Cooke Optics


Robert Howard TV-Bay Magazine
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by Robert Howard
Here at Cooke Optics we’re currently basking in the golden glow of our brand new Academy Award® of Merit – yes, that’s an Oscar® statuette – which we received this February in recognition of our continuing innovation in the design, development and manufacture of motion picture camera lenses. From Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy right up to Zero Dark Thirty and After Earth, our lenses have been bringing their renowned warm, organic ‘Cooke Look’ to the movies for 120 years.
But the digital revolution has caused a shift in recent years, and broadcasters around the world are switching from cameras with 2/3” sensors to those with PL mounts such as the ALEXA, Sony F65, EPIC and all these 2K, 4K and 5K cameras that give a full-frame 35mm picture.
This is opening up a new world of cinematic possibilities for broadcasters. With the smaller 2/3” video formats, the whole screen is in focus so the viewer’s eye has to work harder to follow the story. As the format gets bigger, the depth of field or selective focus comes into play which gives the film maker more storytelling opportunities by drawing the eye to specific parts of the screen. This subconsciously makes for a more relaxing and pleasant viewer experience as the eye is automatically drawn to the area in focus.
We have heard evidence of a popular South American soap opera which switched from video to digital cameras shooting full frame: with no storyline or cast changes, or any other differences, their audience figures suddenly increased substantially, and it was attributed to the format change.
Of course, good lenses also contribute substantially to a better viewing experience. Digital images are clean and pure but don’t have much personality; Cooke lenses handle colour and contrast in such a way that they give a warm, organic and much more visually pleasing quality known as the ‘Cooke Look’ that audiences respond to, while still retaining full resolution to beyond 4K.
And since we’ve mentioned 4K, let’s address what it means for us.
We’re constantly being asked if our lenses can handle 4K and above. Since all features shot on film in the last 50 years or so have had a negative of around 6-8K, and we’ve been in the motion picture business for over 100 years, our lenses are already capable of shooting above 4K.
However, we’re of the firm belief that what matters is what’s right for the story. 4K is the current marketing and engineering buzz; but it shouldn’t really matter what the spec is. Choose 4K, 2K, 35mm or Super 8 – it’s all about telling a story and what is the best look for that story.
In today’s digital world there’s no reason to shoot anamorphic other than gaining that special look, and it’s why people are looking to old-style lenses like Speed Panchros or our Cooke miniS4/i lenses to knock the digital look away. A leading rental house in Uruguay, Musitelli, has several sets of miniS4/i lenses, and his most popular set has uncoated elements – he says the DPs really like how the uncoated lenses behave more like old lenses, especially with digital cameras – the images are not so ‘pristine’, and they like the softer, more flattering effect especially for beauty work.
The miniS4/i range is proving particularly popular for broadcast work since it can produce a cinematic look without a feature film budget. There were rumblings when we first introduced the range at T2.8 stop, but since digital cameras are so much more light-sensitive these days it has proved to be a non-issue – it has been said that T2.8 is the new, economical T2.0.
The miniS4/i lenses incorporate everything that today’s content creators ask for: they are smaller, lighter-weight lenses that offer the same resolution, optical quality and reliability as the S4/i lenses at T2.8 speed. The miniS4/i’s are also calibrated and colour matched to the Cooke S4/i and 5/i lenses for shooting film and digital images up to and beyond a 4K resolution, and include the /i Technology sensor that captures valuable lens metadata.
With 120 years of history behind us, our shiny Oscar statuette serves as a reminder that we must continue to look forward. Cooke has been an innovative force in this industry from the birth of motion pictures to the current digital film revolution, and we’ll be making some exciting announcements later this year about our newest developments.
www.cookeoptics.com

Tags: iss074 | robert howard | cooke optics | oscar | lens | 2/3 inch sensor | T2.8 | 4K | miniS4/i | Robert Howard
Contributing Author Robert Howard

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