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Zeiss Super Speeds

Zeiss Super Speeds are small, fast, lightweight and favored for their sharp, lower contrast, and slightly milky characteristics when used wide open, tempting qualities to complement sharp modern digital sensors. They all have a front diameter of 80mm which makes lens quick using a single back on a clip-on Matte Box. They are often used for handheld, gimbal and drone work.

They are not without drawbacks, the focus barrel of the lens extends when focusing, and clipping on the matte-box too tightly can prevent the focus barrel from turning. Their focusing mechanism sometimes referred as multi-threads or eccentrics can lead to an objectionable mechanical defect known as focus shift, where the image changes size or even jump when changing focus. They have fewer focus marking than on modern lenses which often results in the assistant having to visually check focus before adding a mark on the lens or the focus disk.

The first generation featured a 6 blades iris which resulted in a triangle shape and triangle bokeh on the highlights. This was commonly referred as a 3 blade iris. The main disadvantage with these was that the focus marks were grouped tightly and led to the creation of the Mark I with extended focus ring. When Zeiss moved to the Mark II they did away with the triangle bokeh, and the Mark III introduced focus rings with either metric or imperial markings, making the work of the focus puller much easier.

Depending on T stop the focus result is not as forgiving as with modern lenses. But they have a neutral to cool color rendition with soft circular flares that fog up the lens with light. Her and Lost in Translation used Super Speeds as their base for creating their look. It is said that these lenses have sharp yet subtle vintage characteristics.

The standard set comprises of 6 lenses although the 65mm was a later addition and is not found in Mark I sets. The wider and longer lenses from the standard Zeiss lens set are color matching complements when a larger set is required. These are often the 10, 14, 100 and 135mm but can also include the 28 and 180mm Standard’s even the 12mm Ultra Prime.

Available in MK II & III

Focal LengthSpeedWeight (lbs.)Close FocusLengthFront Diameter
18mmT1.3-16310″3.5″80mm
25mmT1.3-16210″2.5″80mm
35mmT1.3-16214″2.5″80mm
50mmT1.3-16230″2.5″80mm
65mmT1.3-162.528″2.5″80mm
85mmT1.3-162.536″3″80mm