DIY video depth-of-field contraption

Here are some interesting, DIY plans for a depth of field reducer for video cameras courtesy of the always-great Make Blog.

One claim on the site is that it will help your video “look like film.” In a way, yes: Shallow depth of field is more common with film than video, generally speaking. Newbies should keep in mind, however, that film and video work entirely differently: a video CCD is essentially like a scanner, while film is a series of unique frames, each with a different pattern of silver halide crystals (think: snowflakes). It’s because of this fundamental difference that video (as long as it continues to work the way it does now) will never completely look like film.

Anyway, I would be interested to see how footage using this thingamajig looks, especially in comparison with something like the P+S Mini35, which is a more professional version of the same thing. (The Mini35 is $7500, the DIY thing would probably run you 1/100 of that.) Some guys tested the Mini35 with a JVC GY-HD100 — I was impressed with the close-ups, but not the night shots.

UPDATE: It looks like the Mini35 will have some competition soon from an outfit called Cinemek. The demos — particularly the one that begins with the cat — look good. And they say they’re working on one for the HVX-200. Stay tuned.

UPDATE #2: A reader of this blog alerted me to two other commercial options for shallow DOF. One is the M2 — AKA the Micro35 — from RedRock. Another is from Dan Diaconu.

UPDATE #3: Yet another one… this time with instructions in PDF format.

2 Responses to “DIY video depth-of-field contraption”

  1. Self-Reliant Filmmaking » Blog Archive » DIY Film Projects: Six Thoughts Says:

    […] a. skateboard dolly: 1, 2, 3 b. home-made steadicams: 1, 2, 3 c. jib arm / crane: 1, 2 d. car mount: 1, 2, 3 e. the aforementioned Depth of Field reducer f. other: 1, 2, 3 […]

  2. Milton Says:

    Check, check:

    Easily the most cost-friendly and simple mini-35 solution out there. I’ve actually made one myself and it does a surprisingly fine job. I was lucky enough to already own a Nikon F3 but I’ve heard that a 8mm medium format camera can work in it’s place.