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posted by - Thursday, 12 March 2009


So here’s a fun one. When the HPX300 rolled in and I saw the 1/3″ B12 lens mount, I was reminded of the JVC HZ-CA13. It’s an optical relay system similar to the old Angenieux CA55 rig. The JVC unit is a true aerial imaging optical system that takes Super16 PL mount lenses and projects their imaging down to a 1/3″ sensor. You get the field of view advantages but no change in depth of field, so it’s not like the popular lens systems with the spinning groundglasses out there. Another advantage of the device is the light loss – more specifically the lack thereof.

For a quick test, I took a Zeiss SuperSpeed 12mm T1.3 and put it up on the HPX300 using the CA13. The camera has an image flip mode specifically for using rigs like these, so I instantly corrected the adapter’s image. The image was bright, sharp, contrasty, and BRIGHT. Did I mention bright? To get the proper exposure on my subject I stopped down the lens to a T5.6.

For comparison, I took off the lens and adapter and mounted the standard Fujinon 17x lens that comes with the camera. The same exposure read T4 on that lens. By focusing the Super16 image circle down to the smaller 1/3″ image area in the optical relay, the CA13 effectively increased the sensitivity of the camera by nearly a full stop! That’s a lot nicer than some of these systems that eat a couple of stops in sensitivity.

Understand that this adapter does not have that “35mm film” look. First off, it’s for use with a Super16 lens (you can put on a 35mm format lens but it would be just looking at the center of it). More importantly as a true optical relay, it does not give that shallow depth of field look that so many people want out of those other adapters. But what it does offer is a way to mount excellent optics to the camera at an affordable price. Many people already own Super16 glass from old film kits. Or the lenses can be found used at very reasonable prices. The optical quality is very high – higher than you would get out of the relatively cheap lenses that are commonly used for a lower-cost camera such as the HPX300. The 1920×1080 capabilities of the camera are served by this adapter perhaps better than any other lens system. And it’s brighter, which has to be better, right?

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