Best Cinema Lenses For Pro Level Filmmakers
YouTubing and video marketing are increasingly becoming one of the best mediums to connect with your audience. Apart from having an excellent camera, you'll need the best cinema lenses that will help you shoot quality videos.
I Xavier, being a professional photographer for 15 years, have prior experience working with different cameras and lenses. Every lens is used for a specific purpose in cinema; for example, a wide-angle lens will help to shoot group shots, a standard lens is used to shoot master shots, medium-telephoto lenses are used for shooting close-up videos.
Apart from this, there are also specific features you have to look at while purchasing a lens for cinema, like image stabilization, parfocal ability, focal length, and aperture range.
In this article, you will find a list of the top 10 lenses from Canon, Rokinon, Sigma, and Tokina. I've also mentioned in detail the factors to consider while purchasing the lens. So, go ahead and purchase the lens that best suits your budget and need.
Table of Contents
- BEST CINEMA LENSES LIST
- REVIEW OF BEST CINEMA LENSES
- 1. CANON EF 50MM F/1.8 STM LENS - BEST PRIME LENS FOR CINEMA
- 2. SIGMA 17-50 MM F/2.8 EX DC OS HSM FLD- BEST STANDARD ZOOM LENS FOR CINEMA
- 3. ROKINON CINE CV35-C 35MM T1.5 ASPHERICAL WIDE ANGLE CINE LENS
- 4. CANON EF-S 10-18 MM F/4.5-5.6 IS STM - BEST WIDE ANGLE LENS FOR CINEMA
- 5. SIGMA 18-35MM f/1.8 DC HSM lens - BEST MANUAL FOCUS LENS FOR CINEMA
- 6. TOKINA 11-16MM F/2.8
- 7. ROKINON FE8M-C 8MM
- 8. CANON EF-S 17-55MM F/2.8 IS USM LENS
- 9. CANON EF 135MM F/2L USM LENS
- 10. ROKINON CV85M-C 85MM T/1.5 ASPHERICAL LENS
- FACTORS TO CONSIDER WHILE PURCHASING A LENS FOR cinem
BEST CINEMA LENSES LIST
REVIEW OF BEST CINEMA LENSES
1. CANON EF 50MM F/1.8 STM LENS - BEST PRIME LENS FOR CINEMA
FEATURES: Have you heard of the famous " Two-shot" photography style. The best example of this is seen in the movie " The fault in our stars" it's nothing but a shooting style that encompasses two subjects in a single frame. If you want to shoot such kinds of videos, then you can go for this prime lens. Adding to it, the lens is budget-friendly and aids in low-light video shoots, as well as it's got a very wide aperture.
DESIGN: Unlike its predecessor Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II, this lens includes a metal lens mount instead of a plastic mount. We know that manual focus works best for cinema rather than using autofocus. So, it's necessary that the manual focus ring remains sturdy while focusing. Gladly, this lens ensures the same.
Moving on, filmmakers prefer this lens as their go-to lens because it gives beautiful bokeh effects, much needed to get a filmy effect. The reason behind this the seven circular aperture blades used in the lens's construction. You are also free from lens flare as it comes with a Super Spectra coating.
While shooting videos, the autofocus must remain fast as well as silent. So, to ensure this, there's a Stepper motor technology included in the lens's design.
PERFORMANCE: Let me start off with the lens's aperture range: For filmmaking, a shallow depth of field seems to be prominent as it allows the subject(hero) to be in sharp focus with the background looking blurred.
You can achieve this effect using the 50mm STM lens as it's got a bright aperture range of f/1.8-22. And, 50mm is the best focal length needed for a prime lens to shoot amazing portraits as well as videos. But make sure you maintain a comfortable distance from the subject; otherwise, you may end with slight distortion when shooting close-up footages.
As of now, there are three 50mm Canon lenses available such as 50mm f/1.8, 50mm f/1.4, and 50mm f/1.2. I prefer using this 50mm f/1.8 lens as it is cheap, fast, and also less in weight when compared to the other two options. Also, The near-silent STM technology focuses extremely quickly when shooting photos. Creating high-quality movies is more accessible with STM as it delivers steady and continuous focusing.
I didn't feel the emission of image stabilization a big flaw in this lens because the lens has fast shutter speeds, so don't worry about any motion blur or camera shakes in your shooting. You can easily make handheld shooting with this lens; you really don't need to invest in a tripod or monopod, making it one of the best lenses for cinema.
2. SIGMA 17-50 MM F/2.8 EX DC OS HSM FLD- BEST STANDARD ZOOM LENS FOR CINEMA
FEATURES: Take beautiful landscape videos with this reasonably priced general-purpose zoom lens. It uses Sigma's micro HSM motor for quick and quiet autofocusing. You can shoot handheld videos comfortably with this lens on your Full-frame or APS-C DSLR because it includes an Optical stabilization feature.
DESIGN: The lens hood and lens mount is made of metal and has a smooth matte finish. You will not face any issues while using the focus and zoom rings as they are not flimsy, making them easy to rotate. But the lens is not weather-sealed, so make sure to handle the lens with care.
If I have to tell you about the internal optical structure: Like the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM, this lens also includes a 7 - circular bladed diaphragm to give a pleasing bokeh effect. The lens is made of Sigma's FLD glass elements, two glass mold, and one hybrid aspherical glass. These offer excellent correction for all kinds of aberrations. Adding to it, The super multi-layer coating reduces ghosting and flare.
PERFORMANCE: I liked the fact that this lens satisfies the primary requirements of a good lens that can be used for cinema. I'll be explaining the factors to consider while purchasing a lens for cinema in detail later. But as of now, keep in mind that a working focal range of, say, 50mm on full-frame and around 35mm in APS-C format is desirable for filmmaking.
And as this lens shows 28-80mm on full-frame and 17-50mm on an APS-C sensor, it satisfies the threshold levels thus rightly justifies itself as one of the best cinema lenses in the market.
Secondly, an aperture rating of, say, f/2.8-5.6 is good enough for taking film-related content videos. And this Sigma lens does satisfy this criterion.
Note: If you wish maintain the same brightness level throughout the clip choose an aperture value of around f/4-f/11.
Lastly, the OS, Sigma's anti-shake feature, provides shutter speeds approximately four stops slower than would otherwise be possible. But note that the Hyper-Sonic Motor is a micro HSM type, so you will not get a manual-focus override facility.
3. ROKINON CINE CV35-C 35MM T1.5 ASPHERICAL WIDE ANGLE CINE LENS
FEATURES: A wide-angle prime cine lens that has de-clicked aperture control and a follow-focus feature. The lens is compatible with full-frame cameras like Canon EF and APS-C format sensors, where you will get an equivalent focal length of 56mm.
DESIGN: Some users often face readability issues with the distance markings provided on the lens. But here, you can note the focus and aperture readings clearly , as the scale measurements are located on the side of the lens.
Secondly, as this lens belongs to a cine lens type, you will not find an autofocus motor as cine lenses are manually focused. But, you will find a follow-focus gear instead.
Are you asking me what a focus-follow is? I'll tell you, the focus ring on the lens is manually controlled using a hand controller called a follow focus. This gear is either operated by the camera man or any other member of the direction team.
That's about the exterior design. Moving on to the internal optics: There is an aspherical glass along with two High-refractive index glasses that help to minimalize chromatic aberrations. Adding to it, the lens is also given UMC coating(Ultra-micro coating). This will help to improve the t-factor by enhancing the light transmission through the lens and also reduces lens flare and ghosting.
PERFORMANCE: If you're new to the field of cinema, you might not know what a T-stop is. Well, T-stops gives you the exact measure of how much light passes through the lens, whereas an f-stop will tell how wide the lens opens. Cine lenses generally have T-stop markings.
Now coming to the importance of a de-clicked aperture ring: This is very important while shooting videos because you will hear any tick or click sounds when you operate the manual focus rings.
You can use this lens for low-light shoots as the lens has a wide aperture of T1.5, allowing more light to pass through the lens.
Lastly, the 35mm focal length will serve best for shooting master shoots for movies. With this respect to the above listed features, the Rokinon 35mm T1.5 lens takes the third place in my list of best cinema lenses.
4. CANON EF-S 10-18 MM F/4.5-5.6 IS STM - BEST WIDE ANGLE LENS FOR CINEMA
FEATURES: The EF-S 10-18 mm f 4.5-5.6 IS STM lens provides an ultra-wide-angle of view in a compact and portable package, perfect for EOS cameras with an APS-C sensor. It's got optical image stabilization, so your videos will remain stabilized throughout the clip.
DESIGN: The lens is primarily made of plastic and has a manual focus ring that allows manual-focus override. The reason for the supreme optical performance of the lens is because of the aspherical lenses and Ultra-low dispersion glass elements present in the lens's construction that are coated with Super Spectra coatings.
A circular, 7-blade aperture helps ensure beautiful bokeh, and the Image Stabilizer system provides almost four equivalent stops of shake correction.
PERFORMANCE: For an APS-C ultrawide lens to deliver optimum results while shootings films, a focal length of less than 16mm is required. As this Canon EF-S lens has a focal length range between 10 and 18mm, filmmakers and other content creators are sure of achieving beautiful landscape videos.
The narrow aperture of this lens demands an IS feature, and I'm glad the lens has it. The stepping motor smooth and continuous autofocus are provided for video recording.
Now, coming to the exciting feature "Parfocal ability." Say you're using the lens at 15mm and suddenly you want to stoop down to 10mm, now you might be thinking that the focus must have changed. But surprisingly, no, this is because the lens will maintain the focus even if the focal length varies. This is the prominent feature that makes it the best ultra-wide angle lens for cinema!
5. SIGMA 18-35MM f/1.8 DC HSM lens - BEST MANUAL FOCUS LENS FOR CINEMA
FEATURES: Next up in my list comes the Sigma 18-35 mm 1.8 DC HSM, the first wide-angle lens to achieve an aperture of 1.8. They are specifically designed for APS-C-sized sensors. It translates to 27mm-52.5mm on a 35 mm camera.
DESIGN: A 9-blade rounded diaphragm creates a beautiful background blur. Sigma has also developed special software (SIGMA Optimization Pro) that can update the lens firmware and adjust parameters such as focus.
There is a wide glass-molded aspherical lens with a Special Low Dispersion (SLD) glass to reduce aberrations and distortion. The lens has an internal focusing mechanism meaning the lens barrel doesn't move while changing the focus.
PERFORMANCE: A wide-angle lens is expected to deliver a focal length of 24-40mm in a Full-frame camera and 15 to 24mm on an APS-C format DSLR. And as this lens delivers a focal length within this range, it is definitely a great lens for filmmakers.
Secondly, the wide-aperture range of f/1.8 allows maximum light to pass through the lens, so you don't have to worry about working in low-light conditions. And guess what! The lens has an internal zoom facility which is much needed for shooting movies and other video stuff.
6. TOKINA 11-16MM F/2.8
The Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X 116 Pro is an ultra-wide-angle, short zoom range lens specifically designed for use with select Nikon DX-format digital SLR cameras. The slightly shorter zoom range of this lens over the popular and award-winning 12-24mm lens makes it possible for maintaining optical quality even at wide-open apertures.
This lens features a constant wide aperture of f/2.8 and provides a focal length equivalent to 16.5-24mm in 35mm format. Excellent optical quality is offered through advanced features like the WR front element and added features for best cinema lens.
The One-touch Focus Clutch mechanism helps the photographer to switch between Autofocus and MF just by a click by the focus ring forward for AF and back toward the camera to focus manually.
7. ROKINON FE8M-C 8MM
If you are looking for an inexpensive lens for your DSLR camera, then I suggest you this f/3.5 8mm Fisheye Lens with a Built-in hood that provides a 167º view with dramatic and exaggerated perspective when it is used with an APS-C camera, and powerful circular image floating in the frame upon use with a full-frame 35mm film camera.
The hybrid aspherical elements with multi-layer coating help to produce sharply defined images with the least possible ghosting and flare. The 8mm lens focuses close to 12 inches from the lens.
It comes with a removable lens hood that will offer glare reduction and lens protection, but can be removed to provide an increased and unobstructed angle of view when shooting with full-frame digital or 35mm cameras.
The lens is sharper, lighter, and can work in lower lighting conditions than zoom lenses. Since it has a maximum wider aperture and fewer lens elements, this lens can also gather and pass through more light.
Overall, you get better image quality even in poor lighting conditions with this lens!
8. CANON EF-S 17-55MM F/2.8 IS USM LENS
The EF-S 17-55mm by Canon is the best , It has a large aperture of f/2.8 that produces a shallow depth-of-field and creates a bokeh that keeps the attention towards the subject.
The lens construction includes aspherical and UD elements, which deliver impressive image quality throughout the entire zoom range. Image Stabiliser makes the lens shift for compensating the camera movement to make a steady appearance of the image plane for ensuring clear and crisp images, even in dim light.
The Ring-type USM, inner focusing and autofocus algorithms for achieving quick and quiet autofocus, with a full-time mechanical manual focusing possible even in AF mode.
It is compatible with EOS 30D, EOS 20D, EOS Digital Rebel XT, and EOS Digital Rebel SLRs.
9. CANON EF 135MM F/2L USM LENS
The Canon EF 135mm f/2L is the fastest 135mm telephoto lens in its class and another best lens for cinema as it gives you a perfect background blur.
The lens also offers two UD glass elements that help minimize chromatic aberrations, giving your images outstanding sharpness and color. It also helps minimize chromatic aberrations. It has a close focusing distance of 3 feet and an 18-degree diagonal angle view. It also comes with a filter of size 72mm and is compatible with EF 1.4x II and 2x II extenders.
10. ROKINON CV85M-C 85MM T/1.5 ASPHERICAL LENS
The new Rokinon 85mm Cine Lens is specially made for DSLR video enthusiasts, cinematographers, and videographers and so features outstanding image quality along with the added benefits of follow focus compatibility and de-clicked apertures.
3.6 feet is a minimum focusing distance with an aperture range of t/1.5 – t/22. The lens is follow-focus compatible to allow the user to focus and use the aperture ring without interrupting the video shooting.
FACTORS TO CONSIDER WHILE PURCHASING A LENS FOR cinem
Now that you know what the best cinema lens are, let’s talk about some important factors to consider when deciding which lens is the best for you.
i. type of lens
Prime lens vs Zoom lens
Prime lens vs Zoom lens which is better for shooting films? This is totally up to your choice. If you're aware of where the subject is going to move, you can go for prime lenses because they have fixed focal lengths.
A 50mm prime lens is the most recommended prime lens by filmmakers as they give a perfect filmy feel, low-light performance, and excellent bokeh.
If you want to purchase one, I recommend the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens as it gives high-quality videos and is also affordable. If the video shooting requires reframing of shots often you can go for a variable zoom lens.
As said earlier, this type of lens will help you shoot master shots (long shots like action sequences). However, I wouldn't recommend this lens shooting for close-up videos as the faces may tend to get distorted/disproportional.
- If you're going to use this lens on a full-frame DSLR, choose a wide-angle lens with a focal length between 24 to 40mm
- In the case of an APS-C sensor format, go for a lens with a focal length range of 15 to 24mm
- For a four-thirds camera, a wide-angle lens of 10-17mm will serve best.
If you want to take a two-people shot that covers hip to shoulder in a single frame, you can go for this lens. Like the wide-angle lens, this also may produce slight distortion when shooting close-up videos.
a) A focal length range of 85 to 100mm is preferred for a Full-frame DSLR.
b) Go for a lens with a focal length of 50 to 60mm in case your DSLR uses an APS-C sensor format.
c) For a four-thirds micro camera, the recommended focal length range is 35 to 50mm.
These are supreme for shooting landscape videos (for shooting a crowd of people) because these lenses have wider focal lengths and apertures.
- A focal length of less than 24mm is recommended for a Full-frame camera.
- A focal length of less than 16mm is recommended for an APS-C camera.
Medium and large telephoto lenses
If you don't know where the subject is going to move, you can use a telephoto lens. These lenses also work great for close-up videos. Medium telephoto lenses seem to be fast and lightweight when compared to large telephoto lenses.
- Focal length range on a Full-Frame DSLR: 85 to 100mm(Medium-telephoto) and greater than 135mm(large telephoto).
- Focal length range on an APS-C type camera: 50 to 60mm(Medium-telephoto) and around 85mm (large telephoto).
II. APERTURE RANGE
There is no single best aperture rating for shooting videos. It all depends on your shooting style. But an aperture range between f/2.8 -5.6 is recommended for films. If you want a shallow depth of field, a wide aperture greater than f/2 is preferred.
NOTE: Avoid wide apertures such as f0.95 to f2 when filming landscapes (tightly-packed) videos where everyone/everything needs to be in focus. Secondly, avoid using narrow apertures like f/3.5-5.6 in dim light conditions because they demand higher ISO settings.
III. PARFOCAL LENS
Videographers who have been in this field for quite a long time will agree to the fact that video shootings are tiresome and frustrating when focus changes when changing the focal lengths.
But these days, even companies like Sigma have come up with parfocal lenses that have the ability to maintain focus even if the focal length changes. So, choose a lens that gives you this provision.
IV. IMAGE STABILIZATION
For your Videos need to be stabilized throughout the clip, and to avoid the effects of camera shakes, choose a lens that has an IS technology in it. This feature is even more necessary for handheld shooting; otherwise, micro-jiggles become an issue.
V. OTHER FACTORS
The below-mentioned features are not mandatory if you're a beginner in this filming/YouTubing field. However, if you're a professional filmmaker, pay attention to these features as well to know which are the best lenses to buy.
ELECTRONIC OR MANUAL FOCUSING
Electronic or mechanical focusing: Decide whether you want to be able to change the focus manually or whether you are mainly going to use auto-focus.
This will not produce a clicking sound while turning the focus rings manually.
See if the lens has a proper follow-focus controller in case of a cine lens and a sturdy manual focus ring in case of other lenses.
Though manual focusing is the best for movie shooting, sometimes you may need an AF mechanism like for shooting fast-moving objects. In that case, a continuous AF feature is most needed, so choose a lens that has one.
These are the ten best lenses for cinema currently available in the market. You'll notice that I have considered all the critical points mentioned earlier. I have also included numerous other details so that you can have in-depth knowledge about each product.
I hope you've got the information you were looking for. Happy recording.