When combined, the words “Cooke” and “Vintage”are enough to get this DP’s tail wagging like a dog in a sausage factory.
In recent years Cooke Speed Panchros were becoming something of legend; heard of but never really seen. Built in the 1920s, these iconic lenses are known worldwide for their beautiful, uncoated, soft look. Their less-than-perfect quality still remains an attractive characteristic to DPs looking to inject some life into a world where sharpness and precision is paramount. Used in films such as Midnight in Paris and even some scenes in Mr & Mrs Smith, Cooke Speed Panchros have been used to coax out that more organic, filmic vibe.
Until now, the only way to get your hands on such a mythical set of glass was to either build a time machine, or perhaps slightly less expensively, rent a set of original 1920’s Cooke Speed Panchros that had been rebuilt by either P+S Technik or TLS. While both of these are completely fine options, there’s a certain nervousness that comes with shooting with rehoused lenses. If the unthinkable was to happen (clenches buttocks), not only are you undoing hours of painstaking work that the rehousing company has ploughed into adapting the lens, but you are potentially destroying a piece of history. No amount of insurance cover will wash away that guilt.
In my spare time, I have pondered about how great it would be to be able to tap into that vintage feel and yet be slightly less terrified of using such lenses. It seems that Cooke, maybe noticing the slow and upsetting depletion of these rare relics, have decided to start manufacturing sets of Cooke Speed Panchros from scratch, using the same delicious blueprint, but with new parts.
Responding to the ongoing high demand for Cooke Optics’ vintage Speed Panchro lenses from the 1920s-1960s, the multi-award winning manufacturer of precision lenses for film and television will re-introduce new Panchro Classics using the original design but with PL mounts for modern cameras. — CookeOptics.com September 5, 2016.
Now there are definitely some of people out there who will claim that there’s no way these reboots will compare to the originals. To an extent I agree — I much prefer the original Godzilla, the original Ghostbusters, the original Ford GT40. There’s a certain imperfection that only years of use and abuse can create, and this isn’t something that can be programmed in or mass-reproduced. But there is definitely something exciting about the prospect of widely available, high speed, uncoated Cooke prime lenses. Think less Godzilla, more Judge Dredd, more Spiderman.
Renders of these beauties will be available to drool over at IBC this weekend, so get yourself to Amsterdam. Or if unlike me you have some form of patience, they are expected to ship in time for NAB 2017.
Until next time,