Sigma has been aggressively innovating their product line over the last few years, and as of today they just made their biggest announcement yet – a brand new cinema lens lineup. While I personally haven’t invested in any Sigma glass as of yet, that may very well change in the near future thanks to today’s announcement…
In total, Sigma has announced no less than 8 new cinema lenses. 3 zooms and 5 primes:
- 18-35mm T2 (APS-C) Zoom Lens
- 50-100mm T2 (APS-C) Zoom Lens
- 24-35mm T2.2 (Full Frame) Zoom Lens
- 20mm T1.5 (Full Frame) Prime Lens
- 24mm T1.5 (Full Frame) Prime Lens
- 35mm T1.5 (Full Frame) Prime Lens
- 50mm T1.5 (Full Frame) Prime Lens
- 85mm T1.5 (Full Frame) Prime Lens
The first two lenses on this list (the 18-35mm and 50-100mm) will be the first to be released at the end of this year. The rest of the lenses, including the full frame prime kit and the full frame 24-35mm zoom will be rolled out in 2017.
No prices for any of the lenses have been released just yet.
I can only imagine that much like the Zeiss Cp2’s or Rokinon XEEN’s, these are re-housed stills lenses. The focal lengths and speed of the glass is of course the giveaway, since they perfectly match Sigma’s Art series. With that in mind, I’m sure there will be some notable differences between the new cinema-housed Sigma lenses and the Art series, above and beyond the physical housing.
When stills lenses are re-housed for cinema use, other small but important tweaks are often made along the way. For instance, it’s common for manufacturers to add more aperture blades and use better lens coating on the glass to allow the lenses to perform at their absolute best. While we don’t yet know exactly how these lenses will differ from the Art lenses (other than the housing of course), I’m sure they will offer numerous improvements and optimal performance.
These lenses have the potential to make a massive dent in the industry as long as they meet one criteria – they need to be priced very competitively. Currently, Rokinon’s XEEN lenses are the most affordable cinema lenses on the market, and they seem to be selling pretty well. That said, their glass (in my opinion at least) is not at the level of the Sigma Art lenses, so I don’t doubt that Sigma’s new cinema series will sell even better than the XEEN’s, so long as they’re priced right.
Rokinon’s XEEN lenses each cost about $2500 a pop, which is significantly lower than just about any other option on the market. The next cheapest options are the Schneider Xenon’s, the Canon CN-E’s, and the Zeiss Cp2’s, which all run in the $4000 – $6000 range per lens.
If Sigma can price these in the same ballpark as the Rokinon lenses ($2500 or less per lens), they’ll fly off the shelves. Generally speaking, it would be a no brainer for most filmmakers to choose the Sigma’s over the Rokinon’s at that price, since the Sigma’s will likely deliver better quality image in every way. On the other hand, if these lenses are priced higher (in that $4000-$6000 range), they’ll be a much tougher sell. There’s more competition at that price point, and some filmmakers may prefer to invest in one of the more established cinema-lens brands, namely Zeiss or Schneider.
That said, the Sigma Cinema line is going to have some advantages over Zeiss and Schneider, especially when it comes to speed. Sigma’s cinema primes are all rated at T1.5, unlike the Zeiss Cp2’s which vary from T1.5 to T3.6 or the Schneider Xenon’s which range from T2.1 to T2.4. This may not be a deal breaker for everyone, but the fact that Sigma’s prime kit is effectively super speed caliber (and constant throughout the line), is definitely going to sway some buyers.
Sony’s CineAlta lenses are another option for filmmakers looking for cinema glass on a budget (the 6 lens set is about $12,500), but they too have disadvantages when compared to the Sigmas. Specifically, the CineAlta lenses don’t cover full frame sensors and they are all rated at T2, which again is slower than the blazing fast T.15 Sigma is delivering.
Sigma’s entire line of cinema lenses will be offered in EF and E Mount right off the bat, and PL mount versions are said to come later. This might give us some hope that the pricing on these lenses will be very competitive, seeing as Sigma is clearly going after the lower budget market with EF and E mounts offered before PL. It’s not yet clear whether or not the lenses will have swappable mounts (allowing them to be changed to PL down the road), but hopefully that’s something Sigma has in the works.
I’m definitely looking forward to trying out these lenses, and putting them to use on some future productions. If nothing else, I’m happy to see Sigma is shaking things up in the cinema lens market, and hopefully more lens manufacturers will follow suit in the future.
Let me know what you think of these lenses in the comments below.
Noam Kroll is an award-winning Los Angeles based filmmaker, and the founder of the boutique production house, Creative Rebellion. His work can be seen at international film festivals, on network television, and in various publications across the globe. Follow Noam on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for more content like this!