New Cooke Panchro Classics


In response to continued enthusiasm from cinematographers and demand by rental houses for Cooke Optics’ vintage Speed Panchro lenses from the 1920s-1960s, Cooke introduces a new series of Panchro Classics based on the original design, with PL mounts and modern mechanics. The Panchro Classic line is scheduled to ship around April 2017.

The original Cooke Speed Panchro, designed by Horace W. Lee in the 1920s, was the first to combine an f/2.0 aperture with fully corrected color and geometry. The Jazz Singer (1927) and other talkies created a demand for these fast lenses. Noisy arc lamps could not be used, the lights that replaced them weren’t as bright, and frame rate increased from silent 16 or 18 fps to talkie 24 fps—a decrease of about 1/2 stop exposure. Studios snapped up the new Cooke f/2.0 (T2.3) lenses. These were the now-legendary uncoated Cooke Speed Panchros.


In 1945, Cooke introduced the Speed Panchro Series II lens, designed by Gordon Cook. They had an anti-reflective coating and came in 6 focal lengths: 18, 25, 32, 40, 50 and 75mm.

Les Zellan, Chairman and Owner, Cooke Optics, said, “People still love the look they get from the old Speed Panchros, but they are hard to find—and if you can find them, you have to remount them for today’s cameras. Therefore, we have taken the original Speed Panchro design and created a new housing to fit the PL mount. The new lenses will have the same look and feel that people love about the originals.” 

What makes these lenses different from rehoused Panchros? In addition to modern mechanics, lens mounts, cam focus and uniform front diameters, they all cover S35 image circles—approx 30mm diagonal. (Original Panchros covered Standard 35 Academy format. )  They will also come standard with the new Cooke Multi System — in PL, EF, E, F, MFT.

 The Cooke Panchro Classics all have a front diameter of 110mm — like the majority of S4/i and 5/i primes.


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