Exclusive new 65mm format Prime DNA Lenses announced at Camerimage

At the Camerimage Festival of Cinematography, ARRI Rental has announced new lenses for its exclusive Prime DNA series, developed in-house for the ALEXA 65 camera system. Like the rest of the Prime DNA series, the new lenses are the result of collaborations with major cinematographers and have already been put to use on high-end productions.

A total of six new optics have been added to the Prime DNA series: a 28 mm T2.8, 35 mm T2.3, 45 mm T2.3, 50 mm T2, 60 mm T2 and a 65 mm T1.6. This brings the total number of Prime DNA lenses to 14. Based on diverse and heavily modified vintage optics, the Prime DNA series is an eclectic collection of characterful lenses, displaying unusual but highly creative image attributes.

The first cinematographer to shoot a movie with Prime DNA lenses and the ALEXA 65 was Robert Richardson ASC, on Andy Serkis’ Breathe. “Something in my nature wanted to investigate not just contemporary lenses, but vintage lenses, so we began to raid the vaults,” notes Richardson. “This led to a room filled with lenses, perhaps one or two hundred moved through that room at one time or another—I don’t know exactly, but it was insane…there were moments of magic in the search that led us to decide upon a path together, meaning ARRI Rental and myself.”

Other cinematographers who have worked with—or are currently working with—ARRI Rental’s Prime DNA lenses on feature films include Greig Fraser ASC, ACS on Mary Magdalene, Ben Seresin ASC, BSC on Chaos Walking, Dante Spinotti ASC, AIC on Ant-Man and the Wasp, Ben Davis BSC on Dumbo and James Laxton on If Beale Street Could Talk. In addition, the ALEXA 65/Prime DNA combo is also being utilized on the TV series Dogs of Berlin, shot by Christoph Krauss BVK and Frank Lamm, as well as Die Geschichte eines Parfüms, shot by Jakub Bejnarowicz BVK.

Shooting with Prime DNA lenses on the Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, directed by Bryan Singer, cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel ASC commented, “Shooting the ALEXA 65 with the DNAs reminds me of medium format photography; subtle halftones and fine picture detail without looking clinically sharp.”

Another cinematographer to have fully embraced the Prime DNA series is Bradford Young ASC, who chose them for Solo: A Star Wars Story. In fact, several of the new lenses announced at Camerimage are the direct result of collaboration with Bradford. “Lenses and format have to be ready to adapt to my particular taste,” he says. “DNA glass is a revelation and revolution in my journey to anchor my artistic residue into a particular story—truly my way of seeing, thus my way of feeling. No other glass has afforded me this opportunity. It’s a true game-changer!”

The Prime DNA range is just one of four exclusive lens series offered by ARRI Rental for its ALEXA 65 large-format camera system; the others are Prime 65, Prime 65 S and Vintage 765. Further prime lenses and various zooms can also be used.

Issue 99 – May 2020

Buy a subscription - still the only way to see the full British Cinematographer magazine!