A morning with MTF…….
Ever wondered what that little blue ring you see between the camera body and lens is? Lens adapters are not unique and are available from many people for many application, what however makes MTF a bit different and what sets their products apart as being arguably the best in the world…and made in the UK?
Before visiting MTF I sought the advice of a few cameramen who were mostly at a loss of questions to ask and one even admitting he found the whole lens adapter scenario pretty boring!! Bear with me though……
A quick history..
When MTF first started trading in 2005 it was largely with the designs its founder, Mike Tapa, had created whilst working with Optex and upon the demise of Optex these lens adapters were resurrected and so began MTF’s journey. In the early days of 2004-2005, most cameras in use were small chip, ” , ” and ” and that was it, any one putting a still lens on those cameras would give the user an angle of view similar to a much longer lens such as extreme telephoto for use in wildlife or maybe niche surveillance uses.
As the chips of the cameras get bigger they get closer to the format the stills lenses were designed for, so the lenses behave how they were originally intended for. This has now opened up everything with the introduction of large chip cameras such as Panasonic 101, Sony f3, Sony FS 100 and now Canon C300. Those cameras have been designed in such a way that the register is much shallower than the older cameras which in turn give the space to add an adapter. The manufacturers have really done peoplelike MTF a favour by designing them in this way and now virtually any lens will fit on those cameras.
Do you work with camera manufacturers?
Well manufactures like Sony have actually been really supportive and when speaking to the right people we have forged great relationships with them and we have often given them MTF product to have on the stands at shows. We have close links with many individuals and often get a good insight to new cameras coming out. A recent example was the Nikon adapter we made for the Sony F3 which was actually available before the camera was. Users could then pre order the camera and have the adapter in their hands ready and waiting!
With the introduction of the c300 and the like will there still be a requirement for DSLR?
I can see it really, looking going back to the early days of the smaller chip cameras , apart from the fact it was hard to get adapters on due to the deep register, the thing everyone was crying out for was shallow depth of field and before the DSLR came along you had the depth of field adapters like the P+S Technik for example which were big cumbersome bits of kit that would literally hang off the camera. When the DSLR came along it effectively killed the old business overnight as all of a sudden you can get your shallow depth of field with the big chips. Now these big chip cameras have started to kill off the DSLR side of the industry which means the tide is now turning our way, as luck would have it, due to the new cameras.
When did the bigger chip revolution begin for you?
The Lumix stills camera came along, this was the start of the micro 4/3rds for which we did PL and Nikon adapters for this , then the Sony NEX, again more PL and Nikon mounts (the world’s first as it happens) and now we are playing catch up to keep up with the Panasonic 101, Sony F3 and so on….
With so many permutations where do you start?
It relatively easy for us to design a new adapter but the time from design to delivery can cause issues with so many cameras on the market.
Everything is designed and built in the UK, the designs are done here at MTF and the drawings are sent off to 2 or 3 manufacturers in the UK and then the assemblies are then returned part built here where we do the final assembly, test, QA and despatch. We’ve just launched a B4 adapter for Canon EF and I worked with Alistair Chapman who had the idea and came to us. We managed to get this up and running quite quickly and the official launch is at BE. This allows you to put a B4 lens on the smaller Canon 7d and c300 but with the additional cold canon EF to F3 so you can go from B4 to F3 and B4 to FS100 so it’s like 3 products in 1. We also recently did a PL version (B4 to PL) and this was done in just a few days.
We recently had a cameraman working on Springwatch wanting to shoot macro footage and wanted to use a medium format lens on his 2/3 camera (B4 mounts) and we came up with a solution for him, we have since made a few more and added to our range for others with the same problem.
Do you have competition?
When you think about it it’s not rocket science, we try to be the first and do it really well. We have great customer service; we had a guy in Holland needing a PL x2 extender and he’d noticed we had on our website which is built to order, we put it together for him and his requirement was suddenly a lot sooner than he had thought so we flew Elaine over to Holland with it under her arm.
There are others that do what we do, some do a pretty good job, some people are put off by the words “made in china” or elsewhere in eastern Europe – there is some good stuff coming from there of course but equal amounts of not so good. Around 80% of MTF product is exported to just about every country you can name and some you have probably never heard of.
We are getting increasing big orders in the USA and it’s not unusual to work through the night just to fulfil the order which can sometimes be in excess of 100 adapters.
So what’s new for BVE?
The new EFFECT (EF full exposure control terminal) lens, although not launched we have been shipping via word of mouth for the past two weeks now. We had one cameraman using it for the Level 42 concert in west London and just before that one was used to shoot a pilot for a channel 4 drama – this was the first to be used in anger, it was a loan and since then they have brought one for the rest of the series.
Who do you sell to?
We sell to everyone, end users, distributors, dealers. There are many competitors in lens adapters and comparing like for like our products may seem on the expensive side, the reason behind this is the “built in the UK” badge where nothing is cheap in manufacturing terms plus of course the quality processes and materials we use built by skilled craftsmen. In these products you really do get what you pay for.
Any possibility of a 2/3’s to micro 4/3’s (b4 to micro 4/3rds)?
We already do one! B4 to micro 4/3rds. It has no optics in it. The image from a b4 lens is only 11mm diagonal so that image needs to be expanded to cover the micro 4/3rds format – now there are 2 ways to do this , firstly the expensive and stupid way of having an adapter with optics in there that do it which tend to be v expensive (a few 1000 dollars – probably almost as much as the camera) or there’s the simpler way of using the 2 x doubler that’s already in the lens which is designed to work with that lens so we’ve got a simple, well made, mechanical adapter with our stainless steel micro 4/3rd mount that does the job for £295!
Any plans to produce a easy look up table on lens choice for camera?
www.lensadaptor.com is our new website which does exactly that. (SHOW SCREEN SHOT) – have a play, its very easy to use and been live for a little while now. We’re in the process or promoting this new site. It has everything we have on the mtf website and with the camera selector pull down box you can easily select locate the adapters to fit your Sony FS100 for example. WE have a shopping cart built in and lots of other handy features to guide you through.
I want a Nikon lens for my camera – I searched online and found loads, the price varied massively. What is the difference?
£20 tells you straight away that you are not buying a quality, long lasting product – it’ll look like the equivalent but you just won’t know until you try to use it that it is In fact a far inferior product. It’s fairly easy to make a Nikon adapter fit on the lens but with products like especially micro 4/3rds or e mounts adapter then generally the cheap ones the mounts on the camera are all made out of one piece of aluminium and can easily be damaged and also the fitting accuracy is often just not there.. If it looks too cheap then it probably is!
We go to a lot of trouble to make these from stainless steel to ensure they are machine well and give years of trouble free service. We’ve actually thrown over 200 of these away simply because they just didn’t come up to our standards with tolerances.