PMW-F3 and Stills Glass, some observations.

I have been using my F3 with a range of stills lenses via the MTF F3 to Nikon adapter. Overall everything works very well and I am pleased with the quality of the images I have been getting. However the use of stills glass is not as easy as using dedicated PL lenses. The main issue for me is iris control. With a PL mount lens you have a nice big iris ring so you know exactly where your exposure is. With some of my stills lenses I do have a traditional iris ring and with these lenses all is good. But as so many DSLR’s these days have electronic iris control many of the lenses I have don’t have an iris control ring. Mike Tapa’s adapter can control the iris of a Nikon DSLR lens by moving the blade that controls the shutter on the rear of the lens, but there are no markings or any way way of knowing what the iris is set to. This makes judging when to use more ND or where you are regarding DoF impossible to judge other than via a monitor. You can’t tell whether you are operating the lens at it’s optimum settings. In addition many of the Nikon DX lenses don’t have calibrated focus scales, so again it all comes down to guess work and the monitor.

With well designed stills glass things work well. My older Tokina 28-70 AT-X pro works very well with an accurate focus scale and proper iris control. My Nikon 50mm f1.8 manual lens and Tokina 28mm f2.8 lens also work nicely, but the Nikon DX lenses I have are far from ideal. I’m considering getting a set of Zeiss ZF.2 stills lenses as these appear to be very good lenses. I really need a prime in the 85mm range for interviews and portrait type shots.

The focal lengths I use the most are: 28mm, 50mm and  70mm. I would use a bit longer if I had the right lens. I don’t use the 18mm very often except for panoramas and landscapes.

So…. PL would be nice, but at the moment my budget won’t stretch to that. The Sony kit lenses are certainly great value for the money, but really 35mm isn’t wide enough so I would have to add a wider lens anyway. Stills glass can produce great results, but is not quite so user friendly.

12 thoughts on “PMW-F3 and Stills Glass, some observations.”

    1. I’d love to do just that Darragh, but I’m in Dubai this week, LA and Turkey next week, then Amsterdam the week after before flying out to Vegas for NAB. By then it may be old news. Maybe after NAB we could put together the ultimate guide to the F3?

      I am hoping to do some side-by-sides with the Sony PL’s while in Dubai.

  1. Hi, Alister!
    Do you know of anyone who plans to make an F3 to Canon EF still lens adapter, like MTF? We’ve got great Canon still glass we’d like to use for zoom lenses.
    Also, has anyone tried any of the three Red PL mount zoom lenses on an F3? They seem like decent glass at a very reasonable price. But the attachment looks rather long.


  2. Harry,
    Sorry Alistair hope I’m not treading on your toes! Just to let Harry know that Erik Widding from Birger engineering said that they will be making an F3 – Canon EF mount similar to their Red One and Af101 adapter. Take a look at will be about $600 approx. Sorry No idea on timescale though.


    P.S. I have no affiliation with Birger myself just waiting for the same bit of kit for my F3!

    1. Yes, I saw this at NAB and it looks likely to be a “must have” piece of kit. Thanks for bringing it up.

  3. Hi Alister, I also own an F3 with the MTF adapter. I have Nikon Full-Frame lenses, 24-70, 70-200, 14-24, all 2.8. In my opinion the images are really soft and it almost impossible to shoot in difficult lighting situations, highlights are turning into flares. Did you ever experience the same issues? Bart

    1. The only actual nikon lenses I have are the older 50mm f1.8 which produces fantastic images. Zooms will tend to flare more than primes and most are not pin sharp when wide open. My favourite lenses at the moment are my 14mm f2.8 Samyang, 20mm f1.8 Sigma and the Nikon 50mm f1.8. These are all prime lenses that work well when fully open.

      1. In theory my lenses should be as sharp, or even sharper as yours, I base that on the charts from
        I’ll do some testing and share the video with you, I would like to hear your opinion. Is that okay with you?

  4. Not sure what to say about the clip, it’s over exposed so the edges are suffering from CA and are over sharpened. It’s hard to judge the lens performance when there are no textures or other high frequency components, don’t forget the import thing is MTF which is a combination of contrast and frequency response and this clip has little of either. There is a lot of flare, but that’s normally when you have so much of the image over exposed.

    Charts for stills lenses have some use, but don’t forget that the sensor in the F3 is much lower resolution than the average DSLR, so provided the MTF is high enough for the F3 the resolving power of the lens should be fine, it does not necessarily have to be the ultimate performing DSLR lens.

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