Laowa’s New Ranger S35 Lenses Are Compact and Lightweight Cine Zooms

Three cinema lenses lined up, with focal lengths marked as 11mm, 17mm, and 50mm, displaying blue detailing against a dark background.

There was so much news unveiled at NAB 2024 last month that a few things slipped through the cracks, including Venus Optics’ new Laowa Ranger S35 cinema zoom lenses. After being teased in Las Vegas, the compact cine lenses have officially launched.

The Laowa Ranger S35 zoom series comprises three lenses, all with T2.9 maximum apertures. The trio includes 11-18mm, 17-50mm, and 50-130mm lenses.

They aren’t Laowa’s first foray into cinema zoom lenses, as the company released a couple of T2.9 lenses for full-frame cameras last year, the 28-75mm and 75-280mm. However, the new S35 cine lenses are incredibly lightweight compared to the full-frame zooms. The S35 lenses each weigh under 775 grams if the user opts for the “Lite” versions.

One primary reason to opt for a zoom lens, whether for photography or video applications, is versatility. However, this usually comes with a compromise in terms of image quality, performance, and size. Venus Optics says its new Ranger S35 zooms include no such tradeoffs. The lenses promise excellent image quality and minimized focus breathing.

Regarding size and weight, portability is one of the primary advantages of the new Ranger S35 lenses. They come in standard and “Lite” versions, which differ only in terms of materials, weight, and price but are identical in terms of performance. The 11-18mm T2.9 weighs 745 grams for the standard version and 660 grams for its “Lite” variant. The 17-50mm weighs 865 and 775 grams, respectively, while the 50-130mm ranges from 760 down to 665 grams.

Laowa doesn’t precisely explain what makes the “Lite” models lighter, but DIY Photography reports that Venus Optics says that the Lite lenses use a magnesium alloy construction rather than standard aluminum.

Two professional camera lenses, one marked 150mm and the other 50mm, stand vertically on a glossy surface against a dark background.
The standard (left) and Lite (right) versions of the Ranger S35 lenses

All three lenses share unified gear positions, ensuring that users can swap between them in a rig without having to adjust their setup. The lenses each have 100 degrees of zoom throw, but it should be noted that the 11-18mm has just 110 degrees of focus throw, while the two longer lenses have a 270-degree throw. The lenses feature identical diameters and similar sizes.

Venus Optics has been able to shrink its Ranger cinema zooms thanks in part to a smaller image circle. Each lens has a 31.5-millimeter image circle, sufficient to cover APS-C and Super35 image sensors.

Like most cine-oriented lenses, Laowa’s S35 Rangers are manual focus zooms. They offer impressive close-focusing performance, especially the two longer lenses. The 11-18mm and 17-50mm can focus as close as 36 and 35 centimeters (14.2 and 13.8 inches), respectively. The 50-130mm can focus as close as 75 centimeters (29.5 inches). The resulting maximum magnifications are 0.08x, 0.22x, and 0.18x.

Three professional cinema lenses aligned side by side, with detailed focus and aperture scales visible on a dark background.

The Laowa S35 Cine Zooms are available in Arri PL, with optional interchangeable mounts available in Canon EF, Canon RF, Fujifilm X, L mount, Nikon Z, and Sony E for an additional $50. The lenses cost $2,000 each and are available for $5,700 in a three-lens set. The “Lite” versions are $2,500 per lens or $7,200 in a set.

Image credits: Laowa