The new KOWA Evolution lenses from P+S Technik are slowly trickling out of the factory into the hands of filmmakers. Here's our thoughts:
The design is all new but is supposed to closely mimic the look and feel of the very popular original KOWA Anamorphics.
Our initial thoughts are:
Breathing and distortion are very similar to the originals. That is, they have distortion, and breathe a significant amount. However, the funkiness is partly what made them so popular to begin with so we don't exactly think it's a bad thing.
Overall sharpess and luma uniformity across the frame seems to be better with the Evolutions, as you would expect with new glass elements. But it's not significantly sharper. The even field illumination is a real improvement however.
Build quality seems fine, if not outstanding. These were demo sets we were evaluating so that may change. The focus ring resistance and smoothness was adequate but we wish it felt a bit more 'high-end' given the price of these lenses.
The weight per lens is also slightly higher than the originals, although the size is similar. They carry over the very useful 80mm fronts with 77mm threads for simple filtration, which is all the more important for gimbal or drone work when you don't want to use a matte box.
The flares look great and are almost exactly like the originals. However, the saturation is a bit higher on the Evolutions than the old versions, which may or may not be considered a plus.
Keep in mind our video and tests was done up against a very good condition set of original KOWAS. A lot of original KOWAS out there are junk, and won't hold up as well. That's part of the reason for P+S Technik to release these new lenses, because the quality and scarcity of the originals made it hard to meet the demand.
It's hard to beat the kowa for size and weight. This is a solid effort.
Check out our video below for more thoughts, plus lens tests and footage samples!