Daniel Schweinert’s DIY 35mm Lens Adapter for Camcorders

schweinert_hv20.jpg

Daniel Schweinert builds custom 35mm depth of field (DOF) adapters for cameras and camcorders that allow you to use traditional 35mm lens on your camcorder. While he sells many of the kit parts himself, he puts all of the instructions online for free, should you want to try your hand at building your own. I browsed through the instructions for building an adapter for the HV20 last night, as pictured here, but it’s a bit more money than I want to throw at it yet, especially since I’m just now learning the camera. Still, it’s far cheaper than commercial 35mm adapters, which can run from the high hundreds into the low thousands.

Why would you want to do such a thing? For one, it turns your little camera into a black-and-silver monstrosity mounted on a sled so that you don’t rip out the plastic lens threads. (I think that’s neat. You may not.) It also can help you to produce really pretty footage with great depth of field and lots of bokeh. The footage below is shot with a commercial adapter, the Letus35 Flip, and a Panasonic DVX100a, a 3 CCD camcorder, but should give you a good idea of the general effect.

Daniel’s GG-Holders Tutorials [JetSetModels.com via Eugenia]

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7 Responses to Daniel Schweinert’s DIY 35mm Lens Adapter for Camcorders

  1. JPW says:

    Sorry. When I said “the heft of a typical Arri,” I was comparing the far more stable mass of a motion picture camera to a typical 3-5 lb. DV setup. Of course you’re right about handheld done by DPs all the time, but even that jitter has a longer period versus the touristy look of the sample clip.

    I disagree on that footage looking “great” though. Faux DOF can look great . . . but I can’t get past the super soft look, blown out whites and confusing hunt for the subject here. I say this because I’ve checked out superior test footage from 35mm adapters online–almost two years ago. I’m not looking to debate, just wishing that they would post a revised sample clip.

    Thanks!

  2. amalsbury says:

    Do you build them, I would be willing to buy a pre-built one.

  3. clifford says:

    Lets not get pedantic. This is a great tool in achieving a look that should make most low budget productions a bit more polished. In the hands of a capable storyteller, the possibilities are endless. Bravo.

  4. Joel Johnson says:

    For what it’s worth, that’s a not a sample clip from a commercial outlet. It’s just a guy who has a 35mm adapter who put some stuff I liked up on YouTube.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Not bad footage. If you can cheat great quailty looking footage without spending the ridiculous amounts that Hollywood spends, why not use it? Everyone has their own opinion, but if you have someone that’s creative and add in the desired effect, the adapter is a very powerful tool.

  6. JPW says:

    Sorry, but the handheld jitter here sabotages any hint that this isn’t a 1/3″ CCD, prosumer camera. Camera support is imperative in 35mm production–think about the heft of a typical Arri.

    Also, even in plain old DV, using the right exposure and filters goes a LONG way toward an appealing image.

    Go ahead and be a 35mm adapter adopter if you’re adept, but not if inept.

    -JPW
    http://MediaStoogesPro.com

  7. MaximusNYC says:

    JPW: You’ve never seen a DP shoot film with a handheld camera? With the right camera and a competent DP, it can be done without too much trouble, and is in fact done all the time. Sometimes the jitter is a desired effect.

    Camera support (and related things like dolly and crane moves) can make a shot look like more money has been spent on it. But the only thing at issue here is lens quality… and the DV footage above shot thru a 35mm lens looks great on that front.

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