» SALT III – High Speed Lens Shootout
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SALT III – High Speed Lens Shootout

SALT III – High Speed Lens Shootout

Welcome to the 2013 Southland Alternative Lens Test “Wide F%$@*^G Open” Edition. This was a coordinated effort between the following individuals: Will Keir, Phil Holland, Matt Uhry, Matthew Duclos, Jeff Whitehurst, Evin Grant, Ryan Patrick O’Hara, Luke Edwards, Charlie Pickle and myself. I’d like to begin by thanking our Sponsors who not only donated their time, but their facilities, insurance services, and their lens sets:


Jumping Rock Pictures 2


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House of Smooth



Lens Sets Tested:



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Mission Statement:

The purpose of this shootout was to directly compare lens sets on an identical setup. Our goal was not to “test” the lenses, rather provide you with all the info necessary to evaluate the lenses and decide what works for you. These lenses cover a wide range in affordability and availability. This shootout was never meant to prove which set is better than the other. We hope you will see that any of these lenses could be used to shoot quality material and have been for years. We attempted to get Cooke 5i’s for the test but unfortunately none were available at the time. Some of the lenses have slightly varying focal lengths so understand field of view may appear slightly different (i.e. 24mm vs 25mm, 75mm vs. 85mm). Please also keep in mind the slight differences in exposure since we were working with lenses rated between T 1.3 and T 1.5. No matte box was used to insure there was no vignetting or concealing of flares. All images have not been adjusted or corrected anyway. A white balance adjustment is all that has been made.

We all know these lenses perform well closed down to a T 2.8, so this shootout was designed to push the lenses to their limits wide open. Most of the flaws visible wide open disappear once stopped down (examples will be available for download).




The below results were attained using the lens projector at Duclos lenses that is set up in it’s own room, specifically for the purpose of evaluation of optics on an even playing field. The same projector and screen were used for all lenses and the distances were maintained for the equivalent focal lengths (3′ for wide lenses, 6′ for teles). A loupe was used to determine resolution in line pairs per height and width for the Center, Field (middle) and edge of the frame based on a super 35mm motion picture frame. All of the findings below should be interpreted as applying only to the S35mm frame in which the lenses are designed to cover. Numbers are specific to each lens wide open. Lastly, although we did measure the lenses in line pairs this is an observational procedure and rather than deal with the political ramifications of publishing these absolute numbers we’ve decided to present them as they apply to the S35 sensor in the Epic and Scarlet. The data presented below is such that even measurements with a “Fair” grade will, for the most part, resolve the full resolution of the sensor.


Where you see notes in the table below represent specific observations, if a field is blank that means that the lens performed average for that metric. If it was either better or worse or particularly apparent it was recorded.


Keep in mind these are purely technical numbers and do not speak to the cinematic look and quality the lenses exhibit in a real world scenario.

SALT III - 2SALT IIIDuclos Evaluation PDF (Click to download)


Torture Test:

This shot was designed to push all the lenses to the edge. If you plan on using these lenses wide open you need to view them at their worst. This test will show the differences in Resolution, CA, Contrast, Flare Characteristics, Bokeh, Breathing, Distortion, and Color Rendition. The test was performed both wide open and at T 2.8. For each focal length increase, the camera was moved back to maintain a similar frame for every lens. The test was captured with the Red Epic (5KFF, 320ISO, 23.976fps, 3:1 compression, 3200K) due to the high resolution sensor and ability to change lens mounts in a minute. Shutter speed was used to control exposure. Focus was confirmed for each lens in a 3 step process. First using the built in focus assist function, then by eye off the siemens chart, and finally confirmed on a 1080p on set monitor. All this was performed after the distance was confirmed with a tape measure.

Here is a look at the test in action:




Beauty Test:

This test was designed for the telephoto lenses of each set. We wanted to see how each lens treats a human face both wide open and again at T 2.8. Focus was set to the left eye closest to the camera with the same three step focus confirmation. We have to give a big thank you to Stephanie from Duclos Lenses for being our test subject. Shutter speed was used to control exposure. Shot on the Red Epic (5KFF, 320ISO, 23.976fps, 3:1 compression, 5000K post adjusted).

In action:




The video comprises both the Torture Test and the Beauty Test. It’s just shy of an hour but make sure to watch the entire thing. Hope the music makes it a little more entertaining for you!

Keep an eye out for the areas highlighted below. This will give you a baseline indication for comparison. View downloads at 100%.


Select Original for 2K video:

Download 2K video here. (Right-Click, Save As)

Download 4K video here. (Right-Click, Save As)



(Wide Open)

phfx_HSSALT_inFocus_HalationAndGlow phfx_HSSALT_ColorAndTonalConsistency phfx_HSSALT_inFocus_ChromaticAberrations phfx_HSSALT_inFocus_AberrationAndOOFShape

18mm CA




85mm CA



(R3D Grabs and Images)(Click to download)

(Each of these downloads contains R3D grabs, FF5K JPEGS, and projector results for that given set.)

RedcineX Pro Download to view R3D’s.( CLICK





It’s safe to say the torture test is rather harsh for all of the lenses (except Leica Summilux-C and Master Primes) while all perform well on the Beauty Test. Like I said earlier this shootout wasn’t intended to pick a winner, but really to compare and contrast between the sets. As you can see in this example the Leica’s and the Master Primes come out as the most rounded of the lens sets. This test is definitely not definitive and each real world shoot has a specific need or look and varying budget. A set that works for one project may not work for the next. Download the test material which is provided in the links above and have a look for yourself (both R3D grabs and stills are available for each set). Before you make any conclusions I would urge everyone to perform their own tests if possible. Those of us who put this shootout together would like to thank all of you for taking the time to view this and hopefully you get as much out of this as we have.




Additional Leica Look:

phfx_HSSALT_leicaSummiluxC75mmCloserLook phfx_HSSALT_leicaSummiluxC75mmSharpNoSharp



Dragon Sensor:

While it’s still early in the testing phases for the Dragon sensor, Red has given us preliminary sensor sizes. From these early numbers the only complete set that covered outside of the FF lenses were the Leica Summilux-C. Yes you read that correctly, the K35 18mm did not cover which was a bit of a surprise. At this point all FF lenses more than cover FF 6K.




None of us were paid or guaranteed services or gifts in exchange for performing this test. We have no vested interest in making one set look better than the other. Those with lens sets in the test were not operating the tests for obvious reasons. The RED Epic FF sensor size is slightly larger than the S35 Motion Picture standard so any lens vignetting does not appear or affect the traditional S35 frame size.



Test in Action Product Shots Duclos Projector

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Screen Shot 2012-10-30 at 11.18.09 PM

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© Matt Hayslett 2017 Up
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