You may have wondered, as a photographer or videographer, why are cine lenses so expensive?” To be honest, they are worth the money for various reasons like precise light measurement, study mount options, minimal focus breathing, etc.
In this article, we will go over what makes cine lenses the clear winners compared to photography lenses.
So, shall we begin?
Let’s get the ball rolling:
Why Cine Lenses Are So Expensive?
The premium quality components and high level of precision are linked with cine lenses which is why they are substantially more expensive than still camera lenses.
In contrast to a photographic lens, a cine lens has a lot of moving parts, including a hard focus stop, a step-less aperture, and precise focus measurement.
A good quality cine lens costs around $4500.
What Makes a Cinema Lens Different from a Photo Lens?
A photography camera lens is typically used to capture still images or photos. All you need to do is focus on the subject and take the shoot.
In contrast, a motion camera is designed to capture moving images, so having complete command and control over the lens’s focus is crucial. There won’t be time to pause between shots to adjust the camera’s focus, aperture, zoom, etc.
A cine lens has several requirements, which is the main cause of the many components that are involved in it. The complexity of cinema lens design comes from how the camera lens should function in relation to focusing and iris adjustment.
Let’s talk about the key differences between a photo lens and a cine lens:
- The housing of a cine lens is made of metal, while a photo lens is made of plastic housing.
- A Cine lens has precise light measurement (T-stop), and a photo lens has the formula-based measurement of light (F-stop).
- In a cine lens, you will get precise distance marking, whereas, in a photo lens, there will be approximate distance marking.
- The Cine lens comes with manual focus rings, and the photo lens comes with a wire focusing.
- PL Mount exists in cine lens, and a photo lens doesn’t have the PL Mount.
- Cine lenses have parfocal lenses, and photo lenses don’t.
- Focus breathing is minimal in a cine lens and pronounced in a photo lens.
- Cine lenses have step-less aperture selection, and photo lenses have stepped aperture ring.
Many of the terms stated above may be unfamiliar to you if you are new to lens designs, so let’s discuss them so you can better understand what they are and how they contribute to an increased price in cine lenses.
Housing, Mount & Build-Quality – Cine Lens
When it comes to photography lenses, their housing is generally made of plastic components. On the other hand, cine lenses have metal constructions.
Moreover, stainless steel and durable metals are the materials that are used in the body, mount, and internal parts of a cine lens.
A cine lens should provide you with accurate and consistent results without the risk of being damaged easily because metal is more reliable and dependable.
A Cine Lens Has a Large Focus
A large, smooth focus ring is used to focus the cinema lens manually.
Despite having a manual focus, the photography lens will have a smaller diameter due to the need for quick focusing.
The photography lens will have a shorter focus throw than a cinema lens since it has a smaller focus ring.
Now comes the question, what a focus throw is, right? Well, it can be defined as the distance a focus ring will travel while adjusting the focal point between the minimum focal point and infinity.
Right now, you’re probably wondering what a focus throw is. It is the distance traveled by a focus ring while adjusting the focal point between the minimum focal point and infinity.
A photographic lens will help you focus rapidly, but because of the shorter focus throw distance, there will be less precision.
Parfocal Cine Zoom Lenses
The focus is variable for most photography lenses because they are varifocal.
Don’t you understand what that means? It implies that every time a lens is changed, both the lens’s magnification and its focal length will be altered, necessitating repeated refocusing.
However, because a cinema zoom lens is parfocal, you can solve this problem by buying one. The lens will maintain focus whether you zoom in or out.
Now just imagine how difficult it will be to maintain focus for a camera operator along with adjusting the focal length. And obviously, the solution is Cine Zoom Lens.
Minimal Focus Breathing
One of the major perks and advantages of having a cine lens is that there will be minimal focus breathing to deal with. Minimal focus breathing is also known as lens breathing.
Due to the movement of the lens’s internal components, even a small change in focal length will alter the image.
The videographer will encounter this problem while capturing the video, which will probably reduce the video quality.
Cine lenses are extremely expensive due to the need for minimum focus breathing to allow camera operators to use them easily.
Related: Why Are Sony Lenses So Expensive?
Are cine lenses worth it?
There is no denying that cine lenses are significantly more expensive than photo lenses; thus, it is only normal for a filmmaker to wonder, “Why do cine lenses cost so much”? Because using standard lenses or mirrorless DSLR cameras is always a possibility.
The answer, however, depends on the type of video or photograph you intend to capture or take.
Cine lenses are obvious winners whether we talk about durable built, control over lighting, depth-of-field, etc.
Cinema lenses have manual focus since you will always need to manually adjust the focus to your needs. The lack of autofocus functions in most cine lenses is due to their high level of precision.
Although you can focus manually with your hand, it’s advised that you utilize a wheel of some sort. In order to use these wheels, you will need rods, a base, and possibly a camera cage. All of these will raise the camera rig’s weight and overall cost.
Not only that, you may have to purchase the focus puller and a wirelessly connected screen to the camera, and with such goods, it’s obvious that your production cost will add up.
What Distinguishes an F-Stop from a T-Stop?
The computation of light passing through the lens using a formula-based calculation is known as the f-stop in terms of photographic lenses.
On the other hand, the amount of light that can pass through a lens is precisely measured when we discuss a T-stop lens. The proper application of T-stops will make it simple for you to match various lenses in terms of exposure.
Is it True that Cinema Lenses Produce Clearer Images?
Due to the presence of high-quality glass, cine lenses have the ability to produce clearer and sharper images.
The glass of a lens must be clear since it has a great impact on the quality of the images and videos.
Cinematic shootings favor an organic look; therefore, getting an excessively sharp image shouldn’t be the top concern.
Sharpness loses significance over a certain point; hence it is advised to pay close attention to aspects like color retention and the lens’ three-dimensionality.
Related: Why Are Rf Lenses So Expensive
The buzz of why are cine lenses are so expensive is valid because regular photographic lenses cannot match the precision that comes with them.
We strongly advise readers to bring cine lenses to boost their photography and videography game because they have advantages over photography lenses such as accurate light measurement, distance marking, manual focus rings, and minimal focus breathing.
Lara is the writer and editor at Waterproof Camera Reviews. She specializes in lenses which are one of the essential parts of a camera and a tool in photography. Lara’s knowledge about lenses cannot be overemphasized, as she’s good at what she does.