Digital Cameras

Canon's most challenging lens design ever: The 50-1000 Cine-Servo

Canon's most challenging lens ...
Canon's Cine-Servo 50-1000mm T5.0-8.9PL is an exceptional achievement
Canon's Cine-Servo 50-1000mm T5.0-8.9PL is an exceptional achievement
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Canon Cine-Servo 50-1000mm T5.0-8.9PL: cinema superzoom
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Canon Cine-Servo 50-1000mm T5.0-8.9PL: cinema superzoom
Canon's Cine-Servo 50-1000mm T5.0-8.9PL is an exceptional achievement
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Canon's Cine-Servo 50-1000mm T5.0-8.9PL is an exceptional achievement
Canon Cine-Servo 50-1000mm T5.0-8.9PL: PL mount to fit a wide range of Super 35 cameras
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Canon Cine-Servo 50-1000mm T5.0-8.9PL: PL mount to fit a wide range of Super 35 cameras
Canon Cine-Servo 50-1000mm T5.0-8.9PL: can be fitted with EF mount to fit Canon DSLRs
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Canon Cine-Servo 50-1000mm T5.0-8.9PL: can be fitted with EF mount to fit Canon DSLRs
Canon Cine-Servo 50-1000mm T5.0-8.9PL: with lens hood
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Canon Cine-Servo 50-1000mm T5.0-8.9PL: with lens hood
Canon Cine-Servo 50-1000mm T5.0-8.9PL: a monster pro superzoom
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Canon Cine-Servo 50-1000mm T5.0-8.9PL: a monster pro superzoom
Canon Cine-Servo 50-1000mm T5.0-8.9PL: servo grip allows quick, smooth zoom and focus control
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Canon Cine-Servo 50-1000mm T5.0-8.9PL: servo grip allows quick, smooth zoom and focus control
Canon Cine-Servo 50-1000mm T5.0-8.9PL: can zoom from wide to full tele in 1.5 seconds
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Canon Cine-Servo 50-1000mm T5.0-8.9PL: can zoom from wide to full tele in 1.5 seconds
Canon Cine-Servo 50-1000mm T5.0-8.9PL: the result of a monumental challenge
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Canon Cine-Servo 50-1000mm T5.0-8.9PL: the result of a monumental challenge
Canon Cine-Servo 50-1000mm T5.0-8.9PL: high resolution and low chromatic aberration
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Canon Cine-Servo 50-1000mm T5.0-8.9PL: high resolution and low chromatic aberration
Canon Cine-Servo 50-1000mm T5.0-8.9PL: a monster pro superzoom
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Canon Cine-Servo 50-1000mm T5.0-8.9PL: a monster pro superzoom
Canon Cine-Servo 50-1000mm T5.0-8.9PL: the result of a monumental challenge
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Canon Cine-Servo 50-1000mm T5.0-8.9PL: the result of a monumental challenge

Back in 2014, Canon stunned pro videographers with an absolute monster of a lens. Pro-grade resolution at 4K, with a wide angle of 50 mm and a zoom up to 1,500 with a built in range extender, the Cine-Servo put top-grade glass behind camcorder-like controls to offer unprecedented flexibility. And it only came to be after a wildlife videographer laid down a challenge.

Wildlife videographers have some of the most challenging working conditions you're likely to come across. After all, there's no telling when an animal's going to catch the right light or do the thing you want to film. You've got to be ready at all times. That's why Ivo Nörenberg, a veteran wildlife videographer who's worked on a ton of films, decided to set Canon a challenge. He wanted a Super 35 lens he could leave on his camera pretty much all day.

It needed to be able to full-frame a 4-ft-high (1.2-m) wild animal from a safe distance of 350 ft (107 m), but it also needed to be able to take wide-angle setup shots. It needed to resolve at a pro level even at 4K resolution, and it needed to have a smooth servo zoom so you could use it a bit like a camcorder with a one-man crew. Oh, and it had to be something portable and weatherproof.

That's a brutal set of specs, but Canon took it on as a challenge to produce this: the Cine-Servo 50-1000mm T5.0-8.9PL lens. The rest is history.

Canon Cine-Servo 50-1000mm T5.0-8.9PL: the result of a monumental challenge
Canon Cine-Servo 50-1000mm T5.0-8.9PL: the result of a monumental challenge

Measuring 15.9 in (40 cm) long and weighing just 14.6 lb (6.6 kg), the Cine-Servo offers superzoom flexibility with pro level quality and minimal chromatic aberration on a Super 35mm video camera. At the wide end, 50 mm is a very useful standard focal length for landscape setups. At the long end, it's a thousand millimeters - yes, 1,000 mm.

If that's not enough, Canon built in a range extender that clicks it up to 1,500 mm when required. It's got a nice little servo drive on the side to smoothly zoom in and out with, and it works fast enough to haul glass from wide to full zoom in just 1.5 seconds. The servo grip also lets you easily manage focus, but you can pull it off to use it as a full cinema rig if you've got somebody else around to do the handiwork.

Canon Cine-Servo 50-1000mm T5.0-8.9PL: a monster pro superzoom
Canon Cine-Servo 50-1000mm T5.0-8.9PL: a monster pro superzoom

It uses Canon's popular PL mount, so will fit to a wide range of cameras, and it can be converted to an EF-mount to fit things like DSLR cameras as well. Canon calls it "the most challenging project ever undertaken by the Canon optical design team," and we're inclined to believe it.

How much for this beautiful beast, you ask? Take a seat before reading further. In US dollars, you're looking at a 70 grand beast right here. But hey, when it came out, it was nearly $80k, so it's pretty much a bargain in 2018.

Obviously, it's not for everyone. But it's nice to see what a company like Canon can do when it pulls out all the stops. Canon has just released a short video looking back on the huge challenge this lens presented. Enjoy it below.

The History of Canon's CINE-SERVO 50-1000mm Lens

Source: Canon

3 comments
bwana4swahili
Great looking lens! Now to drop the price about $65,000...
Wolf0579
I used to work as an outdoor videographer back in the days before HD. I would have killed for this lens!
guzmanchinky
Some people spend their days in a cubicle Some people spend months filming wolves in the arctic Be the adventure, life is short