For photographers the new Metabones Contax G to m4/3 adapter has been long awaited and from what I’ve tested so far its really one of the best Contax G lens adapters I’ve tried on the m4/3 system. But since I’m a filmmaker, I wanted to take it a step further to really make these Contax G lenses sing by allowing the user to achieve critical focus with a cine gear and follow focus system.
Enter the indiSYSTEM SNAP! Gear with the Metabones Contax G adapter.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Metabones Contax G to m4/3 adapter
- 75mm SNAP! Gear
- SNAP! Collar (I used a 66.5mm diameter- should be smaller)
- Follow focus
- Camera Rig (Mine is indiSYSTEMpro MP with indiFOCUS 20 follow focus)
It has been something I’ve wanted to figure out since I saw Contax G glass over a year ago on the Panasonic G1 camera to be able to use sharp Contax G Zeiss glass and a mini follow focus system with your GH1. With the new Metabones adapter and indiSYSTEM SNAP! gears we are very close to being there. I’ve been talking with Tim Ovel from indiSYSTEM about this intriguing combination and sent him my GH1 and a different Contax G mount to show the possibility of this being a really cool possibility.
One of the challenges that Tim discovered was that the tiny gearing system of Contax G lenses can go bad. He tested my 35mm lens and it would constantly bind right in the middle of rotating the lens when placed on this particular mount. I thought it was a problem with the mount but when the Contax G mount was removed, he placed a small screwdriver into the slot of the lens to rotate the ring, and discovered a slight pause when turning the lens. This little pause was magnified and caused binding in the rotation of the lens when placed on the Contax G mount. I sent the lens to Stacy Reilly from Monument Camera, one of the most outstanding lens repair guys around. He has worked on c-mounts, m42 and FD lenses and restored them and got them new again. He cleared the gears and got the lens rotating smooth and with no binding. I believe its now my smoothest lens out of the bunch. So the first key here when using Contax G lenses for filmmaking purposes is make sure you find one with a smooth gearing system and no binding issues.
Here are the steps to getting your SNAP! Gears on the Metabones Adapter:
- Secure your Contax G lens on the Metabones mount. (make sure you properly follow the instructions to lock the mount you do not want this lens to roll off.)
- Take your SNAP! collar and place it around the middle of the Metabones focal ring. I used a 66.5mm diameter version but it does sometimes snap out of place. I believe it would be better if the collar were a smaller diameter that way it would flex and snap around the ring more tightly. The SNAP! Collar is flexible and my 66.5mm will open up to the larger 69mm diameter of the Metabones focal ring. I’m talking with Tim to test out smaller diameter SNAP! collars and will let you know a more ideal collar size.
- Take your 75mm SNAP! Gear and snap it around the collar.
- Spin the gear slowly and mold a path for the gear so that it does not touch the body of the camera. Use your fingers to edge up the SNAP! collar. The SNAP! Gear will be at a slight angle but that is fine. You will still be able to pull focus.
- Once in gear is in place, spin the gear back and forth quickly and firmly to make sure it’s in place and secure.
- Place your camera with Contax G lens and SNAP! gear on your rig, in this case I am using the indiSYSTEMpro MP which has a built in follow focus.
- If you are using the MP make sure the follow focus comes close to the gear but not too close. You’ll see what I mean, if you put the gear to close to the follow focus you will not be able to pull focus as smoothly. If you get it just right the focus will be feel light and smooth with no binding.
With the Contax G Metabones Adapter and indiSYSTEM SNAP! Gear combo this has been really jaw dropping for me to see this work so well. There were so many elements that could go wrong but they all worked together very nicely. The Metabones adapter focuses pretty smooth by hand by itself but when you place the SNAP! gear and follow focus you have absolute control. It’s amazing. There is a tiny bit of play but it is so very minor and something that I think can be figured out.
A few improvements I would like to see is if there is a way for the SNAP! Gear to be locked on the focal ring better. I think that would help make sure the gear will not move once set in place. Tim is in the process of sending me a few different collar sizes and I will make a few updates once I get the new collars. What would also help from the Metabones guys is if they could make their focal ring mount an inch to an inch ad a quater wide this would allow the SNAP! gear clearance from the GH1 body and allow the SNAP! collar to line up evenly on the focal ring.
It’s pretty exciting times. The Contax G rangefinder line of lenses are well known for their esteemed sharpness and beauty in the photography world and I hope that other indy filmmakers will discover this nice combo using the Metabones adapter and SNAP! gears to bring Contax G to the filmmaking world.