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Full-Frame Zoom Lenses for Full-Frame Cameras

Tanner Shinnick

Let’s take a look at some of the best full-frame zoom lens options on the market, for a variety of budgets.

Full-frame is the future of digital cinema. This larger, more robust sensor provides much richer detail in your images. Also, this sensor produces additional color resolve that provides a shallower depth of field. Arguably, the combination offers a greater cinematic image. Although most supportive camera equipment is fully prepared for this format change, it seems that the options for zoom lenses have some catching up to do.

Many staple zooms cinematographers have used over the years — like Angenieux and even Canon CNE zooms — only cover up to Super 35 sensors. This means that finding the right full-frame zoom lens, for the right budget, can often be a challenge.

So, let’s take a look.

Low Budget 

The Canon 24-105L is a classic, highly trusted zoom/documentary lens. It’s been used on a variety of productions and shows — like Showtime’s The Trade — for its robust versatility. In terms of a low-cost, full-frame option, it’s a trusted tool that’ll cover your needs in most shooting scenarios. It provides a beautiful image, while also keeping your production budget intact.

In fact, any lens in the Canon L-Series line will cover a full-frame sensor.

Canon 24-105L F/4

Canon 24-105L F/4 lens is a trusted tool in documentary filmmaking. Image via B&H.

Indie Budget

If you want to keep your cinema lens perks — like a full-focus ring and a de-clicked aperture — this Sigma lens is the perfect combination of both. At $4,999, it clocks in as one of the most “affordable” true cinema zoom options available. Although it has a short focal range, it still ensures you have the perfect marriage of price and features. Also, at a T2.2, it’s a very fast zoom.

Sigma 24-35mm T2.2

The Sigma 24-35mm T2.2 is notable for its fast zoom and affordability. Image via Adorama

Medium Budget

Angenieux makes some of the most beautiful zoom lenses on the market. However, their classic Optimo series only covers Super 35 and APS-C Lenses. To address this, they released the EZ series. With both Super 35 and FF options, these lenses provide that coveted Angenieux and Hollywood look, at a more palatable price point. While I haven’t personally had the opportunity to use this line of lenses, any fellow DPs I’ve talked to about these lenses have given only glowing reviews.

Angenieux Type EZ-2 15-40mm T2.0

Angenieux Type EZ-2 15-40mm T2.0 provides that Hollywood look at a great price point. Image via Adorama.

High Budget

Zeiss Compact Zoom Line

With its fast aperture, the Zeiss Compact Zoom line adds a clean, crisp quality to any production. Image via Adorama

Zeiss’s line of compact zooms bring a high-end approach to full-frame cinema zooms. This three-lens set provides a fast aperture and a clean, almost-clinical image quality to your production. With a focal range from 15mm-200mm across the three lenses, they will cover almost anything you might need for a documentary production. These lenses will give any DP peace of mind.

As full-frame cameras are quickly becoming the standard, I’m certain we’ll start to see many more full-frame zooms hit the market. Until then, you still have a variety of quality options available to choose from for your next production.

Cover image via B&H.

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