ZEISS Compact Prime CP.3 – New technology creates greater flexibility on the set

April 24, 2017 ZEISS LENSPIRE Team

Each of the ten ZEISS Compact Prime CP.3 fixed focal lengths are available in two versions: as a ZEISS CP.3 lens or as a ZEISS CP.3 XD with the unique eXtended data technology. Thanks to their compact and lightweight construction, the lenses are ideal for filming with Steadycam, gimbals or drones. The fact that all the focal lengths have an identical front diameter, and about the same weight and length allows for fast changing of lenses on the set.

Chemist – Artist – Architect from ZEISS Camera Lenses on Vimeo.

Visual effects for budget productions 

The ZEISS CP.3 XD lenses are equipped with the new ZEISS eXtended data technology, the first metadata technology that is able to display distortion and vignetting by the lens.  In addition, all the metadata of the /i standard, such as focal distance, f/stop and focal depth, are recorded – in real time and for every individual frame. The lens profiles can be easily loaded on the set, offering cinematographers completely new possibilities for post-processing. As a result, low-budget productions can now incorporate visual effects for the first time. Film teams save themselves the time-consuming and costly measurement of individual lenses. Instead, they can use the retrieved lens data for an exact adjustment of film material and computer-generated images, which is the only way for effects to look consistent and realistic.

Workflow with the ZEISS Compact Prime CP.3 XD lenses Workflow with the ZEISS Compact Prime CP.3 XD lenses


“Cine lenses that provide metadata are relatively expensive. Distortion and vignetting had to be measured by hand until now – a complicated and costly process. With ZEISS eXtended Data, we are giving everyone Hollywood technology. This also opens the door to new creative possibilities for small film teams.“

Christophe Casenave, Product Manager at ZEISS

An optimized workflow

The strengths of the ZEISS eXtended data technology already become visible on the set:  crew members can monitor the lens settings in real time, call up the correct settings for re-shoots through the search functions, and already determine beforehand references for the final look of the material. If needed, vignetting and distortion can be corrected very easily. All in all, the entire workflow is optimized and the production time shortened.


“I used the ZEISS CP.3 XD lenses in a recent project and it really sped up the production time. Their similar weight and size provide the advantage of changing lenses quickly while on set. Using the ZEISS eXtended Data shortens post production time, because you can decide on the grading guideline while shooting.”

Adi Geisegger, Cinematographer

Camera-independent recording and subsequent processing

Working with ZEISS eXtended Data does not even require a compatible camera. ZEISS worked with the company Ambient to develop the MasterLockitPlus: this external device is connected to the lens through a cable with the LEMO™ interface and then records all the metadata, including the timecode. As a result, one can work with ZEISS eXtended Data and be fully independent of the available gear. For this purpose, the software company Pomfort delivers a tool called LiveGrade Pro, with which distortion and vignetting can already be adjusted in real time on the set.

Usability and image quality combined

The improved focus mechanism with a 300-degree rotation angle also contributes to a smooth workflow. The focus is effortless even when there are strong differences in temperature, thus allowing an optimal use with electronically controlled remote focus control units. And of course the lenses stand out for their excellent image quality. “Even in lighting situations with a high dynamic range – that is highlights and shadows within the same scene – the lenses deliver fantastic results,” says product manager Casenave. This typical ZEISS cine look with sharp details and contrast-rich images is also evident in Adi Geisegger’s film “Chemist – Artist – Architect”. The lenses were used for the first time for this project and were tested through and through.  The lenses mastered the challenge with flying colors. Thanks to the flexible and efficient use of different focal lengths, the film could be shot in just one day in a cramped hairdresser’s salon.

An investment in future projects

ZEISS wants to expand the metadata technology of the lenses even further in the future. Customers will then always be able to update to the latest firmware. And they will remain flexible concerning the camera hardware, too: there are five different and easily exchangeable bajonet versions for the lenses (PL, EF, E, F and MFT), so cinematographers can easily upgrade to current and future cameras from different manufacturers, without having to purchase new lenses. The ZEISS CP.3 XD and CP.3 lenses will be available starting June. The ZEISS CP.3 XD lenses with eXtended data technology each cost 5,000 to 6,400 euros, depending on the focal length. The corresponding ZEISS CP.3 lenses will cost 3,500 to 4,900 euros.

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