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Jag35 pro Review: Depth of Field (DOF) Adapter For Your Video Camera

Lights Film School recently acquired a Jag35pro 35mm depth of field adapter. We’ve been testing the lens adapter now for the last week and we thought we would post our review for our students and blog readers. The reason we think this review is important is because depth of field (DOF) adapters allows independent filmmakers to add an incredible amount of technical production value to their films and videos at a very low cost.

For those of you who don’t already know, a 35mm depth of field adapter is an attachment you put on your video camera and it allows you to attach 35mm lenses from still cameras onto your video camera. The difference this has on your final video product is massive and impressive. Attaching a 35mm lens to your video camera allows you to control the focal length and most importantly the depth of field within your shot. You will also now be able to use wide angle lenses, telephoto lenses and so on to control the look of your film.

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This is exciting because up until fairly recently this possibility has not existed for filmmakers. Large Hollywood productions have always had this ability. However, independent filmmakers using consumer or pro-sumer level video cameras have not had this option.

There are a few major players in the 35mm Depth of Field (DOP) adapters industry. Redrock M2 and Brevis 35  are the two biggest names. The problem is that although their products are great, they cost independent filmmakers upwards of $1300 for the attachment alone. Once you start buying lenses and flip adapters, this price will increase dramatically.

The reason we wanted to review the Jag35pro was because the price tag is only $275. This makes a 35mm Depth of Field adapter considerably more reasonable for independent filmmakers. Best of all you can get the adapter made to fit old Canon FD lenses. These lenses are great and can often be picked up for $25 – $100 each on Ebay or in your local used camera shops. You can also get the adapter made to fit Canon EF lenses. These lenses are newer and often more expensive, but we recommend keeping your costs down by getting FD lenses unless you already have fast EF lenses ( f1.2- f2.8).

You can watch some test footage with the Jag35pro below


Best Images of 2008 from jehu Garcia on Vimeo.

Overall this product is fantastic. We have been using this product for a week now and we are incredibly impressed with the capabilities of the Jag35pro.

The most impressive features of this product are obviously its technical ability to help create a shallow depth of field in your video footage. Before adapters became available, this option was only available to video cameras that cost upwards of $4000. Now you can attach a Depth of Field adapter to a $100 camera and you get great control over your depth of field. Overall, the Jag35 pro is a great product for filmmakers on a tight budget.

Another great and unexpected feature of this product is that it adds weight to smaller camcorders. In the past we’ve liked shooting with heavier cameras because they don’t have the some high levels of noticeable shake as lighter cameras. Once you’ve attached the Jag35 lens adapter and lens you’ll have added quite a bit of weight to the camcorder which produces more stable footage.

We also thought that the vignetting within the image would be worse on an inexpensive producuct. For those of you who don’t know, vignetting is the change in brightness or saturation around the periphery of the image. You’ll notice in some of the test footage above that the 4 edges of the frame where slightly darker than in the center. However, the vignetting was not terrible at all and some cases people find this effect desirable. Of course it existed slightly within our footage, but all we needed to do was zoom in very slightly to get rid of the darkness around the corners of the image.

We also knew that because the light would need to go through a few more layers of glass that the camcorder would need to have its exposure adjusted in order to avoid underexposure. However, this was not as bad as we anticipated. While we definitely needed to manually increase our exposure a couple of notches to achieve our desired level of exposure, the darkening of the image was not of considerable consequence. That being said, on cameras with 1 small CCD chip you might experience troubles shooting in low light conditions with this adapter.

The quality of the image is also not degraded at all. We expected increased graininess or pixilation but the image remained clear and clean. Of course high quality lenses which don’t have scratches or dust in them are important in achieving a clean image as well.

The only downsides to this adapter is that without the flip hack, it reverses the image. This means you’ll see the image in your LCD screen upside down and backwards. This can obviously be easily fixed in post production. However, shooting this way can take some getting used to. After practicing for a week I am already much better at composing each shot. You can also order a flip hack if you don’t like shooting upside-down.

We also lost our ability to zoom using our camera’s zoom control. We could zoom very slightly which also helped get rid of the vignetting, but after a certain point the image becomes completely blurred. This means you’ll need to reposition yourself closer to your subject rather than using your camera’s zoom to do the work for you. This however, is of little importance to us in most of our shots.

The biggest upside to the product is its ability to maintain a great image quality and obviously the price point is incredibly attractive as well. The biggest downfall is that you’ll need to adjust both the manual focus on your camera and the focus on the lens that is attached to the adapter. This makes “run and gun’ shooting very difficult. This may make the adapter more difficult to use on documentaries or in situations where there are a lot of unknowns in terms of movement. However, as we stated above, as time goes on we get more and more confident with the flipped image and trust in our abilities more and more each day to compose beautiful images using the Jag35pro.

You can order this product from their website at:
http://www.jag35.com/


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