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Header image for article The Unique Character of ZEISS Supreme Radiance

The Unique Character of ZEISS Supreme Radiance

Since their introduction in 2018, ZEISS full format Supreme Primes have been a hit with filmmakers. Now, they have announced a new variant, with a look that is a bit of a departure from what we've come to expect from ZEISS. Enter the Supreme Prime Radiance.

ZEISS lenses are widely known for having an objective character, with a very controlled and pristine look, but with the Supreme Prime Radiance, ZEISS has created a lens set that reveals a little bit more “character”. These lenses will appeal to those filmmakers who want an alternative to the extreme sharpness and definition that has become commonplace amongst the latest digital cinema tools and newer optics. Some have even found that what they had grown to love about certain sets of lenses and vintage glass, were actually the characteristics exhibited by the optical limitations of those designs.

The Supreme Prime Radiance offer some of this character, while still maintaining that distinctive ZEISS control and contrast. Unlike many manufacturers who have been releasing lens sets with uncoated elements, ZEISS has decided to modify the lens coating for a slightly warmer look than the Supremes, and to provide the opportunity for creative flaring, without the contrast-reducing veiling flares or other less desirable aspects of older style optics.

Based on the short film, Metamorphosis, shot by cinematographer Takuro Ishizaka (JSC) on the Sony VENICE with ZEISS Supreme Radiance Primes, the lenses seem to break the traditional mold. However, they don’t do so in a way that appears to produce problematic flaring. While beautiful when it comes to flares and blooming, using a lens with one or more completely uncoated elements often quickly reminds us why matte boxes were invented in the first place.

The Supreme Radiance set is an interesting offering, especially for a company long known for having some of the best flare-fighting coatings in the industry. It will be exciting to see what creative opportunities these lenses open up once they make their way into the hands of filmmakers.

For more of the ZEISS Supreme Radiance look, watch R&R, a short film by Rodrigo Prieto, ASC, AMC.

Nic Somera
Camera Technology Specialist, AbelCine LA

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