After having my Eclair NPR’s gate modified to Ultra 16mm several years ago, I started looking into affordable lenses that would cover the new, wider frame. Since my NPR has both the Eclair CA-1 and c-mount on a handy turret, I decided c-mount lenses were probably the way to go because they were relatively cheap and fairly abundant. But, I needed ones that could cover the frame without vignetting… if that was even possible. I had shot plenty of film in Standard 16mm and Super 16mm with Arri and PL mount lenses, but Ultra 16mm and the c-mount was new to me at the time.
Ultra 16 frame size = 11.66 mm x 6.15 mm
Super 16mm frame size = 12.52 mm x 7.41 mm
BMPCC sensor size = 12.48 mm x 7.02 mm
I began searching forums, talking to camera techs and anyone with knowledge of lenses in film production. If any of the information I had about a few c-mount lenses that covered Super 16mm(or came close) was correct, I would be in good shape with my Ultra 16mm gate on the NPR.
Back then, I was able to purchase many of these lenses in excellent condition for very little money. The Canon TV-16 lenses were of specific interest to me since I had lots of experience with Canon lenses for video and stills. My opinion had always been that Canon makes pretty glass. So, I invested in a nice set of focal lengths and was very pleased that they all covered the Ultra 16mm frame perfectly. Little did I know that a few years down the road the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera and it’s near Super 16mm sensor size would breath new life into these little gems.
I recently received my BMPCC and shot a quick test in RAW with the Canon 13mm f1.5 lens and I must say, I’m seriously impressed. I have tested all of the lenses below on the BMPCC and only one of them vignettes(the Canon 12-120mm zoom)… slightly, at about 15mm in the zoom range. The 13mm is particularly good because it’s very sharp across the entire frame, fast, and provides a nice wide focal length on the BMPCC. I’ll be using this lens a lot.
I hope to find time to post samples from each lens, but for now you can check out my little test with the 13mm above on vimeo. I shot RAW and exposed to the right, pulled in processing with Adobe Camera Raw, color graded using the Osiris VisionX LUT, added a bit of Gorilla Grain 35mm, and cut the piece in Premiere Pro CC.
My c-mount lenses, tested on the BMPCC:
• Canon TV-16 10mm f1.8 fixed focus (requires a M4/3 adapter that will allow the mount housing enough clearance to completely screw into the adapter. Otherwise, it becomes a wide macro lens)
• Canon TV-16 13mm f1.5
• YVAR 25mm f1.8
• Canon TV-16 50mm f1.8
• Canon 15-150mm f2.8 (With the lens shimmed slightly for proper focus, performs perfectly. Very sharp. This will be my go to zoom in c-mount!)
• Canon 12-120mm f2.8 Macro Fluorite (Great lens, but vignettes slightly at around 15mm. Has a reputation for being very sharp, but seems a bit soft to me)
And a little note: Blackmagic REALLY needs to add audio meters to this camera AND FIX THE TERRIBLE GRID PATTERN that rears it’s ugly head in bright areas of exposure. Otherwise, I’m in love with this little machine and my c-mount lenses!