Full frame is the new darling of the cinematography world, but the larger frame means a lot of the glass we’ve been used to using just won’t cover. So the Hurlbut Visuals team and I have set out to see what lenses actually cover “Full Frame” and just how well they cover it and at what cost. For example, one of my favorite makers of glass is Cooke. Cooke’s full frame S7’s are beautiful – but heavy. That weight limits what I can get away with on gimbals, drones, or even my crazy “man-cam” type handheld shots.
(On set of Act of Valor)
On the flip side one of the lightest set of Cinema lenses I’ve ever come across are the Xeens. They’ve got an 8 lens set now that seems to keep expanding, and while they may not be Cooke S7’s or S4’s they sure stand their ground when put toe to toe, see for yourself in my previous reviews; 24mm, 50mm, 85mm – 14mm, 35mm – 135mm.
So you know me, I always like to push it to the limit and find the breaking point, haha! So what better way to find the breaking point of a lens than to stress test a set of lenses on the biggest, baddest, highest resolution sensor that’s out there? Bring on the RED Monstro.
We were really curious how the XEENs would perform on the RED Monstro Vista Vision, which is actually notably wider than typical full frame or Vista Vision frame sizes at 40.96mm vs 36mm for full frame, because the Xeens were originally made for just Super 35. So I tasked the HV team to go and find out. They set up the Monstro in the backyard and slapped some XEENS on!
(Image courtesy of Phil Holland, an excellent DP and reviewer in his own right)
Now, this setup is very simple but meaningful. We’re looking at two different skin tones, both in the shade and afternoon light. These are scenarios and colors we can all relate to working with. There is minimal light shaping happening in this test. Panning up shows off the lenses’ dimension, flare, and any apparent chromatic aberrations (purple fringing) which you’ll see in the dark leaves and branches against the bright sky.
Below I’ve written some select commentary on some of what I saw:
Coverage of the Xeen 14mm goes to 7K which is equivalent to Full Frame at about 36mm wide. There’s a very noticeable vignette wide open too.
Coverage goes to 8K HD which is really impressive for a lens this wide. I have to say too that the 16mm lens has a beautiful warmth to it.
Unfortunately for this test we only had a Mostro PL mount and not the full frame EF mount RED makes, so you’ll have to see our previous test here to see the 20mm. It’s a shame too because the 20mm might actually be my favorite lens from the set. It has full 8K coverage with little light fall off and pleasing sharpness.
Coverage on the 24mm goes to 8K HD. Some things to note with this video here: With the 24mm lens at a T8, using a ND 1.2 filter at ISO 800, there’s a slight hint of red orbs. It’s not from the lens, but rather the RED Monstro’s Standard OLPF. Use the Skin Tone Highlight filter if you’re going to stop down past T8. Also, with the 24mm lenses at a T4, using a ND 1.8, there are internal reflections on the Tiffen Natural NDs. With a sensor this big and a lens this wide they can sometimes be difficult to avoid, so pay attention when you’re shooting and don’t make the same mistake.
The 35mm completely covers the 8K RED Monstro sensor.
The 50mm Xeen lens completely covers the RED Monstro 8K Vista Vision sensor. Opening up from T8 to T4 the chromatic aberration is very noticeable here on the leaves against the bright sky. Oh, by the way, look at that Bokeh on the 50mm lens in Vista Vision. Wow!
The 85mm lens totally covers the RED Monstro 8k Vista Vision sensor. Above is a great example of the characteristics of these lenses. Overall the Xeen provide a warmer tone, and as you open them up they decrease in contrast. This is very visible by the above examples.
The 135mm Xeen completely covers the RED Monstro 8K Vista Vision sensor.
So I let you know what I think, what do you all think? Leave comments in the section below.