The team of syrup laboratory decided to find out what would be the difference between a photo lens and a cinema lens – and which looks more “cinematic” and why.

Generally speaking, video seeks to answer this question: what makes a lens ‘cinematic’ and are they in fact more ‘cinematic’? While most filmmakers and photographers understand that cinema lenses generally forgo autofocus and stabilization in favor of gears and a clickless aperture, while photography-focused lenses do the Conversely, the actual “look” of the images also plays a role in what specific creators choose. to spend their money.

“To help answer this question, we tested six different lenses, ranging in price from $300 to $15,000,” says Syrp Lab. “We look at the performance of each lens and determine what makes a lens truly cinematic.”

Not only does Syrp Lab show images of each of the lenses the team chose to test, but they also go into more detail about how the lenses – which are made up of essentially the same general parts – can look so different. They explain that the quality of materials and their specific arrangement have an effect on six factors that affect the appearance of an image: sharpness, focus, distortion, color and contrast, bokeh and lens flare. Through the video, the team explains how each of these factors leads to a different final image and how different creators will look for different things.

As for what feels more cinematic, the Syrp Lab team basically explains it as a combination of how each of these six factors lead to a particular look. For example, a highly sought-after cinema lens will neither be too blurry nor too sharp. Obviously, too blurry looks cheap, but conversely, too sharp looks fake or clinical. This “cinematic” look falls somewhere in the middle.

Other aspects also matter, of course. Color and contrast, for example, can vary wildly depending on the lens and how light flare is controlled also has an effect on how “cinematic” a lens looks.

“While all lenses performed well, even the cheapest ones, cine lenses have an edge due to their user experience features,” says Syrp Lab.

what makes a cinematic lens

This refers to the aforementioned gearing and the complete removal of all “smart” lens features typically expected in a photo-focus lens. While this is ideal for large productions with large crews and lots of support, most creators will find it to be more of a drawback than a benefit.

So, do filmmakers need a cinema lens to get cinematic-looking footage? The short answer is no. This is why Syrp Lab chose a different lens as the preferred lens for most work.

what makes a cinematic lens

“For us, the Canon RF 50mm struck a balance between quality and price. However, the choice ultimately comes down to your shooting style and budget,” says Syrp Lab.

To see how each of these lenses tested by Syrp Lab looks like in similar scenes, the team uploaded video samples of each. on their blog.


Picture credits: syrup laboratory