ZEISS’s new CP.3 XD lenses boast eXtended Data – new metadata that provides frame-accurate information about the shading and distortion properties of each individual lens, along with metadata about focal length, calibrated T-stop value and focusing distance. We sat down with ZEISS’s Luke Tait to find out what this means for you.
So, how does eXtended Data work?
It’s based on Cooke /i technology, so the lenses communicate with the camera through the mount, with information on where they’re focused (accurate to 1mm) and what the iris is set to (accurate to within one tenth of a stop).
What XD does is take that communication a lot further. Each individual lens has its shading and distortion characteristics measured at factory level, so the lens knows all that stuff about itself. When you plug in to the XD port on the camera, it can communicate that information to software in post, or those characteristics can be seen and changed live on set.
How is this going to affect production?
It allows you to change the look of a shot quite dramatically on set. Not only can you remove the distortion and shading, but you can exaggerate it, and really change the way the lens looks.
And because that circuitry’s inside the lens now, we can release firmware updates and plug-ins to make them do other things. People have suggested built-in ND effects, so they can slide in ND changes in production or post without having to use other glass or a matte box – we want to keep everything light and easy for drone shooting. The potential for us to add more information and characteristics into the XDs is what makes them exciting. It makes them very future proof.
Presumably the idea is a big hit with post houses?
It’s particularly useful for VFX and augmented reality stuff – Ember Films recently used the XD lenses to recreate the HALO drop scene from the Godzilla movie, which is very VFX heavy. Using XD lenses saved them a lot of time in post, because they could dial out all the distortion and shading characteristics of the lens, do their VFX and then put that information back in to maintain the look of the lenses.
Sensors are getting bigger and higher res, therefore the time needed in post is getting longer because the information is more cumbersome. Anything that can save time in post is useful, and these lenses can do that.
Blackmagic Design have announced that they’re building XD integration into Resolve. Are you dealing with any other manufacturers?
We want XD to be universal, so we’re talking to every camera and software manufacturer – NUKE support is next.
The CP.2 was extremely popular. Why did you decide it was time to move on?
The CP.2 is ten years old, and we’re always asking ourselves ‘how can we improve our products? What’s going on in the world that we need to respond to?’ And the main things were the amount of drone footage people shoot, and the amount of handheld gimbal work that’s going on, both of which mean we need to make our lenses smaller and lighter – that’s something we’ve done on the standard CP.3s and the XD versions.
The CP.3 is available in XD and non-XD models. What are the new features can we look forward to besides the XD port?
One of the niggles people had with the CP.2 was the focusing, which could be quite stiff, particularly if you were somewhere cold. So we’ve taken some technologies from our Ultra Prime and Master Prime lenses and put them into the CP.3, so the focus is silky smooth. We’ve also updated the coatings on every single bit of glass inside the lens, which means that it’s a lot sharper. They deal with flares and aberrations better. So overall: lighter, smaller, cheaper, smoother, sharper.
But people can still expect that the CP.3 will shoot like the CP.2?
There are a lot of good things about the CP.2 that we’ve maintained. So the out of focus qualities are beautiful – it’s really en vogue at the moment to have nice looking bokeh, and the out of focus bits on the CP.2 are beautiful, they have a really cinematic look to them, and we’ve kept that.
We kept the interchangeable mount system. A lot of our customers use different cameras for different jobs, which usually means you have to invest in a lot of lenses. But with the CP.3 and the CP.3 XD you can just change the mount – if you’re using an FS7, you can put an E mount on it, and then if you’re using a RED EPIC DRAGON, you can swap that out for a PL mount.
The CP.3 and CP.3 XD are available for pre-order now, and are due to ship in December. If you’d like to know more, get in touch with the team on the details below.