Making the Movie

9Dec/073

35mm Lens Adapter Comparison

LAST UPDATED: 10/6/2010

I am no longer updating this page as of 2010 because there are so many HD Camera options for independent filmmakers now that do not require the use of an adapter. That said, it's a perfectly legitimate strategy to use a solid camera like the Panasonic HVX-200 with an adapter for a film. What follows is some information that might be useful if you plan to do so...

A 35mm lens adapter can yield that expensive film camera look from a cheaper video camera, thanks mostly to depth-of-field effects created by external lenses (or 'glass' in film slang). PL mount lenses are what are used on 16mm and 35mm film cameras; but much cheaper glass can be had that uses mounts standard to SLR still cameras such as Nikon AF or Canon FD mounts.

Popular HD video cameras to adapt include the Canon HV20 and Panasonic HVX200. Here is a list of adapters by price that might be of interest to independent filmmakers...

Red Rock Micro M2 DIY Guide

PRICE: $45 + materials

For $45 you get a ground glass and a set of instructions on how to build your own M2-style adapter.

MORE: Red Rock's website

Letus35 Flip Enhanced

PRICE: $699
1.5 Stops of light lost. The lens image is flipped right side up. Mount for Canon FD or Nikon AI.

MORE: Specs

Letus35 Economy

PRICE: $899

Same as the Letus35 Extreme but made of plastic, not milled aluminum. Only a half stop of light loss.

MORE: Specs

Letus Mini

PRICE: $1,099

Designed for small camcorders such as the Canon HV20 or others with a filter size of less than 43mm. It comes with a choice of one free mount (Canon FD, Nikon AI, Canon EF [EOS], Pentax K mount, Minolta MD).

MORE: Specs, FreshDV announcement

Letus35 Extreme

PRICE: $1,199

Letus' top of the line. It's just like the Economy, with .5 stop light loss, but is made of milled aluminum and has an LED on/off light. Letus OIC means it flips the image upright. Comes with your choice of one free mount (Canon FD, Nikon AI, Canon EF [EOS], Pentax K mount, Minolta MD).

MORE: Specs

Cinevate Brevis35 Preflip Bundle

PRICE: $1,286.01

This bundle is designed for the DVX, HVX, HD100/200, Sony HDV, PD150, XL1s, XL2, XLH1, XLA1, and HV20 cameras. No PL mount option is available but they offer all the standard SLR mounts.

MORE: Cinevate website

Red Rock Micro M2 Indie Complete Package: HD Edition for SLR Lenses

PRICE: No longer for sale - superceded by the M2 Encore (see below)

The M2 is very popular among d.p. types since the package includes accessories common to high-end film cameras like a follow-focus and a matte box. This bundle is also available cheaper for the various SLR lens configurations.

MORE: Red Rock Micro website
M2 Review by B-Scene Films

Redrock M2 Encore EX1
MSRP: $1,998 for the all-inclusive bundle

Brand new as of writing (8/09). The first review I've seen is at Philip Bloom's blog. According to Bloom, the updates to the M2 are as follows (I paraphrase):

* 1/2 stop light loss – best efficiency in industry, and superior color contrast when stopping down
* Completely reformulated optics to eliminate distortion and vignetting
* Faster, easier setup (with simplified attachment to microX)
* Collimating lens mount (new adapters come pre-collimated from the factory)
* Universal camera support, including Sony EX series cameras FINALLY!!
* Interchangeable lens mounts without opening the adapter, including PL mount
* Internal dust trap
* Lots of battery and power system updates
* All new screen holder with optional mattes and frame sizes for academy 35mm, SLR 35mm, 4:3, 2.35?1 (cinemascope) and more
* Fast shutter speeds up to 1/500 and beyond
* Shock mounted motor to reduce vibrations and to protect the motor and g[round] g[lass]
* Full rubber gaskets in all seals for silent operation and light leak prevention
* Weight of complete M2 Encore Indie Bundle: 6lb 12 oz (3 kg) )including rod support, baseplate, microX Encore and all mounting equipment)

MORE:
See the test footage on Bloom's site
Redrock's site, with comparison footage between the M2 and the EX1

JVC HZ-CA13U PL Mount Adapter

PRICE: $4,777 - Yeah, rental recommended

Works with the JVC ProHD cameras which, according the commenter below, have a in invert-image function built it. Half stop light loss.

MORE: JVC Website

P+S Technik Mini35

PRICE: Rental only?

For 1/3" CCD cameras.

MORE: P+S Technik website

P+S Technik Pro35
PRICE: Rental only?

For 2/3" CCD cameras.

MORE: P+S Technik website


If you have experience with any of these adapters, please share them in the comments below.



About J. Ott

John Ott is a writer, filmmaker and technology geek. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.
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  1. Here is an updated 35mm adapter comparison chart that might interest some of you:
    http://jonnyhee.com/reviews/35mm-dof-adapter-comparison/

  2. Dear Sir/Madam, First time after completion my short 20 min short film, going to shoot a Panjabi feature film, still thinking to choose a low budget camera. please suggest me the right thing that i can assure to go forward,
    Thanks


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