Are Cine Lenses Good for Photography? (Everything You Should know)

You may have, while checking out lenses, come across an unfamiliar name, “cine lens.” Well, what makes them unfamiliar is that they aren’t deployed for regular kinds of photography, and secondly, they possess characteristics that seem pretty unusual or almost incompatible with everyday use.

Certain questions may then arise, what makes them different from regular lenses, and why are they as expensive as they are? Well, being cinema lenses, as they are called in full, they are designed for shooting high-end cinema-rated videos and movies. To answer the question, are cine lenses good for photography to bring to the notice of the Inquirer. Standard lenses are precisely built for photography; cine lenses are built from the tad pieces to the finish, with features of a movie set in mind.

You’ll find many characteristic features and differences between these two types of lenses, ranging from size and building materials to the cost of acquisition. So let’s delve into what you’ve always wanted to know about cine lenses.

What Are Cine Lenses?

Cine lenses or cinema lenses, as the name suggests, are designed specifically for shooting high-end movies. Manufacturers design photography lenses to be used very easily and flexibly, and by just one individual who operates the camera and is responsible for adjusting the functions of the lens to meet his demands.

On a good number of professional movie sets, you’ll find a small group of about two or more people working together, handling the camera at the same time.

Depending on what is being shot, one person may be responsible for handling the focus, while another person may be handling the framing. In contrast, possibly, another person may manage the adjustment of the exposure.

These procedures can even get more complicated if special effects, Steadicam, and gimbals for drones are involved. This is the part where the cinema specialty lenses come into the picture.

Best Full-frame for Mount Cine Lenses?

The best cine lenses you find in the market would not be lacking in features like an inner focus lens system and differ from photography lenses in being par-focal, which is a feature that keeps their focal points from shifting when the photographer is zooming.

Zooms of cine lenses are designed to suppress issues of focus shifts as well as off-axis changes, and a very good cine lens would perform excellently well here. Having considered the features of many top-tier options, we picked the best.

Zeiss Compact Prime Cine CP.3 19mm T/2.9

Key Specifications I like

  • Diaphragm blades is 14
  • Lacks autofocus
  • 3m minimum focus distance
  • 200 degrees focus rotation
  • Weighs 860g
  • Lacks stabilizer

The film world was set alight when Zeiss released the stunning cinema lens more than a decade ago. This more compact version of the CP.2 lens features optical dimensions and characteristics that go one step further in terms of quality, improved mechanics, and better lens coating, of course, in a smaller frame.

However, the 18mm features of this Compact Prime lens overthrow the previous optical design in use in the CP.2 and is a more improved lens in many regards.

One feature it retains from its predecessor is its interchangeable mounts which allows a user to swap a lens mount for one with a different fit.


  • Legendary quality
  • More compact frame
  • Improved optical design


  • Expensive
  • Lacks Fujifilm X-mount

Are Cine Lenses Good for Photography?

There is a need to treat the question of “are cine lenses good for photography” with caution and deliberateness in language. Here is the thing, similar to what is obtainable for any gadget or electronic product, swapping what they were precisely built for use in another area would always yield results that are less efficient and glamorous compared to when they’re applied for the right use.

This, however, isn’t to say that cine lenses “can’t” be used for photography. You’ll have to go through extra rigor and make certain possibly inconvenient adjustments to be able to shoot comfortably with a cine lens.

First, you have to ensure your camera can be made to adapt to be able to take the regular cinema lens mount, which is theĀ  PL mount.

Most mirrorless cameras don’t struggle to take this mount, though, with the downside being that the adapters can be pricey. While on a general note, there is no optical disadvantage to using cinema lenses for normal photography, the lenses would always perform better in cinematic shootings.

Cine lenses are bigger, bulkier, and much more expensive, and almost like an exclusive policy, reject the incorporation of autofocus.

While you can easily get away with a couple of not-so-good frames in video shooting, as you have a shifting focus, with still focus, it’s a different ball game, as you want to ensure your focus is firm and sharp.

For people who have gotten acquainted with manual focusing, this isn’t an issue. However, it requires some practice and missing several shots to be able to switch from autofocus to manual focus.

So why would any photographer use a cinema lens for photography? The outcome of shooting with certain cinema lenses is stunning; you also get exceptionally fast lenses that don’t struggle to open to bigger apertures than the average photography lens.

So even though they may be bigger, heavier, and even pricier, the uniqueness of the image outcome is one reason photographers make this diversion, but not without paying a small price for the inconvenience.

Can I Use a Cine Lens for Photography?

Anyone choosing to swap his photography lens for a cinema type wouldn’t be committing any crime but simply breaking a protocol. Cine lenses offer excellent photo output due to their high resolution but may constitute some problems with shooting for an individual that chooses to look in their direction.

While settling for a cine lens most of the time is usually a budgetary decision for many photographers, for other photographers, they are worth whatever they’re worth, and even the hassle put into using them is accommodable.

Among a few benefits of shooting with a cine lens is focusing, which seems to be the most obvious. With cine lenses, the photographer gets precise focusing, even though there is a frustratingly long-barrel rotation with occasional hard stops at the beginning as well as at the endpoints of the focusing ring of the lens.

This provides for you an Avenue to add standard pitched focus gears as manual or wireless. From here, tracking focus repeatedly is much more reliable.

Cine vs. Still lenses:Why you may Need Cine Lens In Photography?(Video)


A split-second glance at a cine lens, and you notice right off the bat the huge difference in size. Some cine lenses can be huge, and generally, most cinema lenses are larger than photography ones.

Cinema lenses deploy high-quality build materials; for example, they can have an all-metal casing, bigger glass elements as well and components made to last for years.

The 50mm prime that is most common may come just a couple of inches off your camera; meanwhile, the cinema counterpart could be 5 inches or even longer.

Cine lenses are also built for longevity, and the larger housing comparatively is slightly more rugged. Hence, it can withstand what comes with difficult film shooting.


Size also impacts the focus of a cinema lens, and it’s quite easy to notice huge geared rings that run on a cine lens. The rings are directly involved in the operation of the aperture and focus.

You most likely are familiar with any lens’s focus ring you have. In case your camera’s autofocus does not seem to be effectively hitting the mark, a little manual adjustment can get it locked where you want.

Unlike photo lenses, the glass of cinema lacks autofocus capabilities, as the focus is handled by an individual that then gives whoever is operating the flexibility to alter the focus to their desired mark.

If you have ever tried manually focusing a photography lens, you may have been able to cover the whole focus range with a few degrees of motion.


The aperture will also need to be controlled by a crew member on the shooting set. Rather than the ability of the camera to control the aperture setting of its lens like it is in the DSLR, it’s rather controlled by the lens directly.

Also, instead of hard increments such as 2.8, 3.5, and 4, there is a decline in the aperture ring. Now, you’re able to have the exposure fine-tuned, rather than having the lens limit you to hard stops.


Prepare yourself for some huge sticker shocks if you’re making a comparison of the price of a photo lens to what is obtainable on a blockbuster movie set. Some models of primes in top brands may cost you a few thousand. This isn’t cheap, but a normal price range for a pro-quality glass.

What a blockbuster movie-level lens would cost you is high for a couple of reasons. As already stated above, the materials and size used to craft these cinema lenses cost more. They are of higher quality than a typical photo lens, inherently making them more costly to produce.

A portrait lens may retain a great lifespan for a few years and even withstand several body upgrades. However, cine glasses can last you decades, as they are built to be workhorses. A lot of the higher-end kits may be unavailable for purchase.

The common tradition is filmmakers renting the needed lenses for the time the production is going to last rather than purchasing them outright.

Do Cine Lenses Have Better Image Quality?

The optical quirky of a camera lens is primarily dependent on the kind of glass it’s made with. A premium photo lens is typically made of high-quality glass, hence is a viable option for shooting videos. If what is being considered alone is optical quality.

While the optical performance of a photo lens and a cine lens may sport similarities, under a typical filming situation, it is under difficult lighting that cine lenses show the stuff they’re made of.

The glass cine lens is made to allow it to shoot under terrible lighting conditions, like direct sunlight or high-contrast scenes.

Although there are noticeable slight differences in contrast and color between lenses of a variety of brands, the same cine lens of a brand will always have a consistent image delivery.

A cine lens is also designed to maintain a wholesome sharpness across the photo frame. They are known to keep chromatic aberrations as minimal as possible and also to manage vignettes.

Do Cine Lenses Have Autofocus?

Cine lenses are not built to have autofocus because people who buy them, which are mostly filmmakers, don’t use them. Not all videos are produced or shot by Youtubers or vloggers.

In cinema and TV broadcasts, there may be situations where a lighter and smaller backup camera is deployed to follow the shooting action. At the same time, A-roll contents are filmed from the static position of more precise framing and focusing.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the dynamic range of a good cine camera?

For a cine camera, the higher the number of the dynamic range, the better the ability of the eye camera to capture light and dark places at the same time. This translates to being able to capture highly contrasted images. A good cine camera will have a dynamic range of 12 or more. A typical Hollywood camera has a dynamic range of 13.5.

Does crop factor matter in cine cameras?

A camera with a horrible crop factor will make it almost impossible to get wide-angle shots. This will limit you to using wide-angle lenses or speed boosters, and these can cost quite a huge amount of money.

What should I consider before buying a cine lens?

Picking a cine lens is a much more difficult quest than a still photo lens, especially if you are just new to it. Some factors that should be considered, however, before buying a cine lens, such as determining if it’s a prime or zoom lens, considering if it offers a wide-enough angle, and finally, testing them.

Final Words

So ultimately, are cine lenses what the amount they go for? For the kind of industry they’re used in and the build material they feature, it is fair to say it’s expected to find lenses like that cost such an excessive amount of money. Hence, you should purchase one only if your shooting style calls for it.