Cinematography Mailing List - CML

Nikon Lens Adaptor

I'm currently working on the project and producer want to use Nikon lens with adaptor on Aaton XTR as s-16 format. and I never shot with this lens before. Before I'll do the test, can I get some advise on this set-ups? anything specific I have to be careful?

Thanks for your time...

Ryo Murakami
"Recently Graduated Student" DP

The Nikon adapter works fine with all the manual focus Nikon-mount lenses, but sometimes the autofocus models will have a pin the can get in the way. Usually you can work around this but it's best to try it out beforehand. Also make sure to have a tiny flathead screwdriver handy. You won't need to dismantle anything, but the metal flap that holds the locating pin on the lens in place on the adapter is so small that I sometimes have difficulty using my fingernail to pull it and use a jeweller’s screwdriver instead. It's much easier to mount the adapter to the lens first and then mount them together to the camera.

If you're using a very long lens such as a 400mm T2.8 then you may wish to rig some form of lens support so as not to tax the mount. In a pinch I shoved the arm of my follow focus (no gearing on the lens anyway) underneath the lens to give it some support.

Also note that most still camera lenses are not completely internal focus like modern cine lenses. This means that the front barrel may rotate as you adjust focus and the lens may physically get longer or shorter as well. You should take this into consideration when positioning your mattebox.

Don't forget that the common adapter mount is for the old Aaton mount, so it will not work on a PL-mount camera, and finally I never trust the focus marks on a lens that I have not had collimated and checked with adapter on my camera (lot's of depths that could be off my a few microns here and there), so consider these eye-focus only lenses.

Hope this helps,

Mitch Gross

Thanks for your information, Mitch.

About the focus problem, if I re-marked the points on the Nikon Lens, could I relay on the DOF charts as other lenses? Or should I just do strictly eye-focus.

Thanks for your time

Ryo Murakami

>About the focus problem, if I re-marked the points on the Nikon Lens, >could I relay on the DOF charts as other lenses? Or should I just do >strictly eye-focus.

Depth of field is depth of field so you shouldn't have a problem. But the DOF performance of a given lens may vary based on its resolving power, so I would generally be conservative in your use of DOF charts.

I generally only use my Nikon adapter for shooting with telephoto lenses, where the DOF isn't going to be much anyway. Careful using a bunch of shorter Nikon mount lenses as your standard prime lens set. They might not particularly match well for color and contrast, and still lenses are not manufactured like cine lenses for accurate focus, zoom or aperture marks, plus they breathe when adjusting focus, track poorly and transmit a lot of sound. They can yield excellent images but are not designed to function in the way that the cine world uses lenses day to day.

Mitch Gross

...which Nikon lens are you planning on using?

The longer lenses are very good (180mm & up); the later models all being internal focus. They have a bit of 'slop' in the gearing so it can be hard on the AC trying to pull focus of someone walking straight at you.

The shorter lens are not all that great...VERY difficult to pull focus (too short a throw) & also very dark to look thru (I was using my 28mm F1.4 which is an extremely sharp lens).

Any of the 200/2, 300/2.8, etc, etc, you MUST use lens support....these lenses are very heavy & will deform the adapter or the Nikon mount itself if left unsupported (especially the 400/2.8 & longer).

I would try to eye focus whenever possible. Wide-open they are pretty easy due to the speed & shallow depth of field.

All the best,

Al Satterwhite

Copyright © CML. All rights reserved.