Over the past few years, many companies have brought to market lens mount adapters. Some of these adapters are simply machined rings that allow for one type of lens’ flanges to fit onto another manufacturer’s camera body. Most of these simple adapters work very well for the most part. Often you will run into a lower quality adapter ring that has sloppy milling specs. This usually leads to the adapter not locking onto the lens and / or the camera body properly. Lower tolerances allow for shifting or twisting of the lens while in operation. Not that big of an issue while taking stills, however, this shifting can show up in a moving pictures shot.
Price is often a quick give away as to the performance of the adapter Even within a well-known manufacturer’s brand, you will often find at least two price points for what seems to be the same flange adapter. The higher performance adapters — meaning a higher milling spec is reached — will often be grouped under a “PRO” banner.
Again, it’s a good thing to have different price point offerings provided. If you’re just trying to take vintage looking stills with that old set of uncoated M42 threaded lenses your granddad forgot in the bottom of the foot locker thirty years ago, then the cheaper rings will give you the best deal for your money. On the other hand, if you want those Nikon D series 2.8 zooms to mount on your Canon 5D Mk. III just to give your client the wow factor of the Nikon “look” or you like the fact that the matte black Nikon lens barrels give your camera the complete movie making machine vibe, you’re gonna need to step up to the “PRO” series of adapters.
The other type of lens adapters also add a glass element to compensate for imaging size differences between what the lens was designed to cover and the sensor size on your camera body. These adapters are always a lot more expensive and usually have issues with light loss, color shifting, or softness due to the poor quality of the corrective glass element.
One of the best companies I have found for the manufacture of all types of adapters is MTF Services Ltd. Based out of the UK since 1988, this company’s team consists of optical engineers and designers with over 20 years of experience.
I recently was able to try out one of their well-crafted adapters. Sitting on my lens shelf at the office is one of the best wide-angle zoom lenses ever produced: a Fujinon 4.5-60mm zoom with Macro, an f/stop of 1.8 and a built in 2x extender. This lens was at the top of its game in the world of 2/3rd-inch HD glass. I believe at the time of introduction it was listed around $25,000. It’s a sharp lens with great on-axis tracking throughout the zoom range, little to no breathing during focusing, and very well sealed against the elements. Fuji made this zoom in both a Cine style and an ENG style with a variable-speed zoom motor housing. My Fuji also comes with a speed control knob for the motor and the ability to preset zoom range stopping points.
So why has it been just sitting on my shelf for the past three years? The world is no longer in love with the B4 mount 2/3rd-inch imager. It’s all about Super 35mm or larger CMOS chips with much greater ISO range.
So here is where the fun begins: MTF makes a B4 2/3 to Canon EF adapter. Add the custom Fishcer 12-pin to D-tap cable and you have a rig that will provide you with a fully motorized lens giving S35 coverage along with a zoom range from 11mm to 148mm.
The adapter does require you to have a 2/3rd-inch lens with a built-in 2x. The 2x engaged along with the additional mild correction of the adapter provides you with the complete coverage of an S35 frame. You will have 2.5 stops of light loss; however, with the ISO range of most cameras today this is not that much of an issue. It makes the f/1.8 into an f/4. In a hand held run-and-gun shooting situation this is still more than enough f/stop for your shallow DoF setups.
MTF’s adapter really excels at allowing consistent zooms at any speed that also can hold focus throughout the zoom range. This is where the adapter really shows it’s value. During testing, we were able to consistently zoom to compose the frame, focus, and then quickly zoom to compose another shot and still be in focus. I don’t care who you are, you would not be able to follow quick action shots and stay in focus with any DSLR style zoom lens with the same consistency as this adapter paired along with a quality B4 zoom.
This online footage by Michael Martin online (Vimeo player embedded below) was shot with the Canon C300 using EOS match picture profile and at 29.97 frames per second.
The MTF adapter works on both Sony E mount or Canon EF mount for coverage of S35 or APS-C sized sensors. It accommodates a lot of cameras, from the Sony NEX5 up to the CineAlta F3 and F5, as well as the Canon EOS 7D up to the Cinema EOS C100 and 300s.
Please feel free to go to the following links to learn more about the adapter and to see a very short segment of some of the shots we got using the MTF adapter: ADD LINKS
Special thanks to the guys at ZGC for sending us this MTF adapter for review. Please take a look at all of the adapters that MTF manufactures on their U.S. distributor’s site at www.ZGC.com.
FTC 16 CFR 255 Disclaimer: ZGC is a trusted DV Info Net sponsor. ZGC provided the author of this article with a one-week loan of the product, which was then promptly returned to ZGC.
About the Author
After almost two decades as Vice President of Production Services for the largest rental facility in central Texas, Craig Chartier has returned to his first passion as Director of Photography. Craig was an early adopter of full frame 4K imaging securing the very first RED One camera delivered in the state of Texas. Recently completing two feature films slated for release later this year, Craig continues to be on the forefront in utilizing the current generation of high definition acquisition. He has served on film festival panels and guest lectured at college film courses.