Yesterday FedEx delivered the new SLR Magic Rangefinder Adapter. I haven’t had time to do any useful tests but I wanted to provide plenty of pictures and a description.
This is simply a barebones package shipped out for testing and the images you see here are not the final product. Keep in mind there will be proper front and rear lens caps, manual, professionally packaged boxing, etc. with the final product.
So, what is it? This is an adapter that mounts to any taking lens with a 77mm thread or with an appropriate step up ring to create a single focus solution for anamorphic lenses, cinema lenses or lenses used for stills photography. This RF (Rangefinder Adapter) simply screws on the front of a lens. Like many of SLR Magic’s cinema oriented products it has a built-in focus gear to turn the focus ring or can be turned by hand. When I turned the focus ring it’s an extremely smooth, well dampened 240 degree focus angle. As seen in the next two pictures below, there’s a prominent witness mark on the adapter with distance markings on the focus ring.
For those of you not familiar with anamorphic lenses, one challenge indie film makers, low-budget cinematographers and enthusiasts like myself have to work around is focusing the taking lens and the anamorphic lens separately. This makes rack focus, follow focus or any lens with AF (auto focus) capability practically impossible to use when in a studio or on set. This adapter works by setting the taking lens at infinity, setting the anamorphic lens to it’s applicable range and only use the SLR Magic Rangefinder Adapter to adjust focus.
Andrew Chan gave me a brilliant suggestion for this RF adaptor to be used with AF lenses. Just by playing around with this RF adapter in the first five minutes, on my Sony A7s + FE 55mm f/1.8 + SLR Magic Anamorphot 2x, YES, you can finally use full AF but only under certain conditions. I don’t know the full range of possibilities yet so please be patient as I carefully conduct tests and create a video demonstrating my findings.
So let’s see this in action shall we? If you already own the SLR Magic Anamorphot 1.33x or Anamorphot 2x, simply screw the rear reverse ring (shown below) on the anamorphic lens.
Use the center witness marks as a guide to align the RF adapter and the anamorphic lens.
The final steps are to simply mount it to the taking lens, set the taking lens to infinity and now what I should be using to rack focus or follow focus is the focus ring on the SLR Magic Rangefinder Adapter only.
Of course, this process is the same on the SLR Magic Anamorphot 1.33x.
My initial thoughts, this is a brilliant concept that’s never been implemented in this way and will serve the needs of enthusiasts, prosumers and perhaps cinematographers for more than just anamorphic lenses. Can’t afford true cinema lenses or anamorphic projectors thus limiting options to normal lenses used for stills photography that breathes heavily when racking focus? In my initial tests, this RF Adapter almost eliminates lens breathing as well. Simply set the taking lens to infinity and the RF adapter does the focusing. Let’s assume you don’t want to purchase a full-fledged anamorphic lens kit with diopters because it’s too much trouble to be switching out diopters when in the middle of a shoot. No problem, buy the anamorphic lens and this adapter still performs like a “mini” diopter allowing close focus range of three feet (or less depending on the taking lens and anamorphic lens combo used) to infinity.
Now there are some potential limitations. First, there might be some vignetting on wide angle lenses. I can’t confirm this on my gear because my Sony FE 28mm f/2.0 front filter thread of 49mm is too small to mount with the RF. There is a slight drop in detail, but in my opinion, on my FE 55mm f/1.8 lens it’s negligible.
SLR Magic provided a means to have a single focusing mechanism, that also addresses lens breathing, can be mounted either to an anamorphic lens or mounted directly to a taking lens, in a high quality build. This is a real winner. Pricing for the SLR Magic Rangefinder Adapter is expected to run $599.00. SLR Magic is discussing a potential cheaper RF that will be a “simplified” version with only “near” and “far” markings at price point goal of “about half” of this current version. Expect a video sometime by the end of next week. I will post it on Vimeo and here. Thank you.