Sirui just announced a new set of crop cine lenses on Indiegogo called SIRUI Nightwalker. The lenses start at $309 a lens, and for that price, I think that this is the best set you can find in the market right now. I have been testing this set of three lenses for a few weeks now, and I have to say, I’m impressed that SIRUI managed to cram a complete set of T1.2 for less than $1,000. If you are just starting out, this would be a fantastic set for you.
But first, let’s talk about lens sets. When you buy a set of cine lenses, there are some things that you gain that you can not get when you buy lenses a-la-cart. This is the magic of sets. For starters, all the lenses come in the same size and shape. This can save loads of time on set when you swap between lenses. The follow focus gears, the location on a rail system, and the filters will all stay the same, so you don’t need to refit anything on a lens swap.
But also, the optical characteristics of a lens set are relatively similar, so you’ll retain the same look and feel throughout your project.
SIRUI Nightwalker line
Sirui started this line with three cine lenses for S35/Crop-sensor cameras; right now, the set includes three lenses. The focal lengths make sense, and they have good equivalency in full-frame. I do hope that the line expands with some wider options, though.
- 24mm (34 equivalent – lets round to 35mm)
- 35mm (49 equivalent – lets round to 50mm)
- 55mm (77 equivalent – lets round to 75mm)
Each of the lenses weighs about 500 grams and shares the same physical properties: they are 83.7mm, 79mm wide, with a filter thread of 67mm. For my taste, this is a very good balance between weight, size, and rigidity.
You have a choice of four mounts: E-mount for Sony, RF for Canon and RED Komodo, X mount for Fuji, and MFT for ZCAM, Lumix, and the BMPCC4k. True. Those are all S35/Crop sensor cameras, but if you have been paying attention to our channel, you know that most films are shot on a 35mm sensor, and the format packs quite the quality.
SIRUI Nightwalker and low light performance
As expected from T1.2 lenses, the Nightwalker series excels in low-light performance. I mean, they called them Nightwalkers, so they clearly target low-light usage. I was happy to see that the set is tack-sharp at low light, and the wider aperture lets lots of light in, so you can work at reasonable ISO settings. Also, as you would expect, manual focusing at T1.2 is, well…, challenging. And even more so at night. Take this into consideration as you plan your shoot.
They are sharp enough to keep a subject on the one hand and give a well-rounded bokeh on the other. At you stop the lens down, you will see some sun pattern on spekular highlights. This is a matter of personal taste, and you can either like it or not. Just be aware that it’s there. I’ll share more samples in the bokeh section.
SIRUI Nightwalker build and presentation
On the build side, those lenses feel very nice. The set that I was testing came in fantastic gray and blue highlights. It has engraved orange markings on both sides of the lens for either left or right focus pulling.
The focus pull has 270 degrees of rotation and feels incredibly smooth. You will see below that it looks smooth as well. The aperture range starts at T1.2 all the way to T16 and has its own set of gears located far enough from the focus ring for easy rigging of two follow focus servos.
SIRUI Nightwalker optical impressions
As with any lens, there are a lot of things to consider and many decisions to take. So obviously, there are some tradeoffs that you have to accept to be able to meet such a price point. But even with those, I am impressed with the set you can get for $300.
All three lenses are on the sharp side of the range. And they are sharp edge to edge. You get some fringing at T1.2 on high-contrast areas, but it is gone at T5.6. Otherwise, the lenses are pretty sharp.
Sirui Nightwalker 55mm
Sirui Nightwalker 35mm
Sirui Nightwalker 24mm
Bokeh/vignetting – day time
The Bokeh on the Nightwalker series is just what you would expect from a T1.2 lens. It is creamy end to end and feels pleasant even when stopped down. As you can see, there is a bit of vignetting at T1.2, but it completely disappears at about T4.0. At night, it would not really matter, and firing day time, you would probably not shoot at T1.2 anyways, so I think this is a fair tradeoff.
Here are a few samples covering all three lenses at various T stops:
Bokeh and stars – nighttime
You would probably not be surprised to hear that the Nightwalker series also features a wonderful spekular bokeh. It is perfectly round in the middle of the frame and gets slightly “eye-shaped” as you wanted to the sides. I think SIRUI did a great job here with a nice spekular bokeh, even with the 24mm lens.
At T1.2, there is a bit of a color fringe, but it is gone when you stop down to about 3.5. All and all, it is a wonderful bokeh with a very pleasing shape and roll-off.
The Bokeh changes its shape into a sun pattern as you stop down. At T8.0, it is very noticeable. Like any other lens characteristic, this is somewhat of a personal taste. I tend to like it, but to each her own.
From my experience with the lenses, they are not very prone to flare. They are not immuned to flare either. If you don’t like it, you can easily solve it with a matte box. When flare does hit, it has a bit of a vintage look to it. I really like the character. Below are two samples. One from where the light from a street lamp hit the lens at a very specific angle. And the other one as I was trying to explore the flare in the studio.
Who are SIRUI Nightwalker cine lenses for?
This is a lens set, and as such, it fits creators who need consistency in their look and workflow. Documentarists are one audience where I can see this set performing well. The small form factor with the coupling to the Lumix line would be a dream. Another audience would be indie filmmakers. This set has a very consistent look, and this is something that is well-appreciated when working on bigger projects.
For less than $1,000, this is probably one of the best sets you can get for S35.
SIRUI Nightwalker Specs
|Model||SIRUI 24mm Tl.2||SIRUI 35mm Tl .2||SIRUI 55mm Tl.2|
|Aperture||Tl .2-T16||Tl .2-T16||Tl .2-T16|
|Lens Structure||12 Elements in 11 Groups||11 Elements in 10 Groups||11 Elements in 10 Groups|
|Minimum Focus Distance||0.3m||0.4m||0.6m|
|Rotation Angle of the Focus Ring||270||270||270|
|Max. Diameter (mm/inches)||79 / 3.1 1||79 / 3.1 1||79 / 3.1 1|
|Diameter of the Focus Ring (mm/inches)||77.6 / 3.06||77.6 / 3.06||77.6 / 3.06|
|Length (mm/inches)||E: 85.4 / 3.36||E: 85.4 / 3.36||E: 85.4 / 3.36|
|x: 85.7 / 3.37||x: 85.7 / 3.37||x: 85.7 / 3.37|
|RF: 83.7 / 3.30||RF: 83.7 / 3.30||RF: 83.7 / 3.30|
|MFT: 84.1 / 3.31||MFT: 84.1 / 3.31||MFT: 84.1 / 3.31|
|Weight (g/lbs)||E: 513 / 1.13||E: 513 / 1.13||E: 513 / 1.13|
|x: 505/ 1.11||x: 512 / 1.13||x: 573 / 1.26|
|RF: 509 1.12||RF: 518 / 1.14||RF: 585/ 1.29|
|MFT: 500 / 1.10||MFT: 510 / 1.12||MFT: 570 / 1.26|
SIRUI Nightwalker Price and availability
The Nightwalker series is crowdfunded on Indiegogo, which is kind of a trend with SIRUI. The 35mm Anamorphic raised almost $2,000,000, and their 24mm Anamorphic raised about $1,750,00. In total,l SIRUI has 12 previous Indiegogo campaigns.
If you make it to the early bird stage, you can snag any of the lenses for $309 or a full set for $899. Opting for the metal gray finish adds $40 per lens, and if you buy two lenses or more, they’ll throw in an extra case for the set.
Every lens (or piece of gear, for that matter) has to make some decisions and tradeoffs in the design process. You can have a super sharp lens, but then it would be heavy. If you add super-low dispersion glass and elements, the price will go up. Here, SIRUI came up with a well-rounded set where the price, form factor, and performance strike a great balance. True, This is not an Arri Signature prime set, but hey, it’s not Arri SP prices either.
For consistency, quality, performance, and price, this set would be perfect for anyone venturing into movie-making with an S35/Crop sensor camera.
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