How many times have you thought while busy shooting a project, "If only I could get a wider field of view for this shot?" Then you think about the cost of wide converter lenses and how they’ll make your camera front-heavy. No doubt there are situations where a full zoom-through wide converter is a "must have," but for wider angle, non-zooming camera moves, partial zoom and static shots there’s a cost-effective solution: Red Eye Wide Angle Adapters.
How They Work
Depending on the size, Red Eye Adapters (which were created by Canadian DP Renà© J. Collins) can be used with professional lenses, or the fixed lenses of mid-sized camcorders. I tested them with a Panasonic AG-HVX200 (82mm), and a Sony HDR-FX1 (72mm). You simply screw the Red Eye onto the filter threads of the lens barrel, as you would a filter. (If you screw the Red Eye onto a screw-on filter you increase the risk of vignetting.) On the HVX200 and the FX1, I simply had to remove the stock lens hoods, screw on the Red Eye and reattach the lens hoods. You may see a slight edge of the lens hood in the image. If so, just give a light bump to the zoom rocker or manual zoom ring to frame it out. In cine-style productions, the Red Eye can be used with your matte box, filters and bellows. The focus ring should be set to Infinity. The Red Eye lens must be kept clean, especially at f16, because any dust can affect the image. The in-camera neutral density filters help to open up the iris and shrink the depth of field, which is inherently deep when using wide-angle adapters. Still, at f11, basically everything from about 14 inches out to infinity is in focus. I found the Red Eye to be optically correct, with no noticeable aberrations or vignetting.
At around half the price of a full zoom-through wide converter, a Red Eye Wide Angle Adapter is a good solution for certain types of shoots. Depending on the camera and lens, the Red Eye still retains partial zoom-through capability. I believe, however, that the Red Eye’s strength is as a non-zoomed adapter. It makes perfect sense for moving Steadycam-type shots, expansive static shots in tight spaces and panoramic scenic shots. It’s easy to use, affordable, well built and performs quite well.
Steve Gibby, President of Cut4 Media Group (www.cut4.tv), is an Emmy-winning producer/director/DP, and a national and multi-region Emmy Awards judge. His stock footage is available via Mammoth HD.