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Turning Still Cameras Into PL Mount Movie Makers

It seems like everyone is jumping on the PL mount 7D bandwagon and I have to say it is very unfortunate that the 5D does not have the same energy. All the specs on a PL mounted 5D have shown that the vignette is a big issue. Most cinema lens manufactures like Cooke are vignetting because of the sensor size up to a 65mm. That translates to a 44mm in 35mm motion picture lens, which is not that wide.

11-1 primo

11-1 primo

Ultra Primes are rising to the top by giving the widest field of view compared to the other PL mount lenses; they vignette at a 40mm which translates to a 26.8mm. Not bad.

It is a shame that the Panavision Primo primes that I used to shoot “Act of Valor” are not available anymore. They vignette up to a 35mm, which translates to a 24mm lens. Now that is nice. Their flange depth is so shallow that the Canon 5D, 7D, 1D don’t need to be changed in any way. Now let’s just think about that for a minute. We are taking all of these Canon cameras and chopping them up, moving the sensor, charging the public a fortune to be able to make a PL mount work when the Panavision lenses all work perfectly. They do not void warranties, cut up the lens port area, lose the reflex viewing system, or make the camera unusable with any other mount.

So I have gone on a quest to find the best company to modify these cameras so that you can slap PL mount cinema lens on them.

Hot Rod

HOT ROD Cameras

One dedicated, incredibly intelligent, intimate and personal service fabricator is HOT ROD Cameras, http://www.hotrodcameras.com/. Illya Friedman has been a leader in this technology by first building his PL mount on the GH-1. His mount has the signature Green ring and handles, and are built entirely in the USA.

Canon 7D

Canon 7D

With so many requests to PL mount the 7D, it started entrepreneurial ingenuity all over the world. Illya had already modified one and had it at Sundance for people to see.

Hot Rod Camera

Hot Rod Camera

Denz, Schmidle/FGV www.bandpro.com/309/ and others have started making incredible designs but at a price tag that chokes me, and if a new model comes out, you throw your 7D in the trash or sell it on the Recycler.

7D_PL

7D_PL

HOT ROD Camera’s mount is interchangeable. Illya is forward thinking by trying to look into the future and know that the technology will change. Since the 5D Mark II came out we have seen 2 other cameras come out in quick succession; the 7D and 1D both with different sensor sizes. This is what attracted me to HOT ROD. A mount that could embrace the future, at a price point that is a little more attractive. If you already own a 7D and want HOT ROD Cameras to modify it with a PL mount, it costs $3,250. If you would like a new 7D camera pre-modified to PL mount with all the accessories, it is $4,800. The 7D-PL cameras will be available in our Hurlbut Visuals Moviemaker Kits at Alternative Rentals. Additionally, there are many shops in the LA area renting the 7D-PL. The HOT ROD 7D-PL are the most popular. Here is the short list: Abel Cine Tech, Birns & Sawyer, Camtec, Indie Rentals, Moviola and VER.

Illya is not moving the sensor or altering the electronics of the camera. The only alteration is precision machining the lens mount area to accept the flange depth of all 35mm PL mount lenses. He has partenered with an extended warranty company, so for an extra $200 you have the option of adding a 2-year warranty. The original factory warranty is only 1-year. A new 7D Hot Rodded with a PL mount, the HOT ROD CS (an Arri-standard 15mm lightweight rod support), hand grips and a 2-year warranty all-in is $5,000.  The Denz is $7,700.00 w/camera included. The Schmidle/FGV is $7,500.00 w/camera included. Denz and Schmidle charge extra for rod support, and don’t offer hand grips.  But FGV’s mod has been done with Canon’s cooperation and keeps the cameras one year warranty active.

I talked with Schumacher Camera in Chicago while I was there for Zacuto’s Great Camera Shootout in the middle of May and they said they have 4 of HOT ROD’s 7D mod’s and they cannot keep them in the rental department. They said that the Zeiss super speeds are now flying off the shelves. This is what this revolution will fuel. A recycling of old lens technology that has been collecting dust for years, but when you put it on to these Canon cameras, it takes the camera from a Yugo to a Porsche.

thumbs_top-view-prime2

thumbs_top-view-prime2

thumbs_underslung

thumbs_underslung

Once again this platform being Eco-friendly in a way that we never saw coming. Now all the Cooke zooms that were in the Recycler, are now a entity, just like the Nikon still lenses became hot when the 5D was only automatic.

HOT ROD’s 5D PL mod runs about $3,650.00 and then you supply the camera at $2,400.00. All in $6,050.00. Not many of the other manufacturer’s are jumping on the 5D wagon because of the vignette issue. But, I see it as essential tool for making movies.

There are so many different lenses that have been lost and need a re-birth. Go on a creative and visual pilgrimage. That is what I am doing. All of you have been so generous to share lenses that inspire you and I have not kept up with all of your brilliant suggestions. I am only one person with a very full plate, so  I have hired a researcher at Hurlbut Visuals, to acquire these lenses. Meet Julien. He can be reached at Julien@hurlbutvisuals.com. Please send him all of your amazing creative lens ideas that you have used that make you jump up and say, ” I want to see that on the big screen.” Flood him with information please, educate him and we will do our best to deliver. He is a very smart film student that wants to be a cinematographer and a director. I love filmmakers with a passion for learning. The kid in a candy shop energy; when I see that fire, I throw gasoline on it.

So I ask all of you who have shared their lenses of choice to blast Julien with a barrage of information. He is there for you.

BRING IT ON!!!!

Author: Shane

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48 Comments

  1. I’m glad you’re giving Illya a plug on your blog…I met him at Createsphere and talked to him at the Venice meet up with Philip and all I can say about this guy’s work is that it’s professional and thorough. I looked at the camera up close and you can tell he took the time to make sure everything was done proper.

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  2. Hey shane

    just a quick question with regard to the Primo lenses you used on the 5d for act of valor: you said that cameras didn’t neeed changing in any way but presumably the PV fitting on the primos didn’t fit straight onto the camera mount? Were those lenses adapted for DSLR use or am i missing something?!

    Also the fact “They vignette up to a 35mm” was with regard to the 5d wasn’t it?

    Thanks for the blog – as someone who is wrestling with whether to get a 5D for it’s better sensor or a 7D for it’s cinema lens capability* I’m finding your words very helpful!

    cheers!

    *Or waiting/hoping that lens manufacturers bring out 5D friendly versions of at least some of their cinema lenses (come on Cooke!) to be more accurate.

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    • Naresh, the Panavision flange depth is a perfect fit for the Canon camera, so all Panavision needed to build was the mount. You do not have to alter the camera in any way other than making a mount like a nikon to Canon adapter. The vignette issue is because the 5D sensor is so large that it vignettes up to a 35mm Cinema Prime on a Primo Panavision lens, but with the PL mount on a 5D, the vignette is not consistent depending on the lens manufacturer. Cooke vignettes up to a 65mm, Ultra Primes to a 40mm, Zeiss Master Primes to a 50mm. I am looking into these retrofitted Vista Vision Lenses that Dalsa had made back when that camera looked like it was going to happen. They cover the whole sensor and are Leica Glass, the best in my experience.

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  3. So are you saying that the Panavision Lenses are actually Leica Glass on the inside? If that is correct and I havent read this wrong, do Leica make an equivalent lens in still or Cine range???

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    • shaun newcombe, yes Panavision Primos are Leica glass, they rock. They make the R series still lenses, along with a Novoflex adapter will rock. Lecia just made their official debut in the cinema lens market, but they will not be available until September and only through Otto Nemenz.

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  4. Fantastic info Shane. I’m looking forward to seeing more info on different lenses.

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  5. That’s great Shane thanks.

    Presumably then the only way to get Primos onto the 5D would be to rent a panavised version of the camera from panavision?

    That’s a fantastic idea re the vista vision lenses Shane! I’d love to hear what comes of it. Even better if there’s somehow a UK rental source (I’ll file that under optimistic . . . ). Be great just know that it’s possible – might get some people thinking. Any ideas how I could track down a UK rental source of the zeiss compact primes 2?

    Thanks again

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  6. Hi Shane,
    Thanks for continuing to push the technology, and for keeping us all informed. The world needs more mad scientists and passionate innovators.

    Also, thanks for the mention of the FGV 7D. I just wanted to note two things on that camera. One, street price is $7500 (still above the Hot Rod mod). Two, the FGV mod is done in conjunction with Canon and thus maintains the 1-year warranty.

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    • Seth, copy that I will alter the blog post right now. Thanks for that info.

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  7. dear shane
    what about using the mbf pl adapter and using the Angénieux optimo 15-40mm pl mount zoom?

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    • kristoffer akselbo, never heard of it, can you tell more. Thanks

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  8. Hi Shane – great info as always. Being a huge alternate lens fan, I am always interested in what you have to say regarding available options.

    I am actually considering Illya’s 5D-PL mod for my #2 5D. It would be nice to compare my Duclos modded Leica R primes with Leica’s cine lenses and now, the Primos.

    Please keep up the blazing pace you’ve set in promoting HDSLRs as a viable tool for filmmaking.

    Cheers,

    Eric
    @zeiss_shooter on twitter

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    • Eric Diosay, thank you so much for your kind words, I just purchased 2 5D PL mods and 2 7D PL mods from Hot Rod. Hey if you purchase that from Illya, use my name and you will get a little discount.

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  9. Will do! Thanks, Shane =)

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  10. hej shane, I know you favor the Leica R lenses, how much ahead are those lenses compared to the Canon L or Zeiss ZE lenses? And if you had to choose only 3 leica r lenses which ones would you take?

    thanks
    Jorn

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  11. Shane, love this post, just FYI jeff at west cost cine video has a set of Dalsa 4k’s for sale at the moment, their hard to come across so just passing on the info.

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    • Jay Gannon, thank you so much. I will check that out.

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  12. Hi Shane, I am interested to know if you have experienced any hdmi problems with the 5DII, the mini hdmi port on the camera would drop in and out with any slight movement of the cable [despite it being rigged and supported to take strain off the port]. So I sent it back to Canon for repairs where they ripped the guts out of it and replaced the port and main board. I just got it back today and it still drops in and out, though not quite as sensitive as before. Should I send this back again or is it a common problem?

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    • Justin Cerato, this is the weakest part of this camera. Canon had no idea that this camera would be so successful. They put a cheesy mini HDMI and I have the same problem. I have tried sending it back, along with new cables. They need to come out with a way to screw the cable into the camera and monitor, that way making it is very much like a DVI connector. I am sorry you had that happen but I am right along with you dealing with this kind of thing everyday.

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  13. I meant to say the signal drops in and out when using a variety of different cables.

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  14. I don’t have the money for PL lenses, by far, but anyway, I just thought I could point out that it would be much easier to fit PL lenses on the micro four thirds body of the panasonic GH1…

    which leads me where I wanted to go: did you check the GH1 hack that Philip Bloom posted about last week? that little monster of a camera is taking mud-free 32mbps AVCHD and 70mbps MJPEG with 4:2:2 now, without the aliasing and moire that come from line skipping

    it doesn’t seem to be production-ready just yet, but it’s like having a preproduction sample of the next generation of DSLRs

    this particular comparison is stunning:
    http://www.dvxuser.com/V6/showthread.php?t=213082&page=26

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    • NormanBates, I feel if you want your camera to look like video and not film use the GH-1

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  15. hey Shane,

    I need a bit of advice, I tested my new Canon 5D last week together with my Zeiss Contax and Medium format Zeiss lenses for my upcoming project. Everything looks really great accept that I in some shots get line flickering. Its not much but you decently notice it. It looks like this phenomena only appears when a very thin white line crosses a darker background. examples in my case would be, the actors thin gray/white hair.

    I try to setup the camera as much as I could following your advices you have on this blog, sharpness down, flat picture style, fast compact flash cards etc.

    Did you ever get line flickering ? How could I avoid it?

    If you want I could email/post a vimeo link with the footage as well.

    Thanks for having this wonderful blog.

    regards
    Jorn

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    • jorn, That sounds like you have it on NTSC, are you in Europe? You should be on PAL and shooting 25fps. Some fluorescent lights will give you line flicker if the ballasts are old, also Metal Halide Street lights. I had that happen in Dubai. I could not shoot with the existing flo’s, I had to pick another area that did not flicker. You are so welcome, thank you for your support.

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  16. Shane thanks for the great website and all the hard work with these cameras. I was wondering about the HDMI port support thing you are using. I would love to get one. Who makes it, where can I get it? Thanks again.

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    • rroocckkyy, You are so welcome my friend, which support are you describing?

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  17. Hej Shane, a while back a ask for your advice with my line flickering problem at least I call it like that, you suggested that I should be on PAL and 25fps which I was.

    have a look at the video I put up temporary:

    http://vimeo.com/13946079

    there is a shift in color to blue on the needles in the middle as well as the flicker.

    do you have any advice how to avoid this effect?

    thanks for your help and support!
    regards
    Jorn

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    • jorn, I took a look at your video, because the camera skips every other line when recording to the CMOS sensor, when you get very fine lines close together like those needles you get the moire’ effect. It is missing the information in between the scan lines so it vibrates with a weird multi-colored rainbow effect, which is moire’. There are some anti-moire’ filters http://caprockdev.com/antimoire.htm, but I have tested them and they just mainly soften the image. Here is some more info. about them. http://www.dvxuser.com/V6/showthread.php?t=200980. Test, test, test is my motto.

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  18. thank you so much for your help. I will do some more testing.

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  19. Sorry for not being clear about the part I was speaking of. It looks like you have some sort of support on the left side of the camera that would maybe support the HDMI cable. Maybe It just looked like that from one of the pictures. I am in the middle of my second feature on the canon DSLR [7 and 5] and have had troubles with that port quite a bit. Seems like some sort of guard for the port would be good.

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    • rroocckkyy, I agree. We tried cable supports, cable clamps, everything. I ripped the mini HDMI port out of about 7 cameras when we first started but have not since we employed this protocol. Keep it up on the features, sweet. You are giving the revolution its fire, its flame and I thank you.

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  20. Thanks Shane. So where did you get the one on the camera in the first picture in this post? I can see it has a name on it but can’t read it. Just wondering who makes this thing.

    It looks like you have some sort of support on the left side of the camera that would maybe support the HDMI cable.

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    • rroocckkyy, you are welcome, that is a really right stuff bracket that is L-shaped and cradles the camera with a quick release mechanism. This lets us snap on and off into different configurations quickly. It does not support the mini HDMI connector.

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  21. I have one PL mount zoom lens that I would like use on an unconverted 7D. Is there an adapter you’d recommend to adapt the PL lens to a Cannon mount, instead of adapting the camera to a PL mount?

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    • Tim, I have not found a PL modification that doesn’t require altering the camera and removing the mirror.

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  22. hello shane….have you tried the panasonic AF100?? maybe with the hot rod?? or with the novoflex and zeiss zf.2 lenses???

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    • jean guerra, that camera is so not there yet. Stick with the Canon arsenal. There is nothing out there coming close yet.

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  23. I just ordred the Fotodiox PL-EOS adapter $250 now I need to find a lens to test with. When I do I’ll let you know how it works.

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    • I also tried one of those Fotodiox PL mount, it was a total piece of crap. And damaged the mount on my camera! Let the buyer beware, don’t skimp out on your PL mount, you are asking for trouble.

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  24. Hi Shane!
    I`m exhausted of doing research and trying to develop a “rigth way” to add a PL or canon mount kit Zeiss CP.2 to 5DMk II gear, and dont lose the option to share these lenses with other cameras.
    I can`t choose mod camera or PL to canon Eos adapter, Denz looks great but its prices are too high, Hot Rod seems better option and this guys…kcwtechnica.com solution? they are doing an stainless steel adapter so I no need to do a surgery camera body!
    Whats the right track?
    thks a lot from Argentina!

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    • Arturo, none of them are a good option. I feel the same way you do, that is why I went with Panavision which you do not need to do any surgery on the camera body. Hot Rod is cheaper but he is mounting to the plastic body and no a piece of metal like the Denz.

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  25. I have doing hours of research on the best adaptor for the Carl Zeiss Cp2 pl to fit my 5D, and agree the Hot Rod Mount looks to be the best but I have 2 5d and 2 7ds I can’t afford to buy 4mods! I need help bad,. I have this great glass and can’t use it..ive searched eBay and email back n 4th and NONE. Of those cheap mounts fits the new cp2 glass, nowhere.. I even thought about converting the pl to eos but bh only have limited mounts to sell!,, uuuuuuurrrgggghhhh!

    I need help,,,!,?

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