Lens mounts are constantly changing. Catching up to camera technologies that keep evolving in leaps. But as camera bodies may need to be upgraded every generation or two, lenses are supposed to last for ages, right? So what do you do with your Leica, Zeiss, or Nikon lenses when your new camera doesn’t have the right mount? Let’s explore some new options available to filmmakers with DIY Lens Mount Conversions by two different manufactures.
There is a huge market for lens adapters. If a lens mount exists, filmmakers can be confident that some company or DIY fabricator has made an adapter for it. This process of adapting one lens mount to a modern camera is usually reserved for operators shooting on vintage glass.
More often than not this comes with certain limitations. Tolerances may not be perfect from camera to camera, and there have been instances where lenses are not able to achieve infinity focus. While some operators and filmmakers can work around these limitations, they can be a hindrance to bigger production.
Productions or cinematographers who shoot on vintage lenses, either rehouse the lens or have them modded. This increases usability and reliability. Vintage lenses or photography lenses that are cine-modded, usually get follow focus gears, matching front diameters, and brand new lens mounts to match their camera. Not a lens adapter, but a new native mount.
Until recently, replacing the lens mount has been an operation that was only done at specialty lens shops. Such as Duclos Lenses, the creator of the original Cine-Mod. Now, Duclos Lenses, along with a midwest competitor called SIMMOD Lens, are offering DIY lens mount conversion kits. Filmmakers are able to make their own modifications for a fraction of the cost!
Duclos Lenses – The OG
Founded in 2002, Duclos Lenses is a family-owned lens reseller and repair shop based in Chatsworth, California. The company was one of the first independent motion picture lens service facilities. Now they also offer a myriad of lens accessories, the Cine-Mod service, and DIY lens mount conversion kits.
Designed and manufactured in Los Angeles, Duclos Mount Kits are made from billet stainless steel with precise tolerances. Kits are available for a wide array of lenses and replace the original mount. What makes Duclos Lenses so unique, is their well-developed relationships with lens manufactures. Here are the Mount Kits that Duclos Lenses offers:
- Sigma PL to Canon EF
- Fujinon XK Zoom to Canon EF
- Leica-R to Canon EF
- Nikon AI/AIS to Canon EF
- Zeiss Classic, Milvus, and Otus ZF.2 to Canon EF
- Fujinon MK Zooms to Sony FZ or M4/3
The DIY lens mount conversions above give modified lenses a native Canon EF mount that can be used not only on Canon cameras, but also cameras from Blackmagic Design, RED, ZCam, and Arri. Duclos Mount Kits start at $150.
SIMMOD Lens – The new kid on the block
Founded by cinematographer Ron Sim, SIMMOD Lens is based in Detroit, Michigan, and offers cine-style mods and accessories for a wide array of vintage and photography lenses. What started as an experiment to convert old Leica lenses for cinema use has now become a competitor in the lens mod space.
SIMMOD also offers DIY lens mount conversion kits. The SIMMOUNT System, as it is called, is manufactured from aluminum. A matte black anodized finish helps reduce glare and reflections. SIMMOUNT supports the following lenses:
- Leica-R to Canon EF
- Contax Zeiss to Canon EF
- Contax Zeiss Zoom to Canon EF
- Nikon F, Zeiss ZF & ZF.2 to Canon EF
- Olympus Zuiko OM to Canon EF
Like the Duclos Mount Kit, the SIMMOUNT converts your lens to a native Canon EF mount. SIMMOUNT Kits start at $59 USD and new conversions mounts are in development.
The past and the present
Lens adapters have been around for ages. But depending on price, they come with limitations that hinder operators or filmmakers alike. Replacing the lens mounts on older or non-compatible lenses was never a possibility for a budget operator or filmmaker. Until Duclos, and then eventually SIMMOD, came along. With the Mount Kits and SIMMOUNT System, the usability and efficiency awarded to bigger budget productions are now available to all!
The price gap between the two manufactures shows the different approaches each company takes in the development and design of their conversion kits. While we won’t review the differences in this article, we at least know there are options for all budgets.
What do you think of these DIY lens conversion kits? Do you have a lens kit that would be better off with a native Canon EF mount? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.