Lens News

Cooke SP3 Primes: Branching Out into the World of Mirrorless Hybrid Camera Lenses

Cooke Optics has just unveiled a surprising new lineup of prime lenses designed both optically and mechanically for full-frame mirrorless cameras… the SP3 T2.4 Full Frame spherical prime – “Cooke’s classic Speed Panchro design, delivered through lenses built for the digital age”.

For over a century, Cooke Optics has been one of the leading glass manufacturers in the motion picture industry, primarily catering to the high-end, costly, world of cinematography. Their glass is world-renowned for the organic imagery it produces, and has always been synonymous with cameras from top manufacturers like ARRI. Clearly Cooke is now breaking with tradition however, and offering their signature look to the broader market of users already entrenched in the mirrorless hybrid camera world.

These new SP3 primes were modeled after the well-known Speed Panchro lens series, utilized in countless early Hollywood productions from the very first Academy Award winner, Wings (1927) to Casablanca and The Sound of Music. They are said to match perfectly with Cooke Panchro/i Classic (PL-mount) lenses as well, allowing users that already own or shoot with Panchro lenses the ability to use an SP3 mounted on a smaller mirrorless camera or drone as a “B Cam”, without having to worry about matching “looks”. Going by the image comparison below, this does appear to be true… although, I’m still curious to see how these $4500 USD lenses compare next to their $12,000 USD counterparts in different environments. Regardless, Cooke is now making the “Cooke look” available to a much wider market than we’ve seen before, which can ultimately only be a good thing!

An image comparing a frame grab shot with each a new Cooke 50mm SP3 lens and a Cooke Panchro/i Classic 50mm lens.

What You Need To Know

All of the lenses in the SP3 series come with a constant aperture of T2.4 and have aligned focus and iris rings, allowing for fast lens swapping without having to reconfigure an entire camera rig, or reposition follow focus and iris motors. Their uniformity goes further still, with all of the lenses coming with 58mm filter threads, except for the 100mm which has 77mm threads. The SP3’s are also compact and light, ranging in weight from 500 grams to 690 grams. This makes them suitable for not only smaller mirrorless cameras, but also drones and gimbals where weight becomes more of an obstacle.

As is becoming increasingly common, these new Cooke lenses will also come with interchangeable mounting options. Cooke Optics is currently bundling the SP3’s with a fitted E-mount, primarily for Sony cameras, but will also be supplying RF mounts when available, and offers L and M (early 2024) mounts as additional accessories. However, likely in an effort not to cannibalize their own product line, it looks like Cooke will not be offering these lenses in a PL mount variation.

Future proofing the SP3 line also appears to have been a priority for Cooke, with them stating that the SP3 is capable of 8K images and beyond, meaning they should have ample resolving power for the big screen.

SP3 Essential Information:

  • Focal length range: 25mm / 32mm / 50mm / 75mm /100mm
  • Format: Full Frame (S35 compatible)
  • Mount: Interchangable: E (fitted) RF (supplied when available), L (available as accessory), M (available early 2024)
  • Speed: T2.4
  • Form: Small and lightweight yet finished in tough anodised shell
  • Scale: Dual Focus scales
  • Compatibility: Matched to Panchro/i Classic series
An image displaying the Cooke SP3 lens set and additional mounts removed from the accompanying fitted case.

Price, Availability & Conclusions

The new SP3’s are available for pre-order now at a cost of $4500 USD each, with a full set running over $21,000 USD. This is arguably a very good price for what you’re getting, considering these are nowhere near entry-level lenses for mirrorless-hybrid cameras, and considerably cheaper than traditional Cooke lens prices. All-in-all, Cooke’s new SP3 lens lineup has ‘turned a lot of heads’, with a manufacturer of their reputation producing a lens series meant for mirrorless-hybrid cameras, and I for one can’t wait to try these lenses out!

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