E Mount Versatility

Sony reaffirmed their unwavering support for and confidence in the E mount when they decided to use it in their $42,000 large format Venice cinema camera, chosen by James Cameron to shoot the two sequels to Avatar.

In an interview with the Sony engineers who designed the Venice, Jon Fauer has this to say:

I don’t think PL will be the standard forever and we are entering an era now where cinematographers are using all kinds of different lenses and mounts on the same show. The fact that you have the E-mount as the base is a great idea because you can move out from there. DPs can use not only Sony E-mount, but also RF, L, Leica M, LPL, EF, F, Panavision SP70, PL, PV, XPL, and so on. VENICE is very versatile.

The Venice ships with a PL mount; and I’m not suggesting that Hollywood directors will be shooting with GM lenses or anything; just that the E mount happens to be extremely adaptable – which in the filmmaking world is exceedingly important.

Incidentally, professional filmmakers aren’t heard speaking disparagingly of the original PL mount, designed for 16 mm and 35 mm movie cameras, and which has a diameter of 54 mm and flange focal distance of 52 mm. Maybe because they’re too busy perfecting their craft to squander their time engaging in fruitless arguments on the internet over which mount is the best in the universe.

As an aside, I’ll repeat that it was in no small part due to the raging success of Sony’s a7 series that practically every manufacturer from Arri to Canon now carries one or more large format cinema cameras; that it was thanks to Sony’s unrivaled commitment to innovation that we now see Panasonic, Nikon and Canon belatedly entering the fray; and the very last thing in the world Sony should concern itself with is mount diameter. Nobody is ‘squeezing’ Sony – quite the opposite is true if you consider the numbers.

Screen Shot 2019-02-20 at 3.35.58 PM

And while conceding that large mount diameter may very well have implications in terms of lens design – particularly when it comes to fast ultra wide angle primes – how a lens handles bokeh, spherical aberration, flare and so on are of equal importance, as they are resolution independent and their effects can be seen and felt whether viewed on a smartphone, a tablet or a 65” OLED display: without enlarging a quadrant of the image 700% (quite possibly the single most absurd thing I’d ever heard of since taking up photography in my teens btw).

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