I bit the bullet and decided to try a 35mm adapter cold on this latest shoot for Peacemaker Ministries. It’s for a new resource promo video and they wanted a very filmic, edgier look. We had some leftover budget from the production so I hollered at Justin O’Neill at HD Cinema Group (aka @obendega) for a 35mm rental for my Z7U. Since they had a Seattle office, it seemed to make sense until I saw the FedEx tracking that still sent everything to Memphis.
Regardless, he cut me a great deal renting an M2 for a couple of days. He did however forget to send the mattebox with it, so said after I told him I was shooting in broad, bright daylight and really needed the box, he was sending me his ARRI MB20IIs they use for their RED One. I was like “geeze, I don’t need THAT much!”, but it really is an amzing piece of matte box amazingness. HUGE props to Justin and HD Cinema Group for outstanding customer service. They’re going to be my regular go-tos since there are ZERO rental houses closer than Denver or Seattle.
So the Auto Focus Assist. I spent damned near an hour trying to get the thing to focus. I was about to pack it in when I found in a thread that Macro will only work when the AF Assist is ON. This is where the REAL issue is with the Z7U comes in here. Macro focus needs to be on. BUT you can only have it on when Auto Focus Assist is ON. Right, that’s bad. But, there’s no way around it. I had everything off and couldn’t get anything in focus, nor could I get macro fuctioning. If someone has a solution, please post up.
So during the shoot, the focus issue only showed up twice, seemingly out of nowhere (seems pretty good for 7 hours hours of shooting to me). But I still had a surprising amount of control without the AF Assist poking around- when it was an issue, it was a real issue. So I wouldn’t recommend doing a 35mm adapter on the Z7U for that reason. I have a friend with an EX1 I can get my hands on if I do this again (pending it doesn’t have that issue).
Aside from having to lug that beast up a huge hill to get to the location (insurance is a good thing), the shoot went very, very smoothly and I got all the shots I was hoping for. I primarily used a 35mm F2 lens and a 50mm F1.4 lens; both Nikon. I wanted to sneak the 85mm F2 lens inthe mix, but really didn’t see the need after I got all my shots. I have two more shoots I was wanting to use the 50mm for tomorrow, but I may just opt for the 85mm since the 50MM is where I had all my focus problems. I’ll play it by ear.
So I know now why people just LOVE 35mm adapters. I think they’re fantastic. Setup, teardown and lug around is a bit of a pain though. If I can get similar goodies at higher bitrate out of the current crop of DSLRs and maybe the Scarlet, I might opt for that if I was buying. I don’t plan on ever running big, massive cinema lenses, but we’ll see…I never planned on doing video either…