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A few simple tips on using the FX30 with vintage lenses


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Ever since I made my

with the FX30, where I paired the APS-C sensor with some vintage lenses, I’ve been getting questions about how you actually use older glass with the FX30.

It’s actually quite simple, so I wanted to demystify it a little for new users!

Here are the basics.

1) Find the adapter.

Honestly, all you have to do to put a vintage lens on your FX30 is find the right adapter. Twist on an XYZ mount to E mount adapter, and *bam* you’re in business. If you’re at a thrift store and see some really funky looking glass you just have to try out, look online at BH or Adorama to see if they’ve got [that lens mount] to E mount. That's it.

There are a few weirdo lenses that extend so far in the rear, they won’t actually fit anyone’s digital camera, but a cursory internet search for said mounts and adapters will let you know right away.

For the FX30 shoot with the VW van, we used lenses with three mounts:

  • Helios 44-2 with a M42 to E mount
  • A bunch of miscellaneous FDs from KEH and Goodwill with FD to E Mount
  • Voigtlander 35mm f/2 and 15mm f/4.5 Super-wide Heliar already came fitted with E mount

While there are certain adapters that offer different optical elements or added functionality, keep in mind, there’s just no way a manual vintage lens will ever work the way a Sony G series lens will. Some filmmakers swear by adapters with added optical elements to widen the angle of view, but I just used two simple $23 mounts and had no regrets.

I should say that here I’m talking about vintage lenses that you are picking up for relatively cheap. If you’re using (or renting) something more $$$ like K35s, which have shot up in value 500% over the course of the past five years, go with whatever the rental house or previous owner recommends!

2) You can absolutely use full frame lenses, just keep in mind the crop factor.

There’s no reason you can’t use any full-frame lenses on your FX30, old or new. You just have to keep in mind the 1.62x crop factor of the FX30 APS-C sensor. It doesn’t change the character of the focal length, it just changes the how much of the frame your lens is capturing, the angle of view, aka how wide you can capture the scene.

Since the FX30 has a 1.62 crop factor, a 35mm full frame lens will behave like a 56mm on APS C sensor.

You know, 'cause 35 x 1.6 = 56


3) Be prepared to focus by hand.

So with any old glass, you are almost certainly going to be going full manual when it comes to the aperture and focus. Focus peaking and Zebra and all the FX30s extensive exposure settings all work and help to guide you. So just think about this during Prep and don’t plan any shots that demand dedicated autofocus. Instead, run with the nature of the vintage lens!


4) If you’re trying to recreate a vintage look, the lens is only half the battle.

The truth is that vintage lenses are great for getting looks of yesteryear, but it’s only half of the equation for your final image. The other half is what the sensor brings. And since the FX30 sensor offers so much to get creative with, think about the color space beyond the lens. I used LUTs from Alexandru Don from the SonyCine LUT library for anything in the shoot that wasn’t in the “vintage” realm of our shoot. (Because they perform really well with differing skintones.) But in order to make the vintage sections have the vintage look, I wanted the sensor to mimic 16mm film. For our bright daylights, I ended up going with a specialty LUT from Triune Digital called 50D, which emulated Kodak 50 Daylight film stock.


Does anybody else have any tips or tricks? Or maybe different opinions or approaches? Or favorite vintage lens of the moment?

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