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One Lens to Rule them All?


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In an era of sharp, lifeless digital sensors, it seems like everyone‘s hunting for that “film look”. Between adding grain, applying film stock LUTs, and even transferring digital footage to film and back again, it seems like people are desperate to bring character into their digital footage.


That’s what I love about this DZOFilm 20-55mm lens. It has a ton of character, which is why I asked my friend if I could borrow his for a day. 

153iC4E38B2177122D13.thumb.jpg.cc1582a6c7903b0cf13226b9c71adc3d.jpgA still from Dead Serious, a short film my friend shot entirely with this lens

The lens comes from a Chinese company, but still feels like a quality product when you hold it in your hand. My friend has been using it for about a year now, and he tells me he's had no issues with the quality. The only thing I notice is that there’s a microscopic amount of play in the focus ring, but it’s so faint and not noticeable in-camera. Focus breathing is also so extremely faint that it’s not worth mentioning.

Here's the thing—this lens would score quite poorly if you measured it against the traditional criteria of what constitutes a quality lens. There's some geometric distortion so it's not a great lens for VFX work.

154iA23BBB198F4CAF0D.thumb.jpg.2cd22dce5e9e12efccbb52d10733a7d5.jpgThe lens is designed for a Super35 sensor, but you can still see some distortion on the railing towards the left of the crop box 

It's not very sharp either. There's also a ton of chromatic aberration.

155i17217AD02E121240.thumb.jpg.472200f7e1990fc71f56dc7a82743c52.jpgYou can see the lack of sharpness in this crop, along with the chromatic aberration that's most noticeable on the right of the cat's face 

But all these "flaws" are part of its character. The chromatic aberration is actually my favorite part about this lens—it adds an extra splash of color. My second favorite part is the price—they cost as much as a photo lens! Or if you rent, I've seen them for as little as $35/day on sharegrid.

So if you're trying to put some life back into your digital footage, this lens might be worth considering.

Has anyone used any other lens series from this company? I’m curious if the full frame primes have the same character and if they’re color matched.

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