Review: Luma Tech Illumina S35 lens set


lensesWe put these Russian LOMO manufactured PL mount lenses through the paces and here are the results. For my tests I compared them to the now 30-year-old Zeiss Super-speeds and Zeiss Master Primes. It’s not exactly fair to compare these lenses to Master Primes, which cost four times as much, but it was a good way to measure how they stack up against the top of the line. The set comes with 18, 25, 35, 50 and 85 mm focal lengths, with 135mm on the way. Their metal bodies feel solid, the focus gears felt smoother than the Super-speeds, but not nearly as butter smooth as the Master Primes. All of the lenses are 95mm diameter, all of the focus gears are in the same place and they only track in and out by 1/4 in. (or less, depending on the focal length), reducing the work in switching out lenses on set and making it uncomplicated to interface with a mattebox.

Zoe eye detailThe image circle is big enough for the Epic 5K sensor and also short enough to fit in any camera we carry. They’re bigger and heavier than the Super speeds but still on the small side, the longest lens measuring at 135mm and the heaviest at 3.41 lbs (1.55 Kg).

Throwing the lenses up on our projector we were able to see the level of quality in the  image. It was better in every way to the Zeiss Super-Speeds but for the most part only
marginally so. However the one thing that it excelled in vastly over the Super-Speeds was the image breathing. Super-Speeds breathe a lot, but the Illuminas breathe hardly at all and in fact were almost as good as the Master Primes in this regard. As I said the rest of the specs were a little better than the Super-Speeds but not as good as the Master Primes: The resolution, the vignetting, chromatic aberration, blooming, etc. Speaking of blooming. Everything looks great until you get it below f2.0, then it blooms, but this is no worse than the Super-Speeds, and even the Master primes bloom below f2.0 to a noticeable degree. In fact, on the projector they all bloomed below 2.0, but on this focus chart, the Illuminas bloomed significantly less than even the Master primes, big plus.

lens detail






The detail resolution on the focus chart proved to be favorable, with the Illumina predictably landing between the Super Speeds and Master Primes. The difference was more evident on the projector test, something which is difficult to photograph for the blog.

The field of view is slightly different between each lens set but nothing unusual. The color is slightly cooler than the Super-Speed or Master Prime. It was able to resolve more color information in the highlights you can see in the picture background but not as much as the Master Primes could.


The only odd thing is the flare the lenses produce. The flare looks nice and pleasant but there is some kind of material that is reflecting off of the inside of the lens that shows up in the image as green flecks. I actually think it’s an interesting look but if you need your flares to be more clean looking, this might not be the right lens for that job.

With Super-Speeds increasing in age and scarcity, and the price of Ultra Primes out of reach for some, this lens set is an excellent alternative to fill the niche.

Overall impression: the lenses deliver great cinema quality with a wide f/1.3 aperture and a lower price point compared to the more established Zeiss Ultra Primes.

Visit Division to see our stock of available lenses.

Hands-on with the Sony F5 and F55

F5 camera The Sony F3 and F65 are available to rent now, here at DivisionCamera, and Sony’s new F5 and F55 cameras are coming out very soon, the question is, what makes the new cameras unique? I was invited to attend the unveiling of the new cameras last month and had the opportunity for some hands-on time with them. In addition to the cameras they also showed off the new 4K RAW recorder that works with the new cameras as well as the FS-700, cinema prime lenses, their 84” 4K TV that had been making the rounds at previous trade shows as well as their new 30” 4K production monitor. The emphasis is definitely on 4K capture and exhibition. Apparently the upcoming new 4K home entertainment standard isn’t truly 4K, it’s called QFHD or Quad Full HD which is almost true 4K but not quite. There is actually an option to record either true 4K or QFHD. Some of you have doubtless already seen the 84” TV in person and can attest to it’s high level of detail but this is the first time I’ve seen the new 30” 4K production monitors and they are ridiculously crisp. It’s akin to Apple’s retina display devices, but even higher resolution. But enough of that, let’s look at the cameras!

F5 Body 360
The F5 and F55 cameras are small, cubic and light, the bodies are 4 lbs. and change.  They look exactly the same except that the lens mount is black on the F5 and silver on the F55. The real difference is that the F55 has a higher quality Bayer color filter on the sensor and twice the processing power, similar to the difference between the Epic and the Scarlet. The image the F5 produces is very similar to the F3 and FS-700. While the image the F55 produces is very similar to that of the top-of-the-line F65 (but the F65 is still Sony’s top-tier camera). The cameras’ respective ISO’s are 1250 for the F55 and a whopping 2000 for the F5. The bodies have two SxS slots in them and new faster SxS cards are coming out: SxS Pro+. The SxS cards record a myriad of compressed formats at varying resolutions, up to 4K on the F55. The F55 has 4 HD-SDI and one 4K HDMI outputs each allowing for 4K output for either monitoring or external recording. The third recording option is their new external AXS-R5 RAW recorder that not only works with either the F5 or F55 but also the NEX FS-700. The recorder records to a new SSD card format called AXSM. The cameras are an intelligent modular design: the raw recorder pops on to the rear of the cameras, making it longer, similar in shape to the Alexa, but smaller. A battery module pops on to the back with new V-mount Sony batteries (or most any other kind of V-mount battery, I suppose), and also has a couple of Hirose accessory power outputs. This module is not required when using the RAW recorder unless you want the Hirose connectors. Each of these modules are powered by recessed 4-pin XLRs, so at least you won’t need an adapter for that if you run off block battery power or what-have-you. There are also small and smartly placed modules that attach to the side of the body, one module for two audio XLR ports and another for timecode and sync connections and functions, additionally there is a toggle switch on it for TC IN or OUT, I liked that, no menu to futz with. Speaking of the menu and buttons it’s a similar layout to the F65 or Alexa, so its simple, clean and intuitive. The lens mount is a new mount called FZ, they have every kind of adapter to fit in to it, PL of course, all the way down to FD. Additionally the cameras have internal ND 0.9 and 1.8 filters with a manually operated dial.

At the event they showed four short films showcasing the cameras’ power but the best tech-demo short was the one they didn’t show, but it’s online for you to see now! The short is called “Dig”, and it shows a myriad of camera situations all shot using the F55 with no filtration: Sunlight, low-light, ultra low-light, forest/nature, urban, interior, exterior, light skin, dark skin, man, woman. It shows all of this in a very cinematic way in what is probably the best camera tech demo video I’ve ever seen. The link is here, I highly recommend clicking the download button and watching the original 1080p 20Mbps file as it is much higher quality, so much that it might not work on some computers out there.

Sony ASXM cardDue to the number of formats and options available, the amount of over-crank the cameras can do is varied and depends on the set-up. The F5 internally can record up to 120 fps in 2K. With the external RAW recorder it does 60 fps in 4K RAW and 120 fps in 2K RAW. The F55 can record internally 60 fps in 4K, 180 fps in 2K. And with the RAW recorder does 60 fps in 4K and 240 fps in 2K. In all of these modes the entire surface of the sensor is used, it does not crop down, ensuring that the field of view and image quality remains consistent regardless of the resolution and speed.

You have options when it comes to recording format, not only that, but in addition to being able to record both compressed files to SxS as well as RAW to AXSM but you can even simultaneously record separate formats to each SxS slot (or duplicates for that matter!). Aside from RAW (16-bit, 2.4 Gbps), the SxS cards can capture MPEG-2 (4:2:2, 8-bit, 50-Mbps), new XAVC format (H.264 based, 4:2:2, 10-bit, 100 Mbps) SR Codec (4:4:4, 10-bit, 300 Mbps)

F5/F55 formats

Sony EVF's

They have a new LCD EVF and a fancy new OLED EVF. The new EVFs are articulate and positional. The DVF-L350 3.5” LCD EVF looked very sharp and bright. When using it as an eyepiece, it reflects the image off a mirror, through a lens you view through. This eyepiece is detachable/flips up and away to act alternately as a small monitor. The DVF-EL100 OLED EVF is even higher resolution (720p) and had very nice motion, no judder that I could see, unlike the LCD EVF had no mirror to reflect off and is therefore smaller, but can’t act as a small monitor.

Sony Cine PrimesSony is also putting out a new round of cinema primes; metal bodies, gears in the same positions, all the same length except the 135, f2.0. List price of $24,000 for a six-pack (although will likely sell for even less). I like the looks of the new design very much. Concerning the cameras, there are two sets of pins in the camera lens mounts to allow the capture of metadata from any lens that supports it and power supply for lens servos allowing use of a lens like the Fujinon Cabrio 19-90 for ENG style shooting without cable clutter.

It is very clear that these cameras are meant to fill the gap between their FS-700, f-3 and their F65. As of this writing, the price for the cameras are $28,990 for the F55, $16,490 for the F5 and $5,350 for the RAW recorder. They will all be available to rent at Division Camera, Hollywood. Additionally, you can get Sony’s highest quality camera, the F65, today. Check out for prices and info.

Sound off in the comments with you your thoughts, comments or questions.

By: Adam Watson

New Epic/Scarlet Firmware build 4 V4.0.3 overview

cropped-IMG_0479-Edit-Edit.jpgToday I was able to put the recently released Red Epic/Scarlet beta firmware build through a few tests at Division Camera, and this update adds a lot of exciting new features. Some of them are a bit confusing but we’ll attempt to clear any confusion in today’s post.

The list of new features/changes as listed on

  Added Pre-Record

  Added Time Lapse

  Added Record Ramp

  Added Vertical Monitor Flip

  Added Vertical and Horizontal UI Flip/Mirror

  Added Custom Overlay

  Added Power Save Modes

  Added User selectable 1:1 zoom

  Added Selectable LCD Frequency

  Added Import/Export user cal maps

  Added Calibration warnings for exposure and temperature

  Added Luma Ramp Test Pattern

  Added Pro IO and Monitor Audio Mixer

  Added internal frame summing for long exposures

  Added internal frame averaging capability (noise reduction)

  Added REDmote Auto Pairing

  Added +1 Support

  Added pluge pattern to SMPTE bars

  Updated UI control look/feel

  Separate Audio Channel Setup

  Calibration capture speed-up

  Improved RAW metering

  Target exposure time support (behaves like redcode now)

  Enhanced AF

Some new features are self-explanatory, others are not so.

– Pre-record

With this mode you can pre-record 10, 20 or 30 seconds, you must activate this mode before each clip you wish to use it for.

– Record Ramp

Now you can ramp in to slow motion like you could with the Red One, the only catch is that you can only do it once per clip, no ramping up and then back down again. There is a dedicated button you will need to program that triggers the ramp.

– Vertical Mirror Flip

Now you can orient your Red LCD upside down for added versatility, except this function isn’t useful yet because you can only flip the image upside down but you can’t mirror it left to right. What that means is that if you turn the feature on you can turn the monitor upside down but everything will be backwards. Red is working on it but we’ll have to wait a while longer for this function to be useful.

– +1 support

If you haven’t heard, Red is developing and will soon be releasing a new module for the epic that adds one extra Red LCD/EVF port, allowing use of a RED LCD and EVF at the same time. This update readies the camera for this addition.

– Frame Summing, Frame Averaging, Timelapse

As you could with the Red One, you can now do timelapse in camera. And to support that mode there are a couple new modes: Frame Summing and Frame Averaging. Summing/averaging is also timelapse, the difference is that if you are in timelapse mode but not using summing or averaging, you are limited to the usual exposure parameters available with an exposure time not exceeding 1 second in length. If you activate summing or averaging then you can do exposures for as long as 16 seconds, this is ideal for nighttime/very low light timelapses. In each of the summing/averaging modes you can set the number of samples it will take to combine for each frame: 2, 4, 8, or 16. From what I can tell, although Red hasn’t divulged the particulars to confirm this, the difference between summing and averaging is what it does with these samples; Summing adds them together and averaging uses more complicated algorithms to average all the samples to create its frame with the mission to reduce noise inherent in long exposures, similar to the difference between simple blend and magic motion in HDRx. What Red HAS said is that the Averaging feature is experimental and is expected to develop over time.

To summarize these features: Timelapse allows interval frame capture but alone only allows exposure times up to 1 second.  Summing and averaging allows for long exposure.  These two features combined allow for long exposures at programmable intervals.

Again, this is only the Beta and there is no word on when exactly the release version will become available but it will likely be soon. This post will be updated if the release version changes in any significant way. Post in the comments section below if you have any questions. If you are in need of a Red Epic Rental or Red Scarlet Rental, give the folks at Division Camera in Hollywood a call.

By: Adam Watson