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Revolutionary Metabones Speed Booster Makes Your Lenses Wider, Brighter, and Sharper

There’s more than one way to get a lens on a camera it shouldn’t naturally fit, particularly when adaptation has to go beyond mere lens mount disparity and extends all the way to major sensor size differences. Of course, in approximately none such case does the adapter getting the job done actually widen field of view, improve clarity and sharpness, and increase exposure levels by up to one full stop. In fact, to expect as much (and all in one device) would seem to equate to madness — especially if such a device supports electronic lens control. This is not the short and skinny of the new Tom Cruise sci-fi/action film, but that of the Metabones Speed Booster. The adapter not only mounts your Canon full frame 50mm f/1.8 lens, for instance, to your Sony FS100 — but also turns it into a sharper 35mm f/1.2 in the process.

Despite being called the Speed Booster, this device does a lot impressive optical and electronic things to the benefit of any attempting to bridge the gap between, say, a strong Canon stills lens collection and the modern Super35-sized video cameras being proliferated by Sony. Metabones is also offering several other variations and combinations on their site, including adaptation from Leica R lenses to Fuji X cameras. Below is a video review from Bryant Naro which accompanies his writeup on the Speed Booster, which also has this to say:


Turns out that they’ve designed an integrated ‘focal reducer’ to their NEX lens mount adapter. It’s basically a reverse teleconverter. What does this mean? Well, like they say, it truly does increase the speed of the lens, technically. Why now and not… since the beginning of time? Well, a lot of things have changed lately that let this technique exist. Metabones notes the 18mm flange distance in the FS100 (distance from the mount to the sensor) is much shorter than typical cinema cameras that came before it. Also, using EF lenses meant for 35mm still photography will work just fine with the .71% adjustment, considering the FS100′s super35mm sensor.

This is a great visual breakdown of what’s going on with the Speed Booster from the tremendous post by Philip Bloom and James Miller:

The illustration makes it a bit more clear as to how this process could actually be improving the perceived sharpness and clarity of a lens — in the same way downscaling to 2K from 4K acquisition improves apparent quality by burying ‘aberrations’ such as noise, squeezing a physically larger image to fit a smaller sensor size masks what imperfections the lens may actually produce. The byproduct of which is this: the effective 35mm lens the Speed Booster turns your full frame 50mm into could actually perform better than the 35mm designed for your APS-C camera. To boot, that same squeeze-down means more light gets crammed into that smaller image, too — after all, light is all a lens image is — and more of it getting shrunk to your sensor means, well, a brighter picture.

I’m less excited overall by the electronic control support, but this is doubtlessly a serious consideration in convenience for a majority of shooters — if you’re with me, though, keep in mind you can also match any manual lens of the proper mount to its Speed Boosting counterpart, which is super useful in and of itself. The notion that will inevitably come to mind (and already has in Philip’s post) is how this technology could benefit systems that may otherwise suffer from excessive sensor crop, such as the Blackmagic Cinema Camera. Mr. Bloom points out an upcoming Micro 4/3 Speed Booster, which — in conjunction with an ‘active’ M43 mount — would do wonders for counteracting some of the field of view truncation going on and allow the aperture control utilized by the BMCC. That said, I’d just as soon mount a manual lens — the main thing for me is the widening effect the Speed Booster could accomplish for BMCC shooting.

Here are the videos from the Philip Bloom / James Miller post, with more details on James’ vimeo:

I’ve read a few things denoting the lack of compatibility with the Sony VG900, which electronically is explicitly true — even with that camera’s full frame sensor, though, Speed Booster could play by combining the camera’s crop mode with manual lenses. The usefulness of these adapters is, like anything else, determined largely by the gear you already own or find yourself using often. The exciting possibilities opened up by this technology, however, are undeniable. The Canon EF lens to Sony NEX Speed Booster sells for $600.

What do you guys think?

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  • But can I use my manual Zeiss F lenses with a nikon to canon adapter onto this adapter? Or would the 2 adapters fuck something up?… Probably won’t because it’s just a metal part, but still wanna be sure, so that I don’t just burn 600 dollars on nothing.

    And can’t seem to find any info about it online…

    • Technically that should work fine, I don’t see that messing it up – the only chance would be the metal Nikon to Canon adapter possibly shorting the contacts, but that’s probably unlikely.

  • it’s a wonder manual versions of these types of converters haven’t been developed already – squeezing more light into an S35 frame with a full frame lens.

    • The requisite lens mounts haven’t existed until recently. You need enough difference in flange distance to a) allow the optics to work, and b) physically fit the thing in there!

  • I really like the idea of counteracting the crop factor. So that you can have 50mm full frame equivalent images using a APSC sensor with a 50mm lens… (if i’m understanding correctly?)

    Too bad there isn’t a EF to EF version.

    • EF to EF, do you mean EF to EF-S??

      • Either way, it’s not possible. You have to have a large difference in flange distances.

        • Marco Boerner on 01.15.13 @ 7:51AM

          Hmm, are you sure? Like can’t you use a good EF lens, that usually covers a full frame sensor, on a lower end Canon DSLR that has a smaller sensor? Even though it won’t have the same effect it would be an improvement of the lens after all.

          • That would have the same effect as a macro tube, and prevent focus to infinity (alongside making the FOV wider and adding a stop, of course).

    • It would be great to have something that has this function for ef glass on cameras with smaller sensors and ef mounts. Ie the BMCC. Unfortunately you can only adapt to a mount with a shorter flange. So no ef to ef. It would work on the mtf version but you’d need it to be active to control ef lenses.

      • It’d be interesting to see one made for Canon’s new EF-M mirrorless mount; EF-M has the same flange distance as Sony’s E-Mount.
        Really, Canon need to start throwing that mount on everything they can — it should’ve been on the C100…

  • An M43 version would be awesome on the BMCC! Maybe not full frame, but up it to s35-ish perhaps! Here’s hoping or Nikon to M43 since that’s my combo :D

    • According to the coverage of this on DSLRnewsshooter there will be a Nikon to MFT version. So that should be fantastic for the BMDCC.

  • The Philip Bloom post mentions Metabones are planning an m4/3 version, so yes, this potentially is huge news for the BMCC. Assuming the m4/3 version is also a 0.71x reducer, that changes the 2.3x crop to – you guessed it – 1.6x.

    Which suddenly makes the BMCC just about perfect. Now they just need a BMCC with active m4/3 mount…

    • Chris Lambert on 01.14.13 @ 7:19AM

      have they released the BMCC without the active m4/3 mount yet? even in the limited quantities, do I remember hearing right they were holding back until the EF reached some kind of level of production, surely they should do the smart thing and add it in i’m sure people wouldn’t mind paying a touch more for it!

      • There is no active mount version of the mft announced so far and seeing as they have 2 models that are not yet shipping in large volume it’d be optimistic to expect to be able to buy an active mtf mount model within the next 18 months.

        • Chris Lambert on 01.14.13 @ 9:37AM

          but if its not shipping easier too add in no?

          • There’s been lots of discussion on the web. Seems it’s not as simple as just putting the extra hardware in there. Who knows, they could surprise everyone and do it – but it seems it’s not a realistic expectation.

    • You only need the active mount for modern Canon lenses. For lenses with aperture rings, no problem.

      • Sure, it’s not essential and it’s not something that I’m personally concerned about since as far as possible I use all-manual lenses anyway. But it’s a nice feature where possible, and potentially allows IS as well.

  • We need to see some flare tests with this thing, adding an optic behind the lens could add up to some odd effects.

    • Very true! I did notice some different behavior with my 10mm macro, but nothing that looked unnatural or destructive to the image. I’ll have to give the adapter some more tests, but so far I’ve been really happy with the images, and that’s all I could ask for.

  • This is like a power-up from a videogame for your lens.

  • Pardon me if this is a stupid question, but does this mean that you get the same shallow DOF as full frame?

    • Chris Lambert on 01.14.13 @ 9:39AM

      depends on the crop of the camera to begin with. eg. blackmagic now more like S35/ 7d, Rebels etc.

    • The shallow depth of field is not really based on the sensor size, but the length of the lens. A bigger sensor requires a longer focal length. For example, my crop sensor would take a 35mm to get the same image as a 50mm on a full frame. That right there is the reason you would get less DoF. And because this widens your lenses, you would need longer lenses for the equivalent framing. So yes, you would get less depth of field. will it be exactly the same as a FF camera? I cant tell you that.
      I do not think that the extra 1 stop light would make a difference though. Not like using an f/1.8 lens and an f/1.2, I think it would be more like using a slower shutter speed or taking off an ND filter. Correct me if I am wrong though.

      • Chris Lambert on 01.14.13 @ 10:50AM

        good point Zach read it as field of view and zoned out.

        Sensor size does come into play though really there used to be an adapter for the EX3 that would let you put DSLR lenses on at a crop of about 5.6x there was no less dof, unless as you say you zoomed right in but for that too work in anything less than being out doors would have been very tricky to do, the BMC has a larger sensor so less dof than the EX3 but more than a 5d

      • As I understand it, yes, the short answer is you will get “the same shallow DOF as full frame?”. If you put a 50mm f1.4 on a canon 5d mark iii and also on an FS100 with this adapter, you will get identical field of view and depth of field. The only difference is that the FS100 image will be around a stop brighter, so using double the shutter speed, adding ND or stopping down stop (to F2) will get you the same exposure. You might also get a sharper image (not taking camera abilities into consideration)). So all in all it’s rather amazing, completely unexpected and gives you all the pros of full frame DOF, you need less light and you can always just take it off and go back to Super 35, completely mind boggling.

  • I wondered about this after I got an FD to EF adapter with the glass in it. That and burning ants with a magnifying glass as a little kid. I just figured it didnt work like that because no one had done it.
    Maybe they should be building these into aps-c dslrs. That would be something. Even use it to seal off the sensor!

  • This adapter is a game changer like canon 5d mark II did with video. Amazing stuff.

  • If this comes out for the Micro 4/3 system, Mary Lou Retton will be jealous of the back flips i do.

  • DIYFilmSchool.net on 01.14.13 @ 11:30AM

    This is a great piece of equipment, but it’s made more cost-effective for DSLRs and cameras with interchangeable lenses that cost more than the adapter itself. I don’t think I’d be buying it for something like the T4i.

  • Maybe I’m wrong. I just thought of my good old GH2 with Voigtländer M-Mount lens (50 mm, f 1.1)… Could this be possible with the soon to be released m4/3 adapter? And what would this 1-stop more mean?

  • One little thingee that’s technically inaccurate I’ve noticed in nearly all the various blog articles I’ve seen is the use of F-stop change to convey the doubling of light intake… ie. “it turns a F2.8 lens into a F2.” This is a little incorrect since the variable of depth of field is unchanged by the adapter (DoF is measured/calculated in physical distance, not relative picture size). It’s an optical reducer… it kinda does the inverse of an old overhead projector (sans the 90-degree angle turn)– it takes an optical image and projects it smaller. Cramming all that light into a smaller area is how the extra stop’s worth of light is gained. But it’s more accurate to say it gives you double the ISO than it is to say it puts your lens at F2 instead of F2.8. Not being venomous at all towards any writers who’ve done so… I understand that phrasing it that way quickly gets the point across.

    • Thanks, that makes more sense to me. :)

    • Thanks for posting my article! I still have the adapter, so I’m doing more tests when I can. If anyone has any specific questions, feel free to ask. I updated my blog post to show how the Tokina 11-16mm ƒ2.8 works, which is the only EF-S lens I have around for testing.

    • Jaan, if we can agree that an f-stop is a ratio relative to a lenses focal length, and a focal reducer changes a lenses focal length, wouldn’t the change in f-stop be correct? I’m by no means an optics guy, but it just seems to work out to me. Also, the only way to ‘double’ ISO on a video camera would be gain, as that’s strictly related to the sensor.

      • Hi bnaro, I understand what you mean. You’re correct in that F-stop is a relative relationship between a physical aperture and focal length, but because depth of field is physically unchanged (one of the two primary effects F-stop has on imaging), it makes the statement of F-stop change essentially inaccurate. Again, I don’t mean at all to antagonize anyone’s choice of wording, but saying it changes your stop from F2.8 to F2 is as accurate as saying it changes your 500-watt light to a 1000-watt light. What it does is double your light intake, via reducing the size of the image. Btw, I just watched your video review of it– the example shots were great to see, thanks. I’ll be first in line to buy the MFT-Nikon version.

        • Thanks for the kind words! I think I’ve got a lot of optics studying to do pretty soon so I can wrap my head around all this stuff ;) But basically: The adapter makes great images, so that’s cool!

          • It’s really confusing talking about f stops, fov and dof with this adapter, you can however indeed describe a lens as going from f2.8 to f2 equivalent but it’s confusing. The easiest way to describe the adapter is that it turns your S35 camera into a full frame camera and gives you a stop more light in the process. So a 50mm f2 on your FS100 now looks just like a 50mm f2 on a 5D, dof and fov identical, except it’s a bit brighter on FS100 so you need to dial down iso/shutter etc.

            The confusing way to describe this adapter is that it turns a 50mm f2.8 into a 35 f2.0, which is basically correct because your image will look exactly like if you put a 35mm f2.0 on it (same fov and dof) without an adapter. Your camera then obviously has a 1.5x crop factor taking it up to 50mm full frame equivalent and an equivalent FF depth of field of a 50mm f2.8, which is where we started. So you’re basically dividing by 1.5 then multiplying by 1.5 which is annoying, best to just think of the adapter as cancelling out the crop factor with an added ‘brightness’ bonus.

    • I do not think the image reduction in this adapter is like increasing the ISO either, ISO (gain) adds noise to your image, this should not.

      If a 50mm f1.4 lens has a out of focus bokeh “dot” that takes up 1/20th of the image on a full frame the bokeh dot will still take up 1/20th of the frame with this adapter on the crop sensor.

    • Reinis Kaulins on 01.14.13 @ 3:24PM

      If I have understood correct, then by what you are saying a 50mm f2.8 lens with the adapter would have the same DOF as a 35mm f2.8 without adapter, except the 50mm would be twice as bright (as an f2 lens)?

      • Yes. The increase in light intake is due to the fact that the photons of light passing through the original lens are being compacted to project onto a smaller area. As a very generalized metaphor, imagine you have 100 Skittles arranged in a 10 x 10 grid on a sheet of typing paper. Each skittle is like a photon of light. If you were to slide an index card under the Skittles grid onto the center of the paper, you’d probably have about 16 of the 100 Skittles sitting on the index card. What an optical reducer theoretically does (in terms of light transmission) is essentially take that 10 x 10 grid of Skittles and fit them all onto the index card– by reducing *the space in between them* but maintaining the same overall number of photons. So now you have 100 Skittles crowded onto the index card instead of 16 well spaced Skittles. And then you shove all the Skittles into your mouth to taste the rainbow.

        More light is being “crowded” onto the smaller sensor, thus the increase of light intake by one stop. It’s a similar principle to using a fresnel light… as you dial it in from flood to spot, the center of the beam becomes brighter.

      • Oh wait, I thought you said “50mm f2.8 lens with the adapter would have the same DOF as a **50mm** f2.8 without adapter”… which is what I responded “yes” to. My mistake, I read wrong.

    • I’m not convinced you’re correct. I’m not convinced you’re not either, mind!

      But how it appears to me is that the adapter reduces the focal length of the entire lens. So put the adapter on, and your 50mm is literally now a 35mm. But it’s engineered as a 50mm lens, and so the iris is larger. If iris diameter stays constant, and you decrease focal length, f-stop goes down. For example, for a 50mm lens, an f2 means an iris diameter of 25mm (fstop = focal length / iris diameter). For a 35mm lens, a 25mm aperture is f1.4.

      Since the focal length is being reduced, but the physical diameter of the lens itself is not, that says to me that you are indeed decreasing your f-stop. This is the reason there is more light, and also means DoF is decreased accordingly.

      I could be misunderstanding this, as I say.

      • That might be the case if the adapter went before the lens, but the light is modified by the glass before it enters the adapter – therefore it’s taking the same image and making it smaller to cover the APS-C image plane. As a result, it doesn’t change the focal length of the lens and retains all field of view and depth of field characteristics.

        That’s how I understand it anyway.

      • All the “it changes a 50mm lens into a 35mm” and “it changes the f-stop from f2.8 to f2″ statements would be correct if worded “it results in a 50mm lens giving you the field of view of a 35mm” and “it gives you an additional stop’s worth of brightness”… if that makes sense.

        The reason it’s inaccurate to say it changes focal length & f-stop, is because without the adapter, if your depth of field is 1.5 feet, it will still be 1.5 feet when using the adapter. Your field of view will be 40% wider and your image will look 1 stop brighter, but the depth of field will not change.

        Maybe some folks are confusing bokeh size relative to the frame and depth of field… just keep in mind those are two separate things. Hope this somehow helps.

      • And if anyone’s wondering why that’s at all relevant, it’s because depth of field calculators are often used on professional sets when planning shots in relation to lighting levels and actors’ blocking… sometimes in previz as well (when deciding issues of set construction and planning lighting rigging).

        • Here are some numbers from an online DOF-Calculator:

          http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html

          We see that indeed the DOF remains about the same (there is some difference, because the APS-C crop factor is about 1.54, which is a bit more than the inverse focal reduction factor (1 / 0.71 = 1.41), but only, if combined with the smaller sensor.

          Canon 5D – FF-Sensor 36×24 mm, Crop-Factor 1

          FF-Sensor, aspect ratio 3:2
          50mm
          f-stop = 2
          Dist = 10 m
          DOF = 5.06 m

          FF-Sensor
          35 mm
          f-stop = 1.4
          Dist = 10 m
          DOF = 7.84 m

          Sony NEX-5 – APS-C-Format 23.4 x 15.6 mm Senso, Crop-Factor 1.54

          APS-C Sensor, aspect ratio 3:2
          35 mm
          f-stop = 1.4
          Dist = 10 m
          DOF 4.86 m

  • This makes me pause to buy m4/3 glass and wait to see how this performs (when they make the m4/3 version). If it gives a shallower dop and 1 stop of light in exposure (along with electronic iris control) I could be investing in EF glass instead.

    As I’ve said in other forums: this could have a big impact in the war between DSLR vs. Mirrorless.

  • I’m unbelievably stoked for this, as I was planning on upgrading to an FS100/700 from my DSLR soon!

    My only question is, will they release a non-live version of this adapter? I only have manual primes, and thus I have no use for it (and I imagine it’s an expensive feature).

    • Great point, they really should make a dumb-adapter that has the speed booster functionality. Metabones/Conorus is very good about up keeping their digital presence—drop them a suggestion!

    • Dumb adapters for Nikon-F, among others, are supposedly due in March and will be cheaper ($399 is the suggested price).

      • I really hope they do a dumb EF mount as well, since many of my lenses are m42 screw mount which is a fractionally shorter flange distance than F mount so can’t be used on a nikon mount without an optical adapter. I doubt they will though, as they’ll probably assume anyone using EF mount has modern auto lenses.

  • This just erased every single whine about the BMCC’s sensor size!:D Now we can have real FAST wides, low light would be less challenging because all lenses will be brighter (F1.0,f0.9 hello!), and the DOF of S35 will be there!:D Woot woot! I mean this single adaptor just turned one of the most amazing camera that exists into a whole new machine! The perfection that everyone was asking for..an S35 BMCC! That gorgeous sensor will now be paired with waaay sharp, fast and wide lenses!:D I mean, do you guys realize how this just changes everything! Now we dont need to wait for an s35 version! BM should just partner with metabones, make a dumb, $399 version of this MFT to EF but with focal reducer set for their sensor size. Since its smaller than MFT, the lenses will be even faster, sharper and wider! Like full frame powers! THIS IS HUGE! Kudos to Metabones for bringing this to market this fast!

    • All the whine? Now people will complain that the sensor is only s35-ish xD

      • There will always be whiners – but you have to admit until now the weird sensor size of the BMCC was a real concern for many people, not just whiners.
        And I don’t mean because the sensor is “too small”, I mean because it is very non-standard so you can’t use 16mm or 2/3″ lenses, but the next best standard sensor size (4/3) is also quite a bit larger and so there are no real wide angle lenses for the BMCC.

        With this adapter, this will not be an issue anymore. The people still whining will continue doing so because they just like being miserable! ;)

        • of course, I’m getting on for my GH2 and pre-ordered BMCC whenever the hell that will be, haha. But for those who wait… :)

  • Still owning a 5DM2, this is probably the game changer I was looking for. Not that any combination of available products already seems to come out on top for me, but it will now be easier for camera companies to adress the remaining drawbacks of DSLR filming wihile it’s moving away from DSLRs to, say BMCC-ish cameras. The only thing to get rid of after RAW and (apparently) full frame DOF/light sensitivity are being adressed with one quite unexcepted product, getting rid of rolling shutter is an easier thing to pull of now. After all, soon sensors do not have to be Super35-mm-sized to give you all the aesthetic possibilities of 35mm film plus the extra light sensitivity, nevertheless provided through optics rather than size, strangely. But after all, the only thing a follow up to the BMCC now needs is a global shutter. And then all you need to do is not be a shitty film maker (which is basically the rule right now, already).

  • Just ordered one… Testing will follow ;-)

  • I don’t understand how the optical design on the lenses work but i’d like someone to clarify this… is the rear element always in the exactly same position between all the lenses of the same mount? Asking this because if the angle how the light comes out from the last element before hitting the sensor could be different depending how it entered that last element and where that element was placed… then adding one more lens between could work on some lenses but distort on others…

  • BornCorrect on 01.15.13 @ 7:44AM

    Phillip Bloom recommends adding it to you Canon DSLR to improve the speed of the lens. EF to EF mount funny no scientific evidence just speculation.

  • Raphael Wood on 01.15.13 @ 7:46AM

    “And this is how Full Frame dies, with thunderous applause.”

    Kudos to anyone who gets the reference.

  • With the Micro 4/3 BMC – this is huge. Awesome work, Internet!

  • Does this mean that you can use these on RED products if you have an EF mount for your Epic?

    • No. RED should make a mount with the focal reducer built in. Otherwise, you cant put it on top of an ef mount.

    • Not sure I understand Quobetah’s response.

      • You can’t use this for an ef lens onto an ef mount. It has to be from a lens with a large flange distance to a mount with a small flange distance.

  • Canon should come out with a camera that that can use this adapter. In other words a camera with a Sony-like mount/flange distance, so with this Booster their Canon lenses can be used on a Canon camera and take advatage of this phenomenon.

    • Canon is a crap company that only cripples their products. The 5d “revolution” was a mistake and they need to lower prices on their cameras. Only thing that keeps people stuck with them is that they have invested so much money in EF glass.

  • What a great product and killer price for a product that does multiple things. I just wish there was a Nikon version. Or maybe a Nikon to Canon adapter would do the trick?

  • Sooooooo… can they make it anamorphic while they’re at it? :)

  • Hmmm, if this works on a Black Magic Camera, it just made the whole camera look a lot better to me. My major concern was the weird sensor size of the BMCC and that are hardly any wide angle lenses for it. With this kind of adapter, all these problems could be solved.

    When I first read the headline, I thought it must be a joke, how can an adapter make a lens sharper and faster – everyone knows adapters always take away sharpness and light. But then they tell you how it works and it actually makes sense! :)

  • I am confused. Would it be beneficial to use this Speed Booster on the BMCC EF Mount. Just to eliminate the extreme crop factor purpose?