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Schneider Cinelux Ultra MC Review

Image taken using the Schneider Cine-Xenon (updated Cinelux) 150mm f/2.3 on Pentax 67

Image taken using the Schneider Cine-Xenon (updated Cinelux) 150mm f/2.3 on Pentax 67


Note: This post is part of our "Learn Blog" for photographers. For workshops, coaching, and other resources designed to help grow your skills as a photographer click here (after you read the article, of course)!


When you’re looking for something to mount on your Pentax 645, Mamiya 645, or Pentax 67 that is “next level” compared to the Pentax 67 105mm f/2.4 and the native Mamiya glass, you’ll inevitably arrive at the Schneider Cinelux Ultra MC.

With various focal lengths that will work on 645 and 6x7 ranging from 90mm to 170mm, there are a plethora of options matched only by the difficulty encountered in trying to obtain one of these rare beauties.

Schneider Cinelux Lens Review Images-2.jpg

You’ll see that I compare the Cinelux vs the Zeiss 80mm f/2 quite a bit. This is because I have loved the Zeiss 80mm f/2 and it’s rendering so much. But, I find that I find myself loving and constantly comparing the Cinelux with the Zeiss 80mm, which, believe is saying a lot.

Image taken using the Schneider 115mm Cine-Xenon (updated Cinelux) f/2 lens on Pentax 67

Image taken using the Schneider 115mm Cine-Xenon (updated Cinelux) f/2 lens on Pentax 67

So without further ado, in my Schneider Cinelux lens review, I’ll cover:

Image taken using the Schneider 115mm Cine-Xenon (updated Cinelux) f/2 lens on Pentax 67

Image taken using the Schneider 115mm Cine-Xenon (updated Cinelux) f/2 lens on Pentax 67

If you’re mainly looking for some history and/or the differences between different Cineluxes such as Schneider vs ISCO or Ultra MC vs Cinelux discussion, be sure to take some time to view the Cinelux Guide from The Boutique Lens.

Bride and Groom with Bouquet taken with Pentax 67 Schneider Cinelux Ultra MC 120mm f/2

Bride and Groom with Bouquet taken with Pentax 67 Schneider Cinelux Ultra MC 120mm f/2

Bokeh

The Schneider Cinelux lens has very pleasant, smooth, yet full-of-character bokeh. The edges of the bokeh-circles it produces are not “too crisp” and do not distract from the subject.

Image from 115mm Cinelux using Pentax 67 and HP5 Film

Image from 115mm Cinelux using Pentax 67 and HP5 Film

Vignetting

With the Cinelux at f/2 (do note that some longer focal lengths have smaller maximum apertures of 2.1, 2.3, and 2.8) I notice almost no vignetting. This lens was designed to project IMAX movies onto a huge screen at f/2, so it makes sense that it would perform amazingly, even at that aperture.

Image taken with Pentax 67 using Schneider Cinelux Ultra MC 120mm f/2 lens

Image taken with Pentax 67 using Schneider Cinelux Ultra MC 120mm f/2 lens

Distortion

Since the Cinelux lens is going to be a telephoto portrait focal length, you will not notice much distortion of any sort.

Image taken with Pentax 67 and Cinelux 150mm f/2.3

Image taken with Pentax 67 and Cinelux 150mm f/2.3

Sharpness

The Schneider Cinelux Ultra MC line of lenses are very, very sharp. Again, they were designed for IMAX screens, and being primes, they are honed for sharpness. To compare it to the Zeiss 80mm f/2, I find that the Cinelux has better edge to edge sharpness.

Farm table at wedding taken with Pentax 67 and Schneider Cinelux Ultra MC 120mm f/2 on Fuji 400H Film

Farm table at wedding taken with Pentax 67 and Schneider Cinelux Ultra MC 120mm f/2 on Fuji 400H Film

Fall-Off/Depth of Field

The Cinelux Ultra has wonderfully smooth fall-off. The depth of field when used on a 645 is similar to a f/1.25 lens on 35mm/full-frame, and on a 6x7 it is equivalent to a f/1.

Image taken with Pentax 67 and Cinelux 120mm

Image taken with Pentax 67 and Cinelux 120mm

Microcontrast/Contrast

The Schneider Cinelux causes the subject to pop with incredibly pleasant clarity. I believe it has as much and probably a little better rendering than does the Zeiss 80mm f/2, which is a fantastic lens.

Pentax 67 Schneider Cinelux Ultra MC 120mm f/2

Pentax 67 Schneider Cinelux Ultra MC 120mm f/2

Color Rendition

I absolutely love the color tonality of the Schneider Cinelux Ultra. It is by far my favorite lens when it comes to producing rich and beautiful colors. It produces skin tones that are creamy and desirable, making this lens perhaps the biggest competitor to the Zeiss 80mm f/2 in terms of skin tone rendition.

Minimum Focusing Distance

Though it varies per the focal length, with my 120mm Cinelux I can achieve about .9 meters minimum focusing distance while still reaching infinity on my Pentax 67. This allows me to achieve a head and shoulders shot that I’m very pleased with.

Image taken with Pentax 67 and 120mm Cinelux

Image taken with Pentax 67 and 120mm Cinelux

Build Quality, Features, and Feel

These lenses feel incredibly nice. They are simple, solid, and gold. What’s not to love? To be serious, though, they are very lightweight for being a f/2 lens that covers even a 6x7 negative.

Image taken with Pentax 67 and 150mm f/2.3 Cinelux

Image taken with Pentax 67 and 150mm f/2.3 Cinelux

Where Can I Buy a Schneider Cinelux Lens Adapted for My Camera?

Now, you can scour eBay and find a Cinelux pop up every once and a while. More than likely, you’ll still have to go through the process of adapting it and all that good stuff.

Or, you can become the owner of one of these amazing lenses, and have it custom adapted to the camera of your choice by purchasing from a website such as The Boutique Lens which happens to sell Schneider Cinelux Ultra MCs.

Image of bride and groom kissing with bouquet taken with Pentax 67 using the Schneider Cinelux Ultra MC 120mm f/2 lens

Image of bride and groom kissing with bouquet taken with Pentax 67 using the Schneider Cinelux Ultra MC 120mm f/2 lens

Final Remarks on My Schneider Cinelux Ultra MC Review

The Cinelux is probably my favorite lens in overall terms of lightweight usability balanced with amazing image quality. I love the image quality that it produces and I love using to create images that have tons of pop and character.

It’s rendering reminds me of the Canon 85mm f/1.2 L Mark II, only with perhaps more pronounced bokeh. When it comes to digital lenses, the 85L is at on my top favorites, so I consider this a very good thing.

So, the fact that the Cinelux is lightweight, built well, can be adapted to medium format film, and creates a clean, crisp, full-of-character image means that these lenses stay mounted on my cameras almost always.


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Zeiss 80mm f/2 Review

Image taken with Zeiss 80mm f/2

Image taken with Zeiss 80mm f/2


Note: This post is part of our "Learn Blog" for photographers. For workshops, coaching, and other resources designed to help grow your skills as a photographer click here (after you read the article, of course)!  To be transparent, all links are paid advertising, as a portion of any purchase made while using these links is credited to us. Please, consider using our links to help support what we do! Thank you!


When one thinks of the apex of lens design for medium format film cameras, it becomes difficult to avoid some level of contemplation about the Zeiss 80mm f/2 lens. It's a fantastic lens with an astonishing f/2 aperture that makes it a highly versatile lens in the medium format world. 

I'm going to keep this review short because I think the images do most of the talking. If you'd like to also learn a little more about the Contax 645 body, be sure to check out my Contax 645 Review. So, without further ado, here's my Carl Zeiss 80mm f/2 review.

Bokeh

Image create using Contax Zeiss 80mm f/2 camera lens

Image create using Contax Zeiss 80mm f/2 camera lens

I think it only appropriate to talk about bokeh first when it comes to the 80mm f/2. It has very nice bokeh. It's buttery smooth and almost seems painterly. Enough said?

Vignetting

At f/2 I see some minor vignetting, which is to be expected. By 2.8 and smaller, vignetting only because less and less noticeable. 

Sharpness

Sharpness of the 80mm f/2 is good. Even at f/2, images can come out rather sharp. 

At the far corners of the image, I tend to see some softness.

Image taken with Zeiss 80mm f/2

Image taken with Zeiss 80mm f/2

Fall-Off/Depth of Field

Fall-off with the 80mm f/2 is nice. Coupled with the sharpness and smooth bokeh of this lens, It's what helps give the subject a 3D look. At f/2 on a 645, the depth of field is similar to a 50mm 1.25 or so. 

Image of bride wearing her ring holding the groom's hand taken with Contax 645 and 80mm f/2

Image of bride wearing her ring holding the groom's hand taken with Contax 645 and 80mm f/2

Microcontrast/Contrast

Thanks to the T* coating that Zeiss has applied to this lens, the contrast is top notch and pleasant. Skin tones tend to render rather well with the 80mm f/2. They can appear contrasty, yet still smooth and buttery (in a good way). 

Color Rendition

Image of bride and groom embracing taken with Contax 645 and 80mm f/2

Image of bride and groom embracing taken with Contax 645 and 80mm f/2

Colors rendered by the Zeiss 80mm f/2 are good. There are no weird color casts that I've noticed.

Distortion

I've noticed some very minor barrel distortion with the Zeiss 80mm f/2. This typically presents itself at large apertures and is noticeable by a slight swirl most notably at the corners of the image. 

Minimum Focusing Distance

This is something that I feel can be very underappreciated. I love getting up close, to my subject for some close shots. At 70cm (about 2.3 feet) minimum focusing distance the Zeiss 80mm f/2 allows me to do just that. 

Image taken without macro filter using the Zeiss 80mm f/2 lens

Image taken without macro filter using the Zeiss 80mm f/2 lens

Build Quality, Features, and Feel

The Zeiss 80mm f/2 is built well. It's solid and feels "comfortably heavy". The aperture ring clicks very nicely and the focus ring is rather smooth, allowing for precise manual focusing. 

Worth noting, the aperture ring includes click stops for each stop, but (when using on the Contax 645 body) you can adjust the aperture halfway between each stop to achieve different f stops in between each stop.  

Final Remarks on the Zeiss 80mm f/2 Review

This lens is legendary, and for good reason. And for such reasons, it's not cheap. Current market value can be between $1,800 and $2,400 depending on the condition the seller. 

But, despite the price, it's a lens that people, including myself have found to be an investment. With wonderful bokeh, great contrast, good contrast and more, it's a lens that has earned it's reputation. 

If you've enjoyed or found this article helpful, please consider using our Ebay link to the Zeiss 80mm f/2 if you plan to purchase one. We've receive a portion of the total sale price, so it helps us out a lot!


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