Just a quick note on a rather obscure subject. I do a lot of 3D work. Buying pairs of PL mount lenses for my F3′s is beyond my budget right now, so I hire in lenses when I need them. However for my own projects I use DSLR lenses, mainly Nikkors and Tokina’s. One thing that i have discovered is that many of the older manual Nikkors have a tendency to shift the image left and right when you focus. This then miss-aligns the rig. The more modern internal focussing lenses are much, much better in this respect with little or no shift at all. The only problem with the more modern IF lenses is that they often don’t have iris rings (so iris is adjusted with a MTF adapter) and the focus control often has a slipping clutch making repeatable focussing a little harder. So neither is perfect. For 3D applications I think the more modern IF lenses are preferable.
I was sent a couple of Adaptimax lens mount adapters to test on my PMW-F3. I have used some of their EX3 adapters in the past and these worked very well. The new PMW-F3 adapters are finished with a very nice hard black anodised finish and look very smart indeed. I had 3 adapters to try, one F3 to Canon and two F3 to Nikon adapters. The Canon adapter is a “dumb” adapter, so there is no way to control the lenses iris. If your using Canon lenses this means using a DSLR body to set the iris before using the lens on the F3. Obviously this is not ideal, but you do have to consider that there is a massive range of lenses that can be used with this Canon adapter via a secondary adapter ring.
Canon’s flange back distance (the sensor to lens distance) is the shortest in the DSLR world. So this means that there is space to adapt to other lens mounts with longer flange back distances such as M42, Nikon, Pentax, Pentacon etc. This opens up a whole world of possibilities as now you can use those nice M42 Zeiss lenses that can be picked up cheap on ebay by adding a cheap M42 to Canon adapter.
If you have already invested in Nikon fit glass then you can use a Nikon to Canon adapter or you can use one of Adaptimax’s purpose built F3 to Nikon adapters.
There are two varieties, the original Adaptimax and the Adaptimax Plus. The Plus version includes a long screw that pushes the iris pin on the rear of the lens to give you iris control even when the lens does not have an iris ring. While this is not as elegant as MTF Services rotating adapter barrel, it works fine and the simplicity of the design means the adapter is a little cheaper. The standard version has no iris control, so you need to ensure your lens has a proper iris ring. Priced at £255 for the standard adapters and £265 for the plus versions these are good value for money.
I was asked in some post comments whether the a 50mm PL mount lens would give a wider picture than a 50mm DSLR lens. This confusion comes about I believe because of all the talk about focal length conversion factors. I don’t think this concept is well understood by some people as the implication is that somehow the lens is changing when its used on different cameras, when in fact it’s the camera that is different, not the lens.
It is important to understand that a 50mm lens will always be a 50mm lens. That is it’s focal length. It is determined by the shape of the glass elements and no matter what camera you put it on it will still be a 50mm lens. A 50mm DSLR lens has the same focal length as a 50mm PL mount and as a 50mm 2/3″ broadcast lens. In addition the lens focuses a set distance behind the rear element, agin the distance between the rear element and where it focuses does not change when it’s put on different cameras, so an adapter or spacer must be used to keep the designed distance between the lens and sensor, this distance is called the “flange back”.
The key thing is that it’s not the lens or it’s focal length that changes when you swap between different cameras. It is the size of the sensor that changes.
Imagine a projector shining an image on a screen so that the picture fills the screen. The projector is our “lens”. Without changing anything on the projector what happens if you move the screen closer or further away from the projector? The image projected on the screen will go in and out of focus, so that’s not good, we must keep the projector to screen distance constant, just like the lens to sensor distance (flange back) for any given lens remains constant.
What happens if we make the screen smaller? Well the image remains the same size but we see less of it as some of the image falls of the edge of the screen. If our projected picture was that of a wide landscape then on the reduced screen size what would now be seen would not appear less wide as we are now only seeing the middle part of the picture. The width of the view would be decreased, in other words the FIELD OF VIEW HAS NARROWED. The focal length has not changed.
This is what is happening inside cameras with different size sensors, the lens isn’t changing, just how much of the lenses projected image is falling on or off the sensor.
So the multiplication factor should be considered more accurately as being applied to the camera, not the lens and the multiplication factor changes the field of view, not the focal length.
So whether it is a PL mount lens, a Nikon or Canon DSLR lens or a Fujinon video lens, if it’s a 50mm lens then it’s a 50mm lens and the focal length is the same for all. However the field of view (width and height of the viewed image) will depend on the size of the sensor. So a 50mm PL lens will give the same field of view as a 50mm DSLR lens (no matter what camera the lens was designed for) on the same video camera.
The only other thing to consider is that lenses are designed to work with certain sizes of sensor. A lens designed for a full frame 35mm sensor will completely cover that size of sensor as well as any sensor smaller than that. On the other hand a 2/3? broadcast lens will only cover a 2/3? sensor, so if you try to use it on a larger sensor the image will not fill the frame.
The sensors in the Sony F3 and FS100 are “Super 35mm”. That is about the same size as APS-C. So lenses designed for Full frame 35mm can be used as well as lenses designed for 35mm cine film (35mm PL) and lenses designed for APS-C DSLR’s such as the Nikon DX series and Canon EF-S.
See also http://www.abelcine.com/fov/
Off to the airport to fly home in a minute, but I thought I would jot down some notes about the various lenses we were able to look at during the F3 workshop I ran here in Dubai. We had a set of the Sony PL primes, a Zeiss CP2, some Zeiss ZF.2 stills lenses, a Nikon 50mm and a Tokina 28-70mm ATX pro zoom. The stills lenses were all attached to the F3 using an MTF to Nikon adapter.
It was hard to see any difference between the Sony primes and the CP2, this was kind of expected. When comapring the PL’s to the Tokina zoom, the zoom was a little soft wide open at f2.6. Stopped down half a stop and it looked much better, but it needed to go down to f4 before it came close to matching the PL’s. Even then the PL’s had the edge, but then this is comparing a zoom to a prime. I would certainly have no hesitation over using the Tokina at f4 or more closed. The Nikon 50mm pancake, f1.8 was surprisingly good. Even wide open it produced a respectable image, stopped down to f2.8 it was a very close match to the PL’s. The Zeiss ZF.2′s were the budget stars of the show as even wide open these produced sharp, clean images with very similar bokeh and flare performance to the primes, very impressive performance.
Of course ergonomically the PL’s were better. Bigger focus rings, bigger iris rings and better focus scales. The CP2 impressed with it’s near 360 degrees rotation of the focus ring with very clear and accurate witness marks and wide distance spacing even approaching infinity. If I could afford a set of CP2′s that’s what I would buy, but I can’t. The Sony PL’s are good lenses, they don’t quite have the build quality of the CP2′s but they do represent excellent value for the money. If your budget won’t stretch to PL glass then the Zeiss ZF.2′s are about as close as you’ll get to a PL lens, but do watch out for the amount of telescoping when you focus the longer focal length ones. That can make using a matte box very tricky. I know my Nikon 50mm and Tokina 28mm primes work well. The Tokina 28-70 while not as sharp as the primes will still make a good all-round lens. All I need now is to get a nice 85mm and 135mm and I’ll be happy. Maybe a couple of ZF’s.
I have been using my F3 with a range of stills lenses via the MTF F3 to Nikon adapter. Overall everything works very well and I am pleased with the quality of the images I have been getting. However the use of stills glass is not as easy as using dedicated PL lenses. The main issue for me is iris control. With a PL mount lens you have a nice big iris ring so you know exactly where your exposure is. With some of my stills lenses I do have a traditional iris ring and with these lenses all is good. But as so many DSLR’s these days have electronic iris control many of the lenses I have don’t have an iris control ring. Mike Tapa’s adapter can control the iris of a Nikon DSLR lens by moving the blade that controls the shutter on the rear of the lens, but there are no markings or any way way of knowing what the iris is set to. This makes judging when to use more ND or where you are regarding DoF impossible to judge other than via a monitor. You can’t tell whether you are operating the lens at it’s optimum settings. In addition many of the Nikon DX lenses don’t have calibrated focus scales, so again it all comes down to guess work and the monitor.
With well designed stills glass things work well. My older Tokina 28-70 AT-X pro works very well with an accurate focus scale and proper iris control. My Nikon 50mm f1.8 manual lens and Tokina 28mm f2.8 lens also work nicely, but the Nikon DX lenses I have are far from ideal. I’m considering getting a set of Zeiss ZF.2 stills lenses as these appear to be very good lenses. I really need a prime in the 85mm range for interviews and portrait type shots.
The focal lengths I use the most are: 28mm, 50mm and 70mm. I would use a bit longer if I had the right lens. I don’t use the 18mm very often except for panoramas and landscapes.
So…. PL would be nice, but at the moment my budget won’t stretch to that. The Sony kit lenses are certainly great value for the money, but really 35mm isn’t wide enough so I would have to add a wider lens anyway. Stills glass can produce great results, but is not quite so user friendly.
OK, here’s my take on the situation.
If money is no problem then the safest bet is to purchase a good quality HD lens, expect to spend at least £8k.
If you budget is restricted then the situation is much less clear. There are now several low cost 2/3? HD lenses designed for cameras such as the Panasonic HPX500. In my opinion these lenses are just not worth the money. They might be cheap (£4k ish) but the one’s I’ve played with have been pretty grim, suffering from lots of CA and soft corners.
If your on a tight budget the best thing you can do is take your camera to a good dealer and go through their second hand lenses, trying them on the camera. Check for resolution (use a chart), corner softness, CA and contrast. I did this and ended up with a Canon 16x8x2 IF lens. I found that lenses with lower zoom ratios tended to be better than those with higher ratios. I’m really pleased with my lens and when compared to the latest HD equivalents I can not tell the difference in real world use. It certainly outperforms all the budget HD lenses I’ve tried.
One interesting thing that I have discovered in my research into this subject is that Contrast is what makes the biggest difference in lens performance, not simply resolution as one might expect. Visually the next thing you notice is CA. This is a tough one as when you increase the resolution or sharpness of a lens you also tend to increase the CA.
Until lens manufacturers start to release MTF curves for their lenses the only thing we have as buyers to go on is the advertising blurb. It’s easy for a manufacturer to claim improved performance or new glass or other technology, but without accurate MTF curves it’s all pretty meaningless. You would only need the tiniest resolution improvement to be able to claim that you new HD lens range is sharper than your SD range, it could just be a fraction of a percent difference.
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