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Building a Large Format DoF Movie Camera: The impossible 29mm f0.3 Lens

1/02/2023 ISO 1200 Magazine 0 Comments

In their journey to capture the impossible image, Nikolas Moldenhauer, CEO & Founder of Media Division, built a unique large format movie camera with a massive Leica lens that is equivalent to a 29mm f0.3 lens, a lens that is absolutely impossible to build.

This allowed them to capture incredibly low light situations and achieve a very shallow depth of field. However, the size and weight of this lens made it difficult to work with, so we decided to combine it with another large format camera and design a precise motorized focus system.

To overcome these challenges, Nikolas with the help of a team of photographers and filmmakers decided to build a unique camera setup that could capture images that were impossible to capture with conventional cameras. They used a 8x10 Plaubel Peco Profia camera, which they combined with a second 4x5 Peco Profia camera. They also added an extra 8x10 camera below to keep the side of the taking camera dark.

Media Division built custom fixtures for the Hektor lens using a metal lens board cut with a water jet. They also used a Copal 3 board to create a custom EF to E adapter, which was strong enough to hold the heavy lens. They considered using a large Iris to control exposure but ultimately decided to use ND filters to maintain the goal of shooting wide open.

To mount the camera, they used a standard Copal 3 board and constructed an EF mount with a longer flange. This allowed them to use a standard 50mm lens while still being able to focus on the ground glass. They mounted the camera upside down to achieve an upright image on the monitors.

To focus the camera, they used the front standard rather than the rear standard, which would have required readjusting the lens with each focus. 

This also allowed for smooth dolly movements during the focus process. However, the weight of the standard, rig, and matte box, which weighed a total of 5.5 KG, presented a challenge in terms of smoothly and accurately moving the system for follow focus or focus ramping in a cinematography context. To solve this problem, they used the original focusing wheel but added additional support to eliminate shaking and improve precision.

They were curious to see how a fast Hektor lens would compare to a lens designed for an 8x10 camera, such as the Nikon 300mm f5.6. When they tested the Hektor, they found that it had a very narrow depth of field and somewhat swirly bokeh. In contrast, the Nikon 300mm lens had a much deeper depth of field, equivalent to a 40mm f0.7 on full frame, and produced a very flat focal plane.

In order to provide the best viewing experience for their audience, the team of filmmakers released two versions of their latest project: a standard version and an HDR (high dynamic range) version. The standard version was susceptible to strong banding and crushing the blacks on certain displays, which could ruin the overall experience. The HDR version, on the other hand, was able to handle subtle darkness much better and provide a more enjoyable viewing experience for those with inky displays.


All members of his YouTube channel can watch their satellite episode " Making a Monster", where they shared details about this unique DIY large format camera they had built and the various parts that went into its assembly. They also provided tips for shooting with a depth of field camera, including how to transport it and what to expect in post-production.

They explained the various components of their camera, including the lens, film or sensor, and other technical elements. They also discussed the process of putting the camera together, including any challenges they faced and how they overcame them.

In addition to sharing practical information about using a depth of field camera, the team also shared other interesting insights and tips related to their project. They offered valuable advice for those interested in using this type of camera and provided an in-depth look at the process of building and using it.

Link Making a Monster:

About Media Division:

Interesting stuff for anybody who is interested in filming and film.We are a professional production company that shares it's experience and knowledge Tests, Reviews, Gear, Tutorials, Tips, Tricks, Techniques, Experiments,Behind the Scenes, Experience & Knowledge… for work, for fun, for the love of the craft
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Image and video via Media Division