Some of the best surprises at NAB are under glass. This pre-prototype 18-252 mm T3.8 zoom is something we haven’t seen before: a small 35mm format cine zoom lens with built-in optical image stabilization and a short flange focal depth. It’s planned for Sony’s F3 camera, and uses the camera’s proprietary F3 mount. Previously, we reported that this lens might be 18-180. Note that the sign says “R&D sample.”)
This is the first salvo in alternatives to the venerable PL mount, which is 52 mm deep. The F3 mount is about 18 mm deep (exact measurement to be divulged later) — made possible by lack of mirror shutter, electronic finder and custom lenses. Sony’s other small camera, the NXCAM Super 35, is also Super 35mm format, and uses the E mount, which is 18mm from lens flange to sensor.
Electronic contacts in the F3 mount “talk” to the Sony 18-252 mm zoom lens, supplying metadata and letting you control the built-in zoom motor with the F3’s handgrip rocker switch.
So, what we have here is a zoom very familiar to still and motion prosumer and consumer cameras–now for the first time in a 35mm cine format with a very short flange focal depth. As the rear element of a lens is designed to be further away from the image plane — called telecentric — the size and the complexity of the lens increases. That’s why Leica and Zeiss M rangefinder lenses are so small and compact compared to Leica R and Zeiss SLR lenses.