Utterly soft and below par......man......that's a first. Brian, you love stirring the pot don't you!
I offered my posts as helpful advice to the original poster as he stated that he will be shooting both video and stills. Again, based on my tests, tests done by multiple photographers including two of which work at National Geographic and on information available in the photographic community, Canon lenses are considered to lack clarity. While this may not be noticeable in 5K footage, it is quite apparent when you are comparing ~20 MP photos.
Also, in the now deleted "Testing with Peter Lik..." thread, Mr. Jannard stated something along the lines of Canon lenses being disappointingly soft. (I don't want to incorrectly quote him.)
Also, I just found that one of the photographers I was referring to had posted his results online: http://photocinenews.com/2010/10/22/...o-zeiss-glass/
Resolving power depends entirely on the abilities of each individual lens. Some of the Canon glass is very good and more than capable of resolving the 22MP and beyond at FF35 imager size. Pretty much everything in the L series will do this with ease. Some of the other lenses don't cut it. Same can be said about lenses from other makers. As far as the Canon L series goes, there are some real gems in there. The 16-35L II and the 70-200L are amazing zooms, wicked sharp. Like Jacek (Optitek) says, the MP reference is completely flawed. The Panasonic GH2 packs 16MP into a micro 4/3 sensor and there are plenty of lenses that can resolve that just fine, including Canon lenses used with an adaptor, or Nikon or whatever. That system has greater pixel density than the new 5DMKIII does.
As for cinema lenses for still photography... They would not be my first choice. As Evin points out, there's the additional cost, loss of auto functionality, exposure and focus feedback, etc.. Generally speaking, cinema lenses are larger and heavier too.
FWIW, the Zeiss ZF/ZE and CP.x 18mm offering is the one lens in the series that does not fully cover the FF35 frame. In my professional opinion, that lens is a complete turd anyway. I'm not a fan of the 501.4 in that Zeiss formulation either. The 50mm f2.0 macro is far superior and is a wonderful lens.
For cine lenses, the RPP's can't be beat in terms of image quality for the money. They're an amazing value. In terms of sharpness and clarity, they beat most everything else out there -- as Jim Jannard loves to keep pointing out. And they also win out against equivalent Canon and Nikon primes, both by what RED says and in my own testing. If you want to out-do the RPP's, you really have to buy the Zeiss Master Primes. Even then, you're not gaining anything in terms of sharpness, corner resolution or field illumination. You're spending 5~6X as much for the name, the slightly better mechanics, better markings and that extra bit of "speed" with the T1.3 aperture. If T1.3 is what you're after, take a look at the Illuminas. Technically not as good as the RPP's, Ultras or Masters, but they're fast and are priced favorably. More than the RPP's still, but comparable to the CP.2's or Cooke /i Panchros. The /i Panchros are wonderful lenses too, but for the money I would prefer the Angenieux DP zooms. Similar aperture and overall image quality, but in a lightweight zoom with almost no breathing. ...Love those zooms.
I have used a heck ton of still lenses for both still and cinema applications. The best way I can sum it up in general terms is:
-Zeiss glass has a bit more punch, more micro contrast, pushes colors deeper
-Leica R glass has less punch, less contrast, and has a smoother/natural color feel
-Canon EF glass has some punch, favors warmer colors, and generally saturated colors
-Nikon glass has some punch, favors green/blue, and generally saturated colors
-Sigma similar punch to Canon EF, yet often even a warmer tint to the image in general
-Tokina also similar punch to Canon EF, but less for sure, favors colors similar to Nikon overall
I own or have tested a lot of this glass and this is again generally speaking. There are certain lenses in every manufacturers lineup that stand out for either good reasons or bad reasons. Some Zeiss lenses aren't so lovely, but something like say the 21mm f/2.8 has got a lot of micro contrast and really pulls out the detail even at infinity. Leica has that magic touch on a lot of their glass and really produces lovely skin tones overall, but isn't so contrasty. Canon has plenty of resolving power, but often lacks the micro contrast/pop that Zeiss is so well known for. But I'd take the Canon f/1.2L over pretty much every other 50mm lens from the other manufacturers. I've got some older glass from the 1960's and 70's from both Nikon and Olympus that I adore for different reasons as well. I really love the feeling of older Nikon glass for some reason and even some of their most modern designs I'm very into.
As others have mentioned, lens selection is often a personal choice based on experience and testing. I very much agree with "OptiTek" :) and have done similar projection based testing. You know everything the second you see an image 40'+ on a screen. The best thing you can do is just try out as much as possible when possible. Most photographers and cinematographers in the right setting will let you put a lens on a camera for some test shots.
Most modern cinema lenses work very well as still lenses on APS-C and -H bodies for stills. Technically speaking the optical design and how light is hitting the sensor/image plane determines the final image quality. However, I wouldn't carry a bunch of Master Primes to shoot stills of anything due to the weight, price, and lack of functionality as a still lens.
I shall now exit this conversation as I appeared to have caused quite a bit of confusion. :-)
Brian, I still have the little 99% lens test on the todo list. A friend has a bunch of lens's and we will see.
And I promise to post full res. images/crops to compare. I don't like or trust things I can't see when it comes to lens stuff.
Let the viewers see and decide for themselves. Everything else is talk. ( * Sample variations withstanding )
I've tested the zf 50 1.4 and 85 1.4, cp2 50 and 85 and canon ef 50 1.2 and 85 1.2 side by side last year.
i only tested sharpness completely open (just for the canons), then at 1.4 and then at f2.0. these are the settings that most interest me.
i found the zf 50mm 1.4 the unsharpest of the bunch, and its "Bokeh" ok but not amazing- similar to the canon f1.2.
the nicest looking lens, and the sharpest was my ef 85 1.2, it was sharper than the zf 1.4 85 even when compared at 1.2 alongside. the bokeh was by far the nicest of all the lenses- very pretty. even at f2.0 the blur was nicer than all the others.
CP2s where very sharp- very hard to tell over the ef 85 1.2, but f2.0 is very slow. I'm not sure what people are talking about when they say that cp2s are rehoused zfs, because at f2.0 the cp2s were heaps sharper than the zfs.
so i was very disappointed in the zfs. i do feel there is a blind following though towards famous marques- based on old reputations. don't drink the kool-aid, i suggest renting some lenses and deciding your self.
if i can find the images ill post them from the test.
i really rate the ef 85 f1.2- i was shooting stills along side a tvc the other day and shooting pretty much the same setup as the tvc (as what sometimes happens with these things- covering the same setup), and the tvc was using one of those super large f2.8 optimas. the shots out of my full frame canon (1dsmk3) looked in my opinion quite a bit nicer than they seemed to be getting from their camera. the DP was impressed too with the shots out of my stills camera. I'm sure frame size helped, but the canon lens was very impressive.
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