Cooke Optics: Transforming Ordinary Moments Into Extraordinary Visual Experiences
With their name etched in the annals of the film industry, Cooke Optics has been defying the ordinary since 1893, offering filmmakers a unique blend of precision, artistry, and innovation.
Today, they are not just creating lenses but orchestrating memories that capture the imagination of millions around the world.
At Accu, we take great pride in providing precision engineering components that are crucial in the creation of exceptional products that impact billions.
One such industry is cinematography, where industry leaders Cooke Optics rely on a range of our precision fasteners to build lenses that perfectly blend reliability and elegance.
Pushing Boundaries with Innovative Lens Technology
When it comes to capturing the perfect shot, Cooke Optics has been leading the way in the film industry for over a century. Established in 1893, this camera lens manufacturing company holds a depth of heritage unmatched by many others in the field.
What sets Cooke Optics apart is their unwavering commitment to innovation and excellence. Their lenses are renowned for their ability to create what is known as "the Cooke Look ®" - a distinctive visual aesthetic that is warm, natural, and visually captivating. With up to 200 line pairs per millimetre, their lenses have the capability to capture stunning details and deliver outstanding image quality each and every time.
Recognised for their exceptional craftsmanship, Cooke Lenses are used by industry-leaders in the world of cinematography to capture the incredible footage for many beloved films and television shows. From the whimsical world of Matilda the Musical to the hauntingly beautiful visuals of The Batman, their lenses have helped bring fantastical stories to life in the most captivating way possible.
Breaking Bad, The Last of Us, and Euphoria are just a few more examples of recent projects that showcase the unparalleled quality of the images captured by Cooke lenses.
These lenses are not just prevalent in the 21st Century, Cooke lenses have played a pivotal role in creating remarkable cinematic achievements such as The Mask of Zorro, Taxi and Return of the Jedi.
In fact, their influence spreads even further, helping cinematographers capture footage for masterpieces dating back to the mid and early 19th century including, The Sound of Music and The Wizard of Oz.
Taking a step further into film industry development, Cooke has also pioneered their innovative "/i Technology", an intelligent feature allowing film and digital cameras to automatically record key lens data for each frame shot. This data can be digitally provided to post-production teams, streamlining the entire process and ensuring seamless integration of visual effects and editing.
The Cooke Lens Range
Cooke Optics manufacture a wide selection of lenses, from spherical and anamorphic primes to zoom and macro. Each category has its own unique characteristics and versatility, making the lenses adaptable to various shooting scenarios and creative visions. So whether you’re capturing sweeping landscapes or intimate close-ups, Cooke lenses deliver exceptional clarity, sharpness, and depth of field to every filmmaker’s needs.
Cooke has reseller and rental partners all over the world to ensure that aspiring and established filmmakers alike can easily access the lenses, either for purchase or rental, and allow their artistic visions to come to life.
With over a century of craftsmanship and innovation under their belt, Cooke Optics continues to push the boundaries of what is possible in the world of cinematography. Their unwavering commitment to quality, combined with their dedication to pushing limits, has solidified their position as a firm leader in the industry.
In recognition of their exceptional contributions and innovation in the design, development and manufacture of motion picture camera lenses, Cooke was honoured with an Academy Award ® of Merit in 2013.
But it's not just their technical prowess that sets Cooke Optics apart, it's their passion for storytelling and their understanding of the power of visual imagery. They recognise that every frame captured with their lenses has the potential to evoke emotion, transport audiences to new worlds, and leave a lasting impact.
The History Of The Cooke Lens
With its founding roots in Leicester, England, the history of Cooke Optics is truly a testament to the innovation and creative problem-solving that remains at its core to this day.
The journey began with H. Dennis Taylor who - at the time - held the position of optical manager at T. Cooke & Sons of York.
The 19th century was an incredibly exciting time in the development of optical instruments. As such, Taylor was motivated to find a solution to remove the residual distortion found at the outer edge of lenses used in astronomical telescopes.
As a common design issue faced by many lens designers of the time, this distortion stood between many filmmakers and a more desirable image.
That was the case until 1893, where, with incredible skill and true ingenuity, Taylor developed the solution - The Cooke Triplet.
With the use of three glasses, Taylor managed to create the first lens to effectively eliminate this optical distortion whilst also addressing practical challenges to ensure accuracy and account for lens deformation during use.
This groundbreaking idea not only received official recognition with a British patent (no. 1991), but it also marked a key milestone in the history of lens design.
A year later, Cooke harnessed the design to engineer their first photographic stills lens, which was launched under the esteemed brand name of ‘Cooke’.
From that point onward, the Cooke Triplet served as a cornerstone for lenses at Cooke, while also earning widespread acclaim and becoming a globally embraced design for lenses of intermediate aperture.
The Cooke Look ®
And with that, the famous ‘Cooke Look’ was born.
Developed over the years by their brilliant lens designers, the 'Cooke Look' is recognised by a unique visual style rich with high contrast, warm and natural tones.
Cooke Lenses have become renowned by cinematographers for their ability to convey the emotion of a visual story through light, colour and composition.
One of the key features of the Cooke Look is the subtle light flares that occur when light sources hit the lens. These flares, soft and out of focus, add a touch of ethereal beauty to the images.
Another aspect of this famous aesthetic lies in its colour rendition. Cooke Lenses are acclaimed for their ability to reproduce colours in a unique way, with warm palettes and a slight yellow bias.
Above all, the legacy of ‘the Cooke Look’ has been achieved through careful consistency, ensuring a distinct colour balance across the range. In doing this, the company has been able to create stunning visuals that are undeniably recognisable as ‘Cooke’.
Similarly, this consistent colour balance allows cinematographers to achieve a cohesive look and feel throughout production.
The Right Tools For The Job
With a rich heritage and undeniable reputation, Cooke Lenses are among the finest and sharpest lenses produced in the industry today.
But what goes into the creation of these exceptional lenses?
For Cooke, handcrafting a lens isn’t just manufacturing, it’s an art form - a task that needs precision, quality and attention to detail.
As such, each lens is crafted individually by Cooke’s skilled engineers to a singular degree of perfection. From a standard lens that takes half a working day, to the more complex ones that could require up to five days, these lenses are carefully optimised for their intended optical performance.
We had the opportunity to speak with David Noon, Supply Chain Manager at Cooke Optics, to learn more about the intricacies of the Cooke manufacturing process.
Choosing The Best Materials
From the housing to the more intricate internal elements, each part of a Cooke lens is carefully manufactured and assembled to ensure optimum performance.
And it's not just the craftsmanship and expertise of the engineers that makes these lenses so successful; it's also the high-quality components that contribute towards their performance and elegance.
When making design choices, Cooke Optics follow the guided principle of choosing ‘The Right Tools For The Job’.
In practice this philosophy is quite simple, making sure that every component incorporated into the lens is the optimal choice for its designated function.
While making a lens with great imaging capabilities is crucial, it is equally important to create a lens that is built to last.
With this in mind, the team at Cooke meticulously choose the highest quality glass and metal components; ones they can rely on to consistently deliver peak performance in the ever-changing cinematic landscape.
Delving into the specifics of Cooke’s material selection, David emphasised the paramount importance of glass. He explained that the glass materials are meticulously chosen based on specific optical properties that are outlined by their optical design team. This selection ensures that the lenses achieve the desired performance when all components are seamlessly integrated.
Now onto the metal. Metal is an integral part of the lens, used extensively from the lens housing to the internal elements. Much like glass, the selection of metals demands careful consideration to ensure they are strong and durable whilst also being lightweight for ease of everyday use.
On this topic, David shared his insights, “The metal around the glass is primarily aluminium, with some brass and steel and more recently, titanium. These are all chosen for their relative strengths, reaction to temperature, weight and finish. We have a very specific grade of aluminium used, 6262, which is chosen for its extremely high aesthetic quality.”
When it comes to tools, Cooke Optics rely on custom equipment meticulously crafted by their engineers. With a firm understanding of the end goal, the mechanical designers are able to factor in ease of construction to their designs ensuring that the tools seamlessly support and streamline the manufacturing workflow.
This emphasis on precision doesn't stop at materials and tools; it extends to the fastenings and fixings that play a crucial role in holding the lens together.
With the extensive work put into the lens design, it is imperative to use quality components to ensure its integrity and reliability - that's where Accu comes in!
The Small Component That Gets That Big Shot
Though they may be hard to come by, Micro Screws are an essential component within many industries.
As their name suggests, Micro Screws are much smaller than your average fastener, often being used in high precision applications like electronics or watch making.
Discover how these tiny screws are employed in the assembly of watches in our technical article: ‘What Are Micro Screws?’
From Cheese Head Screws to Grub Screws, Cooke Optics rely on a vast range of Accu’s Micro fasteners to keep the housing and internal elements of their lenses secure.
David shared his insights, "We've been using Accu's micro components for quite some time now. They offer a wide range of options that perfectly fit our specific needs."
Despite their diminutive size, these small but mighty fasteners exhibit remarkable strength, aesthetic qualities and an outstanding strength-to-weight ratio, features that are especially critical for Cooke.
For example, considering the immense care that is taken to create the invaluable glass lenses, it is paramount that the housing is robust and secure to keep the internal elements firmly in place.
Equally, the strength-to-weight properties of Accu's micro screws are essential to ensure that the lens remains user-friendly, without adding excess weight to the product.
Last but not least, the aesthetic qualities of the blackened Stainless Steel helps to maintain the eloquent colourways of Cooke, that customers so adore.
One of the most popular types of Micro Screw that Cooke utilises are Accu’s Nylon-Tipped Grub Screw. As David explains, “Four of these screws are placed around a glass element in a lens. They are used to make very slight adjustments to the position of the glass relative to the rest of the set. This helps us meet the optical specification."
Cooke Optics has also found value in our Custom Manufacturing service to meet the unique requirements of their lenses. David shared, "We use a number of custom manufactured components from Accu. One specific example is Thin-Head Screws, which were previously only available from extremely specific companies with 40+ week lead times.
“Thin Head Screws have an extremely thin head, with the thread of the screw machined all the way up to the head. They’re used to hold down some of our processor boards in specific locations where there isn’t enough room for a traditional head.”
It's not just about functionality; aesthetics also play a significant role in choosing the right components for Cooke Lenses. David explained that different types of screws are used for the interior and exterior of the lenses. "For the exterior, we prioritise visual appeal. When we are selling a premium product at the top of the range in the market, we have to consider all aesthetic angles.
“Slotted 2x5 Cheese Heads are used on all of our scale covers as they have been deemed the most visually pleasing. Further, the blacking of the screws is essential to match our very specific and custom anodizing specifications."
Internal design with metal components can be more complicated. The internal components need to be carefully considered so as to not interfere with the visuals captured by the lens. To ensure this, David explains why they opt for blackened screws, “Internally when screws are visible along the optical path, such as inside the lens where light travels, the blacking serves a different purpose.
“Any silver surface has the potential to reflect light, which can be heavily magnified by the glass and affect image quality. That’s why we choose blackened screws in these areas to minimise any unwanted reflections and ensure optimal image performance."
Micro Screws play a crucial role in maintaining the reliability and high quality of lenses, as emphasised by David as he explains, "The choice of components is paramount to us at Cooke, as it allows us to continue providing the industry with the quality lenses they expect from us. We continually review our suppliers to make sure we use the best, and since switching our fasteners to Accu we have found that our production output improved, internal quality checks bring up fewer issues and the team is operating smoother."
With a rich heritage dating back to the late 19th century, Cooke Optics remains a leader in lens design and continues to innovate for the digital age. Their lenses have the remarkable ability to transform ordinary moments into extraordinary visual experiences, and we are honoured to be a part of their journey as they continue to build tomorrow.