Camera kits

E-Mount Lenses - perfect for the Sony FS7

The Sony FS-7 and now FS-7 Mk II are amongst the most popular mid-range 4K cameras around today and whilst they are compatible with either EF mount or PL mount lenses with suitable adapters, the FS7 series cameras are fitted with a native lens mount E mount or APS-C format and it is not commonly known that lenses actually exist which can be fitted directly to these cameras without needing an adapter.

This is a shame, as there are some useful lenses available to the film maker today and this article explores the advantages of using native APS-C or E mount lenses and details the range of lenses available today.

In case you are confused with the naming convention, there is no difference between E Mounts or Sony α Mount and as these are all different names for the same mount. APS-C format represents the image size, which is very comparable to Super-35 and is independent of lens mount, though this is often used with E Mount lenses.

For easy reading, I shall refer to this mount as an E-mount, rather than calling it an E-Mount/APS-C/Sony α Mount.

 

Why does the E-format exist?

Without going into the boring bits about image sensor compatibilities and available space to sensor to permit multiple lens options etc, the important thing here to note is that:

 - Native EF mount cameras are NOT compatible with PL adapters (C300, 5D, Blackmagic),
 - The native E mount cameras (Sony FS7, A7S Mk II etc) are compatible with both EF and PL adapters to allow both EF mount and PL lenses to be used. 

This is a great advantage, since there are an enormous range of EF and PL lenses available today, all of which are compatible to use giving a huge choice to choose from. 

The Canon C300 Mk II and ARRI Alexa Mini/Amira get around this limitation by making the camera lens mount interchangeable to give the user a choice of either a native PL or EF mount but changing the lens mount does involve some unscrewing and refitting and also exposes the sensor.  This is not for everybody and certainly not something that you want to do in the field.

In contrast to this, the original Canon C300 Mk I did not have interchangeable lens mounts, so you had to choose whether to buy a native PL or native EF version depending on the lenses that you planned to use.

The Panasonic EVA 1, Canon 5D series cameras, Canon ME20 super low light camera and many Black Magic cameras others ONLY make cameras with a native EF mount.

Seen in this light, an E mount is actually quite versatile.

Using Lens Adapters - PL and EF lenses with FS7

With an E-mount camera like the Sony FS7, using a PL adapter does not pose any problems, since all PL lenses are manual lenses by design (the /i data is not compatible with adapters) and the adapter is simply metalwork. 

However, using EF lenses with an E-mount camera can be less responsive.  Since the majority of EF lenses are electronic and often are devoid of an iris ring (iris control is controlled via the camera body on EF cameras), so users have little option but to use the now-familiar Metabones series lens adapters.  These work well and allow EF lenses to be fitted to E mount camera and the user is able to manually ride the iris (or control the iris from the camera) but users frequently claim that iris control is not as responsive as using manual lenses or cameras with native EF mounts.

Another issue is that using lens adapters introduces inherently more ‘play’ in the lenses, since the lens being used will have 3 x separate mounting points to the camera, rather than just 1 when using a native lens mount.

 

Native E Mount Lenses

Happily, there is a 3rd option and that is to use lenses with native E-mounts – these fit directly to the camera body avoiding using a lens adapter.

 

Full Frame and S-35 coverage for E-Mount Lenses

One caveat here is worth mentioning – whilst all of these lenses are compatible with FS7 series cameras, A7S series cameras are not compatible with all of them as they have a full-frame sensor.

Essentially, the Sony FS7 and FS7 Mk II have Super-35 coverage, whereas the Sony A7S Mk I and Mk II achieve full frame coverage

 

Perceived Field of View for Full Frame and S-35

The second issue worth mentioning is that for the Sony compatible lenses, working in Full frame means that the perceived field of view (in full frame mode) is wider than that of S-35, owing to a larger image size being generated by the lens.

The very useful website by Abelcine here demonstrates this very effectively.

 

The Range of available E-Mount Lenses

VMI stocks 3 x separate types of E Mount lenses: The native Sony SELP/SELZ zooms, the Fujinon MK series zooms and the Veydra Mini primes.

Note that more native E mount lenses are available in the marketplace but VMI currently stock this range of lenses and this is likely to continue to increase as these lenses become more popular.

 

Sony SEL G series Zooms

VMI currently stock 3 x Sony native E mount lenses for hire, all of which are budget lenses and have two advantages of being both compact and lightweight (roughly 0.5kg) though all have a relatively slow F4 maximum iris.  They are fully electronic lenses and full auto control and servo functions are compatible with both the Sony FS7 (Mk I or II) and A7S (Mk I or II). 

Their electronic design though means that manual operation is rather limited and their limited focus rotation and design makes them unsuited to focus pulling and conventional film-type applications such as using wireless lens control systems etc.

 

Sony 16-35mm FF/S35 zoom

The Sony SELZ1635 is a 16-35mm/F4 zoom lens which has an equivalent 35mm range when working in cropped mode on the A7S cameras of 24-53mm.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sony 16-35mm FF/S35 zoom

The Sony SEL1635GM  is a 16-35mm/F2.8 zoom lens which has an equivalent 35mm range when working in cropped mode on the A7S cameras of 24-53mm and is a stop faster than the SELZ1635 but as a result is 160g heavier.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sony 18-105mm FF/S35 zoom

The Sony SELP 18105G is an 18-105mm/F4 zoom lens which has an equivalent 35mm range when working in cropped mode on the A7S cameras of 27-157.5mm.

    

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sony 28-135mm FF/S35 zoom

The Sony SELP 281135G is a 28-135mm/F4 zoom lens which has an equivalent 35mm range when working in cropped mode on the A7S cameras of 42-202mm.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fujinon MK series E Mount Zooms

Fujinon has taken a completely different approach to Sony and created 4K quality zoom lenses specifically designed for S-35 coverage and supplied with a native E mount. 

Fujinon has manufactured two film zoom lenses to cover the 18-135mm range with an 18-55/T2.9 and 50-135/T2.9.  Both achieve a constant T2.9 thoughout their zoom range, don’t flare and equipped with special coatings to match the look of other Fujinon film zoom lenses.  Importantly, both are manufactured with a native E mount and are designed to cover S-35 but not full-frame.

Unlike the Sony lenses, these are fully manual throughout and are built inside robust metal housings.  They feature clear focus scales and feel like serious lenses.  Their 4K performance with minimal focus breathing, 200 degrees of focus adjustment and being fitted with industry standard 0.8 gear focus gear teeth reflects their precision design and manufacture.

They are also surprisingly light (just under 1kg) and of course fit directly onto Sony FS7 (Mk I & II) though worth repeating that neither are compatible with the Sony A7S in 4K mode, since these cover S-35 only.

Crucially, compared with DSLR primes, these are parfocal, so focus is held when you are zooming.

Both of the Fujinon MK zoom lenses incorporate a Macro and back focus adjustment.

Read the process how Fujinon designed these lenses here

 

Fujinon 18-55mm S35 zoom

The Fujinon MK 18-55mm/T2.9 Cinema Zoom Lens is a 4K zoom lens which covers 18mm-55mm in S-35 and a minimum focus distance of 2’9” or 1’3” in macro mode. It weighs just 0.98kg (2.16lb) and is 20.6cm in length. (compare this with a metabones and 24-70mm lens at 16cm).

The MK 18-55 also incorporates a macro mode for close focussing capabilities and a flange adjustment for adjusting the back focus.

 

 

Fujinon 50-135mm S35 zoom

The Fuji MK 50-135mm/T2.9 Cinema Zoom Lens is a 4K zoom lens which covers 50mm-135mm in S-35 and a minimum focus distance of 3’11” or 2’9” in macro mode. It weighs just 0.98kg (2.16lb) and is 20.6cm in length. Compares with 23cm for 70-200 and Metabones

Like the 18-55, the MK 50-135 also incorporates a macro mode for close focussing capabilities and a flange adjustment for adjusting the back focus.

 

 

Veydra Mini Cinema Primes E Mount

Veydra are a lesser-known Californian lens company who manufacture purpose built mini prime lenses with Chinese optics which are surprisingly good.

They manufacture a The Veydra Cinema lens prine set which features extraordinarily compact lenses which are just 11.5cm long and weigh just 880 grams per lens. 

Whilst these are manufactured to cover micro 4/3 images, the 5 lens sets that VMI stock are fitted with native E-Mounts which fully cover Super-35 of 19mm-85mm and are all T2.2 (except for the 19mm which is T2.6), so easy to produce a shallow depth of field.

Veydra Cinema Lens Set (E Mount)

 

Conclusion

* External lens servo option is available from P+S Technic and full WLCS systems from multiple manufacturers.

** Veydra Mini Cinema Primes have a variety of different mounts including Micro 4/3 and E Mount but VMI only supply these with a native E-mounts

Barry Bassett, July 2018

 

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