HMC150 - Which DOF adapters & lenses? JAG35 TwoNeil Letus Brevis M2e
Before I begin I would like to thank Noah K. of these forums for his consistently straightforward advice to questions complicated and naive. On account of his presence here our household recently purchased its first serious camera, the HMC150.
WHAT I AM DOING
My questions have to do with which DOF (35mm adapter) and which lenses to pick for this camera. (FYI, in case you are new to this, depth of field (DOF) adapters let you fit 35mm lenses onto digital video cameras, enabling selective focus, blurred backgrounds, etc, that are integral to the aesthetic of film.)
My intention is to produce a zero-budget feature length amalgam of documentary and fiction. I want to start shooting some footage immediately, but the film will not be anywhere near completion for at least 2 years. Ultimately this project will be a Bittorrent / Bluray / DVD distribution, not likely 35mm (unless there is a miracle). It took a lot of negotiating to get the HMC150 ($~5000CAD), rather than a $2000 camcorder. Now it's a matter of filling out it's potential.
The main consideration is that there is no money and little crew. So most shots will be limited to available light and reflectors, with some limited supplementary lighting where absolutely necessary. As DOF adapters eat light, well, I can't be stingy, but I don't want to waste money either.
CHEAPER. Jag35 (100-510USD) and Twoneil ($199-399USD) are two DOF adapters we might classify as DYI commercial. Many people seem happy with these adapters, but I never see them compared to Letus. Is it because they are really toys for Youtube handi-cam geeks? The footage always looks dream-like. Maybe they're dreaming of a Letus?
MORE EXPENSIVE. At the higher end we have the Letus Extreme ($799-3999), the Brevis ($675-1132), the Redrock M2e ($1799-1998), and the SG Blade ($955+) options. The HMC150 has an internal flip function, so there is no need to spend more on the optional image flip components.
Light is an issue for me, and I know the Letus has had a reputation for being a half stop better than the competition. Is this still true? And how important is that half stop anyway? (Yes I am no expert.)
SG Blade: http://www.sgpro.co.uk/
So we have the following spread (all prices USD):
Static Jag35ST: $100
Static TwoNeil: $199
Static Jag35 + anti-vignette: $199
Static TwoNeil + anti-vignette: $268
Vibrating Jag35 Pro: $395
Vibrating TwoNeil: $399
Spinning Jag35SP: $510
Cinevate's Brevis: $675
SG Blade: $955
Letus35 Extreme: $1099
Letus35 Elite: $1799
Redrock's M2 Encore: $1799
Letus35 Ultimate (spinning): $3999
Of these, the Jag35ST, Jag35SP, Brevis, and the Letus35 Extreme are the most attractive at their price points.
Lenses are the most important bit here, and I have no significant budget. (Insanity, I know.) My understanding is that I need prime lenses (no zoom), at the fastest speeds (1.4 not 2.0) I can afford. I've priced out the following basic cheapo lens kit.
Nikon AF 50mm 1.4D
Nikon AF Nikkor 28mm 2.8D
Nikon AF 85mm 1.8D
This amounts to roughly 1150 CAD at a local shop. Are the Nikon lenses I've listed up to the quality of the HMC150 and the higher end DOF adapters? Are they too slow to be useful on anything but the Letus?
I'm left with two considerations.
1. Do I buy a more afforable DOF adapter (Jag35 or Twoneil), OR more expensive (Letus, Brevis, Redrock)?
2. Do I buy the 3 affordable Nikon lenses and rent special lenses OR buy 1 ~$1000 normal very high speed 50mm lens and rent everything else?
Is there anything I am missing?
Shoot me an email offline at noefresh at yahoo on that one. :)
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Noah, I'm sure that there are plenty of other Cow readers who would be interested in your response as well... I know I would.
In case anyone is interested, here is an update on my research.
I'm going to get a Brevis, with a Canon FD adapter. The FD class of lenses is really affordable. Without flip and without rails I should be able to get everything including lenses for about $1000-$1200. With rails, it'll be about $1600.