XEEN Prime Lens Test: 14mm & 35mm
- February 24, 2016
- Shane Hurlbut, ASC
Today we are doing a XEEN lens comparison test with the newly added 14mm and 35mm XEEN lenses. We’re going to compare these lenses with the Canon CN-E, Zeiss CP.2, and our Cooke S4 lenses. To do this, we rigged it up so that we have all four cameras rolling at the same time, each with a different lens so that they could have the same exposure and light. There are also c-stands in the shots so that we can see how much the stands bend to gauge the distortion quality of these lenses. To test our colors and contrast, we have my Neutral Day Interior LUT that I used on Into the Badlands loaded in, and we’re going to see how the different lenses handle bokeh, color, contrast, and resolving power. These lenses all have their unique qualities, and we are going to see how they compare with breathing as well.
These are the specs for our test:
14mm XEEN Lens Test:
We’re going to start off by looking at how the 14mm XEEN lens compares to the other lenses. This lens goes from a t3.1-t22. Let’s see how this lens looks set at a t3.5:
Qualities of the 14mm XEEN Lens:
- There’s a slight green tinge; you can see this in Monette’s skin.
- There is a bit of distortion; you can see that the c-stands on the side bend a bit inwards.
- There’s enough contrast to pull Monette from the background.
- The lens looks relatively sharp.
- Bokeh blooms out.
14mm XEEN Compared to 14mm Canon:
The XEEN lens has more of a green tinge compared to the Canon. You can see this by looking at the background. The background of the XEEN looks more cyan, and the background wall with the Canon looks more blue. The XEEN lens also blooms the highlights more and generally has more contrast. You can see a lot more details in the black with the Canon, and there is less distortion with that lens. The Canon has less distortion on the sides, but the Canon lens slims Monette much more than the XEEN lens.
14mm XEEN Compared to 15mm Zeiss CP.2:
Next, we’re going to compare the 14mm XEEN to the 15mm Zeiss CP.2 lens because there isn’t a Zeiss CP.2 14mm lens.
The Zeiss is colder, and you can really see the magenta in the backlight pop. The Zeiss also has a bit more of a star effect with the bokeh highlights and less distortion on the edges. The highlights and depth of both lenses are about the same, but the Zeiss has more contrast than the XEEN. You can see more details in the blacks with the XEEN.
14mm XEEN Compared to 14mm Cooke S4:
Comparing the 14mm XEEN and the 14mm Cooke S4, I can see that the XEEN lens has more distortion. You really can see the stands on the XEEN curve compared to how much they do with the Cooke. These lenses both have about the same amount of depth. The Cooke has more of the star effect in the bokeh. The Cooke also has less contrast and more of this nice natural gradation from the blacks to the lighter tones. The Cooke is a lens that’s $20,000, so we are also getting more detail and resolution in the background when compared to the XEEN.
These Lenses Open – Summing It Up:
The Zeiss and the Canon lenses have about the same resolution in the background, and the Cooke has the best resolution. From least to most contrast, we have the Cooke, Canon, XEEN, and finally, the Zeiss. Color wise, the XEEN has a green tinge to it, and the Cooke is the most neutral.
Testing at T5.6:
Now that we are testing these lenses set at a t5.6, take a look at the side by side comparisons below, starting with the 14mm XEEN compared to the 15mm Canon:
The same characteristics from earlier carry over when the lenses are changed to a t5.6, but what I’m noticing here is that the resolution with the 14mm XEEN at t5.6 is slightly better in the background than it was when the lens was set at T3.5. So with the 14mm XEEN, it’s better to shoot at a t5.6 than wide open.
Comparing the 14mm XEEN and the 15mm Zeiss at about a t5.6, the Zeiss has a bit more contrast and the bokeh has more of that star pattern. The XEEN also still has a greenish tinge to it.
Looking at the 14mm XEEN at t5.6 and the 14mm Cooke at t4 7/10, you can see that the Cooke looks more neutral in color.
The XEEN widens Monette’s body. The Canon and Zeiss make her look a bit thinner, and the Cooke pulls her from the background.
35mm XEEN Lens Test:
Now we’re going to test the 35mm XEEN with the other 35mm lenses to see how the lenses compare. Let’s start by taking a look at the general characteristics of the 35mm XEEN lens when it is set at a t1.5.
The 35mm XEEN lens still has a green tinge, but there is only slight halation around the bokeh and less distortion on the sides. The c-stands aren’t bending as much with the 35mm. Besides the green, the overall look with the 35mm XEEN is pretty good and doesn’t have any IR pollution.
When comparing this lens with the other 35mm lenses, all set around a t2, a lot of the same qualities we saw with the 14mm lenses apply here with the 35mm lenses. The XEEN has a greener color; the Canon adds this slimming effect to Monette; the Cooke has amazing resolving power in the background; and the Zeiss is a cooler lens with a lot of contrast. However, shooting wide open makes your bokeh nice and round. The more you close down, the more you get that star-like bokeh.
With the lenses set around a t2.8, you can see that the star effect with the bokeh is starting to happen.
With the lenses set around a t5.6, you can start to see how the contrast begins to change. For the Cookes, at around a t4 1/2, the lens starts to have more contrast. When I shoot with the Cookes, I like to shoot wide open so that I have a look with less contrast and more detail. The Zeiss and XEEN seem to hold a consistent amount of contrast as we change the stop, and the Canon seems to increase in contrast as we close down.
Breathing of the Lenses:
Breathing is something that happens when you throw focus on a lens. When you rack focus to the foreground and then to the background or vice versa, the lens will zoom in and zoom out. With breathing, this can be distracting because it calls attention to what the filmmaker is doing rather than being a smooth rack focus. Most cinema glass in the over-$20,000 range is designed not to breathe. With our test, we’re going to see how the 14mm and 35mm breathe. Our specs for this breathing test are the same as before:
Now check out the video here to see how our different lenses breathe: