Zeiss’s new CP.3 cinema lenses provide visual effects possibilities for everyone


posted Friday, April 28, 2017 at 6:00 AM EDT


Zeiss has announced 10 new cinema lenses in two different versions, the CP.3 and the CP.3 XD. It was challenging to describe exactly what makes these new Zeiss optics special in just a few short words. Basically, Zeiss has created lenses that do much more than help capture a scene. The CP.3 XD lenses use something called "ZEISS eXtended Data" which is the first metadata technology which stores the lens distortion and shading for every single frame. All /i-Technology metadata is recorded (which includes focus distance, aperture value and depth of field) which is supported by most cameras. This makes the technology especially useful for visual effects artists. By using that metadata, it would only take a few clicks to modify the image generated on a computer to fit specific lens characteristics and then splice that together with the footage taken with the lens to create a more realistic image. Zeiss says that distortion and shading can be corrected or even amplified in post-production. 

So, in short, the CP.3 XD cinema lenses have:

  • A unique technology that provides information about the lens’ distortion and shading characteristics in real time to speed-up the workflow on set and in post-production
  • Lens settings are digitally captured on every frame, avoiding the need to manually record the lens settings for every shot
  • Documentation of the lens’ characteristics enhances creativity by allowing more complex shots to be handled in post-production

These lenses aren't the first to provide metadata, but they are being positioned by Zeiss as being the first that are easily attainable for just about anyone thanks to their relatively low price point. You can purchase the lenses with or without the metadata technology (CP.3 XD vs CP.3), but the price to get it doesn't dramatically increase your investment, which seems to be Zeiss's point with these optics. 


In addition to the technology available in the lenses, the optics themselves have a front diameter of just 95mm, making them compact and lightweight despite still maintaining what Zeiss calls "excellent" image quality. All ten of the primes, from 15mm to 135mm, will be usable on full frame sensors. The maximum speed of the seven focal lengths between 25mm and 135mm is T2.1, the 15mm, 18mm and 21mm lenses have a speed of T2.9. Zeiss says they also have improved focusing: the manual focus is now noticeably smoother. According to Zeiss, it is comparable with the Zeiss Master Primes and can also be operated with a small motor. The focus rotation angle is 300°. The lenses are equipped with an interchangeable mount so that they can be used on almost any camera. 

Full pricing and availability are listed above, with the lenses shipping from June through September of 2017 though Zeiss dealers.