For those who have been on and around film production sets, especially high-end commercials, the Angenieux Optimo lenses have been a pretty common sight. If you are a cinematographer you know them for their legendary quality and unbeatable reliability.
If you would like to see the crispness and accuracy of an Angenieux Optimo lens, you can check out the below video by Mike McEntire:
Now, while Angenieux lenses are the standard for high-end film production, the cost of one is equivalent to making a low budget film. They might retail for somewhere close to $90,000-$100,000 approximately. So for those engaged in event coverage or wedding film production, acquiring the lens would be mostly a dream.
If there was only a way to get a 24-290mm T2.8 Optimo for a lot less!
Enter the Metabones Speedbooster. The focal reducer has already proved its capabilities. These adapters have been designed by Brian Caldwell, a world famous optical engineer, whose claim to fame is designing the Panavision 700 mm prime lenses.
So, how does that substitute the god-like Angenieux Optimo you ask? For the sake of comparison, let’s take an Angenieux 24-290 T2.5 on one hand. And in the other, a Sigma 18-300 f/3.5-6.3 lens mounted on a Panasonic GH4 paired with a Metabones Speedbooster. What happens is that the Metabones, in theory, being a 1.4x teleconverter (this number varies based on the exact model used) in reverse, decreases the focal length by 0.64x (Nikon to m43, other numbers might vary); and in turn gains an exposure of 1.3 stops (for Nikon F to m43), thus changing the aperture range to f/2.0-3.4. This will let your lens handle low light situations much more efficiently. Here’s a table that makes it clearer (focal lengths in 35mm equivalents):
|Feature||Optimo||Sigma wo adapter||With SpeedBooster|
|Weight||11 kg||0.584 kg||0.756 kg|
|Minimum focus at telephoto||4 feet||15.3 inches||15.3 inches|
In other words, with a Speedbooster, the $579 Sigma ‘kit’ lens plus a $479 Speedbooster might give you the focal length and almost the aperture range of an Optimo, but with huge size and weight savings, as well as an excellent minimum focus distance. Want proof? Nomad Film School carried out the above test and got the same results. You can check it out here:
A quick review of the Sigma 18-300 F3.5-6.3 attached to the Metabones Speedbooster BMPCC version. Making the lens become what I believe a 24-400 f2.0 – f3.4*. Great for run and gun broll gathering for events, weddings, music videos and other corporate things…
*(Based on numbers from Metabones. I have no way of testing them for accuracy.)…
…An all-in-one zoom for APS-C cameras, the 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 DC MACRO OS HSM Contemporary Lens from Sigma provides users of Nikon F-mount cameras with an extremely versatile focal length equivalent of 27-450mm. This version also offers optical image stabilization for reducing the effects of camera shake at longer focal lengths and slower shutter speeds.
So, you can see the Metabones adapter definitely is no compromise on image quality and the exponential increase in exposure is quite evident. Sort of like a cheat code for your lens. And you can pair it with almost any compatible lens that you have (choices are many), and along with an MFT camera, you can get brilliant results. For a more visual perspective, you can check out this video by David Thorpe:
But having a microwaved frozen pizza is not the same as munching on a fresh wood-fired pizza in Naples. We do get the approximate advantages of the Angenieux Optimo lens, but that does not mean it replaces it. There is a reason an Optimo costs so much, namely usability, build quality and image accuracy. You will hardly see any lens breathing or ramping on an Optimo, and the solid aluminium build lets you sleep well at night – during a war.
Bottom line, for those not shooting the next big budget Hollywood film, the pros of using a Metabones adapter far outweighs the cons. For event and wedding productions, the adapter can massively increase your production values. I will let this gorgeous wedding video shot using a Metabones+GH4 (by Daniel Jeremiah) do the talking:
Tell us your Metabones stories! How has it helped you?