When our blackmagic pocket lenses list was released, many people asked us about old cinema lenses. The camera has a S16 sensor so it will be possible to use old cine lenses and general cheaper c-mount glasses. The amount of research required to bag a few bargain lenses made the task daunting at first. For me it was a total new ball game, a bunch of brands I had never heard before and a market I was clueless about. I also found out that users of the upcoming digital bolex are all over this, so I am afraid we are a bit late for the party.
Essentially there are two type of lenses you can find, really old super 16 cine glass or modern TV industrial which are cheaper ( c-mount). I decided to go for a mixed bag to see the differences myself. I don’t have the blackmagic pocket camera at this moment, so this lenses will be reviewed on a later date. Both are amazingly tiny compared to your normal Dslr lenses, you will be very suprised when you actually hold them. The weight is also something to consider, because of their metal built they are not the lighest.
This article from EOSHD was what got me started, giving me an overview of what to look for. Andrew Reid points out that users from his forum are figuring out what lenses will work properly on the pocket camera using a simple cropping method in Photoshop. They have started what is likely to be the most complete list of Blackmagic pocket camera c-mount lens compatibilty list.
There is also a very big vintage lens list posted on blackmagicuser.net from user vintagelenses. You can follow him on tweeter, but at your own risk. He will be constantly tempting you with some amazing ebay bargains.
Example of a C-MOUNT IZUKAR 16mm 1.6 that should work fine on the pocket camera.
By cropping an image provided by a M43 sensor camera like the GH2 we can figure out if the lens will work nicely without any vignette. This is the main problem with old cinema lenses, a prominent vignette will make the lenses pretty unusable.
I won’t attempt to do a list I lenses here, but a set of guidelines to help you on your seach.
- Make sure you are buying c-mount lenses: it is very easy to get carried away and start buying 8mm lenses which can look very similar.
- Avoid RX Lenses: I would avoid in the meantime RX lenses, from what I’ve read don’t resolve very well since the pocket camera doesn’t have a prism.
- Avoid Stiff lenses: Pay attention if there is any mention of the lens having a stiff focus ring. I guess this can be serviced just be aware of it.
- You will need an C- M43 adapter: You will have to buy a C to M43 adapter like this one to mount your lens on the pocket.
- The wide lenses are the risky one: I would be very cautious when buying anything bellow 16mm. Make sure your lens will not vignette before buying it. Search the list from EOSHD to guide yourself.
- Don’t spend over the odds: Be careful not to pay over the odds for this lenses, you could be part of the bubble. It is very easy to get carried away, since they are beaitful things. Try to put yourself a budget and stick to it.
- Be creative where you shop: Ebay is clearly the best place to look for lenses, but other website like etsy.com have some vintage photography and can also be quite handy. Even your local pawnshop and antique market could hold some old treasures.
- Target a complete camera sets: Sometime you will find bolex cameras for sales with lenses attached, this could also a good way of getting a good price in a set of lenses or even a single one. owners many times don’t realise the value of what they are selling is on the lens and not the body.
- Multiply all your focal length by 2.1: Just be aware that a 50mm lens is essentially a 150mm lens on the pocket. The closest to a 50mm lens will probably be a 16mm lens (48mm).
Purchased from ebay Taylor & Hobson 25mm F1.9 C Mount Lens (£60)
Last but not least you will need a c-mount to M43 adapter . There are plenty on ebay, but looking around in some forums a lot of people recommended this adapters from ebay user Cieco7 from Poland. He ships worldwide at a very good price.
I fell in love with the idea of using vintage glass with a raw capable camera. Will this give us a unique cinema look? I sure hope so!
UPDATE: You can see my first test with this lenses here:
Since then I’ve alse joined this facebook group which has been of great help: