Zeiss Super Speeds have been an industry standard workhorse for decades since they do so many things so well. All 6 lenses are T1.3. They are sharp even wide open, yet still flattering on your subject.
Their older coatings can handle bright light sources and blown out windows well, yet they flare and ghost beautifully. They are one of the most well-rounded lens sets out there.
Super Speeds have always been one of my favorite sets of lenses I’ve ever used. I think a lot of cinematography is about getting into the subconscious of the viewer and these lenses are just ingrained in the psyche of movie viewers because of the countless number of classic films that were shot on these lenses. When I look at the 35mm or 50mm Super Speed on the camera, it just “looks right”. Zeiss really nailed the mechanics and engineering on these lenses, especially for how old they were when they were produced.
One of my favorite things about this set is that you can get many different looks simply by adjusting your T stop. If you like lower contrast and taking down the sharpness, T1.4- T2.0 will give you all of that. If you stop down to a 2.8 or 4 they are right up there with modern lenses!
Ask any parent who has more than one kid to pick a favorite. It’s not easy. It’s the same with me and lenses. However, if I had to sell off every set of lenses I had and keep one set of primes, it would be these. Zeiss Super Speeds are always a smart decision. They are as sharp as you need a lens to be especially stopped down, but shoot them wide open or at T2 and they are magic. They produce some of the best skin-tones of any lens I have every used. They are well-made, the set is very complete, and having T1.3 at any focal length is incredible.
They have just enough vintage character and imperfections without getting you in trouble ever. I don’t know if it's the special glass made from rare earth materials, or the magic T* coating, these lenses just make people look good. They produce big dramatic lens flares, have minimal breathing and excellent close-focus. From the SHINING to STRAIGHT OUTA COMPTON, there is a reason these lenses continue to be the go-to choice for so many DPs.
Where do I even begin… The lenses that my technician career was founded upon - the Super Speeds are an absolute classic. Their performance is known world-wide. Ask any DP and they’ll have an opinion of the Super Speeds one way or another. I won’t bother going into the details of their characteristics here since you’ll either love them or hate them.
Watch the video test of them and you’ll see why they have a reputation in the motion picture world. Or better yet, get your hands on them and do your own tests. You won’t be disappointed.