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.
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.
So without further ado, in my Schneider Cinelux lens review, I’ll cover:
Basic Characteristics of the Cinelux lens
General Discussion on some of the different focal lengths
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.
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.
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.
Since the Cinelux lens is going to be a telephoto portrait focal length, you will not notice much distortion of any sort.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.