Fuji X-Mount for Veydra Mini Primes Coming Soon

The increasing popularity of Fujifilm’s cameras for quick, nimble motion picture work has begun another trend in the mirrorless realm – using legacy legacy lenses for cinematic work. Similar to the popularity of the Sony E-mount ecosystem, the X-mount features a similar shallow flange depth that makes adapting older SLR lenses a breeze with a plethora of cheap, accessible adapters. But what if you wanted an affordable, purpose built cinema lens for the X-mount system without using cheap, flimsy adapters?  Continue reading Fuji X-Mount for Veydra Mini Primes Coming Soon

Field Test – Duclos 2x Extender

For many years now I have used 1.4x and 2x extenders with my still lenses for both photography and video, and I am familiar with their advantages as well as their shortcomings.  Since PL mount lenses have really become my gear of choice lately, I was in the market for a good PL mount 2x extender. I am now the happy owner of the Duclos 2x Extender and I wanted to take a minute to share my first impressions of it. Continue reading Field Test – Duclos 2x Extender

Duclos Lenses Announces Brand New 2x Extender

Yet another must have accessory from Duclos Lenses. The 2X Tele-Extender can give your telephoto lenses even more reach. This all new design from Duclos Lenses features a couple of tricks not found in other extenders such as an adjustable back focus that eliminates the need for laborious shimming. The body is made from anodized aluminum and stainless steel for a most robust design. The glass is extremely high quality; sourced from Japan and aims to exceed even the industry’s most respected brands. Continue reading Duclos Lenses Announces Brand New 2x Extender

PL Macro Extension Tube from Duclos Lenses

Ext Tube

Duclos Lenses has released a new Macro Extension Tube for PL mount lenses. If you’ve never used an extension tube before, head on over to Cambridge in Colour and soak up some knowledge. Continue reading PL Macro Extension Tube from Duclos Lenses

Iris Rods – a Simple Explanation

Arri has provided a really simple, comprehensive diagram of the three different iris rod standards. It seems like there has been a lot of confusion about the proper distance from the axis of the lens to the center of the rods. A few basic details to go through here: The height of the rods (the distance from the lens axis to the center of the rods) is critical as a standard when designing accessories such as matte boxes, follow focuses, low bridges, or just about any lens related accessory. In this post, I’ll discuss the relationship between the different iris rods (15mm LWS, 15mm, and 19mm) and their associated low bridges.

Rod_Support_Standards15mm Lightweight

The smallest and newest system to be utilized for motion picture work and as of recent, possibly the most common. The 15mm Lightweight system (LWS) is a variation of the 15mm Studio setup with roots began in ENG and DV setups. With the introduction of the DSLR revolution and tiny camera rigs such as the Blackmagic Pocket Camera and in some cases even a simple GoPro, the 15mm Lightweight system has carved it’s own place into the motion picture world commonly found on medium sized rigs such as RED and Sony cameras. The 15mm LWS is aligned to the center of the lens mount, with a relatively narrow spacing (60mm) and a fairly shallow axis to rod height (85mm).

15mm Studio

If there was an “old school” rod setup, 15mm Studio would be it. 15mm Studio rods are the same rods as 15mm LWS but spaced farther apart (100mm), farther from the lens axis (118mm), and slightly offset from the optical center (17.25mm). Don’t get me wrong, 15mm Studio is probably the most common among high-end cinema sets based on the West Coast despite it’s age. The 15mm Studio system has become somewhat overlooked in terms of standardization with all the newcomers to the motion picture camera accessory manufacturing game assuming that the rods were aligned to the optical center. As far as I know, the reason for the offset of 15mm Studio rods was originally to compensate for weight and accessory distribution. The camera had additional weight on the “smart” side due to the viewfinder and controls so accessories such as the follow focus or motors were attached to the “dumb” side to balance out the setup. I’ll admit, the 15mm Studio standard is far older than me or anyone reading this and I’m no motion picture historian… If your 15mm Studio rods aren’t offset, then they’re not 15mm Studio.

19mm Studio

If you’re anywhere other than Hollywood, you’ll likely find 19mm rods used as the standard. 19mm Studio is the updated version of 15mm Studio. As lenses and lens accessories became heavier and heavier, the need for stronger rods came about paving the way for a slightly heavier duty system. The 19mm Studio setup is spaced even farther apart than 15mm Studio (104mm), and slightly more distant from the optical axis (120mm) but is centered on the lens. The purpose of the 19mm system was to increase the load capacity when used with heavy lenses and reduce flexing.

Materials

Traditionally, stainless steel is king. These days you’ll find dozens of different companies producing “rods” from aluminum and carbon fiber which is fine for more 15mm LWS rigs where weight is critical and the stress put on the rods is minimal. Aluminum and carbon fiber may even be suitable for some 15mm Studio setups if they’re not demanding, but if you’re rig requires the wider offset of 15mm Studio rods, then you’re probably not worrying about the overall weight of your camera rig and should opt for a stainless steel variant. The same can be said for 19mm Studio – if you’re going to go with the beefier 19mm setup, don’t cheap out and use flimsy aluminum or carbon fiber. If you’re on the fence between 15mm Studio and 19mm Studio, there’s always 15mm HD rods. No, not High Definition… Heavy Duty. This would be a 15mm rod with a wall thickness double that of the normal 15mm rods. This provides a much more solid support with little to no flex even with a hefty Angenieux or Fujinon zoom. Iris rods will come in all sorts of lengths these days depending on their application. A heavyweight cinema zoom will call for 24″ rods whereas a DSLR rig may only require a few inches simply to attach a follow focus to the front of the rig or a battery to the back.

cfrods

A simple pair of carbon fiber rods. Carbon fiber rods are usually hollow with end caps to keep dirt and dust out, but can also be found in a sturdier solid carbon fiber material.

The confusion comes in mostly when companies design and sell products that don’t conform to an industry standard. For example, a simple google search for a 15mm matte box will yield results from around the world with little to no mention of what system a given matte box is actually designed for. I’ve seen matte boxes advertised with 15mm rod holes but 19mm Studio spacing or 15mm LWS spacing but with 15mm Studio height. Some with fully adjustable offset and height, others with absolutely no height adjustment. I guess you just have to hope your camera plate has a height adjustment… Matte boxes are the primary source of confusion with the other most common accessory, the follow focus and/or motors not being much of a concern. This is because most follow focus systems will have a slide or pivot adjustment to accommodate different size lenses minimizing the standardization to simply rod size and spacing, disregarding offset and height.

Arri MB-20 II Matte box sample: Note the top pair of 15mm holes (15mm LWS) is centered on the optical center whereas the lower pair (15mm Studio) is clearly offset from the center. Also note the height difference.

Arri MB-20 II Matte box sample: Note the top pair of 15mm holes (15mm LWS) is centered on the optical center whereas the lower pair (15mm Studio) is clearly offset from the center. Also note the height difference.

Additionally, the height has been a topic of confusion in the recent past. Lets use the Red 300mm prime for example. Originally it came with a built in support, a bright red ring towards the front of the lens with a simple 1/4-20 (I think) threaded hole. If I remember correctly, there wasn’t any standardized height. You either had to use an arbitrarily adjustable, standard-less low bridge or stack bunch of washers just to attach the lens securely. It wasn’t designed for 15mm LWS or 15mm Studio. It was just a big red block with a hole in the bottom. It’s possible that Red intended the 300mm to be used with the 15mm LWS standard, but since when is a 300mm, one foot long, 6 lb.  prime lens considered lightweight?!?!

300

While we’re on the topic of height; the other critical spec, the same chaos experienced with matte boxes can also be found in low bridges. The low bridge is the key to lens support. A lens can have a support post with standardized height and a nice 3/8-16 thread but it’s useless without a proper low bridge. A proper low bridge will be somewhat forgiving in terms of standardization with minor adjustments for height and offset, but not so much that the industry standards can be completely overlooked. With the 15mm Studio and 19mm Studio standard, a proper low bridge is easy to come by. Because of all the confusion with proper heights and standards when 15mm LWS was adopted for motion picture rigs, you’ll find that there are many 15mm LWS low bridges with a fully adjustable height. This makes them pretty useful but sometimes sloppy depending on the brand.

A proper 15mm Studio low bridge with adjustable height and offset.A proper 15mm Studio low bridge with adjustable height and offset.

All set?

I hope this clears up some of the confusion surrounding iris rods and lens accessories. Anytime someone asks me what brands I recommend for a matte box, follow focus, or low bridge, I generally stick to a single rule which is stick with the established brands. A company that has been manufacturing motion picture accessories for a good decade or so will know what they’re doing and will obey the standards making life easier for all of us. Of course, there’s an exception to every rule and in this case, it’s usually budget. If you can’t afford a high quality accessory, make due with what you can, but you’ll probably end up getting the higher quality product in the end so you might as well start with proper gear.

New Alura Kit From Duclos

A few weeks ago, I dropped a little sneak peak photo of the prototype Carry Handle & Motor Bracket Kit. Fitting and testing was a breeze and everything is ready to ship. Head on over to DuclosLenses.com for all the details. Oh, and don’t worry… The 18-80mm kit is on it’s way as well. Continue reading New Alura Kit From Duclos

Canon EF Mounts For All

This post is part of a series of upcoming reviews of camera-lens mounts and their pros and cons. Quite possibly the most common camera-lens mount on the market today is the Canon EF and EF-S mount. Introduced in 1987 and updated in 2003, the EF-S mount added several features that improved on the original FD Mount including focus motors placed inside the lens to enable auto-focus. Step forward 2.5 decades and the Canon EF and EF-S mount are the reigning champion of still photography and quickly gaining popularity in the world of cinema. For the sake of simplicity, I’ll simply refer to the Canon mount as EF instead of EF or EF-S. If you need more clarification on the difference between EF and EF-S, google it. 😉

Continue reading Canon EF Mounts For All

Olloclip iPhone Lens

I ♥ Lenses.

This has been my mantra for over a decade and recently put onto fabric in the form of t-shirts that can be had here. I love lenses so much, I have a hard time not purchasing all sorts of lenses including cheap little iPhone lenses. There’s a flurry of iPhone lenses scattered about the interwebs that can be had for as little as $5 or as much as several hundred dollars. I was at my local Apple store this past weekend killing time while my wife shopped for whatever she shops for. I picked up a new AppleTV (cause, you know… 720p just wasn’t cutting it) and while I was waiting for a smurf to become available I saw a nicely packaged Olloclip “iPhone 4 lens system” for the iPhone 4s. I checked the price tag and just as I expected, the little accessory sat right in the middle of the iPhone lens range. I figured why not… I use my iPhone so often for Instagram and Facebook, why not give this little guy a try. I proceeded to flag down one of the blue garbed employees who was ready to check me out. New AppleTV and Olloclip bagged and anxious, I headed to the nearest seating area to tear open and anywise this cute little piece of glass, aluminum, and plastic.

Continue reading Olloclip iPhone Lens

Still Lens Mount Swapping

The DSLR Revolution is in full swing at the moment and everyone is scrambling to get the glass they love on the camera they are stuck with. It doesn’t sound too difficult to simply change a piece of metal, but there are a lot of things to consider when attempting to change a mount. After-all, lenses are a precision tool, naturally. Lens and camera manufacturers all have their own mount system which specifies a flange depth, the distance from the mount flange to the film/sensor plane. When this number is accurate, the image that the lens produces falls on the sensor in perfect focus. Move it forward or backward by the smallest amount (.0005″) and your collimation will be completely off, throwing out your focus marks and destroying the accuracy of a lens, especially a zoom lens. All of the different SLR camera manufacturers had a similar theory and design, but just slightly different numbers for the flange depth. Wouldn’t it be great if they all agreed on a standardized mount that would allow any lens to be used on any camera? Yeah, it would be great. But that’s not how it works.

Another angle of the Leica-R 35mm f/1.4 Summilux with Leitax Eos mount installed.

Continue reading Still Lens Mount Swapping

P+S Technik Steps Up to the F3 Plate

Nikon F3 mount from P+S Technik

I received an email from a gentleman at P+S Technik a few weeks ago informing me of an upcoming product that might interest me. I figured it was regarding their 16SR Digital Mag which I think is awesome! But alas, it was something entirely new. An interchangeable mount system for the Sony F3 which comes equipped with a useless proprietary Sony mount and a standard PL mount. This new system from P+S performs similarly to their older Interchangeable Mount System (IMS) for the RED One. The system works by implementing an intermediate mount to which all of the lens mounts attach to. The mounts themselves are still the same as the previous versions so if you purchased a bunch for your RED One, they will still work with the new Sony intermediate mount from P+S. This is great news to me since the only company to make such an adaptor was MTF Services, and it was only Nikon F mount, and backordered by several months. I’m expecting typical German engineering and reliability, which is critical in something with required tolerances of less than .0005″ (that’s half of a thousandth of an inch). The system will include mount options including Nikon F, Canon Eos, Canon FD, Leica R, Leica M, Panavision, and the completely outdated but artistically trendy BNCR mount. So many options!

Several different mount options field swappable.

This system eliminates the need to purchase a mount adapter for each individual lens you own. Instead, you just buy one mount for your camera and you’re all set. P+S claims the system is “professional solution at a very modest price”. We’ll see about that. P+S will be at booth #64 at Cine Gear, the first weekend of June. I’ll be sure to swing by and get more details for all of you cine gear addicts. See you there!

80mm Fronts for Zeiss ZF.2/ZE

I debated on wether or not to make a new post for this one little item and then I realized that the interwebs are unlimited and if readers don’t want to read an entire post about one little ring, then they wont. 🙂 For those of you who are geeky enough to care about a simple ring, read on.  Continue reading 80mm Fronts for Zeiss ZF.2/ZE

Universal Mount – Canon Eos, But Wait…

Before you get too excited, a “universal mount” in the motion picture industry is not universal. The universal mount is what is used on lenses such as the Cooke 20-100mm or 25-250mm, and more recently on the Angenieux 24-290mm. It’s simply a sub-mount with a threaded rear that allows several different mounts to be attached, most commonly a PL or Panavision mount. These were fairly common on professional zoom lenses in the 80s, 90s, and 00s. Now, wouldn’t it be awesome if you could put a classic Cooke 25-250mm on a Canon 7D? Yes. Yes it would be awesome. Please observe the awesomeness:

Continue reading Universal Mount – Canon Eos, But Wait…

Fotodiox Nikon G – Canon Eos mount adaptor.

I recently gave a thumbs up to the Fotodiox Nikon – Eos adaptor as I found it to be the best combination of quality and price available. This mount allowed a lot of great Nikon glass to be used with Canon cameras with the exception of Nikons latest and greatest “G” series lenses. The G series lenses are Nikons latest effort to reduce the cost and complexity of their line up by stripping the lenses of their manual aperture control. The aperture is controlled by a small mechanical lever in the rear of the lens that interfaces with a similar small lever in a Nikon camera. Without the need for large, calibrated apart rings and fancy mechanisms for transfer a rotation, the cost to the consumer is (theoretically) lowered. Well thats great and all, but this left Nikon’s latest and greatest lenses, such as the 14-24, 24-70, and 70-200mm, at a loss since they required a Nikon camera body to operate the silly little aperture lever in the back of the lens.but now there are several work arounds for this. One of which is the new Fotodiox Nikon G – Eos mount adaptor. Basically the same construction as the current Nik-Eos adaptor, nut with a very small lever that interfaces with the lens as the camera would, but allows the operator to adjust the aperture. While this is a rather crude solution to a problem. While the lever only has travel of about 15mm, and there is no indication of F-stop, it works well enough. I found it rather difficult to obtain an accurate setting and repeat that setting. With a little bit of clever personal modification, it shouldn’t be difficult at all. So… If you have a great Nikon G lens that you love shooting with but want to use it on a 5D or 7D, then this is the mount you are looking for.

More photos after the jump > Continue reading Fotodiox Nikon G – Canon Eos mount adaptor.