9.06.2010

Quick Reader Question

Reader asked: Is a letus adapter worth it for HVX200 owners?

I replied in comments, but thought it would also be useful here. Also, while I love shooting on this camera, I am not an HVX owner myself. So if you are an HVX owner, please add your two cents!


It really depends on the type of things you're shooting. The letus can look very beautiful but can slow you down, add bulk, and cost you some light. My favorite aspect of the HVX is that it's compact and easy to run around with, while still giving you a great image, and the adapter, while it can give you a more "filmic" look, kind of ruins that fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants freedom for me. I'm not sure what your experience with the letus has been like, but here's what I noticed:

When I used the letus I was on the Sony EX3. I think the letus is fine for that camera (maybe even a bit unnecessary— slap on ND filters and open up your aperture and you have already nice DOF). I did love how our footage came out. But with the letus, lens and support bars, the camera was long, heavy and a bit cumbersome. This was ok for us, as the type of stuff we were shooting was always kept on the tripod, either still or on a dolly, with controlled lighting. The film was very much a lot of talking and ambience. I had to do handheld for only one shot and hated it (heavy, unwieldy without renting proper rigs) and wanted to get back on the dolly. I also relied heavily on having an AC/focus puller on that shoot in order to move quickly.

Also, since the light has to travel through a lot more stuff to get to the camera sensor, a lot of light is lost. Low-light situations got tricky and were more manageable when we had a lot of controlled light.

So what is the kind of stuff you are shooting with your HVX? If you're more hand-held and fast-moving with a small crew, it most likely won't be worth it, as I believe it detracts from the original charm of the HVX. If you are shooting in more controlled conditions, it might be worth looking into if you think the stories you're shooting would truly benefit from that "look". You get to play with nice lenses and get DOF comparable to 35mm.

There is also the added benefit of having that equipment available for potential jobs, if you're a freelancing DP. It gives you more options. But if you're shooting your own stuff, I would take a look at the kind of stories you're telling… and if you feel that "look" is necessary for your films, go for it. Again, it all comes back to your film. What serves your story the best? What is necessary (and not necessary?)

Short version:
If you haven't shot using a letus yet, rent or borrow one and feel it out first! The letus served me just fine, but personally, it's not something I enjoyed working with all that much. I probably wouldn't recommend it for the HVX, but that is based on my personal experiences and preferences. Go with what your story calls for.

Hope that helps somewhat!

1 comment :

Jon Currie said...

Owned a Letus Extreme in the past. If you're going to make a big investment like that (once you account for the adapter, lenses and a rig to support it all, it gets very pricey), consider switching to DSLR first. Depends on your job and your reasonable estimate of return on investment. Take a hard look at the trends to smaller cameras producing better quality images and the big name companies (Zeiss as an example) investing heavily in the future of smaller, lighter, more dynamic... not the opposite.