XEEN Lenses in Action on the 8K Red Monstro
- December 23, 2018
- Shane Hurlbut, ASC
The Monstro is RED’s top of the line sensor, it sees EVERYTHING, it’s physically wider than every other Vistavision format camera on the market and with the highest resolution and widest dynamic range, you cannot hide anything from this sensor.
The RED Monstro tells all.
I needed to know what I was getting myself into with this sensor if I were to use Xeen lenses on it. How much of the sensor would they cover – and how well would they do it? Keep in mind that the XEEN were really originally tailored for Full Frame Stills, which is only 36mm x 24mm, so this this test is pushing the limit. Haha, but that’s what I like to do – push it to the limit! I tend to like to use the XEEN on my gimbal and aerial rigs because, as cinema lenses go, they are feather light. That said, they are very affordable lenses, and honestly that usually means something’s got to give – I just needed to know what and by how much.
Chip charts and meters can only tell you so much about a lens. At the end of the day, you need to get out there and shoot. It’s the best way to truly see how the characteristics of a set of lenses will impact an image, and it’s a hell of a lot of fun.
I tasked my team with a simple objective. Show me frames that focus on these 6 attributes:
I wanted to see scenes in the real world, with only naturally available light, where these 6 attributes would be seen. Oh, and to take the time to make it pretty! Haha.
This is what they came back with:
Here’s some of my thoughts on those 6 attributes:
The highlights in the bokeh reveal how smooth the bokeh is, it’s circular and natural. We don’t hardly see any signs of aperture blades. You don’t see the out of focus lights in the background begin to warp in ovals or coma shapes as they near the edge of frame. Very smooth bokeh. In the second frame of the waves against the beach you can see how that “smooth” quality makes the out of focus elements a bit painterly. It reminds me of an impressionist oil painting.
The Xeens tend to lean toward green in their overall cast, which is reminiscent of the Leica Summicron-C’s, which were my primary lens of choice for my last two feature films. Now, let me say this (Imagine Gordon Gekko’s Voice) – GREEN is GOOD. Canon are red/pink, Zeiss are blue, Ultra Primes are yellow, what I’m saying is most lenses lean one direction or another in their overall color tone.
Green is good because it’s easy to make warm, and it’s easy to get that beautiful cyan/teal out of your blues that are so popular are in cinema.
Xeen’s are excellent in flare suppression. Miles ahead of Canon, and you can see that in our previous test. You can point these things straight at the sun and they hold their contrast. They bloom elegantly and subtly. They starburst nicely too. With that said, they won’t be delivering any flowery stylish flares if that’s what you hipsters are looking for…
All of the Xeen’s, minus the 14mm, have an excellent balance of distortion vs flatness that allows images to be 3d while not bringing attention to itself. You need a little bit of distortion to allow the subject to “pop” out of the background. The 14mm isn’t featured here, though, because it has a very exaggerated distortion – which can be really cool at time, but not for the majority of use on a sensor that’s already this big.
Wow. What else do you want me to say? I’m pretty sure these things exceed 8k resolution, but they do it smoothly – notice that’s a common theme?
This was all shot in full 8k, 8192×4320 – which not all the lenses cover. They do all cover in the 8K HD resolution of 7680×4320 though. You can see the full details of coverage in our previous reviews here.
So to wrap it up; the Xeens give way beyond their design spec into the 8K Vista Vision realm. Surprisingly so, actually. They’re currently up to an 8 lens set – but I want more! So let’s keep pushing them to make more! I need to see a 40mm and 28 or 29mm. I want to see some macros in there too. But don’t just take my word for it, go and see for yourself.