P+S Technik Mini 35 for the DVX100 review
by Jarred Land and Todd Williams
All thumbnails on this page are heavily compressed for speed, Click images to enlarge uncompressed.

    As great as the Panasonic DVX100 Camera is, XL1 users still can take a shot at it because you cant use "real" lenses on it. Until Now.

P+S Technik released the Mini35 for the XL1 awhile back, and it has created quite a reaction. The idea of using Cinema lenses on the DVX even brought a mad rush of DIYer's trying to make their own version of adapter for the DVX100. Well Finally, P+S Technik has released a version of the Mini35 adapter for the DVX100, and we where very excited when they arranged for us to check it out.

Clairmont (www.clairmont.com) graciously hosted our tests and supplied us with a box of Cooke Primes. I brought along a fantastic DP named Todd Williams, ironically we had just shot a short the week earlier using a mini35 Adapter on an XL1. Todd was excited for this test as he has taken the DVX100 as far as it could, as seen on Art History, and wanted to see how much farther this adapter would let him go.

The Adapter

The adapter is much like a sleigh for the camera. The camera goes on one side, and the Cine lens go in the other.
Camera Plate to attach the Camera.

    The Adapter is extremely well made. It is all industry quality machining and has no plastic parts, everything is made to tight tolerances as would be expected for the $6000 price tag.

The oscillating ground glass is speed variable and motor driven, and operated by the same battery type as the DVX.

    The oscillating ground glass is powered by Panasonic type batteries, and one battery should have no problem lasting you the entire day.

    Below are some images of the basic assembly, It comes with a manual but we rarely needed to reference it. Basically you just need to screw on the Lens attachment onto the DVX, and then snap it into the adapter assembly. The DVX needs to be at full zoom, this can still be adjusted after the assembly as there is a little cutout to spin the focus and zoom rings on the DVX. Once its assembled you focus on the ground glass when its turned off.

DVX100 receiver screwed on via the 72mm threads. There is a locking mechanism that needs to be aligned to your camera, but only once. We received a Panavision mount and a PL mount for our tests.

     There are a couple different Mounts for the adapter to take different lenses. We were sent a PL mount and a Panavision mount. You can use Anamorphics, Zooms and Primes, we choose to use a box of Cooke S4s. Cooke lenses have a very large diameter of glass so the light roll off on the edges is less noticeable since the DVX is capturing the center of the frame. They are also very sharp, fast (2.0f) and eliminate most flares.

Wire Sockets for input and remote. Cooke 100 mounted and ready to go.

That are nice retractable rods to support any follow focus or mattebox you could need. They should also fit Zoom supports if used.

At over 2' long and 15 pounds means no more one handers. ( I know you don't do that anyway's :)

We were able to match the focal distance on the Cookes so the focus scale measurements remained accurate. We chose the Cookes over the Zeiss as the Cookes are just simple better lenses, and the diameter is significantly larger than the Zeiss's so the edge light fall off is less noticeable.

In Use:

     After we assembled the unit, and focused on the ground glass the first thing we did was adjust the speed of the ground glass, till it wasn't noticeable We found that setting #4 gave us best results, with a focus reading on the DVX at 60 and a F stop on the DVX at 3.4f and the cookes wide open (2.0f). We noticed about 2 stops of loss using the adapter, and we complimented that by adding 4k's of light, about 2x the amount of light we normally would require.. To test contrast latitude, we left the scoop lights un-diffused.

     The Cooke's marked focal measurements remained accurate, and we were able to take consistent measurements throughout the range of lenses. When you first look at the Monitor you naturally feel like you are having a hard time to get the image to "pop" when you hit focus. Some of this is because of the Ground Glass effectively resembles shooting through a black pro mist filter.

Setup: 2 Arri 2k scoop soft lights back on low, front on high settings. Chair 10' from lens, Back wall 18' from lens. Camera Settings 24pA, Cine-gamma, Default.

100mm Cooke Wide Open (2.0f) 3.4f on DVX
75mm Cooke Wide Open (2.0f) 3.4f on DVX

50mm Cooke Wide Open (2.0f) 3.4f on DVX
40mm Cooke Wide Open (2.0f) 3.4f on DVX

32mm Cooke Wide Open (2.0f) 3.4f on DVX
25mm Cooke Wide Open (2.0f) 3.4f on DVX

18mm Cooke Wide Open (2.0f) 3.4f on DVX
14mm Cooke Wide Open (2.0f) 3.4f on DVX

The Rack between me and Trent from Clairmont with the 40mm Cooke; with me 10' and Trent 5' from the lens Click Here to View the Rack Windows Media 9 clip

     We were very impressed with the results. The footage took on the warm characteristics of the Cooke Primes and gave a very nice shallow depth of field. You need to use alot of light to compensate shooting through the 3.8f DVX at tele, 2 stop loss on the adapter and then whatever the true stop of the Cinema lenses you are using. Shooting at night may be tough, and given the increased size those shoulder mounted shots become a little less comfortable, but the Mini35 adapter's images are well worth those trade-offs.

Special thanks to P+S Technik, Barb at ZGC and Trent at Clairmont for providing us with the Mini35.