November 10, 2010

Redrock Micro Releases M3 35mm Lens Adapter. Does Anyone Still Use a 35mm Adapter?

Redrock Micro has launched their M3 35mm Lens Adapter, billed as "the definitive 35mm lens adapter for achieving remarkable film look with your existing video camera." However, the first question that comes to my mind is why anyone would spend $1,320 on a 35mm lens adapter when the same amount of money could get you a quality DSLR with an actual large sensor (like, say, the Canon 60D). No matter how good a 35mm adapter is, it is not going to offer you the low-light sensitivity of a true large sensor. Seeing this reasoning, Redrock has attempted to answer this HDSLR question:

The popularity wave of HDSLR cameras has come with a realization these cameras come with a host of shortcomings. Among them, lack of good integrated audio, a limited recording codec, lack of full manual controls, and rolling shutter issues. Combined with a video camera, the M3 delivers the highly desired HDSLR “film look” while eliminating the drawbacks of HDSLR cameras. An M3 rig and HDSLR cameras can be used together for a high quality multi-camera solution that brings the best of both worlds together in an incredible affordable package.

If you're in the market for a 35mm adapter (to me, the rolling shutter issue is the chief advantage of a video camera/35mm adapter combo over a DSLR), the M3 might be worth a look.

Link: Redrock M3
[via DV Culture]

Your Comment

19 Comments

One of the other issues with these setups, in which a HDSLR FAR outshines, is the loss of a number of stops due to 15 glass elements (exaggerating) in front of the sensor. The only 35mm adapter that ever made sense to me was for the Canon XL series, because you didn't have to deal with the extra glass from a built in lens.

November 10, 2010

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DSLRs completely fall apart in color grading and also don't hold up very well directly compared to a prosumer camera on a larger screen. A camera like the EX1 pushes way more resolution - and it shows.

You can also get real monitoring when using a real camera. I can pull actual 1080 from the display out - which for a "full frame" sensor, makes getting focus that much easier. A 5D is next to impossible to pull focus when shallow, but with a real monitor and an EX1 & lens adapter, it's very possible and in fact offers no excuse to miss focus - especially when projected on a larger screen.

Light loss is also minimal, it's as low as they say it is. It you're lighting a project the way it's supposed to be lit, you're going to have enough light.

As far as who needs this - I think it's somewhere between real professionals and cheap DIYers. People who know enough about codecs and grading and resolution - and intend on showing on a bigger screen.

For example, the camera that it is paired with shoots 50mbps 4:2:2. It's as good a codec as you could want in that price range.

Also on a side note - for people who want to shoot shallow interviews professionally for more than 10 minutes at a time - or who are working with corporate people - it helps when you have a larger profile rig - even if it's not necessarily better. First impressions are everything to people who know nothing.

November 10, 2010

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Joe

All good points, Joe. After shooting on a HVX/Letus combo rig and switching to a DSLR, I personally have no desire to go back, but every shooter has different needs. Thanks for the points.

November 10, 2010

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avatar
Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

I probably would have felt the same as you, Koo, had I not been using the EX1 with the Letus. The jump in quality from the HVX to the EX1 is not negligible. I think the EX1/3 and the new XF300 series cameras with adapters are really the only good alternatives to DSLRs at the moment if you want to move up in the quality control food chain. Anything below that and your sensor or your codec is crippled beyond what it needs to be to offset the differences.

November 10, 2010

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Joe

Yeah sorry Joe, I have to disagree with some of your statements big-time. Having just this week finished color timing our latest feature film of which over 90% was shot with 7D's color timing can be a challenge but in no way does the footage "fall apart". In fact the worst looking shots in the show by far are a few EX3 shots we had. The have no filmic quality at all and I had to work extra hard to make them blend with the 7D shots. Also, all our water photography was done using HVX200's in housings and this too did not hold up even close to the 7D footage in color timing. The Canon DSLR just handle light and skin better than any digital camera I ever seen and they're only gonna get better.

I think it all depends on how you treat the footage in post maybe experience level but I would never consider any adpatper based rig over a DSLR. We're really looking forward, like a lot of folks, to the AF100 - that really looks like the best of both worlds - filmic look and DOF along with all the camcorder goodies we love.

November 10, 2010

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Well I did just what you did, except I shot 90% with an EX1 and Letus and the other 10% was 7D footage. They are absolutely not comparable in resolution or in their codecs. It's a night and day difference if the two are held up side by side. The 7D footage looks blocky and has loads of false detail - which is the only way you're seeing them as comparable.

I think anyone would have trouble trying to match three separate and completely different codecs together.

The things you mentioned are also purely subjective. Saying the EX1 has no filmic quality is like saying the RED has no filmic quality. Each camera has its own specific look and obviously we may prefer one over the other, but what I was merely stating is that the EX1 does, for a fact, handle color timing and grading far better than any of the Canons. This is not just in terms of depth - but it's also in noise. The 7D becomes noisy almost immediately when it is color graded, which I have not found with the EX1.

The problem with this whole argument, is that if you really want, you can pull 4:2:2 nearly uncompressed video out of an EX1 and with a 7D we're stuck with what we started with. I've seen plenty of footage shot with a nanoflash and an EX1 to confirm that for me. The key is to start with a clean slate when you're color grading or timing, and with the Canons, it's impossible to do so. You're already starting with a messy slate.

November 10, 2010

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Joe

We did not use an adapter on the EX3 for the shots that are in this show so there may be the difference. I'll agree that the Canon codec is the single biggest weakness but I also believe the 35mb XDCAM codec is also weak. It also probably depends on how either codec is handled in post. As far as filmic quality - I have not seen any digital camcorder with or without an adapter that can shoot colors and skin in a more filmic way than the Canon's. I think the reason is that Canon (and Nikon) has spent years and years perfecting their high end DSLRs to the point that pro photographers would finally give shooting 35mm film. Now they've added motion capture and we all benefit from the billions in R & D. Video camera makers like Sony, Panasonic etc have come from the standard def realm to HD and now evolving to the point that they are acceptable for shows that were previously captured on film.

November 12, 2010

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That does make sense, that they might be a little better with skin tones because they are trying to emulate film, but it's still all very objective.

Case in point - I think Nikon's color palette is by far the best I have seen so far in any DSLR or Prosumer camera, for that matter, and if they produced a high end digital cinema camera to rival something like RED I would buy it immediately.

It's exactly like film stocks - different sensors are attuned to the wavelengths of light in different ways. Like the Kodak vs Fuji inherent color differences.

November 12, 2010

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Joe

That's really funny. RedRock Micro rode the DSLR wave and made their bucks and now they are trashing it. Just before the launch of the new 4/3 sensor pro cameras like the AF100 or the Sony PMW-F3L and PMW-F3K, I guess they are worried. A lot of their line is going to be defunct soon.

November 10, 2010

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@pixelwala I'm going to have to diagree with your statements. Redrock has used a Cine-standard for anything they made, it's mostly the same parts used for film and video. While like 3 pieces, such as the micro dslr base, will go out the rest of their gear will be useful for any application in the vid/cine world. They're just gonna add or remove a part and change the name, the power of the gear is it's "lego" interchangability. I also don't think they're ruining their investment in the HDSLR world, I think it took them too long to come out with this DOF adapter but it's a good solution for the people who still use regular cameras, which there still are alot of people who do.

November 10, 2010

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I think the Ex1/3 setups will begin to diminish in popularity once more cameras like Panasonic's new AG-AF100 start hitting the market. The next logical "step up" to a better quality with regard to elimination of issues like rolling shutter, moire (the achilles heel, for me), etc that we find in DSLR's has to retain the holy grail of that larger sensor size. And that new Panasonic comes pretty close. But there shouldn't really be any comparison there. The 5DII is around $2500, while the AG-AF100 is closer to $6K. Clearly your going to experience an improved feature set.

I'm a little less apt to put the EX series in the mix, though. Especially when you're talking about adding a thousand dollar adapter on top of it.

November 10, 2010

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Nick

It seems to me like this will probably be the last 35mm adapter RedRock will put major effort into, I wouldn't be surprised if they had already several prototypes of the M3 on the table when they went with the DSLR trend, hence only finishing up what they had started.

This does however solve issues that DSLR users have. Rolling shutter has previously been mentioned as well as the ability to monitor in 1080p (depending on your camera, of course). This also prevents any modding a DSLR body as you can attach a PL lens to the M3 rather than the camera body. That way your DSLR stays as is but you're still able to capture footage with it through PL glass without a mod.

Being an M2 user for a while and now a DSLR user, I can work with both. I've enjoyed being challenged to get the best results from my 35mm adapter, it's caused me to be a better DP. I've seen too many people who think they can become award winning DPs by simply buying a T2i because of it's ease of use-to-product ratio.

Honestly the 35mm adapter industry is not going to last forever - nor should it. It's bridged a much needed gap between consumer and professional fields, thankfully. But this will not always be the case, as we're seeing Scarlet getting closer to release (sometime...), the AF100, etc. Before long it will be an industry standard to get a large frame HD camera with the capability to handle cine lenses cheaper than a 35mm adapter-based rig. But I don't think we're there just yet.

November 11, 2010

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Andrew

i still use a 35mm adapter, but i wont think on buying another.
im saving money for a DSLR :)

November 11, 2010

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Canon sucks.

November 11, 2010

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An Opinion

they better sell these fast. as soon as the AF100 and the like take the market....

November 12, 2010

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Hi,
Redrock M3 adapter always ok but the verry unprofessionnal design s...s. One of the 1st laws in design is to elaborate the simplest form as possible when an object must be used with other alround forms (in this case, different camera models).

December 3, 2010

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The interesting thing about 35mm lens adapters are that they provide a "grain" look to the image. Everyone associates these adapters with DOF, but anyone that's used a halfway decent one will know what I'm talking about. It makes sense to correlate resolution with quality,but there's so much more to it. I own both a hacked GH1 DSLR and an Hvx200a/redrock M2 adapter and they both serve a purpose. Honestly, on a real shoot with controlled lighting and setup, I like the hvx/adapter combo better. It just provides a more pleasing image.Sure you can argue that the grain look can be implemented in post, but it will never look quite the same. What I really really dislike about the setup is that it takes awile to configure. Def not a run n gun rig. I primarily use my DSLR for B roll/ filler shots that def enrich the final product. At this point in the game, I can't agree that DSLR film making is not a revolution, it just isn't. But it does have it's merits. Would I buy another adapter? No way. Would I buy another DSLR? Nope... The af-100 will most likely be the next step up.

December 18, 2010

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Tim

Canon is good and I love it, but, in my opinion, it is a joke compared to the HVX200 with the RedRock M3 especially if one downloads the the filmic file for the HVX, The colors and skin tone and nature pops! If I were to give up the HVX it would be for a the AF- 100 or a RED, nothing else.

In the end, all cameras have their short-comings.

July 10, 2011

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EVERETTE NICOLLS

I shot a short some time ago using a P+S Pro35 on a Panasonic HPX 500 and I must say I was really impressed with the usability of the rig. The look of the footage surpassed everything I had expected from the HPX 500 (which I'm not a great fan of, at least not using the standard Fujinon 17x zoom lens).

Shooting with the rig was great, it was almost like shooting eng, although I was using Zeiss HS T1.3 lenses.
The post production workflow was great as well because everything went straight to P2 cards in DVCProHD

However I have to admit this adapter plays in a different league because it fits on a 2/3" camera without a lens attached, so it doesn't lose a lot of light.

At that point in time it was much cheaper for us renting the adapter than renting a RED, but we were able to use the HPX 500 with all accessories for free, so that is not a good argument...

Long story short: I was very reluctant using a 35mm adapter at first, but in the end I was so glad because the workflow was quick and easy, and the footage looked just great.
A 35mm adapter on a small camera with a fixed lens doesn't make so much sense anymore, but if you own a high quality 2/3" HD camcorder, you might want to check out the Pro35, it is still a viable option, I think!

July 14, 2011

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Heiko