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B4 lenses for event shoots?
  • I have some event shoots coming up. Single speaker on a stage with two camera angles. Both cameras will be gh3s. I've rented a couple nikon 80-200mm for these in the past, they are cheap to rent, and really good lenses, but when I want to reframe I loose focus and when I need to change exposure, I have to do it in clicks. It seems that a good quality b4 lens adapted to m43 would do just the trick. The only thing is, I can't find any footage, other than bs test footage of random stuff. Or anyone talking about using these constructively. Has anyone out used these lenses for events or weddings with results they were happy with? With which specific lens? Or perhaps seen footage of that would make you lean either way? I'd want to use the one with a 2x extended, I never use extele unless it's not possible to get by without.

    Thanks guys.

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  • I am with you too on this. I actually wanted to buy one but I haven't been able to find any one that has used it on live events like wedding that I can download and check the quality.

  • @kupchenpo, @HillTop1

    Sure, I use B4 lenses a good bit - combined with m43 mounts (GH series, BM's, Af100). They are great with an electronic zoom (libec makes a nice one). A bit or research and soldering and you can get them powered easily from 12v battery power.

    Here's an example from mid-2012 (haven't updated our website in a while) from vimeo - - 4th down on this page, "Pavement" - all of the close shots for that live show were with a B4 canon zoom on a hacked GH2. With enough light, they can be really good for close and medium work. Substantial caveats: slow with the doubler, often soft on the edges and there is CA (unless you want to buy good HD glass with the Abelcine), and you need to be really strong with operation as focus error margin is thin.

  • @DancingCamera Could you tell more info about that power cable soldering? Schematics etc.

    I have one B4 lens in my closet. Quality adapters are so expensive, almost the same price I paid for the lens, so I haven't got chance yet to try it.

  • Me too, I adapted a b4 canon lens to a m43 gh2, by buying the adapter to a polish seller. But my lens has no extender, so I had to use the ex tele. The result wasn't bad, I just had to avoid opening the lens at 1.8, otherwise the image would get blurry (unusable). I had the schematics of my lens, so I was able to solder a supply cable to get the zoom working. But after that I abandoned the project because the image quality is not good as the one you get by using a HD dedicated lens, and the zoom factor is too high. You also don't have a stabilizer, so it's not possible the use without a tripod...

  • @tonalt

    Of course, and it's pretty easy to find this type of thing: 12-pin insertion view - you can wire to gnd and +12v lens line for power - that's pins 3 and 6

    To be clear - this is not a walking around lens at all. It is definitely for a tripod when you have plenty of light. That's why we use these only for live performance shooting with theatrical stage lighting. Also, a good lens makes a big difference - j Canon or a Fujis if you want to try SD lenses.

  • @DancingCamera Thanks so much for those examples. The footage from "Pavement" looks great! With the doubler, the f-stops are doubled as well as the focal range? Is it soft wide open? With those two combined, is that why you say it needs "plenty of light"? Are you generally happy that you have it or is it more hassle than benefit? Thanks.

  • @kupchenpo

    In my experience, even the good b4 lenses are a bit soft/exhibit glow wide open (most are 1.7 or 1.8), but even by f2.8 tighten right up. Obviously there aren't hard stops on the iris, which is nice. The doubler is definitely halving the aperture setting (so that 1.7 is 3.4), and you're right about those being my reason for saying it needs light. The doubler cuts the glow you'll see at the open end without the doubler at wide apertures.

    The focal length is doubled, but most of these b4 lenses are less than 10mm to begin with (some in the 4mm range!), so it's not a big deal. Again, good for closeups ;)

    I'm happy with it because I employ it where it's useful - e.g. close shots with a lot of control. For the other angles (for live performance events), we use different options.

    Here's my take: + powered option that has high-level controls available (beautiful extremely slow zooms with pro-grade zoom controller) stepless inexpensive and almost all operator hires are familiar with format/layout built to take a beating very clean center with a good lens, big zoom range focus controls can be found cheap on ebay (not really needed, but there)

    • a lot of gear to drag along (batteries, heavy,etc) slow glass with the doubler soft edges need to buy adapters, extras

    I've used these successfully on many, many shoots (throw them on the BMCC, for instance, with native 800iso) and it works great for close, artful operation in a theater. Also, DOF is far greater with these on m43 than any comparable 2/3" sensors, which can be quite useful/unique in the right context.

    A small and strange fantasy I'll likely test if it becomes available - b4 zoom -> B4-EF adapter (slight distance adjustment) -> EF passive-m43 Metabones -> m43 camera. It's silly and stacking adapters is messy, but the increased light, sharpness, and width could be something.

  • Here is a video I shot with a cheep B4 Canon YJ 17x9.5B4. Panasonic GH2, Cluster X Drewnet trial 8, Cinema 1080 24 p H, ETC mode is always on, F4-f16, iso160-200.

  • And the same set-up is here as well: