A Quick Guide to Cooke Lens Sets

August 22, 2017

Cooke History

Cooke has been designing and manufacturing optics and lenses for over 100 years. Starting with astronomical telescope optics, photography lenses, aerial reconnaissance optics, and finally moving to the film & television industry.

The “Cooke Look”

The “Cooke Look” is characterized by its natural warmth in color and smooth blend in contrast. It retains sharpness with a nice roll-off from its focal point for a humanistic approach to what’s in focus and what’s not. But what’s the difference between some of the more popular Cooke lens sets? Below is a quick reference of some of the variations.

Cooke S4

The S4 line was developed in 1998 and have won both Technical Academy and Technical Emmy Awards for their excellence in optical and mechanical design. They are, still to this day, a major player in the film and television optics world and are sought after for the “Cooke Look” that works well with today’s digital sensors with high resolving power.

Cooke MiniS4

The MiniS4 line was developed to retain all the optical and mechanical characteristics of the S4 line, but with new industry segments in mind. Cooke recognized the budgetary constraints of productions that are not shooting high-budget television or film projects and released a lens that can be obtained at a lower price point with the trade-off of one stop in speed so smaller productions can achieve the “Cooke Look” without breaking the bank.

Cooke Speed Panchro

The advent of “talkie” television programs brought in the need for faster lenses to compensate for the lack of Arc Lamps, which created too much noise for recording sound while shooting. The Speed Panchros had a large aperture compared to other cinema lenses at the time and were being increasingly established in the film production world due to their speed and optical quality. The resurgence of this popular lens set is due to the rehousing of these lenses by various companies to work with more modern camera systems while retaining the decades of character the lenses acquired throughout their life. Expressway’s set was rehoused at TLS (True Lens Services)

Cooke Anamorphic

Announced at NAB2013, Cooke took the dive into the Anamorphic world and released the Cooke Anamorphic Primes. This line applies the same “Cooke Look” they are famous for with the anamorphic standard, achieving the consistent look and mechanical operation of their spherical lines, while providing a 2:1 squeeze, oval bokeh, and controlled aberrations throughout the whole image area.

Written By: Auggy – Camera Rental Manager

Whenever he’s not taking care of our camera gear at Expressway, he’s playing an unhealthy amount of video games, eating Cronuts, and looking out of windows existentially.

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