Launch of 10 prime lenses aimed at providing filmmakers with more metadata to aid special effects

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In what it is billing as “Hollywood technology for everyone” Zeiss has taken the wraps off its 10-strong CP.3 XD range of compact cine lenses that provide metadata and enable the correction of distortion and shading for every single frame – a factor that greatly aids the creation of special effects, amongst other benefits.

The lenses feature a technology called ‘ZEISS eXtended Data’. Zeiss Product Manager, Christophe Casenave, explained, “ZEISS eXtended Data is the first metadata technology which stores the lens distortion and shading – for every single frame. Moreover, all /i-Technology metadata is recorded, including the focus distance, aperture value and depth-of-field, which is supported by most cameras.”

What the system logs
To be precise the Zeiss eXtended Data system logs the following:

• The lens name, type and focal length.
• The calibrated focusing distance.
• The calibrated T-stop value.
• Real time depth-of-field data and hyperfocal distance.
• The horizontal field-of-view.
• The entrance pupil position.

The specific metadata implementation by Zeiss also provides information about lens distortion characteristics based on the focal point and
lens shading characteristics based on focal point and effective T-stop.

Easy post-production
Therefore if your NLE or colour correction software has the correct profile available, you’ll be able to correct for the qualities listed above in post-production with just one click. This data will be provided by Zeiss plug-in software, which will initially work with Davinci Resolve but support is also planned for “other grading, editing and compositing software. Zeiss also has further as yet unannounced plans for the eXtended Data system which will be enabled via firmware updates – in other words, it is future-proofed.

Up until now cine lenses that provided metadata have been relatively expensive and distortion and shading had to be manually measured – a time-consuming and expensive process. But the dawn of the technology in the compact CP.3 XD cine lens family should mean low-budget productions can now take the same approach to creating their own special effects.

Pomfort and Ambient collaborations
Thanks to a co-operation with software developer Pomfort lens distortion and shading can be modified on-set in real-time using the Pomfort tool LiveGrade Pro and a crew can get a sense of what the final look will be during the shoot. The film clips and lens data can be consolidated and organised with Pomfort’s Silverstack file manager.

Ambient has developed the MasterLockit Plus system with Zeiss which records all metadata along with a timecode in case the technology is not supported by the camera. There are also CP.3 versions of the lenses that don’t provide the metadata.

Compact and lightweight
In addition to the metadata the 10 prime lenses between 15mm and 135mm cover full-frame use and are said to “deliver outstanding results, even in light situations with a large dynamic range, i.e. highlights and shadows within the same scene.”

The maximum speed of the seven focal lengths between 25mm and 135mm is T2.1, whilst the 15mm, 18mm and 21mm lenses have a speed of T2.9. With a front diameter of 95mm, the lenses are light-weight and compact; suitable for hand-held shooting or filming with gimbals, Steadicams or drones.

Interchangeable mounts
The PL mount lenses are equipped with an interchangeable mount – including Canon EF, Nikon F, Sony E or Micro Four Thirds mounts – so they can be used on almost any camera with the Zeiss eXtended Data passed electronically through the mount to compatible cameras.

Price and availability
To watch an intro video about the new Zeiss lenses just click on the play button in the video window at the top of this article. You can also view a showreel shot with eight of the 10 cine primes by clicking on the video window in the middle of this article. Initially, a limited number of ZEISS CP.3 XD and CP.3 lenses will be available at authorised Zeiss dealers – you can find more about the cine lenses and your nearest local Zeiss stockist by clicking here.