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Saturday, December 22, 2012

••◊ Novoflex lens adapters

I recently started investing in some nicer glass for the front of my camera, i.e. Zeiss ZF.2's.  The problem is that I have a 5D mark II, currently, and I plan to move up to a Sony video camera next year.  ZF.2's are Nikon mount lenses and the 5D and FS-700...etc are Canon EF mount and Sony E-mount respectively.  Short of taking out a second mortgage and selling a kidney to buy a set of CP.2's I needed a solution to adapt the Nikon mount to whatever camera I'm using at the time.  In walks Novoflex(dah dah dummmm.....dramatic hero pause).  Below is a picture of three adapters my local dealer sells for Nikon lens to EF mount, Micro Four-Thirds lens to Canon FD and Nikon lens to Sony E-mount (left to right).

One of the problems I immediately noticed out of the box is that the lens was loose on mount.  The pro-sumer grade EF mount is normally a bit loose, even with an L series lens.  That side was actually equivalent to my Canon lens being mounted - no big deal.  The Nikon lens mount, however, was unreasonably loose.  So loose that the lens would shift around if I tried to use it with a follow focus.  That's no good.  At first I was thinking that this adapter was an overpriced hunk of junk and I emailed the Novoflex support to see if there was anything they could do, including return my money.  The helpful support person sent me a photo showing a picture like the one below.  It turns out that lens adapter tolerance is a well known issue.  Just read the reviews on Amazon and whatever site that talk about all the problems with cheap adapters - 1000 of reviews!  Using a small screwdriver I very slightly pried open the spring slots and viola!...The ZF.2 was rock solid.  I wish I could say the same for Canon's EF mount on the 5D (it's really not **THAT** bad, but still).

By now you probably noticed the large blue lever on the side of the adapter. This is for manual control of the lens aperture.  In theory it seems like a convenient feature, but in practice it's not really useful.  For camera operators like me, I need to know the actual value of the aperture so when I meter the light in the scene I know the lights are set correctly.  Using the lever is kinda of hap hazard and not the way I prefer to work.  The ZF.2's include a manual aperture ring, which is my preferred way of working.

In order to mount up the Novoflex adapter I recommend to first set the lens aperture to it's smallest value; f/22 in this case.  In the second picture below you'll see that the adapter's small silver tab near the top of the picture is just to the right of the black lens aperture control lever at the left.  This is the way you'll need to line up the adapter for mounting.  In the third picture you'll see the silver tab has been rotated counter-clockwise to butt up to the lens aperture lever.  Then it's just a matter of lining up the red dot (first picture) to the red dot on the EF mount and mounting the lens as you would any other Canon lens.

When I upgrade to a real video camera I plan on purchasing the Nikon lens to E-mount adapter.  Hopefully that works just as well.

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