Home LensesLens Tests XEEN Prime Lens Test: 24mm, 50mm, 85mm

XEEN Prime Lens Test: 24mm, 50mm, 85mm

written by Shane Hurlbut, ASC

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We’re going to compare the XEEN 24mm, 50mm, and 85mm lenses with the Canon CN-E, Zeiss CP.2, and our Cooke S4 lenses. All the lenses have the same exposure, and we put a Neutral Day Interior LUT on so we can see how the lenses vary in how they read color, bokeh, contrast, resolving power, and distortion. These are the specs of our test:

Specs of our test

Specs of our test

Testing the XEEN 24mm Lens:

Let’s compare the 24mm XEEN and 24mm Canon both wide open, at a T1.5. The Cooke wide open is a T2.0, and the Zeiss wide open is a T2.9, which aren’t close to the XEEN and Canon wide open.

24mm XEEN T1.5 and 24mm Canon T1.5

24mm XEEN T1.5 and 24mm Canon T1.5

Looking at the side by side, the Canon is handling the bokeh better, has less distortion, has more resolving power in the background, and also has less contrast. You can see the Canon having less contrast by looking at the gradation on the ground and the detail under the desk in the dark areas. With the 24mm XEEN wide open, there are more halations with the bokeh, so I wouldn’t shoot with this lens wide open unless you wanted that.

Now we’re going to stop down to around a T2 on the lenses and compare the 24mm XEEN, the 24mm Canon, and the 25mm Cooke. The Zeiss doesn’t stop down to around a T2, so let’s take a look to see how the other three lenses compare around this stop.

24mm XEEN T2 2/3, 24mm Canon T2, 25mm Cooke T2

24mm XEEN T2 2/3, 24mm Canon T2, 25mm Cooke T2

The 24mm XEEN set at a T2 2/3 has a bit more green tone, the 24mm Canon set at a T2 has more of a reddish yellow color, and the 25mm Cooke is more neutral in color with less contrast. The XEEN has more bend factor than the other two lenses, but the bokeh looks nice with all three lenses.

For this next part, we can bring the Zeiss back in because we set all four lenses to around a T2.8.

24mm XEEN T2.8 1/2, 24mm Canon T2.8, 25mm Zeiss, T2.9, 25mm Cooke T2.8

24mm XEEN T2.8 1/2, 24mm Canon T2.8, 25mm Zeiss, T2.9, 25mm Cooke T2.8

Looking at the 25mm Cooke, I’m noticing a star effect on the bokeh. A note about the Cookes with a digital sensor and bokeh – to get rounder bokeh with this lens you have to shoot with the lens wide open. Once you start to stop down, your bokeh starts to have more of that star effect and you can literally see the iris blades. The 25mm Cooke also has least contrast out of the four here, and the 24mm Canon and 24mm XEEN have very similar contrast when shot around this stop. The resolving power of the 24mm Canon seems a bit better than the others. The 25mm Zeiss has the most contrast and the most blue tones, and the 24mm XEEN holds cyan in the background and a has a greener tinge of color. The green can be dialed out with color correction, but the green color with the XEEN is like the lens’s own IR filter.

At a T5.6, there are still many of the same qualities we saw when the lenses were set at around a T2.8. Take a look at the comparison below.

24mm XEEN T5.6 1/4, 24mm Canon T5.6, 25mm Zeiss T5.6, 25mm Cooke, T4 6/10

24mm XEEN T5.6 1/4, 24mm Canon T5.6, 25mm Zeiss T5.6, 25mm Cooke, T4 6/10

Testing the XEEN 50mm Lens:

Now we’re going to compare the 50mm XEEN, 50mm Canon CN-E, 50mm Zeiss CP.2, and our 50mm Cooke S4 in the same situation with the same settings that we used to test our 24mm and 25mm lenses.

The 50mm XEEN and 50mm Canon both stop down to a T1.5, so we are going to see how those compare side by side at that stop first. Once we close down to around a T2, we’ll bring in the Zeiss and the Cooke.

50mm XEEN T1.5, 50mm Canon T1.5

50mm XEEN T1.5, 50mm Canon T1.5

Looking at the side by side of these two lenses wide open, the 50mm Canon looks a little more neutral in color, but the 50mm XEEN has a little less contrast. The Canon also makes Monette’s face more slender.

Moving on to the lenses set at around a T2, the 50mm Zeiss and 50mm XEEN are pretty nice. The Zeiss has a bit more purple in the background.

50mm XEEN T2, 50mm Canon T2, 50mm Zeiss 50mm T2.1, 50mm Cooke T2

50mm XEEN T2, 50mm Canon T2, 50mm Zeiss 50mm T2.1, 50mm Cooke T2

Stopping down further to around a T2.8, the 50mm Cooke and 50mm Zeiss seem like they’re pushing the background further away from Monette than the 50mm XEEN and 50mm Canon lens The 50mm Cooke takes the cake here with resolving power, but for a $2500 dollar lens, the XEEN is doing really well. The green color can be dialed away in color correction, and the background comes just a bit closer to Monette. The XEEN sweet spot is between a T2 and a T2.8 1/2. If you shoot this lens in that range, it will perform really well for you.

50mm XEEN T2.8 1/3, 50mm Canon T2.8, 50mm Zeiss T2.8 1/3, 50mm Cooke T2 3/4

50mm XEEN T2.8 1/3, 50mm Canon T2.8, 50mm Zeiss T2.8 1/3, 50mm Cooke T2 3/4

The same qualities apply when we set all the 50mm lenses to around a T4.

50mm Zeiss T4 2/3, 50mm Canon T4 2/3, 50mm Zeiss T4 2/3, 50mm Cooke T4 1/3

50mm Zeiss T4 2/3, 50mm Canon T4 2/3, 50mm Zeiss T4 2/3, 50mm Cooke T4 1/3

Testing the XEEN 85mm Lens:

Now we are going to move on to the 85mm lens, once again with the same control settings and compare this lens to the 85mm XEEN, 85mm Canon and 75mm Cooke.

Once again, we take a look at the 85mm XEEN and 85mm Canon side by side both wide open at a T1.5 because the Zeiss and Cooke don’t open to a T1.5. The 85mm Canon still has that quality of slimming the face to make her appear younger. The bokeh with the Canon is also more round, and the XEEN’s bokeh is more oval like an egg. I’m also seeing a bit more contrast with the Canon.

85mm XEEN T1.5, 85mm Canon T1.5

85mm XEEN T1.5, 85mm Canon T1.5

When the lenses are set to around a T2, the 75mm Cooke is the only one showing some stop sign effect with the bokeh.

85mm XEEN T2, 85mm Canon T4.2, 85mm Zeiss T2.1, 75mm Cooke T2

85mm XEEN T2, 85mm Canon T4.2, 85mm Zeiss T2.1, 75mm Cooke T2

Moving on to the lenses set to around a T4, with the 85mm Zeiss at a T41/3, we’re starting to see some of a star pattern with the bokeh. With the 75mm Cooke set at a T41/2, we are getting stop sign bokeh.

85mm XEEN T4 1/2, 85mm Canon T4 2/3, 85mm Zeiss T4 1/3, 75mm Cooke T4 1/2)

85mm XEEN T4 1/2, 85mm Canon T4 2/3, 85mm Zeiss T4 1/3, 75mm Cooke T4 1/2)

 

In conclusion, here are some general characteristics about the lenses:

  • XEEN: Makes her face wider, greener tonality, good bokeh, background drawn to us.
  • Canon: Makes her face more slender to make her look younger.
  • Zeiss: Widens Monette’s face a bit, cooler tonalities.
  • Cooke: Great resolving power in the background, pushes background away.

Technical Specs:

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2 comments

Stewart November 11, 2016 at 7:48 PM

G’day Shane, thanks for doing this properly comprehensive test!

Is that Cyan cast consistent across the entire range of Xeen models?
Watching the admittedly heavily compressed version on youtube, it looks like most viewers would never tell the difference between the Xeen, Zeiss and Canon lenses – it’s the sort of subtlety that it takes a trained eye to notice.
And sure, the Cookes are just amazing, but at around 1/10th the price, the Xeens look to be excellent value for money.

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Andrea February 25, 2017 at 8:43 PM

Thank you Shane for taking the time to do these tests and share them with us. Truly helpful.

I especially like your commentary on lens characteristics that are not apparent when looking at test charts or MTF measurements, e.g. depth rendition, colour tone and gradation, colour cast, contrast, out of focus transition and quality, etc…

I have to say, I’ve always been a fan of the Zeiss look (contrast, depth and tone) and can’t see myself getting the Xeen personally given the relatively small difference in price. However, I do appreciate that the flat look is popular now and can see the Xeen being quit successful if the build quality and reliability turns out to be good. Horses for courses.

I used to do a lot of these tests for myself when buying/trying out still lenses for my photography. I appreciate that with video/film it is even more time consuming. Thanks once again.

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