Vittorio Storaro, ASC, AIC - Cafè Society
"We paired the Sony F65 with the Cooke S4 Prime Lenses to achieve the look of Woody Allen’s film . Our locations became characters in the film but they were also one of the greatest challenges of the production.
We used Cooke lenses because, to me, Cooke is the ‘one’ because they built their lenses for cinema. Other companies usually use photographic lenses, rehoused for use with cinema cameras. We need serious lenses to record the plastic movement of light on every kind of image, from maximum brightness to maximum darkness, particularly into the penumbra, as Leonardo [da Vinci] called it."
For 'Carol' I used the Cooke S4/i lenses alongside a set of older Speed Panchros and two Cooke zooms. I've always worked with Cooke lenses. Early on when Cooke was deciding to make the new S4s they asked a number of cinematographers why we were so enamoured of the old Cooke lenses — what made them special for us?
It's because the early Cookes were made like portrait lenses. They have a slight fall-off in the flat field of the lens and create a certain contour and shape that is very pleasing to faces. Cooke kept that look in their new lenses and it’s wonderful for character-driven work. I knew that this story was going to take place in the emotions of the characters, and so Cooke lenses naturally lent themselves to this feeling of shape. They always feel like they have more depth, they're not clinical, and they enhance the imagery.
– Ed Lachman, ASC,
Felix Wiedemann, Director of Photography
"The choice to shoot anamorphic for Stratton was partly for the aspect ratio, but also because I like the characteristics of anamorphic lenses and the way they render 3D space into a 2D image. I tested the Cooke Anamorphics and immediately liked what I saw. They render a sharp image that holds contrast and colour separation beautifully. Beyond technical performance, they've got soul.
It’s about the feeling you get from the image. We chose Cooke Anamorphic/i lenses as our main set of prime lenses for 'Stratton'. I kept the lighting very natural throughout the shoot, but with a clear sense of sources and direction inspired by what the locations offered. We had a wide range of shooting conditions, from bright sunny beaches to urban night exteriors, and dark scenes underwater inside a pipe that was mainly lit by torches and lights that we prepared to look like coloured glow sticks. I was really impressed with how the Cooke Anamorphics held the colour and contrast equally well in each situation. They brought out all the nuances within each shot.”
– Felix Wiedemann, Director of Photography,
I’ve loved the Cooke S4 lenses since shooting my first film. It’s that special organic feel that Cooke lenses have always had; not so vintage to be uneasy and compromising, And, they have a solid range of focal lengths to choose from. Today I insist on shooting with them. Now as before, it’s that real Cooke Look.
Alex Catalán, AEC, Director of Photography
Josh McKie, Cinematographer, Documentary short and TV spot for The Global Fund
"We shot a 5 minute documentary and TV spot in very harsh, uncontrolled conditions across South Africa with a mixed style of a lot of run and gun shooting, super high speed, drone and helicopter shots.
Shooting in dark shacks, often with the lens wide open or at T2.8 they performed beautifully without having to think about it too much. The Cookes were thrown around a lot and put through dirty, dusty situations for two weeks straight without a single problem. We really pushed these lenses. They are mechanically superb but the sharpness was the best thing. They’re pin sharp when you need it but have a wonderful fall off to creamy softness in the out of focus regions."
The Cooke Anamorphic/i lenses are not as 'dry' as other lenses I've used before; they have a wonderful round feel to them. We really put the set through its paces, using them in a multitude of shooting situations, day, night, interior, exterior, rain, sun, even into a splash bag — and the lenses performed beautifully all the time, with nice oval bokehs. Antoine Roch, AFC, Director of Photography, Un homme idéal
COOKE DP: ALVIN CASE
After borrowing an old Mitchell 16mm from his school’s communications department, independent filmmaker Alvin Case taught himself cinematography at a young age. He continued using 16mm and Super 8mm film into the 1990s when he started shooting video. Today, he speaks to Cooke about his decision to use a Cooke miniS4/i 18mm prime lens for shooting his upcoming psychological horror film.
As an independent filmmaker -- meaning I write and shoot and direct with a small team of regulars---I have to be conscious of cost when renting equipment. Happily I can now tell my production partners that the Cooke lenses are worth every penny of rental. I was impressed greatly by the smooth mechanics of the lenses, which made it very easy for me, as the sole operator on the camera, to work focus and aperture with one hand while panning. I can't think of any lens where I could have done that on the first take. As for the image capture, I have long admired the 'Cooke look' and was pleased to see it evident in a digital capture environment. Alvin Case - DP
Jeff Levine, AC and DIT for Variable - Cooke Lenses
“I just wanted to take a moment and compliment you guys on the quality of your lenses. We recently wrapped a job using the Cooke 5/i lenses for the first time and we were blown away by the performance and quality of the lens in every facet. I do not think we would have been able to achieve the look we wanted with any other lens set.
The Cooke look was evident and perfect for the aesthetic we were trying to convey. The skin tones in particular were simply beautiful and I've never used anything that has captured them quite as well.”
Jeff Levine, AC and DIT for Variable
After receiving such a wonderful email, we had to talk to Jeff and find out more about this project….
“I’ve been in love with Cookes for a long time – glass is really important to me and I’m blown away by the quality and technique that goes into making each lens. The look of any story is paramount, and Cookes give a very honest and human look to images, particularly when shooting digitally – but they are also robust enough that I can rely on them in extreme conditions.”
Greig Fraser, ACS, Zero Dark Thirty
Black Hawks and Poets
Greig Fraser started out as a stills photographer, studying at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. While working at a studio production company with both photographers and film makers, he realised he preferred the collaborative way in which the film makers worked, and switched specialisms. He began working with director friends on music videos, commercial spots and short films and gradually built his skillset and an impressive showreel. His cinematography credits include Bright Star, Killing Them Softly, Let Them In, Snow White and The Huntsman and, most recently, the Oscar-nominated Zero Dark Thirty. Here he shares his experiences with Cooke lenses.
"The Cooke S4 lenses are the ones I turn to when in a tough situation. If I am shooting directly into practical lights, into backlight or shooting with the sun in my face the S4 lenses can handle it. Flare is at a minimum and many times none existent, I love these lenses"
Gordon C Lonsdale, DOP, Bones
An Audience with Christian Berger
Award-winning cinematographer, director, producer, writer, film academy professor, developer of film technology ... Christian Berger has a storied career in film that spans over 40 years and continues to go from strength to strength. Here he talks about the importance of lighting, the wide-ranging effects of digital cameras, and how Cooke lenses have enhanced his most recent films, including Haneke’s The White Ribbon – for which he was Oscar-nominated and received, beside many other awards, from the ASC (American Society of Cinematographers) Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography 2010 – and the latest work, coming in 2013, (working title) The Notebook by director Janos Zsasz.
“I love Cookes for their rather ineffable quality I call " roundness or fullness" They seem to render skintones more faithfully and flatteringly. They are very very sharp – yet not clinical.
I have had my S4i's for 4 years and I have never had any maintenance issues with them at all. When I first got them we had a truck knock the camera down with my 40mm on it. We had it checked out and it was perfect - it withstood the bang perfectly. More recently I was shooting "Dragonball Evolution" in Mexico under super dusty and rugged conditions and the lenses performed flawlessly.
I have used Cookes on the features Final Destination 1 and 3, Black Christmas, Willard, Kings Ransom, Dragonball Evolution and the TV movie A little Thing Called Murder, The New Beachcombers, and High Noon. and on the TV series, Tarzan, True Calling pilot, Out of Order, The Lone Gunmen pilot, Bionic Woman and coming this spring, Harper's Island.”
Rob McLachlan ASC,CSC
"Parts of Hollywood and Bollywood reside in Leicester"
World War II Heroes: The Full Impact - "D-Day to Victory"
The recent Channel 4 series World War II: The Last Heroes represented a powerful and novel way of bringing history to life. Latest generation slow-motion cameras and lenses were employed to capture in evocative detail the detonation and impact of real explosions of the same size and power of those actually experienced in World War II. Illustrating a series of moving interviews with aged Allied veterans, the explosions supplemented rare historic footage to tell the real-life stories of the survivors. Co-producers, Impossible Pictures in the UK and Entertainment One of Canada, approached DoP Jeremy Benning CSC to lead the camera team and here he explains how they went about capturing these highly charged sequences.