ARRI set out to deliver lenses that were free of nearly all aberrations yet still deliver a beautiful, organic look. They are sharp, have high contrast, and have some of the smoothest bokeh of any lens. Focus breathing is eliminated or nearly eliminated on every focal length.
Even though they are somewhat large for prime lenses, their magnesium housings result in a fairly light-weight housing. They are an optical and mechanical achievement, but they are also some of the most expensive lenses available, so they may not fit every budget.
Excellent contrast and resoluton throughout.
Very minor CA at FF. Cleans up by T2.8.
Just barely made out 200, center WFO (demo unit).
Very minor CA, SA in field. Cleans up by T4.
Very minor CA in field. Cleans up by T2.8.
The ARRI Signature primes are a feat of optical and mechanical engineering. Truly a technical achievement. These lenses are by far the cleanest lenses on the market with a pleasing image that strikes the balance between a clean high-resolution image and a fall off from subject to foreground that is hard to find in other series lenses.
The focus breathing and chromatic aberration are very well controlled making them everything you would expect from a company with the pedigree and experience of ARRI. This series is what is possible if price is no object. The lightweight durable mechanical and fine optical design are what you would hope for when one lens costs as much as an entire set of competitive lenses with similar specifications.
To quote Ferris Bueller, “It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommending picking one up.”
ARRI Signature Primes are impressive. Sharp, clean, nearly aberration-free, with almost no focus breathing. They are also one of the most consistent lens sets from focal length to focal length in regards to their character. I wasn’t surprised to see Roger Deakins select these lenses for 1917 since he had been shooting mainly Alexa and ARRI/Zeiss Master Primes for most of his recent work.
I bring up Master Primes, because I feel like Signature Primes offer Full Frame cinematography a similar niche that Master Primes deliver for Super 35: the highest performance possible, sharp, clean, almost no aberrations, and zero breathing. Signature Primes do have their own look however. They are not simply Master Primes for Full Frame cameras. Where they stand out to me is their bokeh. They have arguably the smoothest, softest, and least distracting bokeh of any lens I have tested, and it’s uniform across all focal lengths. It really makes your subject pop from the background.
We are mainly testing lenses based on their aesthetics, but it needs to be mentioned that these lenses have absolutely phenomenal mechanics. For prime lenses, they are not small, but they are very light-weight considering their size. But what’s really impressive it how they feel. Their design and build just inspires confidence. They feel so good in the hand. What I mean is, if you are an AC you will appreciate their form, because you never feel like the lens will slip out of your hand. The focus and iris rotate with such smoothness and precision and with exactly the right amount of dampening. I don’t know what that amount is, but I know what it feels like, and that’s how these lenses feel. They are an incredible optical and mechanical achievement.
It was only a matter of time for ARRI to join the LF train in 2018 when they released the Signatures. Joining the LF fleet including the Alexa LF and Alexa Mini LF, the ARRI Signatures became one of the most sought after lens sets in the market.
Most notably for their use in Roger Deakin's 1917, the Signatures offer a 46mm image circle, an impressive and game-changing light-weight build, and the amazing ability to add filters in its rear element which is pretty incredible.
Build aside, the lenses are gorgeous. Beautiful bokeh, warm skin tones but overall sharp and accurate so as to not stray too far in one direction. One of the best in its class.
The Signature Primes from ARRI exceeded my expectations. Despite ARRI’s marketing behind the lenses stating they have character and “not too sharp”, they were among the most accurate, high contrast lenses I tested. This wasn’t my first experience testing the Signature Primes, but it was the first time I had that many focal lengths from the line at once.
The consistency across the range was impressive. Contrast and resolution was nearly uniform throughout the image field. Their size and weight would be unbearable if these were made of traditional aluminum alloy. But ARRI went with a magnesium alloy body which provides significant weight savings to compensate for the large, heavy glass. Because they’re made primarily of magnesium alloy, the body is painted instead of a more durable anodizing.
Over time, this will certainly be a gripe for owners. Overall, the Signature Primes provided a very clean image, ideal for a wide range of projects including VFX work.