by Bill Bennett, ASC
Upon first seeing the new ZEISS Lightweight Zoom LWZ.3 21-100mm/T2.9-3.9 T*, I was surprised and pleased with the small size and light weight. In pre-production, I spent an afternoon shooting through the lens, using my Alexa XT running Open Gate, looking at resolution charts. I found the performance to be better that several competing zoom lenses, and nearly equal to that of UltraPrimes, all shot at T2.9. We found there to be minimal breathing with focus changes, and almost no pincushion or barrel distortion. The lens fully covers the Alexa shooting in 16:9 and 4:3 modes, and only slightly darkens the corners of Open Gate, at the wider focal lengths. When Open Gate is cropped to 16:9 or 1:2.39, there is no vignetting at all in the extracted frame. The focus, Iris and Zoom rings moved easily and smoothly, offering little resistance to the smallest and lightest of lens control motors, which is great for the gimbal and drone users. There is a small amount light transmission ramping, that happens continuously over the entire room range, making it easy to correct with a “dynamic” exposure compensation in post production color correction.
In shooting the “Recipe” demonstration piece, with the lens mounted on an Alexa Mini, we found that the Tilta “Gravity” gimbal accommodated the camera, ZEISS lens, 3 motors, battery, and matte box easily. Throughout the shooting of “Recipe” over the course of two days, we found the lens fast and easy to work with. The inherent contrast made it easy for the focus puller to keep the images sharp, particularly during the dynamics of chasing the bicycle messenger through the streets of Los Angeles. The zoom range from 21mm to 100mm gave me all the flexibility to adjust the composition to suit the moment, with no need to change to another lens. I found the flare qualities, when shooting into the sun, to be smooth and beautiful, without washing out the rest of the scene. All in all, I found it to be an excellent optic, which will find a lot of use in TV, Commercial, and Feature Film shooting.
About Bill Bennett
Bill Bennett, ASC has been a cinematographer for over 35 years, primarily shooting television commercials for hundreds of major clients: Ford, Lexus, Coca Cola, Apple Computer, American Airlines, McDonalds, and Budweiser.
Mr. Bennett had the great honor of being the first cinematographer, with a career consisting of primarily shooting television commercials, to be invited to join the American Society of Cinematographers. In 2016, the ASC presented Mr. Bennett with the Presidents Award at the 30th annual ASC Awards Show. He is currently serving as Board Member and Vice President at the ASC.
Bill often advises Arri, Zeiss and others on equipment design.