How Cooke Makes Their Lenses

Cooke Lenses are coveted by top-end movie makers and any serious filmmaker that can afford them. RedShark’s Phil Rhodes has been to their factory in Leicster, England


The last few years has seen an explosion in the availability of big-chip digital cameras, but I won’t surprise anyone by saying that this ostensibly welcome development has not resulted in a similar increase in the availability of quality lenses. From dedicated digital cinema devices such as Canon’s C series and single-digit Sony F cameras, right down to DSLRs with APS sized chips, the need to land a reasonable image on a sensor that is, at least very broadly, the same size as a 35mm film frame has never been more important. As I’ve written for this site before, this has led to huge increases in price for even rather everyday lenses.

On the other hand, if you’re a manufacturer of lenses that aren’t quite so everyday, this immensely broadened market can only be a good thing. Such is the case for venerable British lens company Cooke Optics, who have been making things that throw photons at light-sensitive objects since – and this is a legitimate claim – 1886. The name springs originally from T. Cooke & Sons, a York company which in the 1890s employed designer H. Dennis Taylor to produce a lens which could avoid the edge softness typical of still photography lenses at the time. The resulting design, the famous Cooke Triplet, was licenced to Taylor, Taylor and Hobson, who marketed lenses under the Cooke name, and via various acquisitions became the company that exists today.

Cooke manufacture lenses in Leicester, England, in a factory which employs 90-plus people, almost exclusively in highly skilled roles. Metalwork is done out of house, but all of the grinding, polishing and coating of glass is done on site, in a process that uses both computer-controlled machine tools and traditional techniques. Over the next few pages, we’ll follow a piece of glass all the way from arrival at the company, through the manufacturing process to assembly and test.

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The Basics of Depth of Field

In this basic tutorial, B&H’s Kelly Mena lays out a few simple steps on how to manipulate depth of field. A sharp subject against a pleasingly soft background is one hallmark of professional photography. This video explores the three variables that comprise control over your camera’s depth of field: Aperture, focal length, and distance from the subject.

One technicality here. Focal length doesn’t actually change the Depth of Field. A higher Focal Length only magnifies the bokeh of the blurry background – the Depth of field (the range that stays in focus) will remain the same. Zoom in essence can be used to exaggerate bokeh but in itself does not affect DOF.

10 Best “Making Of” Documentaries You Need To Watch

Emilio Santoni covers 10 great “Making of” Documentaries that chronicle the ups and downs of production life.


Plagued film productions seem to make excellent fodder for “making of” documentaries and this film is the first of the three examples of that on this list with one major difference: the actual movie never got made and all we have is this documentary on the film that might have been.

Terry Gilliam, a highly intelligent but also obsessive film maker, planned for years to make The Man Who Killed Don Quixote but some problems grind the production to a halt and investors backed out completely. The lead character suffered health issues, floods and storms destroyed parts of the set and this time the Spanish Air Force messed up various takes as bad planning had put the shooting location too close to a local air force base.

The film makers draw clear parallels between Gilliam and Don Quixote as men on a mission and provide us with wonderful animated storyboards, which tease us with the movie that could have been. Lost in La Mancha is maybe not as good a documentary as the other ones here and its problems seem to have more to do with overall bad planning from the outset but seeing that the film ultimately never was made, it’s an insightful and rare look into a movie which could have been. Recently there has been word that Gilliam has once again started work on Don Quixote. Fingers crossed.

Taste of Cinema | Read the Full Article

Steven Spielberg on Creativity

Steven Spielberg by Annie Leibovitz

I dream for a living. Once a month the sky falls on my head, I come to, and I see another movie I want to make. Sometimes I think I’ve got ball bearings for brains; these ideas are slipping and sliding across each other all the time. My problem is that my imagination won’t turn off. I wake up so excited I can’t eat breakfast. I’ve never run out of energy. It’s not like OPEC oil; I don’t worry about a premium going on my energy. It’s just always been there.”

Steven Spielberg

David Cronenberg on Rules of Filmmaking

David Cronenberg

I have no rules. For me, it’s a full, full experience to make a movie. It takes a lot of time, and I want there to be a lot of stuff in it. You’re looking for every shot in the movie to have resonance and want it to be something you can see a second time, and then I’d like it to be something you can see 10 years later, and it becomes a different movie, because you’re a different person. So that means I want it to be deep, not in a pretentious way, but I guess I can say I am pretentious in that I pretend. I have aspirations that the movie should trigger off a lot of complex responses.

David Cronenberg

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