Okay, let’s get the important stuff out of the way first; it’s pronounced ‘su-mi-ray’ and is Japanese for ‘Violet’; these are Canon’s first set of PL Primes; and the fact that they’re going to come in at around the $7500 mark each suggests that the main target market is likely to be rental houses. They’re also going down very well with people that have used pre-release versions of them.
It’s also interesting that Canon emphasises the look of the lenses so much in its press material. While at first glance they’re very similar to the existing CN-E Primes (which were always slightly handicapped in the market by being EF-only), Canon says the Sumires have a different optical design. This features a large diameter aspheric element and anomalous dispersion glass, which (and it’s best to use the company’s own words here) offers “a delicate, velvety nuance” when the aperture approaches its maximum setting during shooting. “This unique optical design results in solid and natural image rendering, bringing impressive image quality and warmer tones to cinema productions,” it says.
We’ll get to the technical details in a bit, but it’s worth concentrating on the look here for a moment. There is a distinct trend for manufacturers to combine modern optics with designs that emphasise the organic and the soft rather than out and out fidelity, and the Sumires fall right into that category. Indeed, Brett Danton used them on the Chevy commercial shot in Abu Dhabi we talked about in December, and he was very impressed.
“I have to say this is one of the nicest looking lenses I have ever used,” he told us. "Shooting directly at the sun it seemed to increase the camera’s dynamic range whilst holding all the shadow detail; when graded the finished look had a beautiful milkiness to the background but the subject still popped out. The lens combined with the C700FF gave me full width 35mm lens use, a special combination in terms of look.
“There will I am sure be many charts shot on this lens, but for me it’s about the look it creates and my personal thought is it’s stunning. In a high detail digital capture world we need something to take the edge off and bring back the organics of an image and this lens does that.”
The Sumire lenses all feature an 11-blade iris for rounded bokeh and a bright T-number thanks to that large lens diameter, which makes them good low light performers. All feature the same 114mm diameter lens front which also supports 105mm screw-on filters, 300º focus rotation, and adopt the 0.8 pitch lens gears for both iris and focus rings, which are positioned consistently on the lens. Canon also says they inherit the same subtle, warm colour tone as its full Cinema lens range. In other words, they’re interchangeable on set with minimum fuss and you won’t notice the difference between them in post, which is exactly what you want from a set of lenses.
The PL mount is interchangeable to an EF mount and back to PL, though this is a task that can only be undertaken by a Canon Service & Repair Centre or Authorised Service Partner and is therefore not going to be a trivial cost.
The seven lenses in the range are:
CN-E14mm T3.1 FP X
CN-E20mm T1.5 FP X
CN-E24mm T1.5 FP X
CN-E35mm T1.5 FP X
CN-E50mm T1.3 FP X
CN-E85mm T1.3 FP X
CN-E135mm T2.2 FP X
Price, as previously mentioned is $7410, and it looks like they will be shipping in a staged release, with the 24, 35, and 50mm models coming out in July. The other four are slated to be released by January 2020 at the latest.