If you need help in deciding on a cine lens as opposed to a still camera lens, read what is a cine lens and how is it different from photo lenses?
Challenges to using cine lenses
There are three ‘problems’ with using cine lenses on the Sony a7R II:
- Cine lenses will make handholding unwieldy, if not impossible. There is nothing that can be done, except to use a proper rig and follow focus system.
- There are only three manufacturers that make full frame cine lenses for the Sony E mount.
- There are no cheap options for the full range of focal lengths.
The three manufacturers that make cine lenses for the full frame sensor, in the Sony E-mount, are:
- Samyang (Bower, Rokinon, et al)
- Sony – only one lens, the 24-135mm T4
- Zeiss CP.2
The other two options you can use (with adapters) are:
- Canon CN-E
- Schneider Xenon FF
Which mount should you pick?
This is an important consideration. Should you stick to the Sony E mount, or should you opt for a better mount?
Given a choice, cine lenses are better off with the PL mount. However, all PL-mount lenses must interface with an adapter, so the adapter must be strong, stable and must provide good support so the E mount is not strained. The E mount isn’t really designed to hold heavy cine lenses, especially zooms. Primes are okay, but not for handholding.
We’ll learn more about this in the next section.
Recommended cine lenses for the Sony a7R II
Here’s a chart comparing cine lenses for the Sony a7R II (click on the links for the full line on B&H):
|Rokinon Cine DS||Zeiss CP.2 (114)||Canon (with Adapter) (114)|
|Lens||Approx Price||Lens||Approx Price||Lens||Approx Price|
|12mm T3.1 Fisheye (N)||$519||15mm T2.9||$5,700||14mm T3.1||$5,220|
|14mm T3.1 (N)||$499||18mm T3.6||$3,990||24mm T1.5||$5,220|
|24mm T1.5 (77)||$779||21mm T2.9||$3,990||35mm T1.5||$4,950|
|35mm T1.5 (77)||$499||25mm T2.1||$4,500||50mm T1.3||$4,950|
|50mm T1.5 (77)||$541||28mm T2.1||$3,990||85mm T1.3||$4,950|
|85mm T1.5 (72)||$374||35mm T1.5||$4,900||135mm T2.2||$4,950|
|Samyang Cine VDSLR II||35mm T2.1||$3,990||Schneider Xenon FF (with Adapter) (95)|
|12mm T3.1 Fisheye (N)||$549||50mm T1.5||$4,500||25mm T2.1||$5,750|
|14mm T3.1 (N)||$349||50mm T2.1||$3,990||35mm T2.1||$3,995|
|24mm T1.5 (77)||$799||50mm T2.1 Makro (134)||$4,900||50mm T2.1||$3,995|
|35mm T1.5 (77)||$469||85mm T1.5||$4,500||75mm T2.1||$3,995|
|50mm T1.5 (77)||$434||85mm T2.1||$3,990||100mm T2.1||$3,995|
|85mm T1.5 (72)||$369||100mm T2.1||$4,900|
|100mm T3.1 (67)||$599||135mm T2.1||$5,700|
|135mm T2.2 (77)||$599|
Note: Information in brackets is the filter thread diameter in mm. Prices and specs might be wrong. Please refer to manufacturers’ websites for correct information.
If you’re on a budget, I highly recommend the Rokinon DS line. Here are its advantages over the Samyang cine lenses:
- Color matched
- Same position for aperture and focus wheels
- Dual focusing scales on both sides
For the serious professional, the Zeiss CP.2 line offers the most focal lengths, if you want the entire range, that is. The Schneider Xenon FF series offers the following benefits (not completely verified by independent reviewers):
- Better color matching
- Tougher construction and build quality
- Small front element and diameter, so you can use 4×4 filters most of the time
Based on current information, if I had to pick, I would go with the Zeiss CP.2 line, no doubt. Not only is it versatile, but it has been field tested by rental houses over many years, and have worldwide sales and service. Lastly, it also color matches with its zoom cousins (below).
Is there a middle ground?
Yes, and no. It seems unlikely that any manufacturer will make great cine lenses in the sub-$1,000 price range, so the next best option is to modify a still lens for cinema work. Two companies that have been doing this for a while and have sufficient track records are:
- Duclos Lenses – $250 for a full cine-mod, and $409 for a cine-mod plus mount change (you need to contact them for Sony E-mount at present)
- GL Optics – they also provide casing modifications, and the prices run greater than $3,000 per lens. For primes, the charges are too high. For zooms, they might be a bargain (considering the prices of cine zooms)!
In either case, these services don’t have a worldwide presence, so you must be aware that replacements and service will be slow; and if you want a quick replacement in an emergency you likely won’t find the same lens.
Cine zoom lenses for the Sony a7R II
This is where cine-mods make sense. Zoom lenses for full frame sensors are as rare as UFO sightings:
|Lens||Approx Price||Mount (Filter thread)|
|Sony FE PZ 28-135mm f/4||$2,498||E (95)|
|Tokina Cinema 11-16mm T3.0||$1,599||EF/PL (114)|
|Tokina 16-28mm T3.0||$3,999||EF/PL (114)|
|Tokina Cinema 50-135mm T3.0||$4,499||EF/PL (114)|
|Zeiss LWZ.2 15.5-45mm T2.6||$19,900||EF/PL (114)|
|Zeiss 15-30mm CZ.2 T2.9||$23,900||E (114)|
|Zeiss 28-80mm T2.9 CZ.2||$19,900||E (95)|
|Zeiss 70-200mm T2.9 CZ.2||$19,900||E (95)|
It would be the rare individual who will buy a $20K zoom for a $2.5K camera, so right now the Tokinas (with an adapter, of course) seem to be the best bet.
Zoom lenses for still cameras
So we come full circle as to why it’s a good idea to stick to zoom lenses made for still cameras on the Sony a7R II. If you already own zoom lenses stick with the brand you own and get adapters. If you’re starting from scratch, here are my picks:
Stick with the ones made for the Sony E-mount by Sony:
- Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS
- Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS
- Sony FE 70-200mm f/4.0 G OSS
If you want f/2.8 and don’t have the budget for the high-end Nikon zooms, you can also opt for Tamron equivalents at f/2.8. It goes without saying that any zoom lens for a full frame sensor can be adapted to the Sony a7R II.
Since we stuck to Nikon lenses for our primes, I highly recommend Nikon zooms as well. Canon zooms are equally good, if not better:
- Nikon AF-S Zoom Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED AF
- Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED
- Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II
- Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-400mm f/4G ED VR II
The sky’s the limit for zoom lenses for the Sony a7R II. In Part Four we will look at filters and internal recording.