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The Best Set of Go-To Lenses

Tanner Shinnick

These lenses are good additions to any videographer’s go-to kit. This breakdown explains why.

Cover image via Sigma.

Most of us don’t always have the budget to rent a set of Master Primes. I’ve been on the search for the ultimate budget-friendly, everyday lens kit for quite some time. In my search, I’ve narrowed it down to three options: Zeiss Milvus, Sigma Art and Rokinon Cine. I’ve used each lens set on multiple shoots, and each has proven advantageous. In this post, I’ll break down the advantages and disadvantages of each.


Sigma Art

Simply put, the Sigma Art lenses are great. You’re starting to see them pop up on all sorts of shoots, especially now that you can get them as cinema lenses. These lenses offer a sharp, wide-open aperture, and they come in a variety of focal lengths.

The Best Set of Go-To Lenses — Sigma Art
Image via Sigma.

Pros

Sharp — These lenses offer a beautifully sharp image across the entire range.

Fast —  These lenses feature a very fast aperture that is perfect for lowlight situations.

Affordable — They’re not the cheapest lenses, but compared to their L-Series counterparts, these lenses come at a good price point.

Cons 

Build Quality — These lenses are built pretty well, but they are not as high-quality as a Zeiss lens. This can affect their longevity.


Zeiss Milvus

I didn’t expect the Zeiss Milvus line of lenses to be as great as they were. Zeiss makes them, so you know they’ll be good, but these lenses have improved upon their older ZE counterparts. They’re sharp, wide-open, and they create beautiful images.

The Best Set of Go-To Lenses — Zeiss Milvus
Image via Zeiss.

Pros 

0.8 Gear — The focus barrel of the lens has the same focus throw distance and feel of a true cinema lens. This will make pulling focus much more natural and less touchy than using a typical still lens.

Sharp — These lenses are ultra sharp, even wide open. The 85mm Milvus performs beautifully when open at 1.4. Zeiss made a great improvement here over their older ZE line, which did not perform well shooting wide open.

Cons

No focus marks — Unfortunately what keeps this lens from being a true cinema lens is the lack of focus marks.


Rokinon Cine

The Best Set of Go-To Lenses — Rokinon Cine
Image via Rokinon.

The first time I used the Rokinon Cine lenses, I was immediately impressed — especially since I didn’t expect much. They were surprisingly sharp and created a great image. The best part is that they’re very affordable.

Pros

Affordability — The fact that you can get a four-lens set of these for $1,900 is reason enough to include them in this list. If you’re on a slim budget and need a good lens option, then these Rokinons are worth your consideration.

Fast — As affordable as these lenses are, they are also very fast. The 85mm boasts a T1.5, which is great for lowlight situations. However, while they’re fast, these lenses do lack a little in sharpness when wide open.

Cons 

Build — If I’m looking at a set of lenses, I’m thinking about longevity. I want a set that I will have around for years. When it comes down to it, the Rokinons just don’t have the same build quality as the Sigma Art or Zeiss Milvus lines.

All three of these lens sets are great options to consider when building out your own set of primes.


Do you have experience with these lenses? Let us know in the comments.

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