Cooke lenses have a long history in Hollywood, being used on many classic films including Lawrence of Arabia (1962), The Godfather Part II (1974) and Blade Runner (1982).

However, Cooke lenses are also becoming well-known for their inclusion in high-end digital cinematography.

Many feature films and television shows are using Cooke lenses on productions with digital cinematography cameras.

cooke lenses

What Are cooke lenses?

A cooke lens is a photographic lens made by Cooke Optics Limited of England. It has the best quality among cinema lenses and can be recognized because the “C” logo is engraved in each lens.

The company began making cine lenses in 1916 and they were used extensively by the British military during World War II.

In 1960, the company was restructured as Cooke Optics Ltd., and it continued manufacturing lenses for broadcast television and cinema.

They also began making lenses for NASA’s Apollo missions and became a major player in space optics.



What Are Cooke Lenses?

Cooke lenses are known for their high-quality filmmaking and their extreme performance in low-light scenarios.

While Cooke lenses for photos are not as wide, the Cooke S4i is the perfect choice for cinematographers and videographers on an ultra-budget — especially considering that the lens is still made with the same high attention to quality.

A Cooke Lens is a reference to the original Cooke Triplet, invented by Sir William Cooke in the nineteenth century.

The Cooke design uses two pieces of flint glass cemented together with the third piece of crown glass on top.

This configuration corrects for lateral color and also causes spherically aberrated light to form an image with little distortion. This makes Cooke Lenses suitable for cinema and photographic use and telescope and microscope use.

There are two lenses in every set of Cooke Optics. 

One is a standard prime lens and one is a series of custom-designed, wide-angle to telephoto close-focus lens elements, which can be used singly or in combination to give a sharp definition across the whole negative format.

It also provides how the Cooke style of cinematography can be practiced.

Part of what makes Cooke lenses so famous is their unique look. They have a very smooth bokeh, but still maintain great sharpness in the center of the frame, which gives them a “3D” look that is hard to replicate with other lenses.

They also have a very high contrast ratio and are known for having low distortion even at wide apertures (up to T2).

The most famous feature of these lenses, though, is their unique “Cooke Look”, which gives images shot on them an almost ethereal quality that can’t be achieved with any other brand of the lens out there!

Academy Award-Winning Cooke Lenses

Founded by legendary cinematographer Freddie Young, Cooke Optics was born from the same passion for perfection that Freddie was famed for. The Cooke brand represents the very best in lens manufacturing and has won 69 Academy Awards since first entering the motion picture industry.

Cooke Lenses have been used on more feature films and Hollywood blockbusters than any other motion picture lens in history. The Cooke S4 and Film Master series are ideal for high-end digital cinematography and visual effects.

This series of lenses are used on many high-profile projects including Marvel’s “Captain America Civil War”, “Batman v Superman”, “Ant-Man”, “Allegiant”, “Jumanji”, “The Golden Compass”, and many more. These lenses work well for any large format shoot film or digital imaging.

Coated with Dichroic glass, the Cooke lens enables more visible light to reach the image sensor, resulting in the most brilliant images possible.

Bigger picture, deeper depth of field, less effort on your part to maintain focus. 

Every set of Cooke Lenses is a little different, each giving its own character to images.

Indeed, good lenses cost more. But they give you tremendous benefits.

What Do Cooke Lenses Do For You?

Cooke lenses have several features that make them ideal for motion pictures and television production—including features that can be found in no other lens. However, the question many people have is what exactly do Cooke lenses do for you?

If you’re a cinematographer, director, or photographer, you need Cooke lenses.

Period. Why? Because Cooke lenses provide superb image quality and the best possible viewing experience for your audience.

There are three different ways in which Cooke lenses can help put you at the top of your game. Since 1893, more filmmakers have chosen Cooke lenses than any other brand. Requests for larger format lenses led to the introduction of Cooke’s first 65mm Wide-Angle lens in 1965, followed by their first High Speed 50mm lens in 1967, and over time with mounting film formats came the development of a complete line of large format lenses for motion picture and television production.

What Is The “Cooke Look”?

For over 80 years, Cooke lenses have been the go-to choice for cinematographers around the world. First pioneered by a legendary director of photography George Barnes, and revived due to his protege’s (Roger Deakins) work on such films as “Skyfall”, “Vanilla Sky”, and “No Country For Old Men”, the Cooke look is something that can’t be faked.

Featuring a unique combination of spherical elements perfectly balanced with an Alfred lens mount that provides the highest definition across close and distant subjects; sure it might sound like technobabble, but trust us when we say it’s kind of magical.

Lens Characteristics: Selecting A Cooke Lens

A Cooke lens comprises two elements, a front lens, or element, and a rear one. The rear element is constructed into the camera body at the time of manufacture.

The front lens has a six-month guarantee for manufacturing defects, but like all high-quality lenses, this excludes accidental damage. If you are starting in cinematography, then it would be advisable to ask your dealer which lenses might serve your needs best.

The three most important factors in choosing between lenses of different focal lengths are: Do I need such a long focal length? If so, will its size and weight fit into my working methods? And what do other people say about its performance?

If you are a novice filmmaker and you’re looking for inspiration, the first place to start is with the type of lens you will use. There are more options than ever to get great footage for your project.

We can mount a Cooke lens on almost any camera and still create a professional-looking video. Let’s look at some features available in Cooke lenses.

Cooke Lenses as Cinema Lenses

Cooke Lenses are designed for both film and television applications but are equally at home in a variety of other roles. After all, Cooke has appeared on set virtually every time a director instructed: “Shoot with Cooke.”

Although Cooke lenses have been a staple of the motion picture industry for over 80 years, the company continues to innovate. Our latest generation of Anamorphic/i zooms has been used by some of the biggest blockbusters to come out of Hollywood in recent years.

Cooke, the British lens manufacturer, teamed up with Arri to develop a new range of lenses for video cameras. These high-quality anamorphic Cooke lenses are available in several focal lengths and are specifically designed for the demanding requirements of modern-day cinematographers.

For filmmakers and cinematographers, the most demanding creative professional users of our lenses, this system meets your needs for years to come.

The lenses’ consistent front-to shape and platform make it easy to integrate them into any production set-up, reducing time and complexity in pre-production and giving you more time to focus on what’s important–creative expression.


Conclusion on Cooke Lenses

Cooke lenses have long been admired for their superior performance. In addition, Cooke lenses are effortlessly adaptable to different shooting styles, making them popular with the most discerning of cinematographers.

By creating a lens that maintains the distinctive quality of the “Cooke Look”, yet is lighter and easier to use, we have opened up new opportunities for today’s filmmakers.

Although Cooke lenses are created to be used effortlessly, being knowledgeable about each lens would help you get the best out of them. 

This website will provide you with several explanations, descriptions, images, and videos that will hopefully enable you to judge the unique characteristics that we have available.

Whether you shoot film or high-end digital motion pictures, Cooke lenses will help you capture your creative vision. Cut through the clutter and know what lens is right for your project with a selection of guidebooks that profile all of Cooke’s key lens types.

Cooke prides itself on delivering the highest quality from lens to post. You may want to know more, please reach out with questions. We would love to help!