THE DEATH OF THE 35MM ADAPTER

  

    HD camcorders gave us the freedom to shoot without the expense of film and development cost. The drawback was the inability to achieve shallow depth of field. With a fixed lens HD camcorder, everything is in focus down to the smallest detail. In the late 90s, filmmakers using HD video, were forced to use tricks such as lighting in layers with the subject lit the brightest.

   Without these creative but limited solutions, the audience can become distracted by a pretty extra in background or billboard that is part of the set. The result: your scene loses its impact due to lack of control over the image. The advent of the DOF or 35mm adapter gave us the ability to achieve a shallow depth of field giving you more artistic control of the image. For those who don’t know, the device works like a telecine using the macro focus of the camcorder to capture the image on a ground glass screen. The glass is spun using a miniature motor.

   The shear weight of these devices and their components can be in excess of 20 pounds. This paved the way for an entire industry of camera support systems to redistribute the weight of the device, the lens, the follow focus and the HD monitor, which is critical to ensure clear, sharp focus.

   Enter the 1080P Full Frame DSLR The Canon 5D and now the 7D have only been on the scene for a short while, and now video shooters everywhere are ditching their EX1s, HVX200s and even their XHA1s for the affordable full frame DSLR. Indeed, many fortunes have been made by those manufacturers of the 35mm adapter, but I’m afraid it’s all over now. Prices are falling, and it’s no secret why.

   You can buy a Sony EX1 for $6.5k with a Letus Ultimate for $4k, totaling more than $10k without support railings, lenses or an HD monitor. Those accessories could easily jack up the price another $10k depending what you get.

   However, I can buy a 5D Mark II and a good lens with an ikan monitor for under $5k. If you’re still convinced you have to have a traditional video camera with a 35mm adapter, but your on a budget, you can buy the Panasonic DVX100 for $2.7k and get a Redrock Micro M2 Encore DOP Adapter and support system for $2k bringing you in just under $5k with no lens or monitor.

   On the other hand, you can go to B&H and get a 7D with a lens for under $2k. That leaves some extra cash to get the V5600 from ikan for $630, and then you’re ready to shoot for under $3k. Final Analysis The Canon 5D Mark II ushered in a new era of video production that has left Sony, Panasonic, JVC and even Canon’s Video division standing on the sidelines to make way for the multitudes who are literally grabbing them from stores before they can be shelved.

   In the meantime, the DOF Adapters are not moving, and the prices are dropping. Some are 50% cheaper then they were just six months ago. How low will the prices go in the coming months? Who knows. One thing is certain; the full frame DSLR revolution has rendered the 35mm adapter irrelevant and obsolete. The question isn’t, “Will they stop manufacturing,” but “When.”

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YOU CAN’T TAKE PICTURES ON THE TRAIN…I THNK…

I’ve contacted Metro offices at 713-635-4000 to find out if I can take pictures on the train. The operative seemed shocked that I would ask and said I don’t need permission. Then I told her what happened last night, and she said well METRO Police are the experts, and I should really ask them. So I called the Metro Police at 713-224-2677, and the first officer I spoke with told me that it was illegal for me to take pictures on the train. He explained that if I wanted to, I would need to get permission from MTA…written permission. When I asked if I was on the sidewalk would I be able to take pictures without a permit. Again, he stated no as it would also be illegal. I asked him what law I would be breaking. He said he didn’t know, but because of terrorism, I could not take pictures of the train. When I asked him what terrorism he referred to, he put me on hold and put me on with a supervisor who said the same thing.

When I asked the supervisor what law I would be breaking, and if it a misdemeanor or felony and what would be the nature of the charge, such as theft or driving under the influence, he admitted there was no law strictly prohibiting photography of the train, and that I would not be charged. He said what would most likely happen if I was taking pictures is detainment.

They would run my ID against their terrorist watch list, and if my name did appear on the list then they would take me down to the station, and wait for Homeland Security, and then they would probably release me as there is no law that has been broken. He said that if this happens to ask for a supervisor. Yea right, so what I can get tazed..? I don’t think so…

When I asked him what terrorism involves a private citizen taking images of the train, he said there have been several near misses where bombing plots have been foiled because someone reported a suspicious person taking pictures on the train. He said the media was not alerted to this, but it happens all the time.

So just to clarify, there is no law that prohibits photography of the Metro Light Rail in Houston, but Metro police have still been given the mandate to detain anyone they see with a camera. When I asked the officer, why would a Police Officer quote a law that doesn’t not exist..? He said he can’t control what each individual does when on duty, and he said to file a report if I want…

To some this might seem like much ado about nothing, but consider this, there has been no domestic terrorism since 9/11. There certainly hasn’t been any in Houston. These local police officers are clearly getting their mandate from Homeland Security.

This is a very clear violation of our civil rights specifically freedom of the press. If we don’t exercise this right, we will lose it. I encourage everyone with a camera, board the Metro Rail System and take pictures. Take as many pictures as you can as often as you can. Please post your experiences online and let’s take back our freedom before it becomes a legend. It’s up to you.