Lens Testing

Here’s some more tests for a TV series I’m in early pre on.

Earlier, I looked at the Sony F55 and the Alexa.

Having now decided to shoot with the F55, mainly because of it’s global shutter and smaller size while offering nearly the same DR as the Alexa but at 4K, I had to choose my lenses.

I knew I wanted to look at the Cooke S4’s, the Ultraprimes and the Panavision Primos.  I originally hoped to use the new V series Primos but they weren’t available despite some earlier tests I was able to do with them

I know it’s a particular favourite of the setup director that she loves out of focus lights, especially at night.  We’ll hopefully have some elevated city office locations which should give us nice lights at night so I wanted to also look at how they compared when they were out of focus as well.

I used some xmas lights for this and also had a look at the lens breathing (image size change with focus) as the lens racked through a pretty big pull.

I also looked at these at T4 and at T2.  I used a Tiffen regualr ND for this.  My collegue HOOK did the initial grade for this based on the ultraprime.  You’ll notice slight differences between the cookes and the primos and although they are small they are there. I could have balanced them out but left them with the same ultraprime “neutral” grade so you can see the differences.

You’ll ALSO notice the ND add’s its own colour cast as well.  At T4 with the ND6 in place, you’ll notice there’s a colour difference.

I’ve made it possible to download the files so take a closer look.

What other differences can you see ?








About johnbrawley

Director Of Photography striving to create compelling images
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13 Responses to Lens Testing

  1. Eric says:

    I downloaded the 1.16GB MOV file, and here are the things I noticed:
    1. Cooke S4 lenses seem a tad sharper on the focus point.
    2. At the 75mm/85mm focal length, some nasty blue dots appear at a certain point during the focus pull at T2.0. Maybe the xmas lights are bouncing off the lens, or something.
    3. The last 2 minutes of the video are just black (14:18 – 16:06).
    4. I see lovely bokeh with round circles with the:
    – Ultra Prime 32mm & 85mm @ T2.0
    – Primo 35mm & 50mm @ T2.0.
    5. Damn, this Sony F55 is a really lovely camera ;-).

  2. laurencelz says:

    this might be way out there, but here goes. Can the ND filters themselves interfere with the lens coatings? Has any one devised at test to see chromatic anomalies when using ND filters? Is this even possible inside the lens barrel not at camera sensor. Seems that ND filters should be absolutely neutral and cause no color change no matter what the lenses are coated with.

    Just a thought.

    Be well,


    • johnbrawley says:

      It’s well known that ND filters aren’t in fact neutral at all ! The old kodak Wratten filters were pretty good and my initial experince with the “True ND” filters has been good too.

      None of the ND filters are truly neutral.


      • John,

        I went back and did some fact finding on the color shift issues of NDs. There is a bit of documentation on color shifting. This was just a start, the question again would be how to get a chart of color shifting of the filters before they even are placed in front of a coated lens. Maybe as a test would be to shoot different color temps through a series of ND, un-stacked and stacked and no filter, then use as a base sample a color chart, pure white and pure black ( if there is such a thing) and then load them into a color calibrated monitor and note the the shifts or wave length variances. I bet some one has already done this.

        Just me pondering, especially since I live in the southwest and ND is a must.

        Be well,


      • johnbrawley says:

        Hi Lawrence.

        In my experience there are even inconsistencies between the same filters from the same manufacturers. It is VERY NORMAL to have two 1.8 ND’s that look have different colour casts. Manufacturing consistency is actually quite difficult at heavier ND stops.

        You’re assuming that they would be the same, but just like lenses, no ND filter is the same. As I mentioned previously, the “TRUE ND” and the kodak Wratten filters are the only ones that seem to be close to truly neutral.

        Look at



  3. what will the global shutter do for you? I’ve tested both and the regular shutter on the F5 seems great and on par with most cameras around. was there something specific production wise?

    And does the production want 4K origination ?

    • johnbrawley says:

      Hi Jason. Nice to see you here.

      The series I’m shooting, “Party Tricks” is set in the world of politics and politicians and so there are a lot of scenes with media packs. There will be a lot of camera flashes and production didn’t really want to deal with all the fix ups that would entail with a rolling shutter.

      4k is nice for the occasional fix up and reframe but it’s not unprecended.

      I did 4 seasons of Offspring using the RED and EPIC cameras and everyone got used to 4K/5k pretty quickly.


      • Makes perfect sense, very few other reasons to go global.
        As I’ve seen and heard now many a non scientific comparison showing the F5 & F55 are pretty hard to pick look wise. So shooting 4K XAVC? or Raw with the R5 recorders?

      • johnbrawley says:

        Hi Jason.

        I haven’t shot with the F5. In fact this is the first job I’ve shot Sony for a very long time.

        Although I quite like the pictures the stupid stupid menu is driving me totally mental. Even V4 software is just so idiotically limited. Anyways were working around it. Just so many dumb “Sony” decisions that only they must understand.

        Shooting 4K RAW.

  4. laurencelz says:


    Thanks for the link, it clarified my thoughts. Bookmarked it. I think I may actually have a few old kodak filters, brother collections cameras pre 1990.

  5. Oh john, feel your pain, thought they had improved it more than it sounds. Sony NEEDS to (and I’m sure wants to) hear you and your teams concerns.. surely.. maybe.. I’m sure.

  6. Khaled Gamal says:

    I think BMPCC is one of the game changers in the business.

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