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[photo] A film crew shooting a woman standing at an open door

Case Study

Why XK Series is Believed as “The Perfect Zoom Lens”


XK series which recently joined the line-up of FUJINON 4K CINELENS is the product that delivers the same level of quality images as ZK and HK series do while it also has the outstanding mobility and operability. Tokyo video production group Marimo Records carried out a thorough hands-on investigation.


Product Introduction Video

Promo Video

Promo Video - Making-

In digital cinema, it’s the lens that determines how the shoot will turn out

[photo] A fully rigged Sony digital with Fujinon XK Series lens
[photo] A front sideview of a Fujinon XK Series lens with the etched logo in focus

XK Lens—the perfect PL-mount zoom lens. Up to now, there has never been a single lens like this that offers everything in terms of image quality, mobility, and operability.

These days, video productions are increasingly being shot exclusively with digital cinema cameras built around large-format image sensors. Just a decade ago, there was a vast gulf in quality between digital video and traditional cinema technology. But since then, video equipment has made huge strides. Today, it’s safe to say we’ve reached the point where almost anyone can create cinema-quality images with bokeh or a blurred, out-of-focus aesthetic. An increasing number of companies offer new camera models with high-resolution 4K specs that enable anyone to shoot video with a level of quality that would have been inconceivable in the old days.

What this means is that the quality of the lens you use is now more important than ever. In the era of digital cinema, the lens is the only component that still conveys analog information. So when I do my shoots, I pay the utmost attention to the lens. There are sound reasons why people often choose to shoot with a single-focus prime lens. It’s generally accepted that prime lenses deliver a degree of sharpness that can’t be reproduced with zoom lenses. Of course, on location you’ll often see zoom lenses being used, too. But if I’m shooting a 4K production, say, the thought is always in the back of my mind that, if I want to shoot with a total commitment to quality, I should use a prime lens. Also, unfortunately, when it comes to PL-mount zoom lenses, there are simply fewer options available. That’s why I usually end up using a set of several single-focus prime lenses.

[photo] A lady in a dress standing on the beach
[photo] A medium shot of a lady dressed in a mediaval outfit standing infront of a gray wall
[photo] A wide shot of a lady dressed in a mediaval outfit sitting on a green grass on a cloudy day

Still frames grabbed from a video I shot using the XK Lens. In terms of visual rendering capability, it performs as well as a single-focus PL lens.

[photo] A very close-up view of a lady eyes, nose and lips

120 mm video. At the shortest focal length of 110 cm, I was able to capture quite short close-up shots.

The real power of T3.5

Conventionally, the T-numbers go down as the zoom range of a lens gets wider. But with the XK Lens, I can shoot with a consistent T3.5 aperture value throughout the 20 to 120 mm zoom range. This came as a real surprise. What’s more, the brightness that comes with a T3.5 value was also very helpful at our production locations. When it came to making uncompromising exposure adjustments,we had no issues at all. We were able to get stable, consistent color throughout the finished work, which is another benefit of using a single lens.

[photo] A wide shot of a lady dressed in a mediaval dress & hat standing on a green grass field on a cloudy day
[photo] A face close-up of a lady dressed in a mediaval dress & hat sitting on a green grass on a cloudy day

Angles of view at 20 mm and 120 mm settings. Zooming without having to reduce aperture values.

Covers Super 35 mm sensors—quality unobtainable with still lenses

[photo] A cameraman's hand on a follow-focus wheel attached to an XK Lens on a Sony Camera

The visual beauty possible when combining the XK Lens with the Sony PXM-FS7 was beyond my imagination. Mounted via a mount adapter.

[photo] A cameraman filming a woman on the beach

Combined with the Red Weapon. Shot at high speed (100 fps) using a 5K imager.

This time around, I used three cameras. I shot with a Sony PXW-FS7, a Red Epic Dragon, and a Red Weapon. Since the size of the XK’s image circle basically covers Super 35 mm, the 5K sensor size is the maximum size when using the Reds. With 5K, the two Reds support high-speed shooting at 100 fps, so this allowed me to add slow-motion effects. Compatibility with the FS7 was excellent. With that camera, I shot mainly DCI 4K at 60p. By the way, because the lens mount on the FS7 is an E-mount, I mounted the XK on the camera using a PL-mount to E-mount adapter. In this case, I had to attach the lens using a rod-based support system. Anyway, to sum up: it was great to shoot in a stress-free environment without the need to swap lenses during shooting. As for image quality, I have no complaints at all. I think I was able to bring a level of quality into my work that previously would have been impossible with traditional still lenses. In particular, the color rendering is unparalleled. Because its rendering capabilities go beyond surface appearances, I was able to capture images with amazing depth.

Incredibly cost-effective compared to rival products

The XK Lens is the perfect PL-mount zoom lens, but it’s been designed to be affordable. Standard PL-mount zoom lenses are generally expensive—even renting one can be beyond certain budgets. Having a low-price zoom lens that operates over a wide 20 to 120 mm range without a drop in T-numbers would be a great boon for people who shoot using still lenses. It’d be fantastic if the XK Lens was your first PL lens. After finishing three days of shooting, I came to feel that I couldn’t go back to not using it. The XK Lens represents a new standard in PL lenses—something that was simply unavailable before now. It’s going to be a breath of fresh air in the field of digital cinema.