Angénieux on Canon

Machinists, rental house gurus and cinematographers have been working late for the past few weeks, seeking the cinematographic grail of  attaching PL-mounted lenses onto Canon EOS D1 Mk IV and 7D cameras. The quest, more than a recurring manifestation of retrofit syndrome, is to be able to use high-end cine lenses with their familiar capacity for repeatable follow focus, manual aperture and mechanically controlled zooms. A few rental houses and machine shops are making headway, extracting mirror and shutter assemblies, in the transmogrification of  Canon EOS 1D Mk IV and 7D HDSLRs into modern-day electronic Eymos.

But wait — hold your Dremels and dental drills!  You don’t have to totally void your camera’s warranty in the first few days of ownership. You can keep your mirror, Canon mount, and Canon still lenses. We did some more testing of MBF Filmtechnik’s PL mount to Canon EOS adapter using Angénieux Optimo zooms. We shot tests at Clairmont Camera (above), with thanks to Alan Albert, Denny Clairmont and Andre Martin for their time, patience and hospitality.

The Angénieux 35mm Film Format Optimos shown on this page are the only zooms I’ve tested that work with the MBF adapter on Canon EOS 1D Mk IV and 7D cameras without modification. These Optimos have a retrofocus design, which means the rear element doesn’t protrude into the lens cavity. (The MBF adapter doesn’t work with the two Optimo DP Rouge lenses—16-42 mm and 30-80 mm—because their rear elements hit the mirror.)

The Optimo zooms are perfect PL companions for high-end Canon EOS HDSLR cinematography. Last year, the Academy presented a Sci-Tech Award for “the mechanical…and optical design of the compact and lightweight Angénieux 15-40 mm and 28-76 mm zoom lenses for handheld motion picture photography. With focus and zoom functions that can be easily controlled by either the operator or focus puller while filming handheld, these lightweight zoom lenses demonstrate a very high degree of engineering, supporting both ease of use and quick interchange.” Who would have imagined that just a year later these lenses could be successfully used on digital still/HD cameras?

By the way, I neglected to follow my own advice in the picture above. I highly recommend using a baseplate to support the lens and camera body. Although the 15-40 and 28-76 zooms are lightweight, these lenses are still heavier than the camera, so a baseplate helps keep weight and torque off the mount.

Here are the Angénieux Optimo zooms that work on Canon EOS 7D and 1D Mk IV with MBF Adapter:

Optimo 15-40 mm (2.7x) T2.6 zoom

Minimum object distance: 0.6m / 2′

Weight (approx): 1.92 kg / 4.2 lbs

Length: 186 mm Front diameter: 114 mm

Optimo 28-76 mm (2.7x) T2.6 zoom

Minimum object distance: 0.6m / 2′

Weight (approx): 2 kg / 4.4 lbs

Length: 205 mm Front diameter: 114 mm

Optimo 24-290 mm (12x) T2.8 zoom

Minimum object distance: 1.22m / 4′

Weight (approx): 11 kg / 24 lbs

Length: 440 mm Front diameter: 162 mm

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