NiSi announces 18mm T2.2, 40mm T1.9, & 135mm T2.2 ATHENA Primes


NiSi has announced new 18mm T2.2, 40mm T1.9, and 135mm T2.2 ATHENA Primes. These new lenses join the existing 14mm T2.4, 25mm T1.9, 35mm T1.9, 50mm T1.9, and 85mm T1.9.

The three new focal lengths allow the ATHENA Prime series to cover a focal range from 14mm to 135mm.

Above you can see a quick introduction video to the new focal lengths.

I reviewed the NiSi ATHENA Cine Primes on the site last year and you can see that review here.

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All the focal lengths cover full frame sensors and image circles up to 46mm.

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All of the lenses feature a T1.9 aperture, apart from the 14mm T2.4, 18mm T2.4, and the 135mm T2.2.

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All the lenses, except the 135mm T2.2, are the same size and weight. They all feature a 77mm filter thread which makes it easy to use screw-on filters such as variable NDs. 

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The aperture, and focus rings are all located in the exact same position which makes them easy to change out without having to re-position lens motors or re-balance a gimbal, etc.

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According to NiSi, the lenses were designed to achieve maximal micro-contrast control and ultra-low chromatic aberration.

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The concept behind the NiSi ATHENA Primes was to come up with a lightweight, well-performing set of full-frame cine lenses that were affordable. 

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In recent years we have seen a vast array of affordable cine primes hit the market. There has arguably also been a stigma attached to brands that people are not familiar with, but you should never judge a book by its cover. Some of the affordable cine primes that are available are optically pretty good considering their low cost and they can arguably give much more expensive lenses a run for their money. 

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Here is my conclusion from reviewing the original focal lengths:

In the last few years, the market has been flooded with affordable cine lenses, and this has been a good thing for the end user because the intense competition has seen prices continue to fall. The downside to this is that deciding what lenses are right for you has become harder and harder given all the options that are available. 

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While the NiSi ATHENA primes are hardly groundbreaking in terms of coming up with an affordable full frame cine prime lens set, the consistency in terms of build quality, mechanics, and all the lenses having the same weight is something we haven’t arguably seen before. If you have a stigma about affordable Chinese-made cine lenses not being any good, you should think again. 

The ATHENA primes represent excellent value for money and optically, while certainly far from perfect, they can compete with much more expensive lenses in certain areas. In saying that, the Meike FF Cine primes that I have also previously reviewed on the site are no slouches either, however, they have different weights and sizes, and the mechanical and build quality consistency, at least in my opinion, isn’t as good as the NiSi ATHENAs. 

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I really need to reiterate that there are no shortcuts with optics and you generally pay for what you get. The NiSi ATHENA primes can certainly compete with more expensive lenses when it comes to center sharpness, but the edge sharpness isn’t great and flare varies between the focal lengths. The CA is an issue when using the 35mm wide open. Look, to be honest, no one should expect $1,000 USD cine primes to have the same level of performance as much bigger, heavier, and more expensive lenses. 

One of the biggest caveats with the design of the PL mount versions of the lenses is because the rear mounts extend you can’t use them (except the 25mm) with PL mount adapters that utilize drop-in filters. This is something NiSi should have been very upfront about when selling the lenses. 

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The ATHENA primes are optically pretty sound and they are solidly made and feature good mechanics and consistency across the focal lengths. If you are looking for an affordable set of lightweight full-frame cine primes then they are very hard to beat, as long as you are aware of some of the caveats when using them. 

Price & Availability


The 18mm T2.2, 40mm T1.9, and 135mm T2.2 will retail for $1268 USD each. They will start shipping in May.

The 18mm T2.2, 40mm T1.9, and 135mm T2.2 Add-on SET (including new hard case for 9pcs lenses) will cost $3499 USD.

The full focal lengths including 8 lenses and a new hard case will be $8999 USD.

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