A new life for 35mm adapter Macro lenses

I was right in the middle of learning how to shoot video when 35mm lens adapters were in vogue. Letus, Redrock Micro, and Cinevate 35mm adapters were some of the ones I shot with; first with SD cameras, and then with the first crop of indie-friendly HD camcorders. And then came DSLRs and other affordable interchangeable lens large-sensor cameras, and the adapter market all but disappeared overnight. I remember thinking that 35mm lens adapters were something of a bridge technology, and it seems (for most applications) that their time finally has passed.

One of the parts in a 35mm lens adapter is a high-quality macro lens. These were necessary in the optical path of the adapter, and just about every adapter had one in a 72mm size. Some time ago, Cinevate started using their backstock of these macro lenses to create a full-face DSLR viewfinder shade/loupe called Cyclops. The quality of the macro lens is top notch, and it worked perfectly for this application.

I just learned that Redrock Micro is doing a similar thing by selling their 72mm Macro Lens as a, well, macro lens adapter. Simply screw it on to any camera lens, and hey-presto, you’ve got macro capabilities. Clint Milby recently posted his review of the Redrock Micro Macro (say that five times, fast).

I have a 72mm Cinevate macro from an old lens adapter that is just sitting on my shelf, so I just did a quick test with it. I threw it on a 135mm lens that has a five-foot minimum focus distance (I know, right?!?), and was able to get focus on something just inches from the front of the lens element. Obviously I got quite a bit of magnification as well. I have not done a chart test, but to my eye there did not appear to be any noticeable chromatic aberration issues, and sharpness did not appear to suffer. Nor would I expect it to…these lenses from old adapter systems were very high quality. It’s cool to see tech that I grew up on getting a new lease on life.

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