And now for something completely different. Canon’s new Compact Servo 18-80mm T4.4 EF-mount zoom for Super 35 cine format may be the harbinger of a new era in cinema lenses. You don’t need hierophantic skills to envision a new generation of hybrid zooms whose heritage spans cine and still photography.
Ryan Kamata, Senior Specialist in the Canon Lens Planning Group said, “We saw a large gap between Cinema EOS lenses and EF Still Photography lenses, often 10 to 20 times: $40,000 cinema zooms on one end and $2,000 EF zooms on the other. It’s unnatural to have so great a gap, like comparing a $40,000 sport bike to a $2,000 scooter. So we realized we needed something in between: affordable zoom lenses optimized for cine and video production.”
“The concept of this new lens came after talking to users,” Brent Ramsey, Technical Advisor at Canon said. “We noticed how many people were using EF mount still lenses on our Canon EOS C300, C100 and C500 cameras. They liked the fact that Canon offered more than 60 different EF still lenses. They liked the optical quality. “But they wished they could have a lens that did all that and also had the gears, smooth zoom, and manual iris of cinema lenses.”
I can imagine the engineering meetings that followed. Someone must have examined the widely successful Canon EF 24-105 f/4L IS USM full frame lens for still photography. Fingers tapped on calculators. More likely not, since lens designers are great at math. So maybe it went like this: “If the difference in image diagonal between Full Frame and Super 35 is about 1.3, and we divide the focal lengths of the 24-105 by 1.3, then we could come up with 18-80. Add focus, iris and zoom rings and gears. Add a removable servo handgrip and style it ergonomically for cine.” Obviously it wasn’t that simple, but still, a fascinating lens emerged.
Canon’s 18-80 zoom lens is a new kind of hybrid. It takes the best attributes of 3 kinds of Canon lenses: L-Series EF professional still photography lenses, Cinema Zooms with manual focus/iris/zoom barrels (15.5-47, 30-105, 14.5-60, 30-300 mm), and Cine-Servo (17-120, 50-1000 mm). It covers Super 35mm — not Full Frame.
The 18-80 comes in an EF mount. It has optical image stabilization, something not often seen in cine lenses. The Compact-Servo has autofocus compatibility with the EOS C300 Mark II and EOS C100 Mark II cameras. The servo handgrip is unique and very clever. It attaches with one screw. When removed, an electronic module containing the lens servo motors remains, along with its own redundant zoom rocker switch. The servos switch on or off. The advantage of this idea is that you don’t have to recalibrate or worry about gears not meshing.
The hybrid lens approach has not been done before: combining optical quality, ergonomics for video and cine, and an affordable price made possible by quantity production. Price will be an incredible $5,500. This is the first in a series of hybrid cinematography lenses from Canon for handheld, shoulder, tripods or rigs.
Specs: Compact Servo 18-80 mm T4.4 EF
- CN-E 18-80 T4.4 L IS KAS 18-80 mm zoom, 4.4x ratio
- Maximum aperture: T4.4, equivalent to f/4.0
- No ramping of aperture throughout zoom range
- Close focus MOD: 0.5 m
- Optical image stabilization: On/Off and 3 levels of stabilization
- Iris: auto/manual
- Auto Focus / Manual Focus
- Power through lens mount or connector
- Front filter thread: 77 mm threads for screw-in front filters
- Front outside diameter: 84 mm
- Weight: 2.6 lb / 1.2 kg
- Length: 7.2” / 182.3 mm
- Iris: 9 blades
- Servo handgrip: detachable with one screw
- Back focus adjustment under rear barrel
- Covers 31.4 mm image diagonal
- 20-pin connector for lens control and metadata: EIAJ RC5320A TYPE4 (5.5 mm diameter)
NAB Booth C4325
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