This fall I produced a music video that I co-directed with my wife, and I was also the DOP. 🙂
It was a volunteer based project that we also financially supported, as we believe in spreading a powerful social message about reaching out to abandoned children.
You can check the music video here (we added EN subtitles, turn them on as you will need them to understand the story):
The production budget was very, very low, but we wanted to get the most production value as possible. We used my Weapon MG Dragon 6K for free and we got an incredible discount on a Movi M10 from Cinesyl Romania. But I didn’t own a lens set so that was putting some pressure on our tight budget.
I wanted to try the new Celere lenses so I thought this could be the perfect occasion. I asked David Kellerman from http://store-abt.de/ if he had a Demo set around that could be sent to Bucharest, Romania. It so happened that we got a 4 lens set one day before the shoot and sent it back the next day after the shoot.
My only experience with this lens set was at the shoot itself so I could not make any comparison test or look for specific issues in controlled environments. I can only share my opinion based on using the set in a real production environment. Which I think matters the most after all. 🙂
As you know there are currently 4 lenses available in the Celere set – 25, 36, 50, 85. That is a bit constraining on the focal lengths but for this particular project it was ok. Normally the 25mm on the wide end would not have been wide enough if I was to shoot a S35 sized sensor, but with the Dragon sensor being so much bigger than S35 I could achieve a wide enough FOV that worked well for the type of shots that we planned for the video. There is a 18mm coming soon and that would have been perfect at times, but only for one or two shots across the whole music video.
I really want to thank David and Hanse Inno Tech for sending this lens set for us to shoot with. It was a real budget saver and also a great opportunity for me to see the lens first hand. While I am very thankful for their gesture to help us, they did ask me to be impartial when detailing my experience with these lenses.
I will start with the conclusion and tell you that I would greatly consider buying a set when the remaining critical focal lengths become available – the 18 and 135.
So on that note, let me share what I loved about the lenses.
1 – Mechanical construction
They look and feel great, very solid built. The focus is nice and smooth, not butter-like smooth, but more like precisely engineered smooth. They seem built to last.
The weight is perfect, 1050 grams on each lens. Not too heavy, not too light. My 1st AC’s and our Movi technician did not believe me that all the lenses are the same weight. So when I asked for the first lens change and they all realised there is no need to rebalance the Movi, their jaws dropped 😀 That in itself I think is one of the biggest and greatest advantage of this lens set.
They seem to be made for gimbal work.
As a nice design detail, the lenses provide the option to fit a stocking at the back for diffusion filtration (the old school way 🙂 ), which I would have loved to explore had I had more time before or after the shoot.
2 – Optical performance
What I’ll share next is just a very subjective view on the lenses as I did not have any point of reference or specific controlled shots to work these lenses out.
But I still put them through their paces in what I say are some pretty harsh conditions – high contrast, backlit, huge amounts of light in frame. Given the type of shots that I designed, I was impressed by how well these lenses performed optically.
I mostly shot them in the 2.0 – 2.8 split range. This is the range that I like to work most of the time, so for me it is very important that the lenses I use deliver in this aperture range. And the Celeres delivered.
All the Celere lenses seemed to be a bit on the soft side. But a very pleasing softness that it’s easy on faces and tends to make people look good. Which is a great thing to be looking for. But I personally tend to like more the image from sharper lenses.
In the same time, their softness and nice rendering of faces and skin tones don’t send their drawing in the vintage lens category. Instead they render a special image, that looks both modern and vintage at the same time. I think they really do have their own look and feel and that is one great thing for a DOP to be able to choose the right lenses for the story. For this story I would have liked to try and bring more of a vintage look through my lensing but this wasn’t the project to offer that production freedom. So I went on with what we could find and tried to build on the Celere look. I got the standard coating on the lenses, so maybe the uncoated version would have looked more in line with this story.
Speaking of uncoated front elements, I found the standard coating to be great with flares. The lenses did not flare easily and at the same time produced very creamy and soft flares when pushed to flare intentionally. I loved them in that regard.
They do cover the 6K Dragon sensor, even Full Frame from the specs sheet. So I did not see any vignetting, but I did see some small corner softness especially on the 25mm.
There is some CA but you really need to look for it, like you can see it only in a few frames from some shots. I shot a lot of dark foreground against extremely bright backgrounds and I thought the lenses held up pretty good, at least when I compare them with lenses in the same price range that I used for other projects.
If you plan to use them wide open you will notice that they do not perform as well in terms of sharpness. You will get some small blooming that reminds me of how the Contax Zeiss lenses behave wide open.
On a small home screen they hold their own optically, but regarding sharpness and optical flaws I am really curios to see them on the big screen, on a side by side comparison with other more established brands in the industry.
3 – Value for money
Overall I found the Celere lenses to be a good value for money. They have a great design and I think they currently are one of the most ergonomic options to have if you are using a gimbal most of the time. They produce a nice looking image and they have a specific look. I think they are a great choice for owner-operators as size and weight is an important factor for this type of usage.