What's the look and feel of a LOMO lens compared to Zeiss, Cooke, Other?

The soft and warm vs hard and cold aspects of 35mm LOMO lenses and other Motion Picture Lenses have been discussed over and over, but H.W. Stone explained it best on Sunday, November 9th, 2008 at 09:38AM EST when he did a comparison between lenses (related to spherical, non-anamorphic, lenses only):

Konvas 2M Motion Picture Camera
Konvas 2M Motion Picture Camera
Just based on the look and the way I feel about the needed images "different movies" need "different glass."

Zeiss is sharper, cooler, and great for a legal drama or science fiction with a hard, scientific basis-- it would be lousy for romantic comedy or fruitcake sci-fi talking amoeba attacks.

The "new" Cooke is hard edged, clear color boundary, and will hold its own against Zeiss-- but if I were shooting romantic comedy I'd head for the older Cooke, the Speed Panchro, for example-- because the look compliments and supports the warmer, not as hard edged look. Older Cooke zooms are softer, and you don't need to drop a softener on them, or use a pantyhose panel to erase the lines an older actress, but you maintain the sharper color boundary the softeners erase-- so an old 25-250 Cooke might be set at about 85-100mm for her ECU, keeping you from being too close in a physical sense so she can work it more easily, allowing more control over lighting, but giving the impression you were sitting in her lap.

Nikkor ED is okay, but not great. Compared to real cine lenses, the rest of the Nikkor family is crap. Apply that to most of the Canon series, just say LD instead of ED, with the only "exemptions" being the super fast long glass-- which is not as sharp but gives you speed, and that's sometimes more important than sharpness.

Sharpest, hardest, downward to warmer, softer-- In my use, only, spherical lenses--

Late Zeiss
Late Cooke
Fuji Cine
Later Leitz
Later Lomo
Canon Cine
earlier Zeiss
Cooke Speed Panchro
Earlier Leitz
earlier Lomo

The Nikkors would be fine for the RED because the image recorded is less than the image the lens delivers, but they just don't cut it for real film unless you are shooting in fog. I admit my preference stays toward the middle of the pack, avoiding each end.

If and when I am forced to go spherical.

Todd Terry had this to add on Tuesday, November 11th, 2008 11:13PM EST:

Konvas 35mm Motion Picture Camera
Konvas 35mm Motion Picture Camera
I would say professor Stone's assessment of lenses from sharpest/hardest down to wamer/softest is pretty much spot on...

Unfortunately most of us do not have the luxury of having an infinite number of different types of lenses on hand, or even access to them from rental facilities... so it's a little difficult to say "I usually use my Zeiss lenses, but I want a softer look for this next project so I'm going to break out the B&H set"... it's not a practical option for most of us.

That's why when we decided to buy a decent primes set we went for the Leitz superspeeds... right in the middle... not too hard, not too soft, not too warm, not too cool. We have found them to be just about right for most usage. So, that's my advice for anyone bargain lens shopping... drive in the middle.

Unfortunately as most of you know the lens market has really dried up... when matched primes sets CAN be found, they are getting a fortune for them, WHEN you can find them. A set that could be had for $10-15K just a few years ago can easily get two or three times that much now... even more for superspeeds.

I haven't been hardcore lens shopping in a year or more, but at that time I will say that it was relatively easy to find a set of Speed Panchros and at prices that weren't TOO god-awful bad, although still high. Those might be a bit soft though for some tastes, especially compared to the newer Cookes.

H.W. Stone also added this on Tuesday, November 11th, 2008 12:09PM EST:

Todd, I wish I could afford an infinite set-- but based on the "how I like things" and "what I am most likely to work on" I had to buy only a few lenses, too.

I loved the Cooke Speed Pancho look, but realized that non romantic looks were better served with the Rodenstock line-- and BTW, the Rodenstocks are still highly undervalued in today's market, a twenty year old Rodenstock cine lens in Arri Standard mount in a PL adapter holds it's own against most "newer" lenses. The LOMO sphericals seemed to hold their own, but I got sidetracked into the LOMO anamorphics, and that's where I was working when I started having health issues myself.

BTW-- I got to play with the S4, loved it, but it no longer had that warm look the old Speed Panchro had. That's one edge film really has over DV-- a warm, soft but detailed look.

See this article for a comparison of 35mm Still Camera lenses versus 16mm and 35mm cine lenses.