35mm adapters: DIY vs. The Big Boys (Brevis, Letus, Redrock, etc.) at DVinfo.net

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Old March 29th, 2008, 06:37 PM   #1
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35mm adapters: DIY vs. The Big Boys (Brevis, Letus, Redrock, etc.)

What are the major differences between a DIY 35mm adapter and one from the big boys? What makes the models different? Is it possible for a DIY adapter to be just as good and professional?
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Old March 29th, 2008, 06:48 PM   #2
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The difference between most DIY and the benchmark brands is that of cost. This generally introduces some compromises as third party components, sometimes never designed for the purpose are hacked or modified to work in an adaptor.

There are also quality issues in some home-build home-designs again related to the cost.

Theres a difference between the precision achieveable between a fully equipped factory workshop and the kitchen table with a newpaper to stop scratching the furniture and a set of screwdrivers and a paring knife to cut the bits of plastic.

My subjective impression is that home-builds can get within the last 15% of where the "big boys" you refer to are at.

Last edited by Bob Hart; March 29th, 2008 at 06:50 PM. Reason: errors
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Old March 30th, 2008, 10:10 AM   #3
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So... where is the price difference? If we purchase the $1k plus adapters... are we mostly paying for the name? Are the prices actually justified by certain parts? Which parts are the most important as far as quality goes?
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Old March 30th, 2008, 06:20 PM   #4
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it's funny because adapters were easily available for $500 about a year or more ago. now it's insanely marked up.

besides the achromat, you can build one with the same quality, not the same features, for 1/4 of what they are charging.
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Old March 30th, 2008, 06:23 PM   #5
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Build quality is a lot of what you are paying for. The Brevis, for example, is custom-machined and fits together solidly. It's guaranteed to work and I don't see it breaking for many, many years. My DIY builds, well...the mount is held on by superglue...
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Old April 1st, 2008, 03:54 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Ben Winter View Post
Build quality is a lot of what you are paying for. The Brevis, for example, is custom-machined and fits together solidly. It's guaranteed to work and I don't see it breaking for many, many years. My DIY builds, well...the mount is held on by superglue...
Its just not the build quality, you're paying for a lot of R&D. The Brevis has several ground glasses, the Letus has a custom prism, the SG has a custom ground glass. 1500 grit or a Nikon D ggis not gonna give you the same result in regards to light loss, and a condensor from a bargain optical place won''t eliminate edge to edge issues you'll encounter. By the time you've spent money testing configurations, you have spent 800 bucks. And hell you may as well set up shop and sell them too.
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Old April 1st, 2008, 09:55 PM   #7
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Don't forget that these so called "Big Boys" have fourms with several users (with every type of camcorder out there), that are constantly problem solving and figuring out tricks and tips that are passed directly on to the newest users/owners. When you have a 35mm adapter like these, I think that all of the satisfaction comes only "after" learning to use it properly which mostly comes from the user support forums. The more users on those forums, the better, in my opinion. Some DIY adapters may have forums but do they have the numbers when it comes to other users/owners posting their problems and experiences. That is worth a lot. With a DIY, you might feel like you are all by yourself sometimes. First and foremost, you have to assemble it correctly. And if you're handy enough to get that part correct, then you have to learn to use it properly.

Last edited by Steve Witt; April 1st, 2008 at 10:25 PM. Reason: :)
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Old April 3rd, 2008, 03:16 PM   #8
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their R&D is hardly worth the price they put on it. if you just read these threads from years ago, you can see where their so called R&D came from. of course, this is a matter of opinion. the only thing good about "big boy" adapters is their adapter housing, mainly the lex and brevis. redrock, sg, are basically a project box. people will say, after all the money you spent on making your own, you could've just bought one. which, once again, to me, is garbage.

but he's referring to if you can make a DIY just as good. I say yes, you can. If you have some sort of trade skils and patience. you can build one just as good.
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Old April 3rd, 2008, 07:28 PM   #9
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AGUS35. APVE. (In AU$). An appliance which yields about 90% of optimum image quality. Operator rating, about 5 out of 10.


2 x 160mm x 3mm pipe caps - $22-00.
1 x 1M of scrap sewer pipe. - Nil.
2 x 90degree prisms - $170-00.
1 x Century Optics 4+ 58mm achromtic dioptre - $320-00 landed.
1 x Ohara raw cut 150mm glass disk - $50-00. plus approx 8 hours to figure, polish and finish 5 micron face.
1 x wrecked CD player off roadside collection.
1 x Nikon mount and screws. - Borrow off camera - about $70-00 to buy with screws.
1 x panel of phenolic board. - $75-00.
Various fasteners, springs, adhesives and paint - $58-00.

Tooling. Not charged out. - Hacksaw, triming knife, screwdriver, paintbrush, bathroom sealer, electric drill, workbench, vice, vertical mill, home-made glass disk figuring-polishing machine, stock of grinding and polishing materials.

Approx $765-00. (Don't take my word for it as I am a failure in math).

22+ x hours of hand-build and finishing in real time. - How much are you prepared to let your labour go for?

Last edited by Bob Hart; April 3rd, 2008 at 07:37 PM. Reason: error
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Old April 3rd, 2008, 11:06 PM   #10
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Wow, Bob. I hate to say it, but you're ripping yourself off when it comes to your adapter. I've built at least 3, Static, spinning and vibrating....none of them come close to your price.

I'll just give a rough idea.

1x achromat 8x. As good as the century optics=$36.00 guy who makes amazing glass over seas for a fraction of what century optics would charge.
2x asian space(adapter housing)=$20.00
1x gg=free, depending on your source. it's a light shaping diffuser, which can be found in any cell phone or lcd screen.
1x vibrating holder(jetset)=$66.00
1x battery and battery holder=$5.00
1x nikon mount, or use a canon mount=$32.00

There are various step up and step down rings you'll need, give or take, probably the most $20.00. So, that's just the vibrating design. You can use any GG you want with that model. Even a frosted piece of plastic.

All I need is a soldering gun. To put that one together.

I'm not flipping the adapter, as most of the adapters before they were flipped were above $700 to begin with.

I used a calculator and it turned out to be big whopping $179.0 USD - $243 AUD Which yields some fantastic results. Not including shipping.

If you want, I can even go over the parts list for the spinner and it's even cheaper. And static, way cheaper. Although I do need a drill press for the spinner, which I happen to know someone who has one. I only work 4days a week so I have a free 24hours worth of labor I can put out too. It's not like these adapter builders and manufacturing cars here. It's simple DIY if you really have the intelligence to put together lego's you can build an adapter for a fraction of the cost. But hey, that's my look at it. Everyone sees things differently.
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Old April 4th, 2008, 06:42 AM   #11
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Rich.


I guess I am a glutton for punishment.

I was doing this well before some of the cheaper alternative component sources became more well known or conveniently accessable from here. It is great to be wise after the event. I would likely have sourced cheaper if I had taken it on more recently.

My adaptor is a flip adaptor, therefore some added cost for prisms.

My disk design is an achilles heel for costs. However it was the course I chose in the chase for best resolution I could get with minimal artifacts.

With a 125mm AO5 grind optical glass disk, It is capable of shutter speeds up to 1/400th second if I run the disk faster and does not look bad at 1500rpm anyway. How does the Jetset, Letus35, Brevis and Mini35 look in this circumstance?

It is good for better than 862 TV lines of horizontal resolution.

My disk is slightly backpolished for better low-light therefore a bit of ghosting can occur under certain lighting conditions, a personal preference made on the balance of conveniences.

The close-coupled version loses a bit of resolution (24mm wide image versus 28mm wide image) but can be operated handheld with little more discomfort than the Z1 on its own without adaptor.
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Old April 4th, 2008, 09:04 AM   #12
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I have started a thread here
http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthread.php?t=116991
so you can see shopping list for HV20 specific adapter. This is most of the parts you need and probably very usable for other cameras too. This weekend I will post rest of it so you decide is it worth to do it you self.
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Old April 4th, 2008, 03:40 PM   #13
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Bob you basically answered the mans question who started this thread. It is possible to make a DIY adapter just as good as the big boys....from the sound of, if you put effort and time, even better. The way you described your adapter.

I'll agree, from when you built yours till now, prices are incredibly cheaper and built differently. I've read probably all the same threads you have when it comes to DIY adapters, and someone is always making newer and better designs. Hell, there are adapters using plastic grocery bags, which ultimately led to the discovery of Polycarbonate film screens, aka Light Shaping Diffusers. Oscar, to Jim, to Daniel making wax screens. My point, is that, if you really think you have the ability, you can most definitely make a DIY, just as good as the so called big boys, if not better. Remember just about these adapters were DIY. Their R&D came from the boards.
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Old April 4th, 2008, 06:43 PM   #14
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The ultimate test of any adaptor is whether one can have the confidence to hang the resources of an entire movie project upon it working properly through the whole shoot.

Two music videos and fourteen (relatively troublefree) hours of behind the scenes footage of local projects later, I yet have to confess, I would not committ a project to my adaptor.

The principle R&D posted here was, let's face it, essentially reverse engineering of P+S and Movietube products. This does not detract from the efforts of contributions of anyone.

It has been interesting to see just how close to the commercial products the specifications have shaken down to.

Equally interesting has been P+S Technik's response with the Mini35 "Compact", to the camera and software industries' accommodation of the simpler adaptors by enabling image flip in-camera, in post and to the superior lower light loss of some of the alternative adaptors.

The whole groundglass image relay thing apparently goes back to the mid fifties when a design was made in the UK for 35mm relay to broadcast television cameras. This was posted on a cinemtographer's website.
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Old April 4th, 2008, 09:46 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Bob Hart View Post
The ultimate test of any adaptor is whether one can have the confidence to hang the resources of an entire movie project upon it working properly through the whole shoot.
If that's the line in the sand, then I'd say the only winning adapter is the one you get from a rental house which has replacement equipment ready to go. Perhaps the P+S Technik is an exception, but this thread is about adapters in the $1000-$1500 range.

The brand new Brevis we used last summer certainly wasn't up to the challenge of "working properly throughout the whole shoot" and forums like these and others are rife with complaints and problems with the adapters from the so-called "big boys".

Rich has hit the nail on the head in this thread.
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