April 25, 2013

HolyManta VND: Canon EF to NEX/MFT Lens Adapter With a Built-In Variable Neutral Density Filter

Thanks to cameras being made with mounts very close to their sensors, we can adapt all sorts of older lenses that were made to be farther away from the sensor/film plane. The two most adaptable and supported so far, the Sony E-mount and the Micro 4/3 mount, have seen a wide range of adapters for lenses like Canon, Nikon, and PL, and we've even got adapters now that can make your lenses faster, wider, and sharper. If you're shooting in brighter environments, and you want to keep your shutter speed and f-stop consistent, you need ND filters, so it was only a matter of time before someone decided to put a variable ND into a lens adapter. That's exactly what Thomas Läräng did with the HolyManta internal ND lens adapter, and he's running a crowdfunding campaign to try to get the project off the ground.

Here is the crowdfunding video for this first-of-its-kind internal lens adapter/variable ND filter:

Thomas has also been testing sharpness and color. Here are those tests below:

He just posted this video a few days ago, which was filmed with the HolyManta:

Since I know many of you will ask about it, the campaign is being run on FundedByMe, which is basically the Swedish version of Kickstarter. Thomas and I have been in contact, but since he has received a tremendous amount of inquiries, I am posting his answers to some of the same questions I had (these were taken from the comments section on his FundedByMe page):

There is no clear glass when inactivated. The filters are very thin however, so although there is a focus shift, it's hardly noticable unless using very fast lenses. Infinity focus is not lost, it just takes place slightly before hitting the end on the focus ring.

I gave the smart adapter idea a lot thought when I started working on this idea, but since I'm neither a software specialist nor a digital hardware specialist I focused on a dumb adapter.

More from Thomas:

-My goal is to ship the product at the end of June.

-As the R&D engineer at an Uppsala biotech company, a part of my job is to develop the production and quality inspection line of high-end microstructure components and products for micropscopic analytical use. It is me and my employer who produce them, I won't say the numbers here - but a large number to say the least. So I have substantial experience in this :)

-The adapter comes in two versions from which the buyer/funder gets to choose when buying.

-Warranty: not decided as of yet. Let me get back on that within a week.

-The adapter walls are 4mm thick aluminum. The house is made of tough CNC:d aluminum. I would be more worried about the mount on the camera than the adapter when using heavy lenses.

This sort of thing is very exciting. Variable NDs tend to be a little softer than regular ND filters just by the nature of their design (basically two polarizers stuck together), so what you're losing in overall sharpness, you're gaining in ease of use and speed. This is going to be great for people who are using a camera without internal ND filters, like the Sony FS100, MFT Blackmagic Cinema Camera, or the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera. If you've got the time, placing individual ND filters one at a time in front of your lenses is the best way to maintain sharpness and color, but that can be time-consuming or distracting for certain types of shooting.

For example, if you're shooting a documentary, being able to quickly change your exposure is important, and sometimes the situation calls for the exposure to change very quickly. If you're trying to maintain consistent depth of field, the best way to do that is with ND filters -- and certainly the fastest way would be with a variable ND filter.

The only issue right now is the fact that since this is a dumb adapter, your lenses will either have to be used wide open, or you'll have to change the aperture with a smart adapter or with a DSLR and remove the lens. That will be a deal-breaker for some people, but you may not need to change your aperture very often since that is the idea behind a variable ND. If you've got manual lenses that work with the Canon mount, like Nikon or Leica R, you're good to go, and you could simply put another small adapter on the HolyManta. This may affect focus even more, but again, you're sacrificing certain aspects in order to have ultimate convenience.

Right now he is offering two versions, a Canon EF to Sony E-mount or a Canon EF to Micro 4/3. If you're a backer, you'll get the adapter for $200, but they will later be sold through his website for $280. You can find links to the website and the crowdfunding campaign below.

Links:

Your Comment

20 Comments

This is cool, but the polarizing effect of variable NDs are often not wanted. I wish someone would make an adapter with ND filter stages. Then you wouldn't have the problem with infinity focus etc. Don't know if its possible though.

April 25, 2013

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Kandre

You're affecting focus no matter what when you put something behind the lens that the camera wasn't designed for. Cameras with built-in NDs compensate for this.

I think if you're in a controlled shooting situation, there are probably other options with better quality or more control, but for ease of use, and quick lens changes, I could see this being very useful.

April 25, 2013

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

I wish the EF to MFT adapter allowed for aperture control on EF lenses. Cool concept, but I'll look at it again when that happens.

April 25, 2013

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Michael H

Consider kicking in $10 for him then so he can continue his venture!

April 26, 2013

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Jules

Very good point.

May 3, 2013

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Michael h

I'd pay for a Speedbooster + variable ND filter combo, even if it's $200-$400 more expensive ... Shame they are mutually exclusive

April 25, 2013

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If this were also a smart adapter, it would be a real game changer. for me, IS is the main reason I'd want to use an adapter, hence I have the metabones.

Without a smart connection, you could really just pay 15 bucks for any old adapter and multiple variable NDs for the same $280 cost.

April 25, 2013

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dv

I guess you had the same questions I had :) I have not backed it yet, but I need a m4/3 adapter for my old Nikon AI mounts. I have a bunch of Nikon to EF adapters, I could easily use this adapters with my old Nikons.

However, getting a 'speedbooster' is really my priority as I already have a very high quality VariND filter for all that Nikon glass.

Seeing all the products come to market over the next year will be a very interesting time indeed. So much cross over potential!

April 25, 2013

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Zulusafari

Hey guys, this is very similar to a product I've been developing for a while now, but our version addresses a lot of your concerns above (specifically compatibility with things like the speedbooster or other smart adapters). Our prototype is currently in production phase, so I'd be happy to share more details with you all as soon as I can (looks like in the next couple of weeks). In the mean time, way to go HolyManta, best of luck to you!

April 25, 2013

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Jules

'way to go Holy Manta'? really Jules? - Please dont feed us shit and tell us its sugar!

If you really do have a similar product then prove it NOW...if not then shut the hell up until you actually HAVE something instead of railroading another persons fundraiser. Very convenient that you cant tell us anything about this other product until AFTER this guy's fundraiser finishes.

Your sneaky underhand tactics in the post above simply guarantees i would NEVER buy a product from you.

April 25, 2013

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Peter

Wow. Well ok then...
I did not intend to be sneaky or underhanded here man - please imagine that you are developing a product for some time, then one of your favorite sites does an article on a device that is VERY similar just weeks before you're ready to announce your product... I apologize for offending you Peter, but can you blame me for not saying something in light of these circumstances?

April 25, 2013

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Jules

And if a single comment on NFS railroads his fundraiser, then I'd be very surprised and very sorry.

April 25, 2013

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Jules

Of course you did - your post had one purpose and one purpose only - to put doubt into everyone's mind that there MAY be a better product just around the corner, thereby stopping potential backers from funding the Holy Manta. The problem is this is not a company that is bringing a product out, this guy is trying to get funding to make it happen. To deliberately put doubt into the minds of potential backers so that he may never get the funding at all is sneaky and underhanded.

If you truly have a good product then you should have no problem releasing it to market and letting it go head to head with the Holy Manta. The honorable thing would be to wait until you are actually READY to put out proper information on your product and give the Holy Manta the chance to get funded. Then the public can decide - that's healthy competition. Trying to take out a competitor before they get bankrolled isnt healthy, its dirty pool and you sir are being very dishonest if you think you can stand there and pretend that you didn't mean to play it that way.

I mean really who are you? Hiding behind a name with absolutely NOTHING to back up any of your outlandish claims? Your product could be an utter farce and none of the things you say could be true. In fact I'm willing to bet we don't hear any hard information from you on your vaporware product for many months if at all.

April 25, 2013

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Peter

Let's move on, it exists, I've seen it. There is plenty of room for more than one adapter in this industry.

April 25, 2013

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

Hey who are you? Never heard of you either though that doesn't mean anything. I have not heard of a lot of people before I meet them. But you are overreacting. Are you part of the company you think he's competing against and how are you going to say if you know what you're talking about? Have any proof? Lighten up dude anyone can announce a product or say it's coming out. Many times through history mutiple people have come up with the same type of product if he's telling the truth then we will see in a short while. You don't need to attack someone you don't know based on your theory of why he did it wait for proof.

April 29, 2013

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Gary Simmons

Joe that is exactly my point. Competition.

There is plenty of room for many different adapters and competition is a healthy thing. Jules post has nothing to do with competition, pulling the rug out from another product before it gets funded so it may never get funded and thus never make it to market is the opposite of healthy competition. It simply means we as filmmakers have less choice, which is rarely a good thing.

April 25, 2013

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Peter

jules, sounds interesting, look fwd to the details

April 26, 2013

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Jojo

So, it just got successfully funded. So there's that.

Honestly, I backed it. Sometimes I'm more concerned about speed than perfection (actually, a lot more than I'd like to admit), I own an FS-100, and I'm not springing for the FS-700 or similar until Sony has their reaction to Blackmagic (who's moving in on the same exact market segments). So this is a cheap and fantastic way to "fix an FS-100." Also, being able to use this 4/3 on a little blackmagic hand-held is just going to be so dang useful for lightweight documentary work - people will cough up if these are available IMO.

My 2c.

April 27, 2013

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So Jules now that the Holy Manta has been funded, any word on your product that was supposedly only 'weeks away' from an announcement? Its been over a month now...

May 29, 2013

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Peter

Where's mine? Paid for 3 weeks ago not arrived!!

January 2, 2014

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Hendrick