If you have been shooting with Canon DSLRs in the past and switched to the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera like we did you probably kept your lenses.
The Pocket Camera (BMPCC) is only available with Micro Four Thirds (MFT) mount which means an adapter is needed to use the Canon EF lenses. We mostly use electronic lenses like the 24-105mm F/4 or the Tokina 11-16mm F/2.8 lens. The problem: You cannot change the aperture manually. Cheap MFT-EF adapters only transmit the image but nothing else. That’s a big deal because the iris can’t be changed. You’re always stuck with the smallest aperture.
Aputure sent us a prototype of their upcoming DEC lens adapter with wireless remote control for our Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera. The main features: Follow focus and iris control as well as the option to start and stop recording. It will be released soon for $399. There are two different versions available: One that works with Micro Four Thirds mounts and another version for Sony E-mount cameras.
You can watch an overview and test video below. The unit we got performed well without any troubles but keep in mind that this is not a production ready model! We also didn’t try out the Sony E-mount version. The EF lenses we mainly tested: Canon 24-105mm F/4, Canon 50mm F/1.8, Sigma 30mm F/1.4, Tokina 11-16mm F/2.8.
The lens adapter has an on/off switch, a Micro USB input, a small OLED monitor on the left side to display the focal length, aperture and some other things. The remote control (grip) also has a little monitor, an on/off button on the top and a USB connection for charging and updating the software. To use all features a cable is needed that connects the camera body with the lens adapter. We used a LANC cable on the BMPCC. Different cables are included in the package.
The DEC only works with electronic lenses with auto focus! To use the follow focus the lens has be set into auto focus (AF) mode. The speed of focusing depends on how fast the focus puller is being pushed into one direction. The performance of focusing hugely depends on the auto focus system and motor of the lens that is being used. We mostly used the Canon 24-105mm F/4 L lens which has a good auto focus. We never had any troubles. The performance was always precise and very smooth.
We tested the cheap Canon 50mm F/1.8 lens which has one of the worst auto focus systems out there and even that worked most of the time. Obviously not so precise but what do you expect from a lens that costs less than $100. It all comes down to the software and firmware so we may see some improvements in the future when it comes to lenses with “bad” auto focus.
You can see the whole setup on the picture below. The remote control is mounted onto the tripod by using the included clamp.
A great feature is the mark/stop mode. You can focus on a certain point and press the A button on the left side of the remote control. The DEC saves that information. Now you can focus on a second point and press B. If you pull focus after that the DEC will only be focusing between those two marks. This is an essential feature that makes it easy to work very precise. Once you hit the mark or the end or infinity the remote will vibrate.
The iris can be changed by turning the wheel on the backside of the grip to the left or right. The iris is not being displayed on the camera’s monitor but on the remote and the lens adapter.
The adapter does not increase the aperture or reduces the crop factor like a Speed Booster. The DEC is definitely a different tool compared to the Metabones Speed Booster for the BMPCC because it’s mainly meant to be used as a follow focus. At this point of time image stabilization (IS) is supported on some lenses but obviously not every lens out there, especially third-party products. We were told that lenses that are not supported right now may be supported in the future by updating the firmware.
The device will probably even be released in April 2015 after NAB in Las Vegas. It will be priced at around $399 which is a solid price considering the different features and the good performance of the device.
The DEC is a useful tool for small crews. It’s easy to get great results without having to be a professional focus puller. The device can be useful on shoots where a gimbal is being used or a lot of movement is involved. Slow, smooth moves as well as super fast focus pulls are precise.
Written by Moritz Janisch