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Letus Extreme with Sony EX1 multiplier question

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Jim Bruce
Letus Extreme with Sony EX1 multiplier question
on Jul 7, 2009 at 2:27:44 am

Hi All,

I'm an editor/producer turning producer/director for a new doc. I am going to buy a SONY EX1 for this project. My DP is fantastic but is more used to working on higher budget projects - i.e. shooting film or Sony F900. He also working long hours finishing a gig so he's not part of the process of researching the buy thus far and does not have personal experience with DOF adapters.

Our camera budget is <10,000. I am researching the Letus Extreme/Elite as our DP has a number of nice 35mm lens but I just read a post about the "multiplier factor" for a Redrock Micro 35mm adapter and a 1/2" chip camera like the EX1 being 5.5.

Is this also the case with the Letus Extreme/Elite?

I.e. Would a 28mm lens normally used for 35mm shoots on the front of a Letus Extreme and a Sony EX-1 translate to an image that is the equivalent of what you would get from a 154mm lens on a 35mm camera?

This would seem to nix the use of the Letus for any situation where we can't have the camera a good distance away from the subject and/or wanted to have a medium shot vs. a close up.

Are there "fixes" or extra adapters that I'm missing?

Sorry if this is an obvious question but I read a lot about the Letus but have not heard this major issue discussed until I saw a post about the Redrock M2.

Any clarification would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

Jim



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Michael Palmer
Re: Letus Extreme with Sony EX1 multiplier question
on Jul 7, 2009 at 3:10:46 am

These 35mm adapters can give you shallow depth of field but they are NOT the same focal length compared to a 35mm film camera.

The adapter creates the film plain and the EX1 stock lens needs to zoom out 80% on that lens to fill the frame, this is where the EX1 stock lens has had issues and the focus wasn't sharp from edge to edge.

All of the companies will tell you they fixed this issue but I would need to see it to believe it.

If you go with the EX3 you could purchase/rent a rely lens system and achive better overall results. Both Letus and Cinevate should have these available now.

http://www.cinevate.com/website/index.php

Fijinon also produces a nice 2/3 lens adapter ACM-21 adapter for use with Cineprimes.
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/576005-REG/Fujinon_ACM_21_ACM_21_2_3_...

IF you really want to take advantage of either EX cameras then you should also look into an External HD -SDI recorder from Convergent Design. The Nano Flash allows you to go way beyond the limits of the EX codec as you can record 220 Mbps all i-frame. IMO this will help your project more than a 35mm adapter system.
http://www.convergent-design.com/

Good Luck
Michael Palmer


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Jeremy Wilker
Re: Letus Extreme with Sony EX1 multiplier question
on Jul 7, 2009 at 4:43:49 am

AFAIK, the RedRock and the Letus do not have a 5.5x factor of magnification.
If you use something like the Adaptimax or MTF lens mount (mounting a 35mm lens directly to the EX3) THEN you get a 5.5x magnification of the lens (100mm = 550mm). Like the other poster said, the RR or Letus adapters create a ground glass focal plane (?) that the lens image is projected upon and the camera lens focuses on that. You do need to zoom the camera in to 75-80 range to focus on the ground glass and clear the edges. I use the Letus Elite and it works just great. I've used 24mm, 35mm, 50mm and 85mm lenses and they look great.
Be mindful that their claim of "virtually noise-free" is a stretch in my opinion if you ever did want to use on-camera mics (quite possible in documentary situations, I would guess). They produce a very slight buzzing sound that the mics pick up.


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Jim Bruce
Re: Letus Extreme with Sony EX1 multiplier question
on Jul 7, 2009 at 8:59:13 am

Hi Jeremy,

Thanks for the clarification. A rental guy casually mentioned the idea of making the lens "longer" by adding an adapter and then I saw someone mention the 5.5 multiplier regarding the Redrock M2. But now I see it's not an issue. I was trying to imagine shooting interviews at 150 mm and longer and that didn't seem to add up.

Thanks also for the heads up on Letus noise. I think I will get a separate little boom stand for directional sound in tripod interview situations if we go with the Letus. And in the field we'll try to use a PA with the boom. (Yes we're too cheap to pay for a dedicated sound guy - it's a documentary after all!).

As for your Letus Elite, sounds like you're happy with the product. From what I understand the only difference between the Elite and the Extreme is the "backfocus".

What purpose does that serve?

Aren't you actually using the "front" 35mm lens for focus?

Do you use a follow focus at all?

Did you get the XD Cam "optimization kit" as well?

Letus rod setup? If not what brand did you choose for rods, etc...

It seems like the Extreme Starter Bundle ($1699) plus an Elite upgrade ($599) is cheaper than the price for the Elite Bundle. Am I missing something there?

Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Regards,

Jim



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Denis O'Keefe
Re: Letus Extreme with Sony EX1 multiplier question
on Jul 7, 2009 at 4:30:14 pm

Hello Jim,
I've been using the EX and the Letus extreme with my Nikon lenses for about a year, and find it works very well and yields great images that look just a bit different - I can't exactly define it bu the light seems to wrap the subjects more, a subtle difference that somehow becomes "filmlike".
the angle of view is not precisely what you get on a 35mm SLR but it is very close, and there is an advantage shooting on the video camera lens (as opposed to a relay) - you still can zoom while rolling or rapidly change focal length without having to change a lens.
Using an SLR lens directly on an EX3 results in the approx 5.5 magnification, great for extreme telephoto or extreme closeup work.
As much as I love using the EX1/Letus some toys must go and I'm prepping mine for sale - if you are interested please PM me or reach me at denis@okeefe.tv
Apologies if this is not kosher, when I get all together I'll properly put this in the classifieds


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Jeremy Wilker
Re: Letus Extreme with Sony EX1 multiplier question
on Jul 8, 2009 at 12:07:18 pm

The backfocus or lens collimation is necessary to make sure you've got the lens focusing the image exactly onto the ground glass. On the Extreme you would have to manually dismantle and adjust the rig to change it. Keep in mind that there are THREE focuses (foci?) that you have to work with on the Letus: the backfocus, the 35mm lens focus (the main one), and the EX3 focus. The backfocus locks in place and the EX3 focus can be taped down.
I did get the EX optimization kit and the Letus Rods v2, which I am really liking so far. Also keep in mind that this rig gets real heavy with the rods and the Letus on front. You won't go handheld for too long! So in the doc world you might want to use just the EX3 for run/gun situations.
The bundle gets you all the pieces and parts: Elite, EX opti kit, rods v2, lens mount, plus a nice hard case (pelican?) with foam insert, which is very well done (although I'd have preferred a Storm case myself). The case includes five compartments for 35mm lenses, too. Nice.


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Brent Dunn
Re: Letus Extreme with Sony EX1 multiplier question
on Jul 10, 2009 at 3:51:49 am

I'm a cinevate fan, even though I don't own the Brevis yet, it is on my list.

They do mention in one of their online demo's that the heat the EX 1 generates may cause you to to loose some of your settings. You may have to re-set some of the columation, etc., if you shooting for long periods of time. I'm sure this is the case with both companies.

I would also call both companies directly with your questions.

Brent Dunn
Creative Director
DunnRight Video.com


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Jim Bruce
Re: Letus Extreme with Sony EX1 multiplier question
on Jul 10, 2009 at 5:33:33 am

Hi All,

Thanks for all the great info and advice.

Glad to hear the multiplier is not an issue.

I guess I'm most concerned about the issue of having to focus on the ground glass and not having a very good viewfinder to check that with on the EX-1. That sounds dicey. And we're trying to keep things simple so the idea of bringing an extra monitor just for focus seems like a pain.

But I'm a huge fan of the types of images I've seen on Phillip Bloom's website and so forth. DOF really is such a big part of making images that are cinematic vs. the typical sterile video look.

The Brevis does seem interesting as well.

One random question. Can you zoom with the EX-1 to change framing once you've focused on the GG image? I.e. to go from MCU to CU in an interview? I wasn't considering that with a 35mm non-zoom lens we'd have to change lens to switch up the framing.

I wish it wasn't so hard to get that "look"!

Jim



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Denis O'Keefe
Re: Letus Extreme with Sony EX1 multiplier question
on Jul 10, 2009 at 1:41:57 pm

You can change the zoom setting on the camera to tighten up the frame, you just can't go wider than the groundglass and the widest point of whatever lens is mounted.
There is a "hoodman" eyecup that I think would work well on the EX1, as well as other options - the "sock loupe" which I use for example.
I have not heard about heat issues with the letus, but usually you're checking focus all the time anyway, if needed you adjust.
Ultimately this isn't a run and gun rig, its more like shooting film with a CP16 than video with a handycam - but the images can be spectacular, and well worth the time it takes to make them.


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Michael Palmer
Re: Letus Extreme with Sony EX1 multiplier question
on Jul 10, 2009 at 1:47:50 pm

"One random question. Can you zoom with the EX-1 to change framing once you've focused on the GG image? I.e. to go from MCU to CU in an interview? I wasn't considering that with a 35mm non-zoom lens we'd have to change lens to switch up the framing."

Not with the EX lens as this must be locked off and this focus is critical as the lens is 75% zoomed out to begin with. But you could use a 35mm zoom in front of the Letus device, but it would be a manual zoom unless you rented a zoom motor/controller/base plate with support rods.

Anyone using this type of system should have a decent field monitor. I hate my EX1 viewfinder. I have a cheap IKAN 800HD.

Good Luck
Michael Palmer


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Denis O'Keefe
Re: Letus Extreme with Sony EX1 multiplier question
on Jul 10, 2009 at 8:30:38 pm

Hello Michael - in my experience I tape off the focus ring and make sure I'm at zoom setting 77 or so to clear the edges of the groundglass. From that starting point I've had no problem zooming to 99, either to reset a shot or use a creeping zoom. Beats changing glass in the short ranges 35 to 50, 50 to 85, 85 to 105.


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Jeremy Wilker
Re: Letus Extreme with Sony EX1 multiplier question
on Jul 13, 2009 at 2:22:06 am

Yes, you can zoom through. I've done it a few times in testing and it seemed to be just fine going from 77 to 99. Just keep a sharp eye on that focus, but I think you'll find it is possible in many situations. Focus isn't too bad, you can nail it in short order using the standard Sony viewfinder. I find that too much peaking "shows" me some of the ground glass in the Letus, but in viewing the footage in FCP or on a projector it looks just fine.
I'd love to do a side-by-side knock-down test of the Letus and the SG Blade and the new Red Rock. I feel like the SG Blade might actually be a heck of a value (can anybody else confirm or deny?) but knowing the fiddly bits of the Letus isn't too hard the results are nice!


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