TL:DR I’ll be looking at my 3 favourite cameras I’ve used to shoot video with vintage lenses, one’s underrated, one’s totally unique and the 3rd may surprise you.
So after spending 3 years binge watching Mark Holtze’s videos, shooting video with vintage lenses has become a bit of an addiction for me, in fact that’s all we actually use now in our videos both here and in most of our commercial work. There’s just something magical, organic and an almost intangible beauty with these dusty bits of glass that I love, they make shooting videos something of an exciting challenge. So in that time of making what probably amounts to hundreds of videos I’ve come to a few interesting conclusions. Primary of those is that some cameras are more suited to this than others and often they seem to be the ones that get no love in this hype filled YouTube landscape, so in an attempt to combat that, I’ll be looking at my 3 favourite cameras I’ve used to shoot video with vintage lenses, one’s underrated, one’s totally unique and the 3rd may surprise you.
First Up is what I think is the most underrated video camera of the past couple of years, the Sigma FP. This isn’t just an incredible piece of filmmaking kit, nor is it just incredible value, but this camera loves vintage lenses. In many respects it kind of feels made for it, being the rightful heir to original Pocket Cinema Camera!!
When we got to test this camera with it’s Full Frame and L mount I instantly reached for pairing it with the Sigma Mini-Wide Macro which is a 28mm F/2.8 prime from the 80’s. It’s one of those perfectly imperfect vintage lenses, with awful chromatic aberrations and a weird lack of corner sharpness even when stopped down. But it’s around $50 and makes it’s own unique helios like bokeh swirls and bubbles. In short I love it’s weirdness, especially when wide open and as I’m a simpleton at heart I liked pairing a Sigma Lens with a Sigma Camera.
It was a pairing that firstly produced some really exciting and interesting results, but also was a pairing that gave me the filmmaking joy that I’d actually only ever received from filming with the original Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera. It was hands on, felt really manual and made you work yourself into the shot, rather than just spectating the shot. For sure, it’s not for everyone but the results from this underrated camera and lens combo made me smile, and there’s very few pieces of filmmaking kit that can do that!
Second in this vintage lens triptych will be no surprise to anyone that follows us on this channel and that is the original Blackmagic pocket cinema camera.
This almost 10 year old camera is so far from perfect in our 12bit 4k video world that it’s almost laughable that I’d still use it. But it’s one of the few cameras that I don’t think I would ever consider selling. There’s something magical about this micro four thirds camera with its super 16 sensor that oozes character, I’m just not sure it could ever be replicated. But this tiny body and that sensor now feel almost made for vintage lenses. Even when paired with uber cheap Pentacon 50mm it has a quality unlike any other pairing I’ve ever used.
Now these cameras can still be found on the used market, but they’ve jumped in price since I last looked 12 months ago, I like to think I’m single handedly responsible for that, but I doubt it! However for around $500 I’d say this is almost a no brainer if like me you’re not just a video enthusiast or professional but an out and out geek too. If video is your hobby and your job, then this combo or at least this camera on it’s own must be owned!
Finally comes the camera that may surprise you and that’s also the newest, the Fujifilm X-S10.
Now I’ve spent a fair amount of time recently working with Fujifilm’s cameras and I could easily put any of their newer releases in this video and in the underrated category too. However I’ve picked out the X-S10 as it represents such good value and accessibility that it feels like a good fit for those looking for an entry point.
Much like with the Sigma FP, my childlike imagination thought it would be fun to pair this with a vintage Fujinon 55mm F/1.8 and I was so glad I did. This lens has many imperfections which in truth are kind of the point with vintage lenses, those swirls, aberrations and bokeh bubbles are what give your image character and what make it different and that’s what I really enjoy. I love how the bokeh shifts shape towards the corners of the frame, how the background swirls away and the slight colour shift gives you an almost creamy quality. It won’t work for everything, but once you know it’s there you can reach for that aesthetic with intention.
The X-s10, with it’s APSC sensor and awesome handling ergonomics make it easily the most comfortable for handheld manual focussing and with the combination of Fujifilm’s insane IBIS system actually make handheld shooting really exciting. For me that’s the perfect combination and the shooting I really love, handheld with a vintage manual lens, it just makes filming incredibly fun.
There we have my Top 3 cameras for vintage lens video, which in truth could equally read my top 3 underrated cameras for video, but I think I may have already made that video. Anyway all of these bodies just lend themselves to adapted lenses, particularly from the M42 mount but all for different reasons.
🛒 Fujifilm X-S10: https://geni.us/MuDK9zT
🛒 EBAY Fujinon 55mm F/1.8: https://ebay.us/fbPTut
🛒 Sigma FP: https://geni.us/DDon
🛒 EBAY Sigma Mini-Wide 28mm F/2.8: https://ebay.us/S1GzKR
🛒 EBAY Original BMPCC: http://ebay.us/gawvVq
🛒 EBAY Pentacon 50mm F/1.8: https://ebay.us/T989Cm
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