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Header image for article A Look at Cooke's SP3 Full Frame Lenses

A Look at Cooke's SP3 Full Frame Lenses

Storied optics company Cooke’s latest line of cinema lenses, the compact SP3 Primes, were introduced in Fall 2023. Employing a user-serviceable interchangeable mount system, the full-frame lenses ship in Sony’s E-Mount with Canon RF available as well. Initially, five focal lengths are offered: 25mm, 32mm, 50mm, 75mm, and 100mm. Averaging under 2 pounds and 4 inches in length each, they are Cooke’s most compact Full Frame lenses.

Long-time AbelCine lens tech (and now Product Information Manager), Jeff Patridge and Sean Velasco-Dodge one of our Rental coordinators, recently spent some time with the Cooke SP3s and offer their perspectives on the new lenses.

Note: The SP3s are designed for short flange focal depth camera mounts, and ship in Sony E-Mount with an interchangeable Canon RF mount included. Leica M-mount – as well as L-Mount – will be available soon.

Bearing the company’s signature Cooke Look, we were struck by the cinematic look the SP3s provided at such an affordable price (each lens retails for $4500). The SP3s combine high-resolution on center with gradual focus and contrast fall off towards the edges. These lenses have a very similar bokeh to other Cooke lenses — even and soft. We noted several times that the new lenses render very organic-looking images.

Cooke SP3 Still - Woman in Garden
Image: Sean Velasco-Dodge, 75mm SP3 on a Sony a7R II without matte box

All five currently-available focal lengths open to a reasonably fast T2.4, and with the high ISO capabilities of most modern cameras lower light situations aren’t as problematic as they once were. As well, the compact size of the SP3s allows for more “run and gun” style productions without giving up top-tier cinematic quality. Handheld shooting is a breeze thanks to the SP3’s small size and light weight, and swapping lenses is quick due to the common positions of focus and iris geared rings.

Cooke SP3 Still - Fall Landscape & Sky
Image: Sean Velasco-Dodge, 75mm SP3 on a Sony a7R II without matte box

The quality of these lenses, particularly the flares, is very special, and something that other lenses at this price point can’t really match, providing control without losing their character. We found the SP3s to out-resolve even the highest-resolution sensors from Sony, RED, ARRI and other major brands.

Aside from their cinema applications, the SP3s also meet the needs of higher-end still photography, allowing shooters to seamlessly switch from motion to stills without needing to change lenses, and without compromising on results. “This makes the SP3s a natural choice for capturing BTS footage on set,” points out Sean Velasco-Dodge.

Cooke SP3 Still - Woman at Magic Hour
Image: Sean Velasco-Dodge, 75mm SP3 on a Sony a7R II without matte box

However, the SP3s are very much cinema-style lenses — there is no autofocusing, metadata, or image stabilization built in; they are fully manual with no electronics. Since they are designed for shallow flange depth mounts, use on EF or PL mount cameras is not possible without the use of third-party adapters.

Cooke SP3 Still - Rose
Image: Sean Velasco-Dodge, 75mm SP3 on a Sony a7R II without matte box

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