When you work with an adapted lens, you need to test it out so you know not only what to expect when working with it, but also how footage shot with it looks. What do you need to be aware of when testing an adapted lens? In this movie, authors Richard Harrington and James Ball discuss things to keep in mind when testing an adapted lens.
- Let's point out some of the things to look for as you are working with lens adaptors and adaptive lenses. First off is to go with what I have here. This is one from Novaflex and it's getting into a little bit more expensive about a 140 dollar range. And what's nice here is, you know, you can see this particular lens has no controls other than focus. So I can manually focus but, other than making changes to shutter speed, I couldn't normally make adjustments. There's no aperturing.
But this one adds a unique benefit. So, if we were to put this on a shutter speed like video, a 60th of a second, a common shutter speed for video, I've got to dial here that I could use to adjust the aperture on the camera, until I achieve proper exposure. Which is kind of cool. So it's a physical ring, and it is giving us that aperture control as such. Which is kind of awesome that they've compensated for that, but, hey you jump up an about a 100 bucks price range to get it, right? - Well, but consider the savings you're getting being able to take all of your non-aperture ring, I'm a Cannon guy right? So all my lenses, my two dozen lenses don't have apertures on them.
So if I can invest in a slightly more expensive adaptor like a Metabone Speed Booster or that one, and I can use the aperture function either on the adapter or in the camera if they're talking to each other, that's money well spent. - But they're very intelligent, they actually will often adjust the things to work together. For example, they've successfully managed to make Cannon lenses talk to Sony cameras. So I know you've been playing a little bit with the Sony A7 series if the idea of, wow, I can put this adapter on in all of my Cannon glass will have autofocus capability and I can use my command dials and make all of my lens adjustments, that's money well saved really, isn't it? - Yeah, and you know, when I travel or when I'm doing a bigger project, it becomes very economical to carry one of those mounts with me all the time.
If I can only afford to rent x number of lenses at a premium quality like a cinema lens, I'm going to supplement the rest of my lens needs with cheaper lenses, maybe in the extreme ranges of focal length, like a telephoto and a tilt shift. And then I can use those cheaper lenses, which I already own, with one of these adapters. - And, one other thing that stands out is certain lens manufacturers, for example, I believe these CP Primes can actually be swapped out. They make it that the back of the lenses can be changed.
So, if you were a director of photography, and you are working on PL jobs and EF jobs, you can actually convert the lens yourself, right? - Right, so as Ice makes a big deal with their zooms and their primes, these compact lenses of being able to change out the mount. And so this is a PL mount, but you can change it out to EF, I think Nikon. It's a shop job usually, or you can do it if you own the lenses. And then they use these things called Shims, which are very thin waver-like layers that will help you dial in the measurement of that distance between the sensor and the back element of the lens, because they're all different, right? So when you have a hard-mount lens like this, you can't really change the adapter, but you change the lens mount.
You change that distance when you change the mount. - When you got to these adapted lens situations, things are never perfect. This is always a compromise. It's quite possible with the speed booster to get effective communication. But you are starting to cross the streams in many instances. You're mixing different brands and different working situations. Jim, there's actually an ability to go into a professional shop, maybe ones where they rent or service lenses and do really precise tests, right? - Yes, when you're trying to decide how much money you want to spend on a lens or a collection of lenses, everybody wants the best.
But a lot of times you got to compromise and decide what's enough to get the job done. So after you're considering the kind of camera you're using, where it's going to be exhibited, whether it's the web or a 40 foot size movie screen, you can sort of dictate and test lenses according to your needs. And, testing usually cheaper lenses to see if they match more expensive lenses, sometimes will put filters on the sharper lenses to help them match older vintage lenses or zooms. - Yeah, and what you can also do is using specialized equipment, get these lenses tested.
Lot of lens rental companies will do this as well. Or, you can even do a more old school method of just taking a piece of news paper, tacking it up on the wall, and seeing how sharp things are. Take some photos, and can you read the news print? This is a good test to see if it's actually achieving that critical focus. We're also doing things here, taking a look at focus picking, we're using a small monitor here. And it makes it easy as I make adjustments there. I can actually see that it does achieve critical focus by finding edge detection using that on the monitor.
So, there are lots of different methods to check this. The key is that, hitting the button, it wont engage in auto focus. So, if you're used to using auto focus capabilities on a lens, you're not going to have that with most adapted lenses, unless you're using one of those speed booster type ones that allows for seamless communication between lens and camera body. - In order to gain more confidence in an adaptive lens, your adapter and your lens for that matter, specially when you're talking about precision focus, like one of these cinema lenses that actually has nice spacing and precision focus distances between each marking, you want to have something that can help you really feel confident.
And I carry around these Seemon star charts which are printable off the Internet, very easily. You can see Arri prints this one out. This actually came from my old film instruction manual for one of my old film cameras, so they're pretty common, they've been around for a while. But these things will enable you to see a focus snap in really quickly while all the lines will converge right at the center, when you see that center of the Seemon star snap into focus, you know that that focus that you've taped out to that distance on the lens is exactly right.
- So, what we can actually do there Jim, this has a distance mark of say, 24 inches or two feet. I could put the camera and put it two feet away from that and adjust and know that while that actually is in focus, these marks are accurate. Or maybe with the adapter, it's not quite accurate and you might have to adjust those marks slightly. - Yeah, it's all about having confidence in your lenses and your camera system. I mean the print, the newspaper and sometimes a dollar bill also works in a pinch. But these things you'll find will actually help you check everything much faster, specially when your eyes are tired or it's a really wide lens.
Wide lenses are hard to see newspaper print when they're six or eight feet away. So this thing will snap right in sharp from a further distance away, it's just easier to do.
In this course, Rich Harrington joins cinematographer James Ball for a detailed look at the pros and cons of using prime lenses for both photography and video projects. Together, they look at practical implications of shooting with primes as well as creative opportunities and challenges.
- Understanding prime lenses
- Adapting lenses to specific cameras
- Identifying benefits and challenges when working with prime lenses
- Working with specialty prime lenses: macro and Lomography lenses
- Exploring options with a shallow depth of field
- Strategies for success with prime lenses