Tip of the week: An adaptable camera system

Tip of the week: An adaptable camera system
A Zeiss CP.2 lens on an Olympus E-P2

A Zeiss CP.2 lens on an Olympus E-P2

Every Thursday, we will post a photography-related tip here. These tips are typically inspired by questions we get from our customers. Sometimes we might feature a technique tip, and sometimes a gear recommendation. If there’s something specific you’d like to see in this section, let us know. Email us at blog@borrowlenses.com.

Today we’re going to talk about a video camera called the Panasonic AG AF100. The AF100 is from a family of products that adhere to the Micro Four-Thirds standard. So far, Olympus and Panasonic are the two manufacturers making cameras for this standard, but a number of other manufacturers have also signed on to produce add-ons for it. Sigma, Carl Zeiss, Lensbaby and Voigtlander, all venerable manufacturers, have signed on to make lenses for it.

The Panasonic AF100

But the true power of this standard comes from the manufacturers that have built adapters that let you bring a variety of non Micro Four-Thirds lenses to this platform. Voigtlander and Redrock Micro are some of the companies that make adapters that will let you use Leica, Canon and Nikon lenses on a Micro Four-Thirds camera. The image above is of a Canon-mount CP.2 lens from Zeiss, with an adapter that let us put it on an Olympus E-P2 Micro Four-Thirds camera. There was a little play in the fit, but it worked well enough.

The CP.2 was a lens designed specifically for video. With the same adapter shown in the image, you can also adapt that lens to the Panasonic AF100, opening up a wide range of cinematic possibilities.

Nikon F Mount to Micro Four-Thirds adapter

Nikon F Mount to Micro Four-Thirds adapter

But that’s not all. Take that Nikon F mount adapter we rent and you can take Nikon’s ‘D’ lenses and put them on the AF100, or the Panasonic GH2, which is also pretty well known for its video capabilities. The ‘D’ lenses have manual aperture rings on them, so you have full manual control of the lens.

There are two caveats here. None of these adapters allow for auto-focus (but that’s ok, because most video being shot on cameras like this are shot in manual focus anyway). Also, the Canon adapters don’t allow for aperture control, so you’re stuck shooting with the aperture stuck wide open for the most part. There are tricks around that, but the Leica and Nikon adapters are your best bet if you’re looking to go this way.

So the next time you’re considering shooting video, consider the AF100. It’s a pro body, with advanced controls for video and audio, and with the right adapter, you could put some amazing Zeiss, Nikon, Canon or Leica glass on it and do some pretty cool stuff.

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Sohail Mamdani is a writer, filmmaker, and photographer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter or find him at anymedium.com.


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