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  • The Cooke LookTM

    Cinematographers choose our lenses for the ‘Cooke Look’ - a sharp, subtle, smooth rendering that provides dimensionality, high contrast, and pleases the eye.

    Early on in our business Cooke recognised the need to design, manufacture and calibrate lenses that produce warm and natural visuals. We’ve never wavered from that commitment, with each of our lenses being designed with an unrivalled understanding of the pipeline between what the DOP sees and the experience in the movie theatre.

    SCROLL TO EXPLORE
    • Credits
      • Production Name
      • Director of Photography: Firstname Lastname
      • Cinematography: Firstname Lastname
      • © Firstname Lastname
  • 1 Resolution

    Resolution

    Most people equate Cooke lenses with an indelible softness in the image it produces. In actuality, Cooke’s are some of the sharpest cinema lenses being produced today, able to distinguish up to 200 line pairs per millimeter.

    When testing a lens’ sharpness, you test to see how many line pairs it’s able to resolve, or how many black and white separate lines on a TV screen it is able to define. For a lens to be rated for a 4K camera, it must be able to resolve at least up to 40 line pairs per mm. Cooke’s, at a 200 line pair benchmark, could be used for systems shooting up to 20K.

    “We really pushed these lenses. They are mechanically superb but the sharpness was the best thing. They’re pin sharp when you need it but have a wonderful fall off to creamy softness in the out of focus regions.”
    Josh McKie, Cinematographer, Documentary short and TV spot for The Global Fund
    cooke-look-001
  • 2 Flares

    Flares

    The flares produced by Cookes are subtle, even when pointing them at a bright light source. They’re soft and out of focus, less contrasted than their contemporaries, with colours blending into the scene.

    “The Cooke S4 lenses are the ones I turn to when in a tough situation. If I am shooting directly into practical lights, into backlight or shooting with the sun in my face the S4 lenses can handle it. Flare is at a minimum and many times none existent, I love these lenses.”
    Gordon C Lonsdale, Director of Photography, Bones
    cooke-look-002
  • 3 Focus

    Focus

    Probably the most well known feature of a Cooke lens is how they throw focus. When the lens is set to minimum focus, the distortion is almost akin to an anamorphic lens; the middle of the image magnifies, tapering off towards the edges and giving an almost circular distortion. This has been a staple of the Cooke Look since the twenties and a go-to effect for many cinematographers as close ups on Cooke lenses give an almost dream-like feel. Centre framed, a person or object in focus has almost a halo type effect around them.

    “These spectacular lenses give lovely, impressionistic, out-of-focus characteristics behind the subject. The sets and locations behind the actors have a very cinematic feel with beautiful bokeh, but their real strength is how they render faces with kindness— never harsh or too sharp.”
    Brian Pearson, ASC, Director of Photography, ABC’s The Crossing
    cooke-look-003
  • 4 Colour

    Colour

    Arguably the most important aspect of a Cooke lens. Cooke lenses have long been associated with the warm palettes of the Golden Age and the Seventies. Where does this inherent warmth come from?

    It’s a fact that, when viewed through a vector scope on a camera independently white balanced and pointed at a white reference, Cooke lenses possess a yellow bias. Consistently maintaining the colour balance across the range means all our lenses are colour-matched to give a seamless look when shots are mixed in production. This painstaking process in part why Cooke lenses take time and skill to construct.

    “...beautiful 'Cooke Look', I admire their balanced colour and smooth contrast. They're sharp and give a real clarity, yet they are never brutal. They bring a consistent warmth to the colour which is natural and close to what the human eye sees...”
    Ed Lachman, ASC on Erin Brockovich
    cooke-look-004
  • The Cooke LookTM

    Cinematographers choose our lenses for the ‘Cooke Look’ - a sharp, subtle, smooth rendering that provides dimensionality, high contrast, and pleases the eye.

    Early on in our business Cooke recognised the need to design, manufacture and calibrate lenses that produce warm and natural visuals. We’ve never wavered from that commitment, with each of our lenses being designed with an unrivalled understanding of the pipeline between what the DOP sees and the experience in the movie theatre.

    SCROLL TO EXPLORE
    • Credits
      • Production Name
      • Director of Photography: Firstname Lastname
      • Cinematography: Firstname Lastname
      • © Firstname Lastname
  • Resolution
    1

    Resolution

    Most people equate Cooke lenses with an indelible softness in the image it produces. In actuality, Cooke’s are some of the sharpest cinema lenses being produced today, able to distinguish up to 200 line pairs per millimeter.

    When testing a lens’ sharpness, you test to see how many line pairs it’s able to resolve, or how many black and white separate lines on a TV screen it is able to define. For a lens to be rated for a 4K camera, it must be able to resolve at least up to 40 line pairs per mm. Cooke’s, at a 200 line pair benchmark, could be used for systems shooting up to 20K.

    “We really pushed these lenses. They are mechanically superb but the sharpness was the best thing. They’re pin sharp when you need it but have a wonderful fall off to creamy softness in the out of focus regions.”
    Josh McKie, Cinematographer, Documentary short and TV spot for The Global Fund
    cooke-look-001
  • Flares
    2

    Flares

    The flares produced by Cookes are subtle, even when pointing them at a bright light source. They’re soft and out of focus, less contrasted than their contemporaries, with colours blending into the scene.

    “The Cooke S4 lenses are the ones I turn to when in a tough situation. If I am shooting directly into practical lights, into backlight or shooting with the sun in my face the S4 lenses can handle it. Flare is at a minimum and many times none existent, I love these lenses.”
    Gordon C Lonsdale, Director of Photography, Bones
    cooke-look-002
  • Focus
    3

    Focus

    Probably the most well known feature of a Cooke lens is how they throw focus. When the lens is set to minimum focus, the distortion is almost akin to an anamorphic lens; the middle of the image magnifies, tapering off towards the edges and giving an almost circular distortion. This has been a staple of the Cooke Look since the twenties and a go-to effect for many cinematographers as close ups on Cooke lenses give an almost dream-like feel. Centre framed, a person or object in focus has almost a halo type effect around them.

    “These spectacular lenses give lovely, impressionistic, out-of-focus characteristics behind the subject. The sets and locations behind the actors have a very cinematic feel with beautiful bokeh, but their real strength is how they render faces with kindness— never harsh or too sharp.”
    Brian Pearson, ASC, Director of Photography, ABC’s The Crossing
    cooke-look-003
  • Colour
    4

    Colour

    Arguably the most important aspect of a Cooke lens. Cooke lenses have long been associated with the warm palettes of the Golden Age and the Seventies. Where does this inherent warmth come from?

    It’s a fact that, when viewed through a vector scope on a camera independently white balanced and pointed at a white reference, Cooke lenses possess a yellow bias. Consistently maintaining the colour balance across the range means all our lenses are colour-matched to give a seamless look when shots are mixed in production. This painstaking process in part why Cooke lenses take time and skill to construct.

    “...beautiful 'Cooke Look', I admire their balanced colour and smooth contrast. They're sharp and give a real clarity, yet they are never brutal. They bring a consistent warmth to the colour which is natural and close to what the human eye sees...”
    Ed Lachman, ASC on Erin Brockovich
    cooke-look-004

The Experts view

We asked the people who really know, cinematographers working at the top of their game:

Mark MacEwen

Director of Photography, BBC Seven Worlds, One Planet

I’ve used Cooke lenses before and always loved them. I filmed elephant seals fighting for the Antarctica episode. They are a challenge to film – huge behemoths up to 18ft long and 8000lbs. I used the MiniS4/i’s on a gimbal to get amongst them, capture the feel of the combat and creatively control the visual scene. But it’s no easy job moving around these monsters.

Joe Anderson

Director of Photography, Top Boy Netflix Season 3

The S7/i lenses are so fast at T2. I was familiar with Cookes from using the S4s on The Old Man & the Gun. The Cooke Look® carries between lens families. I knew that look so well and it was appropriate for this story. Shooting large format is almost the same difference as shooting 16mm versus 35mm and the S7/i 75mm was my workhorse.
We had lots of scenes in the mountains in Jamaica and the Cooke lenses really photographed nicely, especially with characters in the foliage.

Diana Olifirova

Director of Photography, Channel 4, We Are Lady Parts

The lens choice was always going to be Anamorphic. Cooke is one of my main go-to options and I really felt like this would be right for the series.

Adriano Goldman ASC, ABC

The Crown

After testing many combinations of cameras and lenses and having to work on 4K for The Crown, we chose to use the Sony F55 and vintage Cooke Speed Panchros. It was always my intention to fight against the high resolution and ultra-sharpness you get from the modern camera sensors and by using the Cooke Speed Panchros I achieved a very romantic, filmic look with an incredible range of latitude for beautiful highlights and detail on the shadows.

Vittorio Storaro ASC, AIC

Cafè Society

We used Cooke lenses because, to me, Cooke is the ‘one’ because they built their lenses for cinema. Other companies usually use photographic lenses, rehoused for use with cinema cameras. We need serious lenses to record the plastic movement of light on every kind of image, from maximum brightness to maximum darkness, particularly into the penumbra, as Leonardo [da Vinci] called it.

Ed Lachman ASC

Director of Photography, Carol

The early Cookes were made like portrait lenses. They have a slight fall-off in the flat field of the lens and create a certain contour and shape that is very pleasing to faces. Cooke kept that look in their new lenses and it’s wonderful for character-driven work. I knew that this story was going to take place in the emotions of the characters, and so Cooke lenses naturally lent themselves to this feeling of shape. They always feel like they have more depth, they’re not clinical, and they enhance the imagery.

Frida Wendel FSF

Director of Photography, The Winx Saga

There are five main elemental characters, so a very important conversation we engaged in during preproduction was how each fairy should be represented and how to play around with VFX. We wanted Fate to be crisp and clean. That is when the camera and the Cooke lenses came in. We had so much VFX and so many interactive lights that these lenses stood out instantly, as I think the Cooke lenses have the most beautiful and subtle flares.

Greig Fraser ACS

Zero Dark Thirty

I’ve been in love with Cookes for a long time – glass is really important to me and I’m blown away by the quality and technique that goes into making each lens. The look of any story is paramount, and Cookes give a very honest and human look to images, particularly when shooting digitally – but they are also robust enough that I can rely on them in extreme conditions.

Rob McLachlan ASC CSC

Director of Photography Dragonball

I love Cookes for their rather ineffable quality I call ‘roundness’ or ‘fullness’. They seem to render skintones more faithfully and flatteringly. They are very very sharp – yet not clinical. I have had my S4s for 4 years and have never had any maintenance issues with them at all. I shot Dragonball: Evolution in Mexico under super dusty and rugged conditions and the lenses performed perfectly.

Philip Lanyon

Director of Photography, Star Trek Discovery, Season 4

I have a history with the Star Trek franchise and the Cooke Anamorphic/i 2x with the Special Flare coating from when I shot an episode of Discovery during Season 2,” said Lanyon. “I then went on to be the lead director of photography for Star Trek: Picard with the Cooke Anamorphic/i Special Flare lenses. I love the Special Flare. They really give me a visual playground in which to convey different emotions through light, colour, and composition, which is perfect for both Picard and Discovery.

See the Cooke Look

See the full effect of the Cooke Look for yourself by browsing our film and TV library now.

  • Credits
    • Breaking Bad
    • Director of Photography: Michael Slovis, Reynaldo Villalobos, Arthur Albert, Peter Reniers, Nelson Cragg, John Toll, Marshall Adams