I wrote a quick review about a month ago giving some good choices (and bad) for the Sony F3 when it comes to PL mount lensing. After the dust has settled and I’ve had some more time to try all of the options first hand, I’ve come up with some good ideas for the cinematographer on a budget as well as the pro looking to go Sony. I had heard of people using a Nikon to F3 adapter that basically replaces the PL mount but I hadn’t seen one in person until I went to NAB this past week and saw it for myself. The product comes from a company called MTF Services and allows the user to attach native Nikon mount lenses to the F3.
This opens up an entire world of high quality optics to use on the F3. Nikon announced they have sold over sixty million (60,000,000) as of April, 2011. That’s insane! But I believe it. This means that the old manual lenses I love so much for cinema can now be used natively. Even the newer Nikon “G” lenses can be used. You know, the plastic lenses without an aperture ring on them… Yeah. Nikon is going the way of “gelded” lenses which eliminate the manual aperture control ring. Their entire line of new pro zoom lenses including the 14-24mm, 24-70mm, and 70-200mm, are all G lenses and lack that manual control. Nikon did leave the little lever that the camera slaps to close the aperture down in the lens which the MTF mount utilizes to control even the newest crop of G lenses that lack the manual control. Accomplished by adjusting the blue ring on the outside of the mount adapter, full manual control is enabled on all Nikon lenses. The G lenses obviously wont have an aperture scale or any indication of what f-stop you are using, but it is a compromise after all. If you want to step it up a notch try using the Zeiss ZF.2 primes with an F3. What a dream team! the only thing these lenses lack for motion picture use is the features of their big brothers, the CP.2. The ZF.2 share the exact same glass as the CP.2 but lack the focus gear, smooth aperture movement, and uniform front diameter. This is all overcome with the Duclos Lenses Cine-Mod that adds a seamless focus gear, 80mm front ring, and a creamy smooth aperture movement. Obviously this option is a little self serving for me since Duclos Lenses provides the Cine-Mod and the lenses but I sell them because I like them. I don’t like them because I sell them.
I haven’t seen a Canon Eos mount for the F3 yet but I suspect it’s not too far off since everyone already converted their Nikon mount lenses to Eos to use of their 5/7D. I’m looking forward to more mount options on the F3. I think it’s a great platform that allows the user a good compromise between indie DSLRs and a RED camera. Obviously there isn’t one camera that does it all and the same can be said for the lenses. This can be said for just about any manual Nikon mount still lens and the F3. There are also a few more lenses that were announced at NAB that would work well like the lightweight Angenieux zooms. I think most people would prefer to keep a F3 rig fairly light and avoid attaching gnarly heavy glass like the RED Primes and Master Primes. While I’m sure the final product would benefit from the beauty of Master Primes but if you’re shooting with Master Primes and an F3 it’s probably because you blew 90% of the budget on the lenses and didn’t have another choice. There are many more options when it comes to still lenses on the F3. While there may not be adapters to attach lenses like the Leica R series, you can always convert Leica R lenses to Nikon mount and still use the MTF mount. Be careful though, too many adaptations and you’ll start to introduce unwanted mechanical slop. Keep an eye on added components and calibrate often. Also, make sure you read up on which lenses work well before you invest a fortune on rare lenses from Ebay.
My advice is to try as much as you can. Don’t believe all the screen grabs you see online. Go out and try new lenses for yourself. Find a shop that will let you play with the lenses and shoot your own tests. You be the judge.