A package arrived in the mail from Transvideo the other day. In it was one of their rather nice base plates for the PMW-F3. This plate isn’t simply a plate that it is attached to the bottom of the camera. It is in fact a complete replacement for the bottom end of the PMW-F3. Transvideo are best known for their superb high end monitors, robust, built to last monitors you often find on movie sets as they they offer a range of highly accurate calibration tools and fully calibrated displays not found on many lower cost monitors. In addition Transvideo’s 3D monitors are the monitors of choice for many 3D productions and stereographers as they offer special monitoring options that allow for very accurate measurement of 3D offsets and geometry. This new base plate is a bit of a departure from Transvideo’s normal product lines. I suspect it’s come about because Transvideo’s 3D expertise led them to realise that one of the PMW-F3′s biggest issues for 3D is that the standard base plate isn’t particularly stable which can adversely affect alignment when used on a 3D rig.
This is a problem not only for 3D but also for use with long and heavy lenses as the camera can wobble and flex on the tripod. The two 1/4″ threads on the F3 are far from ideal and the third thread at the back of the camera is offset from centre making it hard to use. By replacing the original very thin base plate of the camera ( it is is really, really thin) with this much more robust base plate you spread the loads imparted on the tripod mounting points across the entire bottom end of the internal chassis of the F3, not just the 4 teeny tiny screws that hold the sony tripod mount in place. Fitting is very easy, 8 small screws are un-done to remove the original Sony base panel, which simply lifts off and then the new Transvideo plate, complete with beautifully CNC machined cooling slots simply attaches in it’s place. Now my F3 has a perfectly flat base with both 1/4″ and 3/8″ threads (hooray!!) as well as a large number of M4 threads towards the outside. Now I can fit standard Arri accessories without having to fudge together different plates and screws to make them fit.
Frankly this is how Sony should have done this in the first place, but well done to Transvideo, now my F3 is really starting to feel like a proper camera. The only very minor down side is that you loose your serial number plate as this is attached to the original Sony part. The fit is superb and it looks great too. The list price is €265.00. 10/10.
As well as the base plate I also received a little finger tab that attaches to the Sony PL mount. this little wing tab makes it much easier to remove and attach PL mount lenses as you can grip the lens with one hand and push the tab with you thumb to release the locking ring. It’s only a small thing but it makes the F3′s PL mount much more user friendly.
A little while back I was loaned a Triad PL to E-Mount adapter for review. E-Mount is the Sony mount used on the NEX-FS100, NEX-FS700 as well as The VG10, VG20 and NEX stills cameras. While more and more E-Mount lenses are becoming available from Sony and other DSLR lens manufacturers there will be many times when something more suitable for video work might be needed. One of the big issues with DSLR lenses is the very small amount of rotation on the focus ring to go from near to far, often only 45 degrees which makes accurate focus tricky. A good PL mount lens will have over 180 degrees of rotation. PL has been the industry standard for movie cameras for years and most rental companies have large ranges of PL lenses to choose from. So the ability to be able to use a PL lens on any super 35mm camcorder is always welcome. While I use DSLR lenses on my cameras for my day to day shoots, if I am doing a high end production such as a commercial then I will hire in the appropriate PL lenses for the job. Sony’s soon to be released FS700 is a camera that will, I’m sure end up getting used for many commercials as slow motion is a technique widely used to show off new products or ideas. As a result there will be many time in the future where I will need a PL adapter.
The Triad adapter is very solidly made, machined from high grade alloy with stainless steel and chrome plated steel inserts. One of the very nice features is that the adapter has a built in adjustment for the back focus distance. A locking outer ring on the adapter can be rotated to alter the physical distance between the PL receptor and the E-Mount bayonet. This will allow the user to calibrate the back focus or flange back distance so that the focus witness marks on any PL lenses will be 100% accurate. It will also ensure that PL zooms will track focus correctly through the entire zoom range. As the FS100 and FS700 don’t have built in back focus adjustments this really is a vital thing to have. The Sony E-mount was only designed to support the weight of light weight DSLR type lenses so the Triad adapter has a support post that can be attached to 15mm or 19mm rails (via a suitable bracket) to help carry the weight of heavy PL lenses without over-stressing the cameras E-Mount. One note from Triad is that the Sony PL lenses supplied with the kit that comes with the PMW-F3 do not fit this adapter. There are quite a few PL mounts that don’t accept the Sony PL lenses without shaving a bit of metal from the Sony lenses mount. So this isn’t a flaw with the Triad adapter, it’s a non standard quirk of the Sony PL lenses.
There’s really not much more to say about this mount. It’s well made and does what it designed to do.
So, here’s what I am working on. This is a “work in progress” but I’m liking where it’s going. My aim is to create a truly useable kit for the F3 that will turn it into an ENG type camera. Now I’m not suggesting that the F3 is a good camera for news or that type of fast moving thing. But for documentaries it has a big place and the easier I can make it to use, the better. The rig is made up form all kinds of bits and pieces.
1: This is an old Canon J16x8x2 SD broadcast lens, which becomes a 20 to 320mm f4 zoom lens. It works OK, fine when wide but a little soft in the corners at the long end.
2: New metal body HDSDi Cineroid EVF attached with a custom bracket (5)
3: Genus GMB-P ENG camcorder adapter with 15mm bar support. This has the quick release wedge needed to work with the VCT-14 tripod plate.
4: My B4 to F3 adapter. Watch this space, in production very soon.
5: Custom made (by me) PMW-F3 ‘H” plate. This attaches to the two 1/4″ threads on the top of the camera body and gives you lots of 1/4″ threads along the entire length of both sides of the top of the F3. To this attaches a custom fully adjustable viewfinder mounting system.
6: Custom made shoulder mount. On production units this would be a little shorter, it’s a bit tall on the prototype. It features an adjustable soft shoulder pad and mounts for the cheese plate and VCT-14 adapter.
7: Genus cheese plate.
8: IDX V-Lock adapter plate. But you could also use an Anton Bauer plate.
9: DSM V-Lock battery (98Wh). Will run the rig for over 4 hours.
10: VCT-14 quick release plate.
The balance point for the rig is just slightly forward of the centre of the shoulder pad, so it’s really nice to handhold. A slightly bigger battery or a Convergent Design Gemini on the back would give near perfect balance.
So, what do you think, would you by this lot (excluding lens and EVF) as a kit? I’m looking to do a small run of kits, no idea of the price yet. More pictures below, click on the thumbnail for a high-res image.
So here is my current set up. As you may know Genus are making the 3D rig that I designed, so I get to play with the latest Genus bits and pieces. This is my F3 with a pre-production universal riser and base plate. The base plate will fit most camcorders and incorporates mounts for a pair of 15mm rails. Up front I have a Genus Wide 4×4 matte box. I’m really pleased with this light weight matte box with added top flag, it is a good match for the Nikon DSLR lenses that I will be using and is much, much lighter than my old Petroff matte box. It fits lenses up to 105mm diameter so I will need a bigger matte box for many PL mount lenses (and bigger filters) perhaps I’ll get one of those nice TLS Raven Matte Boxes. For smaller lenses though the Genus 4×4 is really nice. Behind the matte box I have a Genus Superior follow focus. This is a silky smooth FF unit and on this lens it’s driving one of Genus’s clever flexible lens gears. This is a little bit like a hose clip, a thumb screw tightens it up so that it fastens snuggly around the lens. It will fit a much larger range of lenses than a traditional rigid lens gear. The lens in the pictures is a Tokina ATX-Pro 28-70mm parfocal zoom. This is a great lens, plenty sharp enough for HD video and it doesn’t telescope when you zoom. Breathing is minimal. To match the lens to the camera there is one of Mike Tappas (MTF) excellent Nikon to F3 adapters.
Underneath the lens I have a pair of hand grips from the Genus shoulder mount kit. The shoulder pad is right at the back behind the camera. For a little bit of extra convenience I have a Genus GAP adapter plate that allows me to use a quick release VCT-14 tripod plate.
The only thing left to sort is a loupe for the LCD screen. I’ve experimented with a Hoodman DSLR loupe that I have and this almost works. It doesn’t cover the full width of the LCD, but does allow me to use the LCD as a viewfinder when using this shoulder rig. I guess I need to get the Hoodman Hood Riser and Hood Strap to make the loupe fit the LCD correctly. I’ve read elsewhere that it does not fit the F3, but my experiments with the loupe alone suggests it will fit. Anyone else tried it yet? I’d rather go this route than getting a Cineroid viewfinder.
The tripod is a Manfrotto 509. This one of their new silky smooth “bridge” style heads. The 509 is a mid weight head with a pretty high payload capability, true fluid action and variable counter balance. I’m going do a separate write up on the tripod, it’s really rather good, especially considering the price!
As promised here is a picture of the base of an F3. It is the same size tripod mount as on the EX1R, plus an additional off-set 1/4 hole towards the rear of the base (which is flat).
Below is a picture of the lens mount with the PL adapter removed. I was surprised to find that this appears to be the same mount as the EX3 except with the electrical contacts in a different position and a small pin in that locates with a cutout in the top lens mount flange. It looks to me as though an Adaptimax or MTF EX3 to Nikon adapter would go directly on the F3 with just a small slot cut in the top flange of the adapter to clear the extra mounting pin.
I have been asked to show how I mount my NanoFlash on my EX3 so below are a couple of pictures of the full rig with some details of some of the various items that I use.
1. This is my Petroff 4×4 matte box with bellows hood. I love the old fashioned style bellows lens shade as you can adjust it in and out very quickly to eliminate stray light. A french Flag can be added if desired, but I find in most cases that the bellows shade is fine. Stray light causes reflections both between filters and within the lens, this can reduce contrast in the image so a good lens hood is essential for getting the best pictures. The Matte Box has 2 rotating filter holders. I often use some very gentle blue or grey grads to help with bright skies.
2. The standard EX3 lens. This lens is a remarkably good lens. Keep it between F8 and F2.8 for best results. The sweet spot is F4. Never use the Iris at F16 or F11, your pictures will be soft due to diffraction limiting. This is not a lens fault but something that would happen with any lens and 1/2? sensors (it’s even worse with smaller sensors). The beauty of the standard EX lens is that it incorporates automatic chromatic aberration correction which means no nasty blue or purple fringes around areas of high contrast.
3. SxS Cards. Even though I was one of the first people to work out how to use low cost SD cards with the fabled Kennsington Adapter I still use SxS cards. The reason is simple: reliability. If you look around the forums you will find lots of people having issues with SD cards. For example a wedding videographer that lost a large part of a service he had shot. If he had used SxS then that just would not have happened. I am a professional and my reputation is vital. That reputation could easily be destroyed if I came back from a shoot with nothing but corrupt data because I had tried to cut corners.
4. Kata Camera Glove. Protects the camera from everyday knocks and bumps as well as unexpected rain or dust.
5. The Cheek Pad. I know many EX3 users don’t fit these. It looks flimsy, but in use it’s strong enough and it really helps to stop the cameras tendency to want to tilt to the left. It makes the camera much more stable and really is worth trying.
6. Convergent Design NanoFlash. This incredible little box allows me to record from the HDSDi output at upto 160Mb/s long Gop. At 100 Mb/s you can’t tell the compressed from the uncompressed. By shooting with this I can grade and color correct my footage, make dubs, go multi generation without seeing any drop in quality. It also means my footage is accepted for HD broadcast by the BBC and the majority of other HD broadcasters. The EX 35Mb footage is good, don’t get me wrong but the 100Mb is sweet. It uses inexpensive Compact Flash cards and by recording to both SxS and the Nano at the same time I can be sure that even if I were to get a card failure I have a backup.
7. IDX V-Lock batteries. One of these will run this rig for around 5 hours. I am also looking at getting some of the Swit EX batteries with the Power-Con/D-Tap out to run the EX and NanoFlash, but by putting the battery out behind the camera the overall balance of the rig is improved. In fact without this larger battery the matte box tends to make it very front heavy.
8. Quick release shoulder pad. This is a home brew affair that incorporates a shoulder pad the V-lock battery adapter and NanoFlash or Radio Mic mount. It can be removed without tools in seconds. Perhaps one day I will get some Zacuto rails or similar, but they are rather expensive and this setup works very well for me.
9. Sony ECM-680S. This is a nice Stereo/Mono switchable gun mic. It is great for capturing nice stereo ambience and effects sound. Flick the switch and it becomes a useful interview mic.
10. DM accessories EX3 reinforcement plate. This is a MUST HAVE item. It provides you with a much stronger tripod fixing with both 1/4? and 1/2? threads as well as a host of other threaded holes for various applications. It makes the camera feel so much more solid on a tripod. I really can’t recommend it enough. below this is a cheap, Indian made Matte Box rail kit. It works, but again I could really do with some Zacuto rails or similar.
11. Chamois leather viewfinder cover. Much nicer against your skin than hard rubber. Also absorbs sweat and moisture which helps prevent the viewfinder from fogging. Another option is a small sweat band.
Most Recent Posts
- Super Slow Motion 480fps Lightning.
- The Grand Canyon, shot with an FS700.
- Canon Launches new C100 AVCHD s35mm camcorder.
- Arizona Storm Shoot Update
- Convergent Design Gemini to Support 4K with the Canon C500.
- What not to pack!
- New Sony NEX-EA50EH shoulder mount 35mm camcorder. Power Zoom lens for FS100 and FS700
- SHort Film/Documentary Workshop in Arizona.
- A to Z Index
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- Once in a Lifetime Northern lights Expeditions to Norway.
- Picture Profile Guide.
- Adaptimax Lens Adapters for PMW-F3
- Alister’s Equipment Reviews A to Z.
- Alphatron EVF-035W Viewfinder Video Review.
- Atomos Samurai
- Camrade cb-single-iii camera bag.
- CamRade WS PMW F3 Rain Cover Review.
- Cineroid HDSDI EVF (EVF-4MSS) review.
- Juice Designs EX1R Baseplate.
- Manfrotto 509 Tripod Head
- NEX-FS700 In Depth Review.
- Review of the Sony PMW-200
- Sonnet QIO Review. Very, Very, Fast Offloads.
- Sonnet SDHC to SxS Camera Adapter.
- Sony FS100 and F3 Video Review
- Sony PVM-740 OLED monitor
- Tilta BS-TS03 Shoulder Mount Review
- Today3D FIZ controller. Focus, Zoom, Iris, Interaxial.
- Transvideo PMW-F3 replacement base assembly.
- Triad PL to E-Mount adapter.
- TVLogic WFM-056WP Monitor/Viewfinder
- Vinten 100 Tripod Review
- Shooting Tips
- Short Film Workshop
- Tech Notes.
- Training and Expeditions
- Ultimate Documentary Production Workshop
- Video Reviews
- Workshops and Training
- alisterchapman on 50 Megabits for the masses, the new Sony PMW-200.
- alisterchapman on The Grand Canyon, shot with an FS700.
- alisterchapman on Alphatron EVF-035W Video Review.
- alisterchapman on Uncompressed 240 fps possible with FS700 and Convergent Design Gemini. Tested!
- alisterchapman on Adaptimax Lens Mount Adapters for PMW-F3, Canon and Nikon.