Tuesday, August 29, 2006

sony vx-2000e/canon ae-1: a dirty tryst

For those who can't be bothered reading my drunken ramblings: About 8 months ago I decided to try and mount an 'old-school' lens system from a classic Canon 35mm still camera on a fairly swank Sony digital video camera. It worked.

'twas the night before the night before christmas, and josh had too much rum.
he wanted to test a hypothesis:
that the sony vx2000 has an easily replaceable lens,
contrary to what the manual says.

after about 3 hours of careful screwdrivering, my lens accidentally fell off in a kinda un-accidental way....

oh yeah, and i was kinda suprised when it still worked.

first test movie:

and here is the interesting part

the ccd fits!

it's a sonon!

the next step was to go visit mike at eyebeam, who kindly let me use their workspace and laser cutter. I used this to make some templates from mat board, then plexiglass.

using laser cutter:

testing various shapes as lens mounts:

this is what my workbench looked like... just before I used the hacksaw to void my warranty by cutting up the old lens internals to make the backing of the FD mount.

so, after i made the matching plate (the white plastic thing) i attached the FD mount to the hacked CCD mount. i also hacksawed off the front part of the metal side of the case (where the original lens used to be), this is so i can actually reach the mount point so i can easily change lenses and reach the aperture ring.

here is the view of the assembly from the front.

and the grand finale - fully assembled. you can see here i threw in another white plate to increase the lens-ccd distance as focussing was a bit tricky as above. this was the hardest part -- it really should be millimeter accurate - but its not. oh well, it seems to do the trick!

today i just opened up the ccd mount, and made some shim's from aluminium sheet. the lens-ccd distance is now within 1mm -- perfect. now it is time to buy some fancy lenses. (i have my eye on a full frame 8mm....)

Ok. I think I need to make a relay system. There is a slight problem - 35mm lenses are for 35mm film, whereas my CCD is much smaller. Hence, the image formed at the focal plane is too large. I once studied optics! I can fix this! Here is my initial sketch of how it should work:

of course, this will make the image upside-down, but i think i can tweak the LCD display to always display upside down. It already flips the image when you turn it around, so I just have to find the sensor that does that, and reverse the sense. Note, I'm also planning to switch to Nikon F-mounts as they seem to be easier to find (at least at my local camera store). As for the prime, I'm looking at the Peleng 8mm- it's pretty cheap and looks like it will do the trick.

yep. that was easy - image is now the right side up in the viewfinder (but left and right are now swapped... lesser of two evils?)

ok, after a trip to B&H (and some very strange looks) I got all the bits that I needed. But they forgot to put them in my bag, so I'm going to have to go back and get the tube. As you can see below, the system lets in a little too much light on the sides :P.

After I pick up an extension tube & make a coupler, I'll have to make an extension arm from the tripod to support the extra weight. And Then, I'll be rocking a truly tricked out camera.

ok. I couldn't find a full set of Nikon K rings, or a BR-3. So I made the missing K rings by buying 7 split lens filters, popping out the glass to make an empty tube. I made a BR-3 by taking apart a K1 and glueing it to a filter. Luckily the inside of the K1 has a 52mm flange that was a tight fit on a male threaded filter. Anyway, she is done. Well, done in the sense that all I need now is the prime lens. Ebay, here I come.

tricked out!

Update: So, I got the Peleng 8mm lens and its bloody marvelous. I ended up taking it to Australia in January, where I managed to drop it off a 4th floor balcony onto the road and under a truck. The lens now has a hairline crack in the prime glass, but generally works OK.

Below is a quick movie I edited that chronicles building the camera and the patience of my sweet one whilst putting up with me :)

Some useful links:

Peleng 8mm

Mounting 8mm on Nikon Digitals

Camera mounts & registers

Extension tubes

And a big thankyou to the people in the second hand department at B&H camera who put up with me asking for rare parts to be used for bizzare purposes.


Blogger Ajit Anthony Prem said...

Wow. That is awesome. Would love to see more footage from this camera. In your opinion, how does the image compare with the old vx2000.

Also, is this possible with vx1000?

8:56 AM  
Blogger XNet said...

Interesting experiment. What was that sweet music you had in the last video?

3:18 AM  
Blogger Joshua Reich said...

This may be possible with a vx1000. The image is much richer and more vibrant than the original lens. The standard lens is plastic, high grade, but still plastic. Obviously I lost optical image stabilisation in the process, but the damn thing is so heavy now which compensates for it.

I am thinking of selling the rig to help finance my next camera project-- which I will be building from scratch.

3:02 PM  
Anonymous Tammy said...

Such a great article it was which slight problem - 35mm lenses are for 35mm film, whereas my CCD is much smaller. In which this the LCD display to always display upside down. It already flips the image when you turn it around, so I just have to find the sensor that does that, and reverse the sense.Thanks for sharing this article.

10:49 AM  

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