Panasonic HVX200: Lens Adapters

I’ve been reviewing HVX200 accessories like tripods, monitors, storage, etc. Once I got to matte boxes and filters for HVX200, I knew I have to include lens adapters.

Panasonic HVX200 is dubbed as the low-budget filmmakers HD camera. Although it has an impressive lens (Leica, 13x zoom lens), the lens is by no means a be-all, end-all lens. You should pay extra attention to makeup donts when using this lens.

If you’re into extreme sports videos, you probably need a wide-angle lens. If you do skateboards, you need a fish-eye. It has become a standard shot although a bit cliche.

The fish-eye lens for Panasonic HVX200 for extreme sportsThe Super Fisheye from Century Optics produces an “extraordinary degree of barrel distortion with a magnification factor of approximately .55x. Adding the Super Fisheye to HVX200’s 13x Zoom Lens, results in a 92° horizontal angle of view.” The fish-eye works wonders whether you’re shooting from below (someone jumping over you), or above (top of half-pipe).

Wide-angle lenses have an incredible depth of field so you might want to go wide for action shots or tracking shots. If the auto-focus is not 100% spot on, you’ll save your shot by going wide. Robert Rodriguez shot some of the action scenes in El Mariachi with a 5.7 Kinoptic wide-angle lens. He didn’t even need to focus, he just pointed the camera in the direction of the action.

Extreme close-ups: if you need those, there are “achromatic diopter” lenses that you attach to the zoom lens. You’ll probably only need them for a few shots, so you could just rent or borrow these. Apart from shooting flowers and bugs, you can find usage for these by shooting dilating pupils (e.g. Requem for a Dream).

Tele converter for Panasonic HVX200Tele lenses are always popular with amateur filmmakers although not always for the right reasons. The “zoom” factor on a lens has become a marketing gimmick. Get this 400x digital zoom now. Using digital zoom however ruins the quality of the footage. There could be a few exceptions where you might need that extra push but you’ll be better off with a tele converter. There are plenty to choose from but not all are created equal. I think a 1.6x tele converter is about the highest you want to go. The ones that come from eBay are 2x and go for 50 bucks should go to the trash.

Talking of adapters and converters, there’s one important distinction to make. Converters will allow you to use the whole zoom range (i.e. go from wide to tele). Adapters usually only extend your range. For example, a .6 wide-angle adapter will give you a 40% wider angle of view. You can usually zoom a bit before you experience vignetting on an adapter.

Some manufacturers also offer (or plan to do so) 35mm lens adapters for HVX200. The discussion about these is still raging on but maybe I could do a review once the dust settles somewhat. Combining film depth of field with HVX200’s frame rates will make this camera a totally different beast. I mean that in the nicest sort of way.