Morpheus 80-200 T2.8
Developed initially for the Bourne and Bond films, this TLS (True Lens Services) rehousing of a stand-out Nikon zoom is mechanically superb.
The focus throw is smooth and steady and the build quality feels like something Cooke might have offered.
I was testing it alongside an Angenieux 45-120 T2.8 and the results surprised me. I expected the Angenieux, at many times the price, to dominate...and it did. But the Morpheus performed better than I had imagined.
I have always liked Nikon glass, and for the most part preferred it to the Canon offerings in the same class. The 80-200 was considered an exceptional zoom in the stills world. But then the stills world does not have the same demands as the motion world, and it's full frame glass was never designed to hit a S35 target.
A surprising side effect of this optical crop is the geometry of the Morpheus. It yields very flat reproduction with no signs of either barrelling or pin-cushioning. The colour rendition was also good, similar to my Nikkor primes...falling somewhere comfortable between the warmth of the Angenieux and the coolness of an Ultraprime.
Shooting wide open made the price tag difference immediately apparent and, as you might expect, the Angenieux was sharper at T2.8. These differences had disappeared by T5.6 where the Morpheus looks rock solid once again.
Its 5' close focus feels a bit shy at the 80mm end, but it makes up for this by maintaining it at the 200mm end, where it feels pretty close. T
he 80mm CF was optically good but the 200mm end starts to look a bit 'smokey' by comparison. I had expected the lens to be weakest here, as its where you are asking the most of the zoom optics.
The flares were of the pointed star variety rather than the orbital blooms of the Angenieux. These stars extend out into warmer orbs.
Overall it's a great piece of glass offering a very useful focal length. The 80-200mm range so common in stills is relatively uncommon in motion. At 2.3 kg it's reasuringly heavy for a lens that was developed for handheld shooting.
Designed for a full frame sensor the glass comfortably covers the Dragons large 6K sensor.
For its price tag its exceptional.