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Cooke Delivers Five Anamorphic Primes for Not-Boring Digital Cinematography

32, 40, 50, 75, 100mm Lenses Shipping This Week

Cooke said at NAB that it is shipping the first five of seven new 2x anamorphic prime lenses, as promised last year at NAB. The first five lenses to hit the market will be the 32mm, 40mm, 50mm, 75mm and 100mm.

A 25mm and a 135mm lens should be on the way by the end of the year, said Cooke's Les Zellan, who also told StudioDaily that attendees at this summer's CineGear Expo may hear about three more lenses in the series on the way for 2015.

Asked if the ARRI Alexa with its 4×3 sensor was a catalyst for the recent surge in interest in anamorphic optics, Zellan said he thought it was more likely that ARRI was simply the beneficiary of a renewed appreciation of the anamorphic look. "Digital is a pretty boring format on its own," he said, praising the "funkiness" that anamorphic lenses can bring to cinematography. 

The idea, then, is for Cooke to modernize the classic anamorphic lens without designing out its special qualities.

Zellan said three different categories of customers have been calling the shots in the current design. First, he said, are cinematographers. "They want a modern lens — but they're not pulling focus. They want the Cooke look and personality."

Next come camera assistants and focus pullers, who have to deal with the lens hands on. Copying the basic ergonomics of the Cooke S4 line kept them happy. And finally there are the rental houses and lens owners who are Cooke's most direct customers. Because they are concerned about the potential for lost revenue if even one lens in a set is taken out of commission for an extended period of time, Cooke works hard on mechanical design, making sure lenses can be serviced by qualified technicians with relative ease.

Some DPs have asked about anamorphic lenses with a 1.3x squeeze factor, to work inside a 16:9 frame rather than 4:3, and Zellan allowed that, eventually, Cooke may go down that road. At the moment, he doesn't think the anamorphic qualities introudced by a 1.3x squeeze would be noticable enough to achieve what he says is the real goal of anamorphic cinematography: "to make digital not boring."

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