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Canon Reveals Flex Zoom Series: Premium Full-Frame Lenses for Serious Cinematographers

Ant Macina - 4 weeks ago

Canon has revealed its first premium full-frame zoom lenses for professional film productions. These lenses, known as the Flex Zoom series, offer a constant T2.4 iris and come in 20-50mm and 45-135mm flavours. Officially titled the CN-E20-50mm T2.4 L F / FP and the CN-E45-135mm T2.4 L F / FP they may sound like a mouthful, but that can be broken down simply. CN-E refers to Canon’s line of cinema lenses, including this author’s personal dream lenses, the Sumire primes, and their various impeccable existing zooms and primes that these full-frame options add to. Read on for more.

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The T2.4 might confuse those of you used to purely photographic terms, where f/stop is usually the measurement of choice. T/stops measure the exact light coming through the lens, which is incredibly important for matching exposure across multiple camera setups in the film and TV industries. F/stop is a physical measurement of the aperture, but the t/stop is the amount of light it is letting through, and various lenses in the photographic industry give up a lot of that light as it makes its way through the lens, with many lenses needing much higher ISOs than you’d expect. The cinema industry can’t have that guesswork, and must match quickly as every minute spent calibrating between lenses can mean hundreds or thousands of dollars, hence the more precise T measurement. L means these are high end, premium lenses, the same designation used for their best photographic lenses, those famed red rings indicating a level of refinement, build and image quality that mean the right results for your project.

CN-E20-50MM T2.4 L F / FP and CN-E45-135MM T2.4 L F / FP Key Features:

  • Designed for full-frame sensors
  • Constant T2.4 and broad focal length coverage
  • Advanced lens Metadata support for Cooke /i Technology TM, Zeiss eXtended Data TM and EF Mount
  • Modular Lens Mount System [Supports EF/PL Mounts]
  • 11 Iris Blades for beautiful bokeh
  • Supports 4K & 8K Productions
  • Robust and compact design [approx. 3.3kg]

Both lenses in the range offer fantastic resolution and performance and according to Canon can handle HDR, 4k and 8k projects with aplomb. This means they should cater to a wide variety of use cases and give shooters plenty of options for high-end content creation to meet a range of filmmaking needs. Both lenses offer a constant T2.4 across a wide range to cover the majority of focal lengths used by professional filmmakers.

They should be absolutely stunning for specular highlights and bokeh, with an amazingly fast T2.4 aperture and 11 iris blades to provide natural and cinematic out of focus areas of the image. They’ve also been designed for high-resolution video, offering great quality even to the edges of the frame.

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The 20-50mm, in particular, is a filmmaker’s dream, veering into ultrawide when needed and all the way up to normal, or offering a short telephoto angle with a Super35 crop.

Colours should play very nicely with the CN-E primes to compliment them in a DP’s kitbag, offering a range of options with similar warmth and clarity. The lenses are matched in terms of sizing, both with a Φ 114mm front diameter and weighing 3.3-3.4kg across the 2 lenses and gear placement which means changing them out for one another will be seamless and hassle-free. Another workflow improvement is the interchangeable EF and PL mount options, meaning that they can suit a variety of productions as needed. Lastly, they offer the two main cinema metadata formats, supporting both Cooke /i Technology™ and ZEISS eXtended Data™ to make your workflow easier in the edit. Alongside these, the lenses offer Canon’s EF communication for aberration correction and Canon’s remarkably useful Dual Pixel Focus Guide on such production stalwarts as the C300 mark III and C500 mark II. This feature alone would tempt me to add these to my arsenal if I were a Canon Cinema EOS shooter.

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We love the look of these and the 20-50mm, in particular, is a filmmaker’s dream, veering into ultrawide when needed and all the way up to normal, or offering a short telephoto angle with a Super35 crop. The fast aperture means even with that crop the shallow depth of field desired in a conventional close-up shot can be achieved. Truly a remarkable sounding pair of lenses that I can’t wait to drool at and perhaps use on set one day.

To paraphrase either Steve Jobs or Uncle from Jackie Chan’s adventures, there’s one more thing… Canon also announced their latest broadcast lens, the UHD DIGISUPER 122AF. That means a 122x zoom range, covering 8.2mm all the way up to 1000mm. There’s also a built-in teleconverter to take it up to 2000mm! Oh, and it does all of this at a constant /1.7 aperture, (which is just showing off). This mind-boggling lens is meant for high-end broadcast production, usually catering to sports and wildlife with that remarkable versatility and image stabilisation to boot.

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None of these lenses will come cheap, as is to be expected with the quality and the brand name associated with Canon’s premium offerings, but expect a huge leap in price between the full-frame Flex Zooms and this 26.6kg broadcast behemoth. They’ll seem a steal in comparison, at least that’s how I’ll be spinning it to the boss as we develop our new studio!

Find out more on these incredible new lenses, visit Canon’s pro website HERE.

About the author

Read Canon Reveals Flex Zoom Series: Premium Full-Frame Lenses for Serious Cinematographers

Ant Macina

Technical Editor

Ant is a filmmaker and photographer from South London with a background in short films and a love for street, event, architectural and portrait photography. Primarily a video specialist, Ant brings his love for latest and greatest tech, along with his particular passion for environmental issues and conservation along with his enthusiasm about vintage gear and its applications in modern photography and videography.