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A Useful Metabones EF to Black Magic Pocket Camera Article

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Way back in the old days, before everything was plug and play, you could buy a computer and accessories from one manufacturer and be certain it would all work together. The cool kids, though, would mix-and-match different pieces and end up with a better system that could do more things than any one manufacturer's system would, and for less money. They realized they might have to spend some time getting this to work with that, and once in a while things wouldn't work at all. That's the price you pay for being a cool kid and getting more for less money.

The people who had problems bought the same thing the cool kids did, but just got irritated when things didn't all work together right out of the box. The cool kids laughed, felt even cooler, and made some money debugging the other kids' systems for them.

We do the same thing today with cameras. It's simple to use a rig, lenses, monitors, whatever of the same brand. It will probably cost a little more and you may have a few less capabilities, but it's just about guaranteed everything will work fine with everything else. But if you want to save some money and expand your capabilities, you mix-and-match systems, often using an adapter or two.  The problems come when people don't realize that not everything is going to play nice with everything else. The problem is compounded because the people who make the widgets just don't have the capabilities of testing everything with everything else.

A few weeks ago Metabones sent me one of their new EF lens to Black Magic Pocket Camera Speedboosters to play with. I did the usual optical testing and let some of the video guys shoot with it, like all the other bloggers do. I planned on writing a piece saying how awesome the optics were (they are) and how many cool things it lets you do with a Pocket Camera (it does) like all the other bloggers do. But in our testing we found a few things that didn't work well together, and it occurred to me that rather than adding yet another "The EF to Pocket Camera Speedbooster is Really Great" blog post, I could do something useful and actually list what it works well with and what it doesn't.

What the Speedbooster Does

First, let's be clear about what it doesn't. It doesn't work with anything other than the Black Magic Pocket Camera. It does NOT work with other Micro 4/3 cameras. If you put it on them, not only will it not work, it will probably damage the camera, damage the adapter, and tell the world you are That Clueless Guy. It won't mount EF-S (Canon crop frame) lenses.

What the Speedbooster does do is take an EF (Canon full-frame) mount lens and multiply the angle of view of the lens 0.58x. Since the Pocket Camera has a 3.0 crop factor (depending on how you measure things), it basically reduces the crop factor to 1.75x. It also increases the maximum aperture by 1.66 stops, so an f/1.2 lens would become an f/0.74 lens. It lets you control the aperture electronically from the camera, and if the lens has Image Stabilization, the IS still works. It even (usually) gives you distance and zoom display.

It does all this while actually reducing aberrations and improving image quality compared to that when the lens is shot on a full-frame camera. I checked. It's true.

But given all of the near-magical stuff it does do, we shouldn't be shocked that it doesn't do it on every single lens made for Canon cameras. Since no one seems to have much of a database on what lenses do and don't work, I thought it best we start one.

 Lenses We Have Tested that Work

I will say a database like this isn't going to be 100% accurate. For example, one of our video techs found a lens that absolutely didn't work with the BMPC and Metabones EF Speedbooster he took home for the weekend. But we've tried several more cameras and adapters on multiple copies of that lens and it did work. You have to remember there's more than just the most recent firmware update involved here. Manufacturers make minor tweaks to lenses, adapters and cameras all the time. Even though a given lens usually works, there may be rare times when a certain combination of lens/camera/adapter combinations doesn't.

Also some of the "working" zooms require registration on the adapter. To do this, you turn everything on, zoom from one extreme to the other, and then turn off the camera for 5 seconds. When you turn it back on, everything works well. Some of the variable aperture zooms listed may not retain registration when zoomed from near to far. In that case, you need to turn the camera off, then things will work again.

Compatible
Cannon 14mm f/2.8 L
Canon 100-400
Canon 100mm f/2
Canon 100mm f/2.8 IS L Macro
Canon 100mm f/2.8 Macro
Canon 135mm f/2.0
Canon 16-35 f/2.8 L
Canon 16-35 f/4 IS
Canon 17-40 f/4 L
Canon 17mm f/4 TS-E
Canon 180 f/3.5 Macro
Canon 200mm f/2.8
Canon 24-105 f/4 L
Canon 24-70 f/2.8 L
Canon 24-70 f/2.8 L II
Canon 24-70 f/4 L IS
Canon 24mm 2.8
Canon 24mm 2.8 IS
Canon 24mm f/3.5 TS-E
Canon 28-135 IS
Canon 28-300
Canon 28mm 1.8
Canon 28mm 2.8 IS
Canon 35mm 2.0 IS
Canon 35mm f/1.4 L
Canon 400mm f/5.6
Canon 40mm f/2.8 STM
Canon 50mm 1.0
Canon 50mm 1.2 L
Canon 50mm 1.4
Canon 50mm f/2.5 Macro
Canon 70-200 f/2.8 IS II
Canon 70-200 f/2.8 Non
Canon 70-200 f/4 IS
Canon 70-200 f/4 Non
Canon 70-300 f/4-5.6 IS
Canon 70-300 IS L
Canon 8-15 f/4 L (keyholes at 8-9)
Canon 85mm f/1.2
Canon 85mm f/1.8
Canon MP-E 65mm Macro
Canon TSE 17mm L
Canon TSE 24mm L
Canon TSE 45mm
Sigma 10-20 f/3.5
Sigma 12-24 II
Sigma 120-300 OS
Sigma 17-50 f/2.8 OS
Sigma 17-70 OS A1
Sigma 18-200 A1
Sigma 18-35 A1
Sigma 180 f/2.8 Macro OS
Sigma 24-105 A1
Sigma 24-70
Sigma 50-150 OS
Sigma 50-500 OS
Sigma 70-200 OS
Sigma 8-16 (keyholes wider than 16)
Tamron 10-24
Tamron 17-50 Non
Tokina 10-17
Tokina 11-16
Tokina 11-16 II
Tokina 12-24
Tokina 12-28
Tokina 16-28 f/2.8
Zeiss 135mm f/2
Zeiss 15mm f/2.8
Zeiss 21mm f/2.8
Zeiss 25mm f/2
Zeiss 28mm f/2
Zeiss 35mm f/2
Zeiss 50mm f/2
Tamron 17-50 VC
Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 VC
Tamron 10-24

Lenses We Have Tested that Do NOT Work

Although we say they don't work, you can mount them and take images in most cases. But you can't adjust the aperture and things don't work well.

Incompatible
Canon 24mm L
Canon 300mm f/4
Canon 35mm 2
Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art
Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art
Sigma 85mm f/1.4
Tamron 16-300
Tamron 28-300
Tamron 28-300 PZD
Tamron 28-75
Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 VC
Tamron 70-300
Zeiss 35mm f/1.4
Zeiss 50mm f/1.4
Zeiss 55mm f/1.4 OTUS
Zeiss 85mm f/1.4

There is a bit of a pattern here. Third-party f/1.4 lenses seem problematic. I suspect this is because they report as wider than f/1.0 with the Speedbooster in place, which freaks out the camera. Canon f/1.4 lenses should too, but the adapter only reports them as f/1.0. I suspect the firmware is lens specific and the third-party f/1.4 lenses aren't added to it yet.  NOTE: A couple of weeks after I wrote this Metabones announced firmware updates that will allow the BMPCC Speedbooster to work with third-party f/1.4 lenses:

It's a Bit Moot for Us

Hopefully this is useful to those of you who will use this on your Pocket Camera. I suspect a new version of the Pocket Camera will be here shortly, though, and how the adapter works or which lenses work or don't work may change with a new version of the camera. Unfortunately, I won't be updating the list further as we'll be discontinuing the Pocket Camera. It's a great product, but it can't be repaired when the HDMI port breaks loose, which happens fairly frequently. Nonrepairable items just aren't rental material.

 

Roger Cicala
Lensrentals.com
August 2014

 

Addendum: Because someone has already asked, the reason the BMPCC can't be repaired when the HDMI port breaks is because the port is soldered to the main PCB and a good tug on an HDMI cable will pull it off. The PCB is permanently attached via a bonded cable to the sensor board, so to replace the HDMI port you basically replace everything in the camera except the casing. Not the best design, obviously. But I'm told Blackmagic is working on an exchange program.

 

11 Responses to “A Useful Metabones EF to Black Magic Pocket Camera Article”

KyleSTL said:

Regarding a few lenses:
Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L
Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L
Canon EF 200mm f/2.8L
Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L
Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L
Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L

Are these all the current version II of the lens? Just wanted to ask for clarity since different generations of lenses could work (or not work) based on changes in design.

A said:

Interesting about the Black Magic Pocket Camera. I must say if I'd designed it, I'd have probably made the same mistake myself - logically I'd have expected a reduction to the number of interconnections inside to increase reliability, not hamstring it!

This is good to know; thank you :)

Lee Saxon said:

Wow, that's a really stupid design. But it was their very first try at something like this (I know it was their ~third camera, but the internals of cameras that much bigger are exponentially easier to lay out). Surely they'll address this with the PCC2 they're probably announcing as soon as the 50% off sale clears out PCC1 inventory.

GetEm said:

Please don't discontinue the accessories for the camera, it's really an excellent tool

LensRentals Employee

Roger Cicala said:

GetEm, we won't - it is a great and useful tool. We just have to make a financial decision on the camera itself. Given that they'll all have to be written off once they break we'd just have to charge too much for the camera to keep it in stock.

Adrian said:

Thank you again for a good idea, on giving great, useful and unique info!

I have one question, a bit off-topic, but i didn't find much info about this anywhere, and since you are into both speed-boosters and sony A7, maybe you have tried it:

How does it work FF lenses adapted with the nex speed booster, on A7 cameras, forced in FF mode?
I know there will be some vignetting, but, you know the lens is round, the sensor is not... so i am expecting to have more vignetting on the sides, and the top/bottom to be quite ok pretty close to the FF margins - so a square crop would provide some interesting image.

Seeing some tests on how it works it could be a nice reason for me to find an excuse to get into yet another system :) ).

David said:

Silly question, if the HDMI port is just solder on, then why not just solder a new in its place. This should be easy as it looks like from you picture to be fully accessible. Getting a bags of 100 terminals should be cheap from ebay.

Thank you for the list. Interesting that Zeiss lenses don't work. I think many would have liked to use them.

LensRentals Employee

Roger Cicala said:

It's a tough, tiny solder for a human, they're designed for robotic soldering, but more importantly the traces on the board tend to be broken along with the solder when the port pulls out.

Ben Davenport said:

Well, they don't actually have to be written off. Traces can be repaired, and pads re-glued to the PCB. There's a special glue to use, and repair kits of pads of various sizes, and replacement traces, solder mask, etc. The results look surprisingly like new. Surface-mount mini HDMI (Type C) connectors can be hand-soldered as well (use a clean iron tip and plenty of flux; it's not actually that hard). You can't keep doing that indefinitely, but it's not the end of the road if the connector body tears pads off the board.

But I can totally understand Roger not wanting to get into the PCB repair business. Or maybe he's willing, but the economics just don't work out if you have to budget a few hours of a tech's time every few rentals when the connector dies again; I have no idea what the market will bear.

It's not entirely clear from the photos how that's constructed, but it looks like a rigid/flex/rigid construction encompassing both the sensor and main board, rather than a flex circuit soldered to the main board. If that's the case, then BlackMagic is probably either planning to repair the connectors on boards sent in for exchange, or will be replacing them with a more modular design and eating the cost of the new PCB(s).

LensRentals Employee

Roger Cicala said:

Ben, you are correct on all counts. The connecting 'flex' enters the PCBs on both sides, making connections within the PCB sandwich.

We could probably learn how to surface mount some HDMI connectors, but it would be a time-consuming learning curve for us, and I suspect we'd have a significant failure rate, at least at first.

Garug said:

What does Canon 8-15 f/4 L (keyholes at 8-9) mean?

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