The writer is Noam Kroll,A veteran film producer and director of photography based in Los Angeles, he is also the founder of the production company Creative Rebellion.This article is excerpted by Global science for informational purposes only and does not represent the views of this site.

Every week I get at least two or three emails from fellow film and television producers asking for advice on buying lenses. I am often asked, “What modern film lens would you recommend to a film producer on a limited budget?” Would a Rokinon XEEN lens be a good choice?”

I usually start by explaining that there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to lenses. Every producer has different needs and creative preferences, and there is no one-size-fits-all camera set…

I also added that just because a lens calls itself a “movie lens” doesn’t mean it will perform better. From an optical perspective, most inexpensive entry-level movie lenses are similar (or even identical) to DSLR lenses, and in some cases, they may be inferior to some DSLR lenses in terms of performance, depending on what you’re comparing it to.

Their price is certainly very friendly, and they also fill an important gap in the market: the ability of film and television producers to access film lenses at a lower cost. But functionality is only one aspect of a product, and to truly qualify as a “movie lens,” in my opinion, there are two criteria that must be met: image quality and physical design.

Most inexpensive entry-level movie lenses only meet one of these two criteria – physical design. They are functionally similar to movie lenses, they are equipped with gears, manual aperture, focal length markers, have a long focal length rotation, and a uniform form factor, but they do not achieve movie-quality images… At least no better than any other decent DSLR lens.

In the case of Rokinon XEEN lenses, which cost around $2,000 each, you get the same image quality as the brand’s Cine-DS lenses, which cost just a few hundred dollars. Both lenses use the same lens, while the XEEN just wears a movie lens vest, while the Cine-DS looks more like most other DSLR lenses.

Of course I’m not specifically in Black Rokinon, I used to own several of the brand’s lenses and shoot many videos with them. They serve me well, and I have great respect for what Rokinon is doing – bringing cinema-lens functionality to the low-budget market. There are several other companies doing the same thing, but I’m using Rokinon as an example because they’re one of the most affordable (and therefore most sought after) companies in the space.

In general, most budget-friendly (under $2,500 / shot) movie lenses put more emphasis on physical appearance and handling functions than image quality. If you’re shooting commercial videos, corporate films, or certain types of television, they might be perfect. They give you the same functionality on site as real movie footage, while also looking professional – which is important for your customers.

But if you’re shooting feature films, high-end commercials, music videos, or anything that demands more artistic beauty, they may not be the best choice. You can consider a better DSLR lens and purchase some focus kits to get the same or even better images as entry-level movie lenses for less money. They still have a gap with movie lenses in appearance and operation, but they can produce excellent picture quality. If quality is your number one goal, then you should definitely consider this advice…

Some of my favorite lenses to shoot with are old Nicoll manual lenses or Canon FD lenses. I have a 50mm f/1.4 Nicole lens that costs less than $100, but I think it provides a much better image than any movie lens I’ve used. Although shooting with it is not a pleasant thing, but for the price of $100 and first-class IQ, I am willing to try and use this off-door method.

We must not forget that when buying lenses, sometimes the best of both worlds can be found. You don’t always have to choose between functionality and quality, and there are relatively cheap movie lenses that you can have.

There are a handful of low-budget movie lenses whose quality transcends the price, like the Veydra Mini Primes, which sells for around $1,200 each, produces incredibly beautiful images and, like the tank, countless filmmakers recommend them. The same goes for SLR Magic, which is one of the few manufacturers to offer relatively affordable movie lenses while still guaranteeing picture quality. But these companies are in the minority, and most entry-level film lens companies are not among them.

Another way is to buy used lenses. Once you get a vintage lens, it opens another door. Zeiss, Cooke, Anqin, and others have incredible classic movie lenses in the second-hand market – and many of them are priced lower than Rokinon XEEN (or similar products). Their features are so outstanding and they last so long… This is why they retain their value for decades after they are discontinued.

And if you’re aiming for a Super 16 lens, you really might miss it early on. Some of my favorite lenses are vintage S16 prime and zoom models, some of which sell online for $1,000 to $3,000, which is still not cheap, but at least it will keep its value.

In short, newer and more expensive does not necessarily mean better, and for most modern low-budget film lenses, the extra money is spent on their physical construction rather than image quality. Of course, this does not mean that their image quality is bad, but it is not its most prominent selling point. If this suits your needs, then invest in a set, and countless producers are happy to use lenses like XEEN’s, and making a good living.

But if you want better optics, you may have to look past most entry-level movie lenses today, and switching to a manual DSLR or a secondhand vintage movie lens is worth considering.

The views expressed above are those of Noam Kroll and do not represent the views of Global science.