Still Lenses That Can Grace The Big Screen

On the still lens front, you have a variety of options. I am addressing this topic from a 40 foot screen digital projection perspective, not a still photography one.





Zeiss ZE primes rock. Their resolution is spectacular and they are lightweight. Their focus is a little more cinematic than a Canon or a Nikon, so it gives your focus puller a chance.


The lenses do breathe, which means they zoom in or zoom out when you rack focus. This aesthetic bothers some people so you should see if you like it and or can deal with it.




EF 35mm

Canon L Series 35mm

EF 85mm

Canon L Series 85mm

Canon L Series Primes deliver very beautiful, sharp images. They do not resolve as well as the Zeiss primes, so you will lose a little detail and color gradation choices in post. If you are fine with that, then the Canon primes are a great choice. Their zooms are not as sharp as the primes and they don’t hold contrast as well.


Canon L Lenses

Canon L Series Lenses

The Canon EF lenses cannot hold up on the big screen. I used them on the first two shooting days of the Navy SEAL movie, Act of Valor, and they were just plain soft. When I went into color correction, I was not able to have the full range of detail of the 8 BIT compressed color space that I had with the L series or the Nikons. Canon lenses also have one tricky issue: the endless focus wheel. It is amazing for a still photographer but not a trained focus puller. Companies like Zacuto have put lens stops on their zip gears to try and correct the problem but it is still something to contend with.



Nikkor 28mm

Nikon AI Series 28 mm


Nikon AI Series 50 mm

Nikon glass delivers well with the AI series. They were the cream of the crop back in the late 1970s and early 1980s and still are in my book. They deliver images just like the Zeiss in contrast but the glass has a warmer tone. However, their focus range is short like the Canons.




Leica 1:2.8

Leica 35 mm R Series

I tested Leica and found that they delivered beautiful contrast and color throughout.  They felt the closest to the Panavision Primo Primes and had more of a cinema focus throw, even more than the Zeiss ZE primes. These lenses resolve so well on the big screen.




50 mm Hasselblad Medium Format

150 mm Hasselblad Medium Format

Hasselblad medium format lenses were very interesting on the 5D. It had the same contrast and color of the Zeiss ZE Primes. You need to check it out. They have an amazing cinema focus throw, but  breathe like the Zeiss. I like the large focus markings and the weight. They felt really nice on my Red Rock Micro shoulder rig.  As long as you feel comfortable shooting above a 4.0, these lenses are a great choice.


With all of the lens options out there, these are still just tools. The story and the characters are KING! These players all have a back story that never makes it to the screen, but it is the thread, the tapestry that binds the film.  Find that thread, follow it to dream and create your next work of art!!!!

  1. Robert Anthony 5 years ago

    Shane, wonderful blog.

    I’m switching to Zeiss ZE Lenses for shooting short films, commercials & music videos on my 5D Mark II.

    The first two lenses are the Zeiss 50mm F/2 Makro-Planar ZE & 100mm F/2 Makro-Planar ZE.

    I need help selecting the best Zeiss ZE wide angle for video.

    The Zeiss 21mm F/2.8 is one of the best lenses in existence for still photos on a Canon body, but the distortion (sides curving inward) worries me for video, especially with people in the shot.

    The 28mm & 35mm ZE’s have less distortion and are faster at F/2 than the 21mm, but they don’t have the same amazing 3D quality of the 21mm.

    What do you think would be the best choice if I can only afford one of them?

    Thanks. Robert

    • Author
      Shane 5 years ago

      Robert Anthony, I am so glad that you like the blog, The ZE’s are pretty kick ass. I feel the 21mm bends even more than the 18mm ZE, but for wide angle lenses I feel the 28mm is plenty wide for HD. That is equal to a 18mm on a 35mm Motion Picture camera. That Vista Vision sensor gives you a pretty wide view. I say 28mm unless you want wider, then I would go 18mm. It does not resolve as well as the 21mm but I feel it is flatter. You are welcome.

  2. Alan 5 years ago

    @wei. The APO-Summicron-R 90 ASPH is a great lens, but I agree that the flaring with Leica lenses is still a problem. I was initially a big fan of the Summicron-R 35/2.0 which is flare resistant even into direct sunlight, but with more experience it’s pretty clear that it has a lot of veiling when the light is just outside the frame and hits the lens at the correct angle. In the right conditions, I still like the Leica lenses very much given their contrast/color character, but the Zeiss lenses are much more resistant.

    I think part of what gives Leica it’s unique look is the low number of elements but possibly less impressive coatings. Also important to consider is the barrel design. I suspect Leica’s passion for making lenses *tiny* hurts them here because of the greater impact of reflections off the barrel. Mechanically, the focus throw on the Leica is a lot better than the Zeiss and you can also easily modify them to have clickless aperture rings.

    The 35/50/90 setup makes for a nice set of lenses though. Add the 100 macro and you have a versatile setup that can easily travel. If you need wider, the 1994+ era 28/2.8 fits on the 5D2.

    I don’t know if Leica’s flaring is “cool” or not, but it’s certainly beautiful when used judiciously. The loss of contrast is counteracted by reduced aperture flaring (from fewer lens elements). I think it gives the viewer the feeling of squinting to deal with the bright sun as opposed to something that is too technically perfect. You can use this as its own special effect the same way Daniel Mindel shot the new Star Trek.
    @C&Y. Zeiss has gone on record to say that the 50 and 85mm ZF lenses are very similar to the Contax versions. The ZF is supposed to have more circular aperture blades and improved flare resistance. Probably changes to the internal baffling and barrel rather than just coating alone. They definitely have similar resolving power and contrast.

    The problem with Contax lenses is the difficulty with adapting the lens. Even though there’s no glass in the way, variations in the thickness of the adapter have significant consequences:
    (not my test).

    If you have an existing set of Contax lenses, it’s cheap and easy to go with them. If budget was a non-issue, I’d go with the new ones. The 21mm is supposed to be very similar but I haven’t tested it. Very sharp lens although there is moustache distortion which people don’t like in both the new and old versions. The 18mm is a brand new design; also the 18 f/4 doesn’t fit reliability on Canon cameras.

    @Shane: Which Leica lenses did you test? The 24mm that you have a picture of is actually a Minolta design which Leica licensed and then manufactured to their tolerances. ;)

    In your world, do you still think there’s a role for adapting still lenses to the 5D when you now have true cinema housed lenses for the EF mount?

    Also, have you tried the IB/E Cine-Xenars? Those cover the full 5D frame and seem to be better and cheaper than the CP.2’s.

    • Author
      Shane 5 years ago

      Alan, wow, I have to say I am overwhelmed with all this amazing information. Thank you so much for your wealth of data. I am not very happy with the CP2’s. All they are is ZE glass with a big barrel. Period, the end, not worth paying another 2000.00 a lens for the same glass. The Schneider Optics lenses I have not tested, but seem in all of the online data to be better. I will do some more research and get back to you when I have more time to digest this info. Thanks again for everything and your support of this platform.

  3. Richard Andrews 5 years ago

    Hi Shane

    Over the years I have built up quite a large collection of prime lenses from my work as a photographer:

    Olympus Zuiko
    24mm 2.8 | 28mm 3.5 | 35mm 2.0 | 50mm 1.4 | 50mm 1.8 | 85mm 2.0

    Pentax Super-Takumar
    35mm 2.0 | 50mm 1.4 | 85mm 1.9

    Pentax SMC
    35mm 2.0 | 50mm 1.4 | 85mm 1.8

    Carl Zeiss (Contax Mount)
    28mm 2.8 | 50mm 1.4 | 85mm 1.4 | 135mm 2.8 £227

    In your opinion will none of these sets work with the Mk2 for footage other than that for the web?!

    Regards from England, Richard

  4. Andrew Howe 5 years ago

    Very interested in your comments on the CP2s. I had been giving the Zeiss lenses some consideration after struggling with my Canon photo lenses. One thing that had been worrying me about the ZE’s was that the loss of the aperture ring meant you might get locked in to Canon. I have 2 Canon DSLRs already (5D2&550D) but everything is evolving so fast it makes me a little nervous. Although, they are more expensive (and as an amateur, thats not insignificant) I was wondering if they were perhaps still a better long term investment?

    How do the CP2s handle when not on rods, are they usable handheld or for stills?

    Regards Andy, UK

    • Author
      Shane 5 years ago

      Andrew Howe, I was not impressed with them. They are the exact same glass as the ZE’s but when I put them up on the projector at Panavision the ZE’s blew away the CP2’s. So why spend the money. What you are paying for is the housing. So I would either have a permanent 32 pitch gear ring put on or buy the Red Rocks’s that increase the diameter of the lens. Move you focus witness mark to the side and then P-touch your footage marks on the side of the lens so that your focus puller can see and you are batting a 1000. I would wait to the dust settles. I am loving my new set of Canon L series I just bought. After “The Last 3 Minutes” where I had to use them for the joint venture with Canon, I found the 50,85, and 100mm Macro rocked.

  5. Frank Glencairn 5 years ago

    If anybody wants to see more examples, I updated my article on “Vintage Zeiss glass on modern cameras” with some screengrabs of a feature film I shot recently (Indiana Jones and the Spear of Destiny). Thou I used “only” an HVX200 and an LEX 35mm adapter, the images look great in the theater.


    • Author
      Shane 5 years ago

      Frank Glencairn, thank yo so much for sharing. I love the stills from the Indiana Jones motorcycle leap. Love the de-saturated, lower contrast look.

  6. John David Wynne 5 years ago

    I’m looking for a decent still lens zoom that doesn’t change stop as you go up the barrel. Any recommendations? I Have an old 2.8 16mm 12-120mm Angeniux that I shot my first film with and I’ve been toying with the idea of getting PL mount adapter for my camera because I love that thing.


    • Author
      Shane 5 years ago

      John David Wynne, all the still zoom lenses suck. My advice is to get a PL mount 7D and rock out the cinema zooms, those are the only ones that resolve.

  7. Andrew Howe 5 years ago

    Thanks for the reply. I was hoping that someone would bring a CP.2 to Converge.2 in London but there were none to be seen. Quite a few ZE’s to try though – such a nice, precision feel takes me back to a bygone age. Canon did have most of their range there to try. Most of my lenses were bought originally for stills and my only L’s are zooms. I have the 50f1.4 and the 85f1.8 so was looking to upgrade those last. I was looking to get something at the wide end and the 28mm Zeiss now looks favorite (despite having lustful thoughts for the 21mm). I had a play with the Canon 100mm f2.8L IS macro and liked it. I’ve heard lots of nice things about it from numerous sources now.


    • Author
      Shane 5 years ago

      Andrew Howe, The CP2’s are not anything to write home about. It is the exact same glass as the ZE’s. For 3 times the price. Just to be housed in a large barreled lens that is giving soft centers and edges on the 18,21,25mm lenses. Sorry I am not buying. Keeping my 4 sets of ZE’s and loving it, then I go to Duclos lenses in Chatsworth, CA and they put a precision 32 pitch gear ring on the lens and a 77mm ring on the front for one standard diameter for your filtration.

  8. Frank Glencairn 5 years ago

    Here is some more “character lens” food from a commercial shot I did yesterday.

    Vintage (1960s) Zeiss medium format primes.
    80/2.8 and 200/2.8 Camera, HVX200/LEX

    I call that “lens character” Zeiss-Buttersharp, thou the JPEG compression and the LEX is softing them. On a 5D MKII they would look even better.


  9. Emmanuel Plak 5 years ago

    I have recently purchased a number of Contax mount zeiss primes. They were made in Germany 20 years ago, so they might be better than the new ZF/ZE breed which is out scorched in Japan. Apart of Duclos which is in LA, do you know any European house to do cine conversions for this particular lenses?

  10. John Said 5 years ago


    If you were putting togther a dream set of prime and zoom EF-mount lenses, what whould your choices be out the current Zeiss ZE and the Canon L-series offerings?

    Thanks for your advise

    • Author
      Shane 5 years ago

      John Said, I would go for the 24,35,50,85,100 macro,135, 200, 300mm L Series Canon lenses. All the most current glass being the USM II and the lowest f-stop, 1.2,1.4, etc. On the zoom front the 70-200 IS USM II, is probably their best. ALl the wide ones are not that good. You are welcome

  11. Ivar Edding 5 years ago

    Hello Shane!

    Thank you for having this blog! I’ve been here a lot lately, and ever since you appeared on the Red Centre podcast, I’ve been a fan.
    Actually that very podcast convinced me to take the plunge into dslr film making, and since I’m not on the highest budget, I wonder if you could give me some comments on the kit I’m thinking of getting:
    – 7D body
    – Zeiss ZE 85mm
    – Canon 50/1.4 (I’d love the 1.2, but it’s pricey)
    – Leica Elmarit 24/2.8

    If you have the time, I’d love to hear your comments on this starter kit of mine.

    Best wishes from Sweden!

  12. NormanBates 5 years ago

    I’d love to have someone else’s opinion on those vintage zeiss jena lenses that frank mentioned

    with all the photo guys getting rid of them because of their lack of autofocus, they seem like a really good deal… if they are any good

    at a minimum, they should be better than anything you can get for under $500, but still, I’d like to hear more about them

  13. NormanBates 5 years ago

    (in particular, I worry about flare, which seems to be really horrible, and corner sharpness, which is also quite bad in some of the sample pictures I’ve seen)

  14. Max 5 years ago

    Hi Shane,

    okay here is the deal. So I am a student and I saved a lot of money for my Canon 5D, but it was 100% worth it. For now I am borrowing lenses. Still not sure what lens to get, the Zeiss ZE sound awesome, but they are really expensive compared the Nikon AI ones. So would you recommend saving 3-4k euros to buy a stock of Zeiss ZE primes or would you recommend spending about 1,5k for good old Nikons AI? Greets from Germany

    • Author
      Shane 5 years ago

      Max, go with the Nikon AI, they never disappoint, as long as you spend $140.00-$200.00 on your Nikon to Canon adapter. Novoflex or Fotodiox on the mount.

  15. Alex D. 5 years ago

    Hi Shane, thanks again for your great blog. I’ve been searching and can’t seem to find an answer to this question – you say that the 7D and 5D mark II footage holds up well on a large movie screen, but I’m curious if you’ve seen it projected while intercut with footage from the RED camera. I’ll be shooting a feature film in about a month, and the director would like to use the 7D on select scenes (we have free access to the 7D, which is why we would go with that over the 5D) while shooting the rest of the film on the RED camera. I think its a great idea, but I am nervous to give the okay because if they end up projecting the film on a large screen, I want the 7D footage to hold up well and be indistinguishable from the RED footage. I know they can cut together well in a smaller format (I have done it myself on some music videos), but I’m worried that the differences in resolution/compression will be more pronounced once we see it on a large screen.

    Unfortunately we don’t have the money or resources to test, and so I’m reaching out to the experts!!!

    Thanks for all your help,

    Alex Disenhof
    (Emerson Alum!)

    • Author
      Shane 5 years ago

      Alex D., I have never cross cut the two because I am not a big fan of the RED. So if you are worried about the 7D looking better then the RED footage, that will be your issue not the other way around. The compression is your friend. Do not look for clean, crisp, uncompressed HD, because that looks like video, which looks bad. The 5D and 7D look like “Digital Film.” The compression softens the edge of the hyper sharp HD and makes skin tones and faces look amazing, unlike all the other HD platforms. I have seen “The Last 3 Minutes on a 40′ screen and it will blow you away. I probably did not answer your question.

  16. Didier Clermont 5 years ago

    Thank you for providing such an informative blog to all of us DSLR Users Shane, you really really inspired me to express my ideas visually you the reason I picked-up a camera. Your last piece “The Last 3 Minutes” is so cinematic and at the same time organic, blew me away that it was achieved it on the 5D. Got couple questions for you Shane would appreciate it if you reply back, should I buy Zeiss ZE 21mm, or 18mm? How do you keep your images so in focus with the 5D? cause I know how hard it is to focus and finally I read that the Zeiss ZF mounts are better for shoot with than the ZE ones what’s your input on that? Thank you once again hoping on hearing back from you.

    Didier Clermont

    • Author
      Shane 5 years ago

      Didier Clermont, first I want to thank you so much for those kind words. I really think I have cracked this egg and want to share everything that I have learned with you. The 21mm ZE is the best lens Zeiss makes. ZF vs. ZE, I can tell you that every time that you use an adapter to affix a lens to a camera you are compromising, unless you spend upwards around $140.00-200.00 a mount. So I feel that the ZE are very good. The reason I am able to keep it in focus is because of my amazing Elite Team focus pullers, Darin Necessary, Derek Edwards and Marc Margulies. These guys make me shine everyday. They have Zen focus abilities. I also use a Bartech remote follow focus to help in their quest.

  17. Didier Clermont 5 years ago

    Thank you for replying back so promptly Shane appreciate it your answers really helped, I’m getting the 21mm Zeiss next week. My goal now is to learn more about lighting, and the Coloring process any tips? example like software ect… cause your colors are vibrant and pops. I’m sorry if I’m asking so many question Shane I’m so eager the learn the little bit I can get from you, cause you pioneered this revolution. Lastly if possible can you critic my first video ever and it’s a music video, shot entirely on a T2i I know!!! bad choice of camera ( Just got my 5D it’s been a week now, all my new shoots will be shot on it. Hope to hear from you again shane take care.

    Didier Clermont

  18. NormanBates 5 years ago

    I have also seen a lot of awful RED footage that looks freakishly wrong, but, very, very modestly (my eyes are not as well trained as yours, by far) I also think there’s some RED stuff out there that looks great

    like Vincent Laforet’s suggestion from a couple of weeks back, “the secret in their eyes” (great story, great movie; shot on RED with a very modest budget; I think it also looks great)

    • Author
      Shane 5 years ago

      NormanBates, It is not the tool, but the person behind it that makes it look amazing. RED, F-35, Canon 5D, Kodak, etc., if the story transports you and the performances engage you, then it really doesn’t matter what platform they were captured on.

  19. Ivar Edding 5 years ago

    Hello again Shane!
    I’m still looking forward to hearing your thoughts on my previous post, but I thought I’d be more specific and rephrasing my questions.
    Would I do better in getting the 85mm Zeiss ZE and a Leica Elmarit 24mm, or a 21mm ZE and maybe a Leica 85mm?
    Also, as you mention above the importance of getting a high quality adapter for non EF lenses, is this as crucial for the Leica R lenses as well? If so, what adapters would you recommend?
    Thank you for you time Shane, best wishes.

    Ivar Edding

    • Author
      Shane 5 years ago

      Ivar Edding, I would go all Leica, or all Zeiss ZE. The mix will be a little funky because they are very different in color tone, and contrast. The best Leica adapter would be Novoflex. You are welcome.

  20. Didier Clermont 5 years ago

    Shane do you still Shoot 30fps on the 5D even with the 24fps update & Twixtor it back to 24fps by frame blending, I was just listening to all your podcast great info I felt your passion keep it up.

    Didier Clermont

    • Author
      Shane 5 years ago

      Didier Clermont, I am shooting 24p now because of the post time limitations. Everyone wants the edit yesterday and the rendering time for twixtor is debilitating.

  21. Didier Clermont 5 years ago

    Thank you so much Shane you the man, I forgot to mention that if you ever needed music composition, or music soundtracks for your videos my music production team is at your service free of charge. Lastly if you need an extra hand on your set, a water boy whatever it maybe Shane I’m there just wanna learn from the best there is. thank you once again for your time and for replying.

    Didier Clermont

    • Author
      Shane 5 years ago

      Didier Clermont, wow!!!, thank you so much for all of that. I will take you up on that when I have my next project. Thank you for those kind words, they mean a lot to someone who works everyday about 15 hours and then comes back to my hotel room and talks with all of you and then gets back up at 6am and does it all over again. I am in Oklahoma directing a Case Tractor commercial and loving it.

  22. Didier Clermont 5 years ago

    No Shane thank you!!! after all your achievements & accolades you still put the time in to help the little guys that shows your character. You can take me up on what I said about the music composition/soundtracks & also being the water boy on set here are all my info: (203) 570-0774 [email protected] just in case if you ever needed me lol… take care.

    Didier Clermont

  23. Ivar Edding 5 years ago

    I agree with Didier, I’m awestruck by your generosity and commitment the put your knowledge out to the public, to us little guys.
    Thank you, and keep it up!
    Ivar Edding

    • Author
      Shane 5 years ago

      Ivar Edding, thank you for your kind words and support, first of you are not little, you are all fueling this revolution and I will always be there for you, keep pushin’.

  24. Paul Harrill 5 years ago

    Hi Shane –

    Thank you for the tremendous resource that you provide to all of us filmmakers sorting the facts from the fiction with the DSLR filmmaking revolution. I have a question:

    You write that “The Canon EF lenses cannot hold up on the big screen. I used them on the first 2 shooting days of the Navy SEAL movie and they were just plain soft.”

    Can you be a little more specific? I’ve heard that the 50mm 1.4 EF prime is actually very, very sharp. (Other EF’s, maybe, not so much.) So I’m curious if you were using it and had softness issues with it too.

    Thanks again for your willingness to share!

    Paul Harrill

    • Author
      Shane 5 years ago

      Paul Harrill, EF lenses suck!!! If they are L series then I will tell you that they are great from a 35mm up. My tests have shown that the EF lenses will not resolve like the L series.

  25. BigMike 5 years ago

    Shane, thanks for sharing your experiences — it’s invaluable to us out there…

    One question:

    If you were to pick only 3 of the Zeiss ZE’s, which would you pick?

    • Author
      Shane 5 years ago

      BigMike, ON A 5D 21m,28MM,50MM, 85MM, SORRY you need to buy four.

  26. Marcos 5 years ago

    Hi Shane, I recently saw “the last three minutes”, wow, astonding, really excellent job, also I have had read this article, very useful to me, thank you very much, now I am your fan.

    I have to do a little film on this year, and I want shots like you did in “the last three minutes”, could you tell me what kind of grip did you used to hold the camera on a helmet? was it dificult?

    I hope you can help me with this.

    I have a Canon T2i, Zeiss ZE 21mm, 50mm and a Contax 28-85mm. I bought this kit thanks to you.

    Thank you very much.

    • Author
      Shane 5 years ago

      Marcos, I want to thank you so much for your comments about “The Last 3 Minutes.” I used a Doggicam helmet cam. They had just come out with this system and wanted to try it out. It mounts very close to the eye which I like. I am glad that I could help in any way. You are very welcome

  27. John David Wynne 5 years ago

    Hello again Shane,
    I’m loving all of the making of videos, thanks for sharing so much with all of us shlubs. What do you think about the 21mm Zeiss still? I’m considering that or the 28mm and I’m always on a budget, what would you recommend of the two? Thanks, as always.

  28. lawrence 5 years ago

    hey shane have a quick question. are all the old nikon primes usuable and show great on the big screen or just the ai series. thanx.

    • Author
      Shane 5 years ago

      lawrence, all Nikon lenses will work, it just seems that Nikon was making the best glass during the AI and AI-S time period. There quality control went down hill once the pro-sumer took hold in the mid 80’s.

  29. BigMike 5 years ago

    Thanks for the reply, Shane. Your advice is invaluable to lots of people like me!!!!

    Regarding 5D, your recommendation is a 21m,28MM,50MM, 85MM…

    what about for the 550D which has a smaller sensor…?

    • Author
      Shane 5 years ago

      BigMike, you are very welcome, the 550D is not happening. The 5D is king, if that is out of your price range than I would go for the 7D.

  30. Paulie 5 years ago

    Shane, I’m going to clobber you!! Just when I thought I was done spending money on lenses, you come along with this FANTASTIC article explaining the real deal. Seriously, thanks for taking the time to write this. My 16-35mm L is fine for stills, because I can fix everying in post, but for video I’ve been dismayed. Looks like the 16-35mm and 24-70mm are hitting eBay soon, to be replaced with a couple ZE’s. I’m real happy with the new 100mm IS Macro and 70-200/2.8. ANYWAY, we couldn’t get this type of insider pro info without the big guns like you posting it, and you’re really under no obligation to take the time to write it, so a huge thanks for doing it!

  31. BigMike 5 years ago

    Thanks bigtime, Shane!!

    Your blog rocks!!!!

    • Author
      Shane 5 years ago

      BigMike, you are very welcome. Thanks for the kudos.

  32. Andy 5 years ago

    Shane, long time reader, 1st time posting.
    Just wanted to thank you for your incredible insight and sharing your invaluable knowledge and experiences with everyone, you might not know but there are may who really appreciate your work and especially your awesome attitude.

    And a quick question regarding Zeiss ZE series, noticed that you mentioned 21, 28, 50 and 85 but not the 35mm, we’re going to shoot a feature film with the ZE series on a 5DMKII and was wondering if you had any experince with the 35 and how it would hold up compared to the 28?
    I’ve heard from you and others that the Zeiss WA lenses seem to have the best quality, but we can’t go any wider than the 28 due to possible distortion of the edges of the frame. Any feedback would be much appreciated.

    • Author
      Shane 5 years ago

      Andy, i want to thank you so much for all of those kind words. Yes I love the 35mm lens. It is very good and will serve you well. The ZE lenses are good, but so are the Leica R mounts. I have been shooting with them on 2 commercials and love the look, they do not breathe like the Zeiss. It takes a while to acquire those babies though. If you would like a list of the best Leica lenses tell me and I will pass it onto you.

  33. Ross 5 years ago

    Hi Shane, I would also be very interested hear about your favourite Leicas.

    • Author
      Shane 5 years ago

      Ross, I will email you all of my favorites.

  34. Will 5 years ago

    Which Leica primes would you recommend for the 7D? They seem to be quite a bit less expensive than the Zeiss lenses. Also, would you recommend the Leica over the Nikon AI series?


    • Author
      Shane 5 years ago

      Will, I will email you the list of what I assembled as well as all the links that helped me do it.

  35. keidrych wasley 5 years ago

    Hi Shane,

    Really interested to read your Leica list. Please could you send it to me also.?
    Thanks so much for your efforts and openness.

  36. Jeff 5 years ago

    Shane, I would love if you could e-mail me that list of your favorite Leica lenses and where you got them as well. I have a Canon 7D and am looking at getting some high quality glass.

  37. Kyle Nolan 5 years ago

    Hi Shane,

    Like everyone else I truly appreciate your dedication to all aspiraring film makers. I am also very interested in the leica list, could you send it to me?

  38. Andy 5 years ago

    Hi Shane, thanks so much for the feedback regarding the Zeiss 35mm.

    If you could kindly let me know what Leica R lenses would be suitable for the big screen we’d much appreciate it.

    Thanks again for all your wonderful tips.

  39. David 5 years ago

    Shane, also interested in your Leica list. Thanks Shane!

  40. Jeff 5 years ago

    I just want to say thanks to you Shane for all of the information and inspiration. I know you’re busy but I want you to know how me much we all appreciate you sharing your knowledge and experience. I got your Leica list, thanks so much again.

    • Author
      Shane 5 years ago

      Jeff, Thank you so much for those kind words, no problem anytime. You are very welcome.

  41. William 5 years ago

    Come on, you just can’t say that the Canon primes are that bad. The differences between the Zeiss and the Canon are subtle, with a slight advantage over the Zeiss. But you can’t pretend to have lore problems with color grading when using Canon L primes ! You are talking about the 8-bit compression but it has nothing to do with the choice of the lens. You won’t have a better latitude of color grading when using a Zeiss lens. That is simply not true.

    • Author
      Shane 5 years ago

      William, the Canon EF primes suck, period. The Zeiss ZE kick the shit out of them. Now the L series hold up very well and I have been incredibly impressed with there resolving power even more so than the Zeiss on the big screen. The glass is everything. The better the glass, the better the image, the better the resolving power and the more latitude you will have in post. You have your point of view and I respect that.

  42. Ivar Edding 5 years ago

    Shane, wow that list of Leica R’s sounds like a gem. I would be real happy if you found the time to quickly email it to me as well.

    Thank you!!

    • Author
      Shane 5 years ago

      Ivar Edding, Because of the amazing interest in the set of Leica’s, I just posted a blog for all of my colleagues to enjoy.

  43. Haavard 5 years ago

    Hi Shane,

    I would very much appreciate to see that Leica R-list.

    Keep up the marvellous work!

    • Author
      Shane 5 years ago

      Haavard, I just posted a blog about them for all of my colleagues to see. Thank for your support

  44. David 5 years ago

    Thank you Shane! And thanks for the blog. The best out there.

    • Author
      Shane 5 years ago

      David, Thank you so much for those kind words, it means a lot. You all rock!!!

  45. Hans 5 years ago

    Hi Shane, I’ve become very curious for your Leica R-list. Would you be so kind to email it to me? If you’re ever in the Netherlands I’ll buy you a cup of coffee (or two)!

    • Author
      Shane 5 years ago

      Hans. My list of Leica lenses is on the Leica blog below. I would love that cup of coffee. Thank you so much for your support.

      • Sico 3 years ago

        In that case, ill bring the pie when your visting the Netherlands ;)
        Have you ever used the Contax Zeiss series Shane?
        I’ve been using them for a while now and love the feeling they produce!

  46. Robb 5 years ago

    Hi Shane, thanks for the great site and thanks so much for your openness and sharing your hard earned information with us! Just a quick question if I may.. I am planning on buying either the Canon 50mm f1,2L or the Zeiss 50mm f1.4 ZE and I just wanted to know if you were faced with this choice and could only choose one, which one you would choose? I am after sharpness and the best resolving power.. Cheers mate

  47. Sage 5 years ago

    Shane, great work on everything you’re doing in the DSLR world. I met you at NAB and you stoked me out with some amazing advice, really gave me a paradigm shift on DSLR image acquisition. I’m getting ready to move forward with a set of Zeiss primes. I keep debating between the ZE’s and the ZF’s which I would have modded at Duclos. I like the idea of the lenses being future proof and having manual control over the iris via the lens. But the added play in the lens mount via the adapter really worries me. I’ve tried both styles and I feel like the ZE’s are much more solid as they were made for Canon systems which is what I would primarily using the glass for. I notice you’re one of the few who hypes the ZE’s. Hows your experience been and why have you chosen to go in that direction rather than the ZE’s? Thanks man! You rock!

    • Author
      Shane 5 years ago

      Sage, First off I want to thank you for your kind words and support. It is great to hear from you again, yes I remember you at NAB. Both sets of lens are great. The future proof thing is always good to do. I have to say that after putting together this Leica set I am all about these lenses. Their contrast range matches the Primos perfectly and they are sharp. You can check out my list in the latest Leica Blog. I am veering. In the color correction bay the Zeiss are to contrasty. Losing wonderful detail in the shadow and the sky blows out quicker. I was just on this Amphibious Assault Destroyer this morning shooting Osprey’s taking off on the flight deck. I had a wide shot with the hot kick from the sun reflecting off the ocean, and two Ospreys in the FG. That Leica 19mm was able to hold both. I sent the Leica’s to Duclos and he fine tuned and de-clicked them so that you have your manual f-stop ring. You are very welcome and hope this helps. I keep on gravitating towards still lenses that I feel have the sharpness and contrast of the cinema lenses that I have been using to shoot all of my films.

  48. Sage 5 years ago

    *Oops, meant to say “Hows your experience been and why have you chosen to go in that direction (ZE) rather than the ZF’s?”


    • matt 3 years ago

      in this video caleb pike talks about using nikkor lenses on canon dlsr’s and has a very simple way to keep the adaptor from shifting. you may want to check it out.

  49. Samuel Hurtado 5 years ago

    just in case someone finds these comments section and is tempted to try out those vintage carls zeiss jena lenses that were mentioned above…

    I got some of these czj “zebra” lenses, and tested them against my other kit with my One Dollar Resolution Chart:

    it turns out:
    * the sharpness ranges from pretty decent (50 pancolar, 135 sonnar) to totally awful (35 flektogon), with mediocre in between (80 biometar)
    * it is not true that any medium format lens will be as sharp on the edges as in the center when mounted on a 1.6x crop camera (see biometar 80 at f/2.8 and f/3.5)
    * they breathe
    * they flare strongly, and extremely easily (hood or matte box, plus care when framing bright objects, absolutely mandatory)
    * some have a powerful color cast, which is not even consistent throughout the range

    on the plus side:
    * they’re totally manual, which is good for the long term (they will work on virtually all cameras, present and future, just changing the adapter, as long as the flange focal distance is not a problem)
    * they have a super-nice long-throw focus ring: even if they’re not sharper than my tamron 17-50, my shots come out sharper, because whith these I actually get things on focus, while with most stills modern lenses the focus ring allows so little movement that accurate manual focusing seems nearly impossible (for my very limited ability)
    * they are super-cheap, you can get the full range of primes, 20+35+50+80+135+180, with fotodiox pro adapters, for under $1200 (for full frame, there’s no cheaper path; for 1.6x crop, long-throw focus and manual aperture still make them interesting)

    disclaimer: this is just a hobby for me, so I’m mostly clueless and don’t have an idea of what I’m doing, but hey, the test seems ok to me

    • Greg Greenhaw 4 years ago

      Its not always about sharpness its about the overall look of the image. The zebra lenses produce a look that is very pleasing and filmic. I have a set of the Leica r’s 35/2 50/2 90/2.8 100/2.8 app but love the look of the zebra 180mm (field of view of a 270mm) and 80mm (field of view of a 120mm).

  50. tom 5 years ago

    I have just started experimenting with some of the different screw mount lenses from the past. I just bought a 55 f2 that is an amazing lens for 30 dollars. The best part is that they are all manual and have nice focus ring action. I would love to hear peoples thought on these lenses. Oh, remember they are only good for aps-c sensors.

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