticking with photography lenses.

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