A Filmmaker’s Guide To Quality Cine Lenses for Every Budget

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Welcome to the FilmDaft Guide to Quality Cine Lenses for Every Budget.

This guide is your ultimate tool for selecting the best lenses that align with your creative vision and budget constraints.

To help with the selection process, I have separated different brands and manufacturers into three categories: budget, mid-range, and professional.

Additionally, I have included a wide-angle, normal, and telephoto lens within each category and brand.

This is partially to explore options so you may begin building a lens kit.

In selecting your first set of lenses, I strongly recommend ensuring you have variation in focal length and trying to stick with one brand.

If you have a camera with a Canon RF mount, check out the Complete List Of RF Mount Cinema Lenses.

The Best Low-budget Cine Lenses

So, let’s look at three of the best affordable brands to start building your first kit of cine lenses: SLR Magic, Rokinon, and Meike.

SLR Magic

I will include three SLR Magic lenses to start our budget lenses.

SLR Magic is a UK-based manufacturer known for offering affordable and well-built lenses.

The three selected lenses are affordable but offer excellent image quality at this price point.

SLR Magic MicroPrime Cine 25mm T1.5 Lens For Sony E-Mount

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Aperture: Maximum T1.5

Minimum Focal Distance: 10” / 0.25m

Filter Thread: 82mm

Weight: 1.65 lb / 750 g

Length: 3.43” / 87 mm

The SLR Magic Cine 25mm F/1.4 lens is a beautiful wide-angle lens for full-frame sensors.

It is available in the Sony E-Mount, but you can also get this cine prime for MFT and X-Mount.

Its compact size, relatively low weight, and sturdy build make it a great option for filmmakers on the go.

All the MicroPrimes have the same size, making them a great interchangeable lens choice if you use a matte box.

Check the current price on Amazon (other mount options are also available).

SLR Magic MicroPrime Cine 35mm T1.3 Lens for Sony E Mount

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Aperture: Maximum T1.3

Sensor coverage: Full Frame

Filter Thread: 82mm

Weight: 1.54 lb / 700 g

Length: 3.43” / 87 mm

Like the 25mm, the SLR Magic Cine 35mm is available for Sone E-Mount, MFT, and X-Mount.

It’s a great wide-angle lens for full-frame sensors, and if you are shooting with an APS-C sensor, its equivalent focal length will be that of a nifty-fifty 50mm lens.

Between the selected SLR Magic lenses, another added benefit is a consistent filter thread diameter.

Check the current price on Amazon (other mount options are also available).

SLR Magic MicroPrime Cine 50mm T1.2 For Sony E-Mount

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Aperture: Maximum T1.2

Sensor coverage: Full Frame

Filter Thread: 82mm

Weight: 1.54 lb / 700 g

Length: 3.43” / 87 mm

The SLR Magic Cine 50mm lens is the nifty-fifty in this series.

Like the other options, it offers great optical image quality at this price point.

It is light and sturdy to carry around and a great choice if you want to buy only one cine lens for your full-frame camera.

Check the current price on Amazon (other mount options are also available).

SLR Magic MicroPrime Cine 75mm T1.5 Lens For Sony E-Mount

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Aperture: Maximum T1.5

Sensor coverage: Full Frame

Filter Thread: 82mm

Weight: 1.54 lb / 700 g

Length: 3.43” / 87 mm

The SLR Magic Cine 75mm lens is a great telephoto lens on a budget, and, like the other options, it is light enough and sturdy enough to carry around.

The crop factor may make this lens difficult to use if you shoot on anything besides a full-frame sensor.

For example, an APS-C sensor will read 112mm, which may be too telephoto for typical shooting conditions.

Check the current price on Amazon (other mount options are also available).

Descriptive Summary of SLR Magic Cine Lenses

Pros: These lenses create a great look for the price.

They are solid, durable, and have great glass while still being small enough to carry around easily.

The warm tint and soft corners create a cinematic, almost dreamy look.

They’re also one of the best cine lens choices for gimbal work due to their small size and weight.

Cons: Some of the issues with these lenses is that the SLR Magic lenses have a sharp center but soft corners.

This issue may be less noticeable when using lenses between the manufacturers, but pairing it with a higher quality piece of glass may make this stand out.

Conclusion: Overall, SLR Magic makes great lenses.

Furthermore, while the lenses I have selected are for a full-frame sensor and Sony E-Mount, they manufacture different lenses for all types of sensors.

You can get this particular series for the Micro Four Thirds image sensor and Fuji X Mount.

If you don’t have those, you can always use adapters.

The warm tint and soft corners help create a very cinematic look.

These lenses also share the same filter thread diameter, making it easy to swap filters, and all are very compact and portable.

Rokinon

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Rokinon Cine Lenses are available as kits where you can often save some money compared to buying each lens separately. We found this great Canon EF-mount kit, consisting of a 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, and 85mm T1.5 lens. You get a lens hood, soft bags, a cleaning kit, and more. In other words, the four most important focal lengths to get you started. Check the current price on Amazon.

There exists confusion about Rokinon and Samyang lenses and whether or not they’re the same brand.

This confusion is because Samyang partners with companies using private labeling to sell them.

Rokinon does not manufacture the glass, so besides the labeling and perhaps a few small adjustments, Samyang and Rokinon Glass are essentially the same.

However, as Rokinon is much more recognizable in the United States, I have selected three Rokinon lenses to look at: 24mm, 50mm, and 85mm.

The lenses listed below are for a Canon EF mount, though the same lenses can be found for various mounts.

Rokinon Cine 24mm T1.5 For Canon EF Mount

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Aperture: Maximum T1.5, Minimum T22

Minimum Focal Distance: 9.8” / 25cm

Filter Thread: 77mm

Weight: 1.4 lbs / 615 g

Length: 3.8” / 9.7 cm

The Rokinon Cine 24mm T1.5 lens is an incredible and affordable full-frame wide-angle lens in many different makes and models.

Though I listed the specs for the Canon EF mount, it’s also available in MFT, Nikon F, Sony Alpha, and Sony E mounts.

Check the current price on Amazon (other mount options are also available).

Rokinon Cine 50mm T1.5 For Canon EF Mount

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Aperture: Maximum T1.5, Minimum T22

Minimum Focal Distance: 1.5’ / 0.45m

Filter Thread: 77mm

Weight: 20.3 oz / 575 g

Length: 2.9” / 7.37 mm

Built for full-frame sensors, the Rokinon Cine 50mm lens is hard to beat a normal-length lens.

It is available in many different mounts, as is the 24mm, and is a full-frame lens.

These lenses are slightly heavier and larger than the SLR Magic lenses.

Check the current price on Amazon (other mount options are also available).

Rokinon Cine 85mm T1.5 Lens For Canon EF

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Aperture: Maximum T1.5, Minimum T22

Minimum Focal Distance: 3.6’ / 1.0m

Filter Thread: 72mm

Weight: 20.5 oz / 580 g

Length: 2.84” / 7.22cm

The Rokinon Cine 85mm T1.5 lens can create a very shallow depth of field and is a good starter telephoto lens.

It is a full-frame lens, so converting it to other sensor sizes will increase the equivalent focal length.

As with the other Rokinons, it is available in various mounts, so adapters shouldn’t be necessary for most cameras.

Check the current price on Amazon (other mount options are also available).

Descriptive Summary of Rokinon Cine DS Lenses

Pros: Rokinon lenses’ greatest pro is their price, which puts them in a very affordable price range.

They produce a relatively sharp image, especially if you are not shooting with a completely open aperture.

They offer sharp images and consistent color, essential to building a lens kit.

Cons: As they are so cheap, Rokinon lenses do come with some small cons.

Their images can be a bit soft towards the edges of the frame, and they also have small issues with focus breathing and vignetting.

Their sharpness especially suffers when the aperture is wide open, and they don’t produce sharp images and rich colors compared to more expensive glass.

Conclusion: Rokinon is one of the most recognizable budget cine lens brands, with good reason.

Though they are heavy and have minor issues with the build quality, they are good options at this lower price point.

The colors match great between lenses, their fast speed allows for great lowlight shooting, and they offer great color.

As is expected with lower-priced glass, there are some minor issues with vignetting and lens breathing.

They won’t produce the sharpest colors on the market, especially if you plan to shoot with it, the aperture completely opened up.

Meike

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Though we cover Meike for Micro-Four-Thirds sensors in the section below, you can also find Meike lenses for Sony E-mount. The lens above is for cameras such as a6400 with an APS-C size sensor. Click the photo to check the current price on Amazon.

Meike lenses are another cheap option and can provide great quality.

Lesser known than brands such as Rokinon, these lenses are limited in terms of variety and Micro Four Thirds native, meaning their equivalent focal length for full-frame cameras is twice what is listed.

Purchasing a lens adapter will add weight to your rig and raise the potential for light leaks, but high-quality adapters like the Metabones Speedbooster can add a couple of T-Stops.

Finally, it should be noted that if you adapt the Meike lenses to a different sensor size, you must make the conversion.

For example, a 25mm MFT native lens will be a 50mm equivalent on a full-frame sensor.

Therefore, Meike lenses may not all appear wide-angle on all cameras.

Meike 12mm T2.2 Cinema Lens For MFT Mount

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Aperture: Maximum T2.2, Minimum T22

Minimum Focal Distance: 8.66” / 22 cm

Filter Thread: 77mm

Weight: 1.33 lbs / 606g

Length: 3.50” / 89mm

The Meike 12mm Cine Lens is a full-frame, MFT mount wide-angle lens.

The equivalent focal length for an MFT sensor is 24mm, still offering a wide-angle field of view.

This durable lens produces a great image, but it is only available for MFT mounts.

Check the current price on Amazon.

Meike 16mm T2.2 Cinema Lens For MFT Mount

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Aperture: Maximum T2.2, Minimum T22

Minimum Focal Distance: 7.87” / 20 cm

Filter Thread: 77mm

Weight: 17.3 oz / 490g

Length: 4” / 101mm

Like the 12mm lens, the Meike 16mm Cine Lens is full-frame and only offered for an MFT mount. It is another great wide-angle option for filmmakers on a budget.

Check the current price on Adorama.
Check the current price on Amazon.

Meike 25mm T2.2 Cinema Lens For MFT Mount

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Aperture: Maximum T2.2, Minimum T22

Minimum Focal Distance: 9.8” / 24.9 cm

Filter Thread: 77mm

Weight: 1.23lbs / 557g

Length: 3.56” / 90.4mm

The Meike 25mm T2.2 is a full-frame, wide-angle, MFT mount lens.

Converting this lens to an MFT sensor will have an equivalent focal length of 50mm, giving you a normal-length lens.

Unlike the 12mm and 16mm lenses, the Meike 25mm CT2.2 Cine Lens is available for an MFT mount, E-Mount, and X-Mount.

Check the current price on Amazon.

Descriptive Summary of Meike Cine Lenses

Pros: Meike lenses have some of the most positive reviews for lenses in this price range.

They produce hardly any vignetting, little lens breathing, sharp images, and are extremely durable with an all-metal housing.

Furthermore, though the lenses in this kit are all wide-angle, they have no significant distortion.

Cons: One of the greatest cons of the Meike lenses is their weight. Due to their durability, the lenses are quite heavy and can get loose in the mount.

The lenses also produce soft corners, though they are sharpest roughly between T2.8 and T5.6.

Conclusion: Meike lenses are durable and provide great image quality and great value for the price.

For the price, they do an incredible job limiting problems such as vignetting and focus breathing.

However, the limited options in focal length and being MFT native limit your options if you are trying to build a kit.

Depending on your camera, you also may need to pick up a lens adapter.

A high-quality and durable adapter is also strongly recommended since the Meike’s weight can be cumbersome and cause issues with mounting.

Irix

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The Irix 45mm T4.3 for Canon on Amazon.

You should be excited if you haven’t heard of Irix Cine lenses. Irix is a manufacturer to consider.

While not as commonly seen as Rokinon and Canon, Irix Cine lenses are relatively affordable cine lenses, good quality, and produce a very nice cinematic look.

The lenses are also available in various lens mounts, meaning you won’t have to purchase an adapter.

Irix lenses feature what you’d expect in cine lenses: consistency between their lenses, gears for focus pulls, and an adjustable aperture.

These lenses also have a solid build quality, are weather-sealed, and have minimal distortion.

If you’re looking to build a cine lens kit, Irix is a great point of entry.

Currently, Irix has four cine lenses available: an 11mm T4.3 lens, a 15mm T2.6 lens, a 45mm T1.5 lens, and a 150mm T3.0 Macro (close focus) lens.

In this article, we will look at the 15mm, 45mm, and 150mm lenses to cover a variety of common focal lengths.

The lenses listed below are for a Canon EF Mount.

However, Irix also manufactures lenses for PL, Sony E, MFT, Canon RF, L-Mount, and Nikon Z mounts. Do a quick search on the stores to check for availability.

IRIX Cine 15mm T2.6 Lens with Canon EF-Mount

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Aperture: Maximum T2.6, Minimum T22

Minimum Focal Distance: 9.84” / 25 cm

Filter Thread: 86 mm

Weight: 1.97 lbs / 895 g

Length: 3.5” / 89 mm

The Irix Cine 15mm T2.6 lens is a very solid wide-angle lens. It is weather-sealed and features very durable construction.

A consistent filter thread size between the Irix family (except the 150mm macro lens) makes these lenses great for building a kit.

Plenty of ergonomic features, such as fluorescent markings and a ¼” support foot to stabilize the lens, also help set these lenses apart.

Check the current price on Amazon.

IRIX Cine 45mm T1.5 Lens with Canon EF-Mount

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Aperture: Maximum T1.5, Minimum T22

Minimum Focal Distance: 1.3’ / 0.4 m

Filter Thread: 86 mm

Weight: 2.49 lbs / 1.13 kg

Length: 4.41” / 112 mm

The Irix Cine 45mm T1.5 lens is a great cine for a solid price.

With a high-speed aperture, this lens can produce beautiful images, create a wide depth of field, and produce beautiful bokeh if that’s what you’re looking for.

Like the 15mm lens, this 45mm cine lens has all the cine features you’d expect and Irix’s solid and durable build.

Check the current price on Amazon.

Descriptive Summary of Irix Cine Lenses

Pros: Irix lenses are built exceptionally well, weather-sealed, and durable.

They have the same filter thread diameter so you can use your filters across different lenses.

These lenses do a great job of matching each other and producing a very nice cinematic look. They are great lenses to build a kit with.

Cons: There aren’t a lot of cons to Irix lenses. Especially for the price you’re paying, you get a wonderful image.

Of course, more expensive lenses can produce a more cinematic look and may have a marginally better color or less distortion, but it is hard not to be impressed with Irix lenses.

For the price, these lenses are tough to beat.

Conclusion: Irix may not currently be the most popular lens manufacturer, but they are gaining popularity and worth considering.

These are right, especially if you’re looking for durable and weather-sealed lenses.

Irix takes special care to ensure consistency between their lenses, meaning they are great for building a kit.

The Best Mid-Range Cine Lenses

Now, look at some of the best cine lenses at the mid-range price point.

A variety of small video production companies around the globe use the lenses in this category.

We will look at Rokinon Xeen lenses and Tokina Cinema ATX zoom lenses.

Rokinon Xeen

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Rokinon Xeen Cine Lenses are also available as kits where you can often save money compared to buying each lens separately. We found this great kit for Canon EF-mount (also available for MFT-mount, Nikon F Mount, PL Mount, and Sony Mount), which consists of a 24mm, 50mm, and 85mm T1.5 lens. Plus, you get a high-quality carry case. In other words, the three most important focal lengths to get you started. Click the photo above to check the current price on Amazon.

Rokinon Xeen lenses are the big brothers to the Rokinon lenses we looked at in terms of price and quality.

However, with that added price comes sharper images, richer color, and smoother and more ergonomic focus and aperture gearing.

If you want to take your work to the next level, Rokinon Xeen lenses may be for you.

The specs of three different Xeen lenses for a Canon mount are listed below, though they are available for MFT, Nikon, Sony, and PL mounts.

Rokinon Xeen XN24-C 24mm T1.5 For Canon EF

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Aperture: Maximum T1.5, Minimum T22

Minimum Focal Distance: 10” / 25cm

Filter Thread: 114mm

Weight: 41.6 oz / 1.2 kg

Length: 4.8” / 121.7mm

The Rokinon Xeen XN24-C cine lens fixes the problems in the cheaper Rokinon models.

It is built for a full-frame sensor and is also offered in MFT, Nikon, PL, and Sony FE mounts.

These lenses are sturdy with smooth gearing but also quite heavy.

Check the current price on Adorama (also available with other mounts and kits).
Check the current price on Amazon.

Rokinon Xeen XN50-C 50mm T1.5 For Canon EF

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Aperture: Maximum T1.5, Minimum T22

Minimum Focal Distance: 1.5’ / 0.45 m

Filter Thread: 114mm

Weight: 40.9 oz / 1.2 kg

Length: 4.8” / 121.7mm

This lens is a great normal-length lens.

Also offered in MFT, Nikon, PL, and Sony FE mounts, the XN50-C 50mm lens is readily available for most mounts.

It offers a clear, sharp image at a budget still available for many independent filmmakers.

Check the current price on Adorama (also available with other mounts and kits).
Check the current price on Amazon.

Rokinon Xeen XN85-C 85mm T1.5 For Canon EF

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Aperture: Maximum T1.5, Minimum T22

Minimum Focal Distance: 3.6’ / 1.1m

Filter Thread: 114mm

Weight: 43.0 oz / 1.2 kg

Length: 4.8” / 121.7 mm

The Rokinon Xeen XN85-C Cine Lens is a telephoto lens and a great addition to any kit.

Built for a full-frame sensor, this lens is offered in the same variety of mounts and has the same great features as the XN50 and XN24 lenses.

Check the current price on Adorama (also available with other mounts and kits).
Check the current price on Amazon.

Descriptive Summary of Rokinon Xeen Cine Lenses

Pros: The Rokinon Xeen lenses are very sharp and of higher build quality than the cheaper Rokinon cine lenses.

The cheaper versions have issues with the focus ring dragging and plastic housing, but the Rokinon Xeen lenses are sturdy and smooth.

They also have great color reproduction, offering a slightly warm image, making the Xeens the best value cine prime lenses for professionals.

Cons: When opened to T1.5, the images can be soft. The Rokinon Xeen lenses are also quite heavy compared to those mentioned above.

Conclusion: If it is within your budget, it is hard to go wrong with the Rokinon Xeen lenses. They are sturdy and smooth and provide great-quality images for a reasonable price.

Building a kit with these lenses can be expensive, but the Rokinon Xeen’s solve most problems with their cheaper alternatives.

Tokina Zoom Cine Lens

The Tokina Cinema 50-135 and 11-20mm lenses are the first zoom cinema lenses we will look at.

Though zoom cinema lenses can be more expensive, these options are relatively affordable, giving you a variety of focal lengths to shoot with.

The Tokina lenses we’re looking at are for Canon mounts, though other options are available.

Tokina Cinema ATX 50-135mm T3.0 For Canon EF

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Aperture: Maximum T3.0, Minimum T22

Minimum Focal Distance: 39.4” / 1m

Filter Thread: 114mm

Weight: 3.4 lbs / 1.5 kg

Length: 6.12” / 155.5 mm

The Tokina ATX 50-135 Cine Lens is a great option for anyone looking for an affordable zoom cine lens. It is a full-frame lens covering focal lengths from normal to telephoto.

It is offered in a PL and Canon EF mount, though anything else will require adaptation.

Check the current price on Adorama (also available for other mounts).
Check the current price on Amazon.

Tokina Cinema ATX 11-20mm T2.9 For Canon EF

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Aperture: Maximum T2.9, Minimum T22

Minimum Focal Distance: 0.98’ / 0.3m

Filter Thread: 86mm

Weight:. 2.43 lbs / 1.1 kg

Length: 3.92” / 99.5 mm

The Tokina ATX 11-20mm cine zoom lens is full-frame and parfocal, offering many great qualities in zoom cine lenses at a relatively low price.

The wide-angle lens is offered in Canon EF, MFT, PL, Nikon F, and Sony E mounts.

Check the current price on Adorama (also available with other mounts).
Check the current price on Amazon.

Descriptive Summary of Tokina Cine Zoom Lenses

Pros: The Tokina cine lenses have solid housing while still not being too heavy. These lenses offer quality sharpness and great colors that run a little warm.

They are also some of the most affordable zoom cine lenses, offering a variety of focal lengths at a relatively low price.

They are also parfocal, meaning the focus won’t shift while zooming, and the lens has minimal distortion.

Cons: On the 50-135mm Tokina lens, there have been some issues with stiff focus.

Additionally, if you use a lens adapter, there may be trouble holding focus while zooming, negating the benefit of a parfocal lens.

Furthermore, while the 11-16mm lens is offered in various mounts, the 50-135mm lens is only available for Canon EF or PL mounts, and the Tokina Cinema ATX lenses are offered in limited focal lengths.

The 11-20mm lens provides only wide-angle images, whereas the 50-135mm lens is primarily telephoto.

Conclusion: The Tokina Cinema ATX lenses are a great option for an affordable zoom lens.

Being parfocal and having a constant maximum aperture of T3, these lenses offer many of the benefits of zoom lenses at an affordable price.

However, their limited availability in terms of mounts can be an issue, especially as adapters can mess with focus.

Finally, the rather extreme focal lengths they cover limit your options when you want a more normal focal length.

The Best Affordable High-End Professional Cine Lenses

Now we will look at some of the higher-range cine lenses still used by many independent filmmakers.

These Cine Lenses offer professional quality and are found in many projects, from commercial work to narrative and documentary filmmaking.

The brands we will look at are Sigma and Canon.

Sigma Cine Zoom Lenses

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The Sigma Cine Zoom Lenses are also available as a kit (here with EF mount). Click on the photo to check the current price for this amazing cine zoom lens kit on Amazon, including a case.

The next two lenses we will be looking at are also zoom lenses.

The Sigma Cine Lenses are incredibly popular due to their high build and picture quality.

But still, they’re quite affordable compared to the zoom used in Hollywood Production.

Sigma offers these lenses natively for PL, Canon, and Sony mounts.

Sigma 18-35mm T2 High-Speed Zoom Lens For PL, Sony E, and Canon EF

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Aperture: Maximum T2, Minimum T16

Minimum Focal Distance: 11” / 27.94cm

Filter Thread: 82mm

Weight:. 4 lbs / 1.81 kg

Length: 6.12” / 155.5mm

The Sigma 18-35 zoom cine lens is wide-angle for Super 35 sensors.

It is great for documentary filmmakers and filmmakers with little time to swap lenses. It is offered for PL, Canon EF, and Sony E mounts.

Check the current price on Adorama (also available as a kit).
Check the current price on Amazon.

Sigma 50-100mm T2 High-Speed Zoom Lens For PL, Sony E, and Canon EF

Aperture: Maximum T2, Minimum T16

Minimum Focal Distance: 3.17’ / 96.5cm

Filter Thread: 82mm

Weight:. 4.27 lbs / 1.94 kg

Length: 7.92” / 201.2 mm

The Sigma 50-100mm zoom cine lens is also for Super 35 sensors and offered for PL, Canon EF, and Sony E mounts.

It covers focal lengths from normal to telephoto and is paired with the 18-35mm zoom lens. Filmmakers will have a very useable variety of focal lengths with just two lenses.

Check the current price on Adorama (also available as a kit).
Check the current price on Amazon.

Descriptive Summary of Sigma Cine Lenses

Pros: The Sigma Zoom lenses offer a sharp, clean, and neutral image. As expected with zoom lenses, versatility is a huge benefit, and being able to zoom is great for documentary and on-the-go situations.

Additionally, unlike the Tokina zoom lenses, the Sigma Zooms cover a much more useable range of focal lengths.

Their fixed aperture means they remain consistent.

Finally, a maximum aperture of T2 allows you to achieve a shallow depth of field and a much wider aperture than is offered in most zoom lenses.

Cons: These lenses are quite heavy, which can be an issue for run-and-gun filmmaking. They also have some minor lens breathing, which is worse in the 18-35mm lens than in the 50-100mm.

Also, as with their still counterparts – the Sigma Art-series zoom lenses – there are some inconsistencies regarding whether the lenses are parfocal.

Some have parfocal lenses. And some don’t. If this is limited to specific product ranges, I don’t know, but it is something to be aware of.

Description: For the money, the Sigma Zoom lenses are some of the best zoom cine lenses you can get.

These lenses cover almost all focal lengths needed in everyday shooting and do well to limit most of the problems in zoom lenses.

Though they are large and heavy, they can do well to replace a full lens kit, especially for run-and-gun filmmakers who find themselves changing lenses far too often.

If you are a documentary filmmaker and shoot on location, the Sigma Zooms are great lenses to pick up.

Canon CN-E Cine Lenses

The Canon CN-E cine lenses are some of the highest quality cine lenses within a somewhat reasonable budget for independent filmmakers.

Though you could probably buy a car for the price it would take to build a kit of these lenses, their price tag is not without reason.

These lenses are for a Canon EF mount and full-frame sensor, so if you intend to use them with different mounts and sensor sizes, an adapter and conversion will be required.

Here, I list the 24mm, 50mm, and 85mm options, but the Canon CN lenses are also offered for 14mm, 20mm, 35mm, and 135mm.

Canon CN-E 24mm T1.5 L F Cine Lens

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Aperture: Maximum T1.5, Minimum T22

Minimum Focal Distance: 12” / 31cm

Filter Thread: 144mm

Weight: 2.6 lbs / 1.2 kg

Length: 4” / 10.2 mm

The Canon CN-E 24mm cine lens is a wide-angle, full-frame lens built for Canon EF mounts.

It is a professional quality cine lens and will give you a professional image.

These lenses are quite heavy and are best suited for controlled environments.

Check the current price on Adorama (also available as kits).
Check the current price on Amazon.

Canon CN-E 50mm T1.3 L F Cine Lens

Aperture: Maximum T1.3, Minimum T22

Minimum Focal Distance: 18” / 45.7cm

Filter Thread: 114mm

Weight: 2.4 lbs / 1.1 kg

Length: 4” / 10.2 mm

The Canon CN-E 50mm lens is a great normal-length lens built for full-frame Canon EF mounts.

The same filter thread diameter, form factor, and optical design shared between the CN-E lenses allow for a kit of these lenses to be easily swapped without any adapters or changes in image quality.

Check the current price on Adorama (also available as kits).

Canon CN-E 85mm T1.3 L F Cine Lens

Aperture: Maximum T1.3, Minimum T22

Minimum Focal Distance: 3.16’ / 96cm

Filter Thread: 114mm

Weight: 2.9 lbs / 1.3 kg

Length: 4” / 10.2 mm

A great addition to a kit of CN-E lenses, the Canon CN-E 85mm Cine Lens will give you a telephoto option that shares the same strengths as the 24mm and 50mm options.

If you are looking for a professional quality telephoto cine lens, it is hard to go wrong with this option.

Check the current price on Adorama (also available as kits).
Check the current price on Amazon.

Descriptive Summary of Canon Cine CN-E Lenses

Pros: The Canon CN-E lenses are amazing pieces of glass and some of the best lenses you can find for the EF Mount.

They are sharp throughout the aperture range and have no noticeable vignetting, lens breathing, or distortion.

Their gearing is high build quality and extremely smooth, offering great color.

Cons: Their weight. If you are shooting on a DSLR, chances are your lenses will be heavier than the camera, so make sure it doesn’t tip over.

Another con is the price. The CN-E line offers some great glass, but building a kit with these lenses is impossible for many independent filmmakers.

Finally, these lenses are only offered for Canon EF mounts and must be converted if you shoot with anything else.

Conclusion: If it is within your budget, you can’t go wrong with the Canon CN-E lenses, especially if you’re shooting on a camera with a Canon EF mount. Otherwise, an adapter will be needed.

These lenses are truly impressive and will offer you professional-grade sharpness and colors. The lenses are also of professional build quality, which means they are quite heavy.


In-depth Buyer’s Guide To Cine Lenses.

A cine lens (short for cinema lens) is an excellent choice for indie filmmakers and videographers looking to take their image and production quality to the next level.

However, the world of cine lenses can still be quite daunting, and finding what model and brand to select can be a big choice.

Furthermore, there are a lot of different brands and often quite a bit of confusion between them.

Therefore, I have selected some of the most respected brands for independent filmmakers and videographers at affordable prices.

Why choose a cine lens?

Even though you can use a photography lens on most cameras, cine lenses have many benefits when shooting video content.

Here is a quick overview of why cinema lenses are preferred over photo lenses for filming:

Cinema lenses have de-clicked and larger aperture rings, making pulling a manual focus much easier and smoother.

Cine lenses come with focus gear rings, as standard, for follow-focus equipment.

Cinema lenses use T-stops instead of F-stops, a more precise measurement of the light traveling through the lens. This also makes it easier to match lenses.

Both cine primes and cine zooms have a fixed aperture.

Cine zoom lenses are parfocal, meaning they don’t change focus when you zoom in or out.

Cine lenses are ruggedly built to last and often have a metal construction housing.

Cine lenses can come with LP or LPL mount, the standard locking mounts on the industry standard Cinema camera, like those from ARRI.

Different Types Of Cine Lenses

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Cine lenses can vary quite a bit between manufacturers. However, certain things remain consistent.

In describing any lens, wide-angle refers to focal lengths under 50mm. Normal lenses are around 50mm, and telephoto lenses are focal lengths above that.

I will also briefly discuss cine zooms with an adjustable focal length.

Cine zooms cost more per lens but can replace multiple prime lenses.

In recent years, a range of affordable cinema anamorphic lenses ready to shoot out of the box has hit the market.

These are great if you don’t want to stitch together your anamorphic setups from vintage-taking lenses, ISCO anamorphic projectors, custom focus rings, clamps, and more.

I’ll cover these in a separate article soon.

Finally, while it is possible to convert vintage photography lenses to function similarly to cine lenses, we will only focus on cine lenses manufactured as such.

How to Choose The Best Cine Lens For Your Video Camera

Knowing your budget and shooting requirements is important to select the best lenses for you.

It is also important to be aware of the camera you’re shooting on and how that may affect your image.

Certain lenses will be designed for full frame, and if you’re using an APS-C cropped sensor, the field of view will be equivalent to a larger focal length.

For example, using a 50mm lens on the APS-C has a 1.5x crop factor and will result in a 75mm equivalent image.

Likewise, if you’re using a 50mm cine lens on mirrorless cameras with a Micro-Four-Thirds sensor like in the Panasonic GH5 or BMPCC4K, it will have the equivalent field of view of a 100mm lens on a full-frame sensor due to the 2x crop factor.

Notice the sensor does not change the focal length or aperture of the lens. Instead, it changes the perceived image.

However, if you’re looking for a wide-angle lens but have a cropped sensor, it is important to multiply the crop factor by the focal length.

You might also like Most Common Lenses And Focal Lengths Used in Movies.

Using Lenses Meant For Bigger Sensors On Cameras With A Smaller Sensor

As a rule of thumb, you can adapt lenses for bigger sensors for cameras with smaller sensors, but not the other way around.

If you try to do the latter, it can cause heavy vignetting.

However, some lenses are built for different sensor sizes. Therefore, be sure to take the time to read about the lens you’re buying and the camera you have.

For example, adapting lenses for larger sensors to a Micro-Four-Thirds sensor (also known as an MFT sensor or m43 sensor) often results in images not being as sharp since the lenses weren’t designed for the sensor size.

However, if you pick up a focal reducer such as the Metabones Speedbooster, you can adapt the glass and gain some T-stops.

This can make even standard-speed lenses usable in low-light situations.

In addition to sensor size, double-check the mount on your camera and ensure it matches the lenses you’re purchasing or that you have the appropriate adapter.

Finally, if you plan on using any filters, you may want to check the filter thread size (not to be confused with the front diameter of the lens.)

I have included specifications for all the lenses in this article, and most manufacturers make the same lenses for various mounts.

Consider Renting

If you’re looking to get your hands on expensive and high-end cine lenses commonly used for feature films – such as Zeiss Compact Primes, Schneider Cine-Xenar III, or even Tokina Vista, renting might be a better option.

In that case, going to a rental house or visiting sites such as www.lensrentals.com can be very helpful.

However, this article is for you if you’re looking at building your cine lens kit.

We will briefly describe different types of lenses and how to ensure you choose the best lens for your needs before going over different lenses from brands such as Rokinon and Sigma.

After this article, no matter your price range, you will be prepared to take the first steps to build your lens kit.

Conclusion

As independent filmmakers, it is important to know our options to get the best quality image we can, and with any of these brands, it is hard to go wrong.

The lenses I’ve presented in this article are some of the best and most affordable cine lenses.

While, in many cases, a simple Rokinon lens will do a great job, a zoom lens may be more functional if you plan on shooting projects that involve hiking or require little or no time to set up.

Depending on the camera you intend to shoot on, certain brands may be better suited, or at least not necessitate the purchase of an adapter.

Regardless of your needs, it is important to keep the law of diminishing returns in mind when selecting your lens.

If you’re picking up your first cine lens, any of these options will surely be an improvement over a kit lens or a cheap still lens.

However, as you move from Rokinon’s to Rokinon Xeen’s to Canon CN-E’s, the added benefits you’re paying for become smaller and smaller, from smoother gearing to subtle improvements in sharpness and color.

While the nicer build quality is great, don’t be discouraged or intimidated by the price tag if you can’t afford it.

Cheaper brands can still produce great images if used correctly.

Another note is that the conditions you’re shooting in greatly improve the lens’s quality.

Before you pick up a Canon CN-E lens, ensure you can provide good lighting and a steady camera.

Even a great lens will do little to save a poorly exposed or shaky shot, so you need some image stabilization for the best results.

That being said, any of these lenses can create a great image, and a cine lens is necessary for any filmmaker.

The control and consistency offered by these lenses will be a lifesaver in any upcoming project.

If you upgrade from a kit lens, you will be shocked by how much better your image looks.

I am a fan of Rokinon as a brand and love the quality they offer at such a low price.

However, the look of all these lenses is great, and all have their strengths and weaknesses.

The most important thing to remember is that picking the right lens comes down to your needs and style, so if you prefer a brand or know which lens you’ll pick up after reading this, leave a comment below and let us know.

I look forward to your thoughts and hope you can use some of these great lenses.


Author

    by
  • Cade Taylor

    Cade Taylor is a filmmaker and writer based out of Los Angeles. Originally from Seattle, he continues to work as the Outreach Coordinator for the Bigfoot Script Challenge, where he helps connect up-and-coming writers with industry professionals. When he’s not working on his own projects, helping out with Bigfoot, or covering desks, Cade loves to share what he knows with other filmmakers and promote great content.

2 thoughts on “A Filmmaker’s Guide To Quality Cine Lenses for Every Budget”

  1. Im not sure if you would like to change that you probably already went on with your life, but it sucks to have missinformation out there. The sigma 18-35 and 50-100 are super 35 not full frame lenses

    Reply
    • Hi Anaphael.

      Well, that was embarrassing. I even own the photo versions, which I use with RED Komodo – because they cover exactly the super 35 sensor! Nice catch! There’s so much data in the article, so I missed this error when I reviewed and edited the article.

      Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

      Best Regards,

      Jan – Founder of FilmDaft

      Reply

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