ARRI has just announced a range of Signature Zooms that have been specifically designed to match the Signature Primes.
The ARRI Signature Zooms consists of four lenses and an extender:
- 45-135 mm T2.8
- 65-300 mm T2.8
- 16-32 mm T2.8
- 24-75 mm T2.8
- 1.7x extender
All four lenses feature a T2.8 aperture and they cover a focal length range of 16 mm to 510 mm (with the 1.7x extender), which ARRI claims is the largest in the industry.
The 1.7x extender turns the 65-300mm T2.8 into a 110-510 mm T4.9. According to ARRI, the extender is exceptionally high quality, and it has been designed specifically for the 65-300mm T2.8 Signature Zoom and the 280mm T2.8 Signature Prime. It only works with those two lenses. There are eight elements in the extender itself and it is said to have minimal effect on the image other than a loss of about 1.5 stops.
- Significant extension of the Signature lens family, with the same look as Signature Primes
- Biggest combined cine zoom focal length range on the market
- Universally compatible with any large-format or Super 35 camera
- Lens design accommodates HDR and 8K resolution
I got in touch with the product manager for lenses at ARRI, Thorsten Meywald to ask him some questions about the Signature Zooms.
How long have the zooms been in development?
As we were in the design phase for the Signature Primes it was clear to us we also need matching zooms. And when we introduced the Primes at BSC show in 2018 we answered questions about the zooms with the words: “ we are working on it but it’s too early for any details. By end of 2018 the concept phase for the zooms switched to the design phase and we developed 4 zooms and one extender in quite a short time. Now we have working prototypes of the longer zooms, the 45-135/T2.8 and the 65-300/T2.8 and of the 1.7x extender as well. Very soon we are also expecting the prototypes of the two shorter zooms, the 24-75/T2.8 and the 16-32/T2.8. So, we can say the entire project time was a little more than two years.
What considerations were taken in choosing the focal ranges?
The Signature Zooms should address different applications and that was the basis for the choice of the zoom range. First they should complement and match the Signature Primes. When you’re shooting a feature mainly with primes the zooms intercut seamlessly with them, it’s the same look and feel. On the other side we know zooms will become more and more important for shooting entire TV shows or commercials. There cost savings reasons, but also different shooting styles and because of COVID-19 social distancing and safety on set becomes more important. With a total coverage from 16 to 510mm in large format with the Signature Zooms you are prepared for each and every situation on set. It was important as well to provide a constant T-stop of T2.8 with no ramping to make cinematic shooting style possible with zooms. The choice of focal length is also very well suited for Super35 applications. 16mm wide angle is a super wide in Large Format and quite a good and popular wide angle in S35.
Are they much lighter than other available full frame and VistaVision zooms because of the magnesium housings?
When you compare high-end zooms they are much lighter. We have introduced magnesium barrels with the Signature Primes, it was not an easy decision for us, on the one hand side Magnesium is about 30% lighter compared to aluminum but on the other side it’s about 5 times the cost. However, as a market leader in high performance products we think we need to give our industry a state-of-the art product which is a safe investment for a very long time period. The usage of magnesium was the only way to make lightweight zooms with high optical performance and a modern timeless look the same time. When you look inside these lenses they are full of glass elements. So we had to find a way to reduce weight with technically advanced mechanics.
Are the Signature Primes and Signature Zooms the first lenses made by ARRI for ARRI?
Yes, however maybe they were other ARRI lenses in the 1950s and 60s and don’t forget the Arriscope Anamorphics and the ARRI Macro lenses which were made by ARRI. In the digital era the Signature lens series of primes and zooms and the Ultra-Wide Zooms are ARRI lenses. Following this path gives us much more freedom to realize our philosophy of image look and performance. As you can see with the Signature lenses they are modern and the same time provide emotions which are described as natural and immersive. In lens design those are contradictory requirements and you have to find a way to balance that out.
Is this now the largest array of matching Cine zooms and primes on the market that covers full frame and VistaVision?
To our knowledge there is no other system of matching cine primes and zooms in the market with such a coverage. All Signature lenses combined have a coverage of 12mm to 510mm and that’s really very large. All lenses are designed from the same optical and mechanical designers within a very short time period to make sure they are matching in look and feel.
Matching Primes & Zooms
Despite a plethora of full-frame and larger cine primes being available, there are still relatively few cine zoom options. What ARRI has done here is very smart, because now DPs and camera operators will have access to a complete set of matching primes and zooms.
The Signature primes were announced in March 2018 and they are now available in 16 focal lengths ranging from 12mm-280mm.
With the addition of the Signature Zooms, there will be 20 different matching lenses to choose from.
ARRI is also claiming that the Signature Zooms deliver an outstanding optical and mechanical performance that exceeds other cine zooms on the market. They go on to say that they are as close to a prime lens as it is possible to get.
Prime lenses are more often than not the go-to option for most DPs, however, depending on the application, zooms allow you to work faster. ARRI claims that because of the quality of the Signature Zooms, you can use them along with the Signature Primes without appreciable compromises.
Here are the weights of all of the Signature Zooms:
16-32 mm T2.8
Weight: 3.8 kg / 8.4 lbs. (tbc)
24-75 mm T2.8
Weight: 4.1 kg / 9.0 lbs. (tbc)
45-135 mm T2.8
Weight: 3.7 kg / 8.2 lbs. (tbc)
65-300 mm T2.8
Weight: 8.1 kg / 19.9 lbs. (tbc)
The Signature Zooms, just like the Signature primes, cover full frame and VistaVision sized sensors, however, they work just as well on smaller Super 35 sized sensors.
The new zooms cover up to a 46mm image circle, which is identical to the Signature Primes.
The Signature Zooms can also take advantage of the same detachable magnetic rear filter holder that you can use with the Signature Primes.
ARRI states that flares are shaped and honed through the best available lens coatings. The lenses also utilize the in-built ARRI LDS-2 Lens Data System. This Lens Data System (LDS) displays lens data and camera-related information on ARRI’s WCU hand unit, as well as via status overlays in-camera, or on connected monitors. In addition, it brings additional benefits in post-production as all the lens data is being carried through the pipeline and embedded in the original camera negative files for use in VFX.
The zooms are equipped with an LPL lens mount, which is an open, universal standard for cross-format shooting. This allows the Signature Zooms to be used with any large-format or Super 35 camera, from any manufacturer.
Each Signature Zoom ships with a dedicated zoom lever/stick in a custom aluminum flight case.
Price & Availability
The first two lenses in the series, the 45-135 mm T2.8, and 65-300 mm T2.8 Signature Zooms, as well as the 1.7x extender, will be released in early 2021. The 16-32 mm T2.8 and 24-75 mm T2.8 will be released later in the same year.
Here is the pricing:
- 16-32 T2.8 55,900 €
- 24-75T2.8 39,900 €
- 45-135 T2.8 39,900 €
- 65-300 T2.8 59,900 € (incl. Extender)
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