Filming at 4K: Lenses for Canon EOS 1D C
Canon has announced its amazing EOS 1D C camera which is the world’s first 4K Cinema DSLR. This camera shares the same body with the 1DX and has a full frame sensor. Apart from the fantastic stills capability of shooting 18.1 MP images at 12 fps in raw , it is also capable of recording 4K (4096×2160) to the CF cards. Infact, it is primarily designed keeping filming in mind. I have been getting many questions and responding to those in many places about which lenses are better for 4K recording with the Canon EOS 1D C camera. Personally as a Wildlife Filmmaker the 4K resolution apart from giving us much more details will also help in future proofing our stock as well. Sharing my thoughts here.
Unique features of Canon 1D C:
This camera shoots 18.1 MP still images and its max film resolution is 4K (4096×2160) at 24p (23.976) to CF cards. This is at 8 bit 4:2:2 Motion JPEG
It also shoots Full HD (1920×1080) at 24p, 25p, 30p, 50p and 60p at 8 bit 4:2:0 H.264.
One can also connect an external recorder via HDMI port and record clean for a maximum of 12 hours.
Image area for Filming in Canon EOS 1D C:
The Canon EOS 1D C while filming in 4K records from an APS-H size area of the full frame sensor. People filming with the Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon EOS 1D Mark II etc use the same sensor size for stills and has a multiplication factor of 1.3 ie the focal length of your lenses get magnified by 1.3 times.
One can film in Full HD using either the entire full frame sensor or an equivalent of Super 35 crop which is nearly same as APS-C camera sensor ie. Focal length of lenses are magnified by 1.6 times.
Filming in 4K: Compatible Lenses:
The EF lenses cover the full frame and can be used for 4K filming. Of course, the quality will vary depending upon the quality of the lenses. At the minimum, I will use the L series lenses of Canon. Even out of the L series lenses, one needs to pick and choose the best primes and zooms.
At the wide end, a Cinema lens would be nice. (I have reviewed both the 16-35 f2.8 II and 24-70 f2.8 L USM lenses and used those, however, a cinema lens at wide end would be nice.) I have heard good things about the 24-70 f2.8 II L USM lens, but haven’t tested it yet.
I have the perennial DSLR shooters favourite – the 24-105 f4 L IS USM lens, but I won’t be comfortable using it for 4K work. Ofcourse, when I am filming from a moving boat, with the camera few inches above water, the 24-105 may be a better idea due to its image stabilsation than a cinema lens. So we need to sneak in a few lenses depending upon shooting conditions as well.
The 100mm f2.8 L IS USM macro lens is a very good lens with lovely IS (image stabilisation). Pretty sharp lens.
The 70-200 f2.8 L IS II USM lens is pretty sharp and has very good image stabilisation. I use it all the time. It would be great at 4K. I am actually very interested to see side-by-side how it fares with the 30-300 cinema lens in terms of sharpness and colour rendition etc.
For getting the closeups in wildlife filming, we need long telephoto lenses. I will use my Canon 400mm f2.8 L IS USM lens with teleconverters. One can use other telephoto lenses as well like the 500mm f4, 600mm f4 as well as the yet to be launched EF 200-400 f4 L IS USM lens.
I think it would be good if the non-L series EF lenses are not pushed to the extreme for eg against bright back lighting conditions certain lenses show purple fringing.
A note of caution while using the Canon EF lenses. These lenses are designed to give you the fastest autofocus. hence the focus throw is very less. While filming, one needs to focus manually and when you are using the EF lenses a very slight turn and you the image becomes out of focus. A number of lenses also breathe a lot.
Canon Cinema lenses:
The 1D C due to its large 35mm sensor size is only compatible with the Canon Cinema Prime lenses. The Cinema zoom lenses are meant to cover the Super 35mm and hence won’t work with the 1D C.
At the moment, Canon has announced a series of Cinema Prime lenses:
Canon CN-E 24mm T1.5 L F Cine Lens (5220 USD)
If you need to shoot in that low light, this is the lens. Photographers used to the Canon’s L series lenses know that they use a 8 blade circular aperture for nice bokeh. This lens uses 11 blades. So the aperture would be as circular as can be imagined. The result beautiful bokeh. Quickly this lens will become a most sought after lens by filmmakers. The diaphragm ring is silky smooth and stepless as is expected from a cinema lens. The weight is 1.12kgs. I expect this to be equally good for still photography as it is for filming.
One can clearly see the precise markings in this lens.
Canon CN-E 50mm T1.3 L F Cine Lens (4950 USD)
If you want to do filming in really low light, then this lens will come in handy with its T1.3 aperture. It too has 11 blade circular aperture for beautiful bokeh. As expected in a cinema lens, it has got 300 deg barrel rotation. This is slightly cheaper and lighter as well and weighs 1.1kgs.
Canon CN-E 85mm T1.3 L F Cine Lens (4950 USD)
This lens too has the same design philosophy as the previous two cinema prime lenses and has 11 blade circular aperture. It again has got that amazing low light capability with the T1.3 aperture. It weighs at 1.3 kgs.
Third Party Lenses:
The other lenses that will work with the 1D C at 4K are the third party lenses like Zeiss etc which were manufactured for the older 35 mm film cameras. So one can use with adapters the various Leica, Nikon, Hasselblad lenses to name a few.
Zeiss Lenses for Canon EOS 1D C:
Zeiss has a range of ZE lenses which are meant for Canon EF mount. One can use those lenses. They have a very nice focus pull. Unlike the Canon EF lenses, the Zeiss lenses have a very nice manual focus ring and focus pulls can be smooth and filmic. The colour, contrast and details are also better in a number of cases, except in the few top notch L series lenses which are built for demanding situations. Though I would go for the 24mm Cinema lens (Canon CN-E24mm T1.5 L F Cine lens) as that is the focal length I mostly use, if I need wider, then i would go for the Zeiss Distagon T* f2.8 21mm ZE lens.
The Zeiss Distagon T* f/2.8 21mm ZE Lens is meant for EF mount and has the famous Carl Zeiss T* anti-reflection coating that helps in colour accuracy and high contrast images without colour fringing.
Zeiss recently announced two lenses which can work with Full Frame sensor of the Canon EOS 1D C. The Zeiss CP.2 25mm T/2.1 and Zeiss CZ.2 28-80 T/2.9
Zeiss CP.2 25mm T/2.1:
These lenses have the standard focus rotation angle of 300 degrees.
According to Zeiss “Our optical experts have virtually eliminated the chromatic aberrations on these lenses through a special design and selection of materials. We can now offer a constant max T-Stop of 2.1 for all of our CP.2 lenses in the focal length range of 25-135mm.” This gives users even more possibilities to compose their images and requires less effort with the lighting. The biggest advantage on set is that the light does not have to be adapted when switching lenses because they all have the same F-Stop. The lens speed is ideal for playing with the depth-of-field.
The Zeiss CP.2 25mm T/2.1 is likely to be available from 1st of October at a price of 4500 USD.
Zeiss CZ.2 28-80 T/2.9:
This lens is a pretty expensive lens and is not expected to be bought by the individual users in large numbers. It will cost a whooping 19,900 USD. This lens is 196 millimeters long and weighs 2.5 kg. According to Zeiss “The Carl Zeiss T* anti-reflective coating ensures maximum contrast and color rendition by minimizing stray light and ghosting within the lens. The Compact Zoom CZ.2 lenses delivers flare- free results and has no focus shift over the whole zoom range.”
Zeiss Duclos Mod Lenses:
There are a few Zeiss ZE lenses offered by Duclos which are modified and would fit in the Canon EOS 1D C. Duclos offers a package of Zeiss ZF.2 lenses at 9200 USD. This includes the following lenses along with the Zeiss box:
50mm f2.0 macro
This modification is about 3000 USD higher than the price of the Zeiss ZF.2 lenses. Remember, the ZF set is actually meant for Nikon, but Duclos does the modification for Canon mount.
Before you start screaming at me for giving a list of a few cinema lenses with “obscene” pricing, I would like to remind you that these lenses are not your day to day still photo lenses. These are cinema lenses buit to exacting standards. The quality of the glass is very good and there is no variation between lenses. There will always be a quantum jump in price when the quality of the cinema lenses increases. The accuracy of the markings in the cinema lenses are to be seen to be believed and it will help a trained focus puller as well as an untrained one in setting marks for focusing. When you focus your lens, in most of the cheaper and lower quality lenses the image jumps as well as breathe means zoom in or out a bit. Where as in Cinema lenses you will be able to do smooth focus pulls. It is also a fact that the cinema lenses are sold in quantities much lower than the still photo lenses. So economies of scale would play atleast a small role here.
If you have any questions about Filming in 4K with the EOS 1D C, then ask me in the comments below and I will respond to that.
You can follow the link below to buy the Canon EOS 1Dc from B&H, at no extra cost to you and help run this site.
You can buy the Canon Cinema Lenses by following this link from B&H:
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