Jonah talks about the CN-E lens comparison. DPs Scott Regan and Teddy Hoffman joined us in playing with the new Canon CN-E Cine Primes on the C300, Scarlet-X and AF100.

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Hello, I’m Jonah with Magnanimous Media, and I’m going to be talking about the Cine lens comparison. This was an unscientific comparison; we just wanted to see how Canon’s still lenses would stack up against their Cine line.

Chicago-area DP Scott Regan and Teddy Hoffman joined me to see what the Cine lenses had to offer. The first thing I was looking for was any difference in color and contrast. It quickly became apparent that Canon’s using the same optics in the still lenses as they’re using in the Cine lenses, with slightly warm color, and the contrast was indistinguishable between EF and Cine lenses. However, we were dealing with changing sunlight, so a more precise judgment will have to come after we’re able to get the lenses in a controlled environment with chip charts.

Scott was quick to point out the first difference: focus appears to fall off a bit more smoothly with the Cine lenses, which could be attributed to differences in build. When looking at the footage in 4K, the Cine footage looks slightly crisper in places, which could be a result of better build and less diffraction. This difference is less noticeable in HD. Some breathing does appear to be present in this shot with the EF 85mm; it doesn’t seem to be present at all in the same move through Cine glass. In our enthusiasm to shoot with these lenses, we did not do a comprehensive breathing comparison, but we will be doing a comprehensive comparison of all our lenses once we take delivery of our Cine glass.

The Canon still lenses hold up very well in HD, and present a very attractive cost/benefit ratio, so you might wonder why should you spend extra money on the Cine glass. If you’re unimpressed by the differences in the footage, then you will be impressed by the build quality and form factor, which, in my opinion, are worth it alone. To begin with, you’re getting a manual aperture and T-stops, which lends itself to a much more precise fine-tuning of the exposure. Using transmission stops allows you to mix your shoot with lenses from other manufacturers, as opposed to F-stops, which are calculated. T-stops are actually measured and account for light loss through the lens, and they are universal throughout manufacturers. Focus hard stops means that you can use low- to high-end lens control systems with accuracy and no special treatment. You have accurate measure marks to pull focus from, and a throw that will allow for smooth and precise focus pulls. Additionally, lens swaps are much less painful with the Cine glass. Take, for example, the EF 50mm. It’s quite a short lens, and if you’re switching to an 85 or a 100, it’s going to require much more modification to the front end of your support system, like your matte box and your follow focus. But when you’re switching between Cine lenses, the build is quite comparable between focal lengths, and will require minimal to no modification of your matte box or follow focus.

The bottom lines is that Canon makes great glass, and now you can get that glass in Cine form. So if you’re not a fan of Zeiss Compact Primes, you have a great alternative now. Stay tuned for our comprehensive lens comparison: we’ll put the Cines up to the Zeiss Compact Primes. For more news and tutorials, check us out at

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