FGV Schmidle is a respected rental house in Munich and Berlin, with more than 35 years’ experience. Their PL retrofits for Canon EOS 7D HDSLR cameras appear to be the most sophisticated yet; we’ll be testing them next week. The excellent idea is how they’ve attached the PL mount to the base, which adds rigidity and provides three 3/8 x 16 standard threaded tripod mounts to prevent the camera from twisting–which it normally does with its standard, puny, single 1/4 x 20 socket.
You can use all known 35mm PL-mount motion picture prime or zoom lenses (Zeiss, ARRI, Cooke, Angénieux, Red…). However, since I suspect many of you are planning to use this camera as an Eyemo style crash camera, be sure to rent a real crash or splash housing, and consider using lenses that you would, as they say in the stock market and financial world, be willing to lose.
To use all PL mounted lenses, FGV redesigned the original plastic housing for the mirror and the sensor mount, and fabricated the mount assembly out of a single metal block. The SLR mirror, autofocus unit, groundglass and the prism viewfinder had to be removed. So, for focus and viewing, you need to use the Live-View mode, which has a decent magnification for critical settings. The FGV-PL7D is designed to be truly rock-solid even with big and heavy zoom lenses known from film sets: the new FGV sensor carrier module weighs more than 300g alone. The new sensor carrier for the original 7D CMOS sensor is a rugged and very precise imaging unit. For external Start/Stop with a Lens Control System or a simple remote switch there is a 3-pin Fischer connector. The rest of the camera stays the same.
The 7D shoots frame rates of 23.98 / 25 / 29.97 fps @1920×1080 as well as 50 / 59.98 fps@1280×720 or 640×480.
The sensor format is good for 1:1.78. The actual sensor size is 22.3 x 12.53mm, which is comparable to motion picture Super 35 – 3 Perforation ANSI 1.78 format (23.11 x 12.98mm). So, the 7D active senor size is very close to the standard 3 Perf film format.
On that subject: the 5D covers 36 x 24mm, but most motion picture lenses cover 24 x 18mm.
Delivery begins now with ten units for the ARRI Rental Group in Munich, ARRI CSC in New York, and six units for Otto Nemenz International in Los Angeles. You too can buy one on a “first come, first served” basis, for around 4.750 Euros + VAT (around $ 6,500). Take a number. Can you still use the PL7D as a stills camera? Yes you can. The shutter remains intact in the camera, so you are able to take photos in “Manual” and “Av” mode. However, you have to focus manually with the live view function on the LCD screen at the back of the camera (or an external monitor). Since there is no mirror, the autofocus unit and the optical viewfinder were also taken out. Consider the PL7D just like a regualr point and shoot camera – just a lot more expensive, with PL mount, and but it comes with a great display and an easy magnification mode for critical focus.
Of course, the modification voids the original Canon warranty. However, check with FGV on their liberal warranty and repair policy. www.fgv-rental.de