Vintage Lenses For Video?

Testing M42 Lenses on the BMPCC (M4/3 Mount)

After falling back in love with the character of the Original Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, in our recent video, I wanted to see how plausible it is to adapt some cheap, vintage glass to this camera, to truly maximise it’s character, to find some more unique aesthetics and also to prove that you can get a truly high quality image for next to no budget at all.

After a little reading & mainly watching Mark’s videos on loop, I settled on a few contenders. Really I wanted any to find anything fast, prime and ideally with an M42 mount. The M42 screw mount is super easy to adapt to M4/3, so I bought one of these cheap K&F adapters. It’s all metal which is nice, but does no other job than allow me to screw these lenses onto my M4/3 cameras. 

At this stage I haven’t picked up an adapter that has a focal reducer or speed booster, but more on that later. For now all I wanted is to get going quickly and to see if vintage glass is an idea worth pursuing… And boy was it!!

The first lens I’ve picked up is the Pentacon 50mm F/1.8 Multi Coated, and this was just £20. A fast prime 50mm for 20 quid, seems to be good to be true. and honestly it’s the best and most fun £20 I’ve ever spent on camera gear.

I’ll go into more details on this lens in a separate video, as it really does deserve it. But instantly I’m in love and hooked on this idea – manually focussing for video, feels real and organic. The combination of the BMPCC and this 1970’s East German lens is honestly, amazing. Is interesting, characterful and most of all sits in that magical place for gear, where it inspires you to go out and film. 

The Caveats

So clearly, converting M42 to M4/3 doesn’t just work, but its relatively inexpensive and fun, especially on this old  camera. But there is some caveats to mindful of.

There’s the obvious stuff with buying old gear and especially of ebay. Lenses are delicate items, they can suffer from fungus, aperture blades getting oil & dirt sticking them open, focus rings getting stuck… there’s a lot of potentially hidden pitfalls. So keep that in mind when you see prices that seem to good to be true. 

Next is the issue specific to the M4/3 mount and this super 16 sensor… the crop factor, it, is killing me. It’s at somewhere near 2.8X, so this 50mm is something close to a 140mm equivalent. Whatever it is, It’s ridiculous. So for certain I’m going to have to invest in a speed booster, if I’m to continue this little lockdown experiment. I’m just hopeful that that won’t effect the aesthetic of the lenses too much, but I guess we’ll find out soon enough!

Lastly, the BMPCC’s lack of IS is hard to work with. Personally I love to shoot handheld, especially with manual focussing. But in reality, it’s just not option with these old lenses, as even the best attempt at digitally stabilising the image in post isn’t going to help you.  

Summary

So this is just the first of a mini adventure for me, a way of me holding myself to account and challenging myself into looking at these cheaper vintage lenses, particularly on the MFT mount of the pocket cinema camera and to see how could things can get without breaking the bank. 

To think you can get an image as good looking and characterful as this, for under $500 is actually ridiculous and that this lens only cost £20, well that really excites me to dig deeper. 


🛒 Pentacon Multi Coated 50mm F/1.8: https://geni.us/7ZuKi
🛒 Original BMPCC: https://geni.us/Lz0mV
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