Hey, What’s up? Welcome back to Filmmaking Elements today we are going to do a review of the Xeen Cinema lenses.
Overview of Xeen Cinema Lenses
In terms of build, aluminum housing, and long focus row, Xeen lenses are true Cinema lenses, which means the action of turning the focus ring is much greater than that of a photography lens, making it a million times easier to pull focus when using a focus puller, but not so much when pulling focus yourself.
Of course, there are manual focus and iris rings, as well as a consistent front diameter throughout all lenses. Many people are calling it a rehousing of Rokinon lenses, however, the maker has stated that the elements and groupings are the same, but the Xeen lenses are ground, polished, and coated using a different technique, according to a B&H review.
That’s all there is to it. I couldn’t make any comparisons with the Rokonon lenses. That would be of interest to me. However, the image quality appears to be greater with the Xeen lenses, and the build quality is a million times better.
These lenses feel quite sturdy, whereas the Rokinon lenses, while fantastic for the price, seem cheaper and more delicate, which isn’t always the best thing in the field. The lenses are also extremely fast, with a T-stop of 1.5, making them ideal for very narrow depth of field and low-light shooting, and I was really pleased with the results.
I enjoyed shooting with them just as much as I did with the Canon Cinema Primes we leased for our latest assignment, which are among my favorite lenses.
They were a pleasure to shoot with, and the image quality was excellent. What particularly piques my curiosity about these lenses is that they are almost half the price of the Canon Cinema Primes and Zeiss CP.2 or CP.3, which are in the same price range as these lenses.
I still favor the Canon Cinema Primes over the other two. I really like these lenses for their overall look and construction, but if you’re looking to acquire some good Cinema lenses but are on a tight budget, these are an excellent option for nearly half the price.
On a side note, my lenses fogged up when traveling from my air-conditioned house to my sweltering garden, as they always do. But I decided to shoot anyhow to see what would happen, and the results were interesting. It produced an unusual in-camera look, sort of a dreamlike, grim vibe, which I will absolutely try to replicate later on. It just reminded me that there are always easy things we can do to produce a variety of intriguing effects to help evoke mood.
So we’ve had the Xeen Cinema lens kit for about a year now. We’ve put them through their paces, taking them to countless shoots. Now we’re going to talk about our personal experience with them, things we like about them, things we don’t like about them, and let you guys kind of decide what you think.
So going into what we like about the Xeen lenses actually coincides with things we didn’t like about the setup we had beforehand. We had the Zeiss Planar lenses. So working with these lenses for a long time and me being the editor, I got to see the images they created up close and personal.
Why did we buy them?
There were a lot of imperfections in the image that I could see. There was chromatic aberration, and distortion, the sharpness was not always quite there when they were wide open and there was even some hazing when it came to shooting towards light.
Now that happens with a lot of lenses, but especially these. Also, the kind of distortion that we got from the Xeen lenses, where the lines in the background, just weren’t straight.
This didn’t just happen on the wide lenses, it happened on the 50mm too and some of the telephoto lenses. So with the Zeiss lenses, they were good lenses, but I really didn’t like the haze that we got wide open. I didn’t like the distorted lines and the images, and we just wanted better.
So when we took a chance on these Xeen lenses, all of those problems basically disappeared. When we got these, we could see a difference in the images. It was a huge quality shift and we were happy that we made it. These lenses were fast. They can open up to a T-stop of 1.5. We never had a problem with low lights. They were sharp, wide open with the creamiest background that we’ve ever had.
And the three-dimensionality of the images that we got with these was unlike anything we had used before.
Design, build, and performance!
The design of these lenses basically gave it a natural hood. Most of the time. We never had to add a matte box to control the light. The focus rings were smooth and clickless. They worked really well in a studio setting. And out in the field, we like to manual focus.
One thing we noticed right off the bat, something we never get tired of is the build quality of these lenses. They’re all metal, they’re built to last, and you can definitely tell.
So overall, these lenses are amazing. However, there are some quirks, and one of the things that we noticed was this little mounting point here at the bottom. It’s too small for what it’s supposed to be used for. And it’s basically anytime that you try to Mount something to it, it’s too close to where the aperture ring is.
So it’s going to rub against it and it’s going to make it hard to shift and open up that lens. It doesn’t make sense in a design aspect. I just wish that they would give us something like maybe a mount that we could put on this as an alternate to this. So that way it is actually usable because right now it’s not.
If you compare it to the mount on Canon 70-200 lens, obviously you will see how that one sticks out and it’s a little bit bigger. That’s very usable. The one on the Xeen lenses looks like they threw it on there and they didn’t know what to do with it. And this is all about balancing, balancing the camera, balancing the front of the lens.
Speaking of, these two basically weigh the same thing.
Weight of the Xeen Cinema Lenses!
Speaking of weight, these lenses are heavy, so they are built for bigger rigs. If you’re trying to balance these lenses on prosumer level gimbals such as the DJI Ronin they are a little bit more difficult to balance without counterweights. These lenses are definitely a very good choice for the indie filmmakers who will obviously be building a full-blown camera rig for their films.
We still use these lenses on our DJI Ronin S. We actually had to make use of this little plate that goes on top of the regular DJI plate and that helps separate the camera from the rest of the components.
When it comes to certain lenses specifically, I’m talking about the 24mm, We actually had some trouble focusing to infinity.
Depending on the distance we actually couldn’t focus on some of our talents in large rooms. I don’t know if it’s this lens in particular, but we’re going to look into it or if this is a problem with most broken 24mm Xeen lenses, we still use the 24mm lens though.
However, we just have a few focusing limitations. And honestly, that’s all my complaints about these lenses. I love to use them. They work great for us.
Let’s go right to the point, and I’d like to discuss the type of individual who should utilize these lenses. Let’s be honest. If you require autofocus, you are a hybrid shooter, as you do both photos and video. Now is the time to put this article down! This is not applicable to you.
These are entirely manual lenses. Constructed and developed for professional motion picture filming. Obviously, there is a reason why it is called Xeen Cinema lenses.
They have manual focus rings and manual aperture. The kind of person that needs this is someone that likes to work on a controlled set. These lenses are made for filmmakers. They are cinema lenses.
This is when you’re going for quality over practicality. If you are somebody that’s looking into more autofocus, doing more photography, and doing a little bit of video here and there, look into the Sigma Art lenses. But if you are looking to invest your money in the best quality lenses, you are looking for a good set of prime and you can’t afford something like the Carl Zeiss High brand lenses or the Arri Anamorphic kit. Then these lenses might actually be just right for you.
They were right for us. So that’s all we got for the Xeen Cinema Lenses. These lenses are worth the price you pay and they definitely have a character to them. Go for them!
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