Zeiss CP.2 Arrives, Worth The Wait?

Yes. Worth the wait. I finally have my hands on my very own set of Zeiss CP.2 lenses. I know the lenses have been reviewed countless times but here is my quick run down on what exactly the Zeiss CPs are: CP stands for Compact Prime. The ".2" is Zeiss' way of distinguishing from the first generation of Compact Primes which I will get to in a minute. The "Compact" Primes are indeed compact compared to modern cine lenses such as Zeiss Master Primes, Cooke 5i and the Red Pro Primes but a tad girthy compared to a Leica R series lens. The CP.2 lenses started their life as Zeiss ZF/ZE still photo lenses which are derived from Zeiss Contax lens designs. Regardless, the Zeiss ZF lenses are top shelf 35mm SLR lenses and are my first choice for budget motion picture shooting.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="614" caption="35mm CP.2 on a 5D MkII with follow focus and 15mm rods. Everything fits perfectly."][/caption] The Compact Primes took the superior optical design of the ZF lenses and transplanted them into a new, bigger, better housing intended for motion picture. The glass still covers a 35mm full frame image which makes them some of the only "cine" lenses that work well on a Canon 5D MkII. The housings are bumped to 116mm at the largest point and gain quite a bit of weight by way of robust aluminum housings. The focus throw is extended to about 300 degrees of rotation. The other primary feature is the changeable mounts. This is the primary difference between the CP and CP.2. The CP.2 have an optional PL, Canon Eos, or Nikon F mount that can be changed by the user. Shimming is still required for proper back focus but isn't too difficult if you know a thing or two about optics. A few other convenient specs include uniform housing dimensions for every focal length (so far) to make swapping lenses on a rig quick and simple. This may not be the case when the two Close Focus lenses (in development) are released next year. The lenses also come with a support for the Canon and Nikon mount versions since the camera mount is generally not strong enough to support so much glass. Our set also came with a few optional PL mounts that have their own little cozy containers for each mount. The little pod contains the PL mount, PL cap, a complete set of shims, and mount screws. Everything you need (except for a screwdriver) to quick change to PL mount. The case has specific holes for these little mount pods to stash away. [caption id="attachment_683" align="aligncenter" width="614" caption="The alternate mount comes in a little pod that keeps everything in one neat place. "][/caption] [caption id="attachment_684" align="aligncenter" width="614" caption="Typical Zeiss fashion. Clean, simple, efficient. "][/caption]


The case in and of itself is typical Zeiss fashion. Very nice, supportive custom cut foam. A giant zeiss logo etched into the lid foam that doubles as a compartment cover to stow flat goodies like a test chart or inventory sheets for the case, all inside a nice plain black Pelican case. The case comes with six cut-outs which should be enough for a complete set, but should you want more, Zeiss simply ships your lenses in two cases. Another nice touch is the included focal length dots. Each lens hole has a little depression next to it that fits a little dot with the focal length and speed. This isn't revolutionary or anything to write home about... But remember the crop factor. The CP.2 are full frame lenses so when they say 50mm, they mean 50mm. Zeiss did a great job with these little beauties, taking them from a top shelf still photo lens to a entry level professional motion picture set of primes. If you're looking for a future proof set of lenses to start with, these fit the bill.


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