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Using Canon Cinema EOS Compact-Servo lenses with the LUMIX BGH1

Canon Cinema EOS Compact-Servo lenses with the LUMIX BGH1

Using Canon Cinema EOS Compact-Servo lenses with the LUMIX BGH1

With the BGH1 box camera being used as a remote camera for live event productions, we get many requests for top-grade Servo lens support. In this article, we will show you how the BGH1 integrates with Canon Cinema EOS Compact Servo Lenses.


Thanks to The BGH1’s many features – PoE+ Ethernet, 3G SDI, Timecode and Genlock – this box camera is quickly becoming a favorite of integrators for added coverage during live event productions. What’s less well known is that the BGH1 includes a remote port that can control the camera’s record function, as well as the lens' iris, focus and zoom, with accessories like the Manfrotto MVR901EPLA and MVR901ECLA (not pictured, no IRIS, must be Sony/Canon Protocol). In fact, there are several pan/tilt heads with control, and we plan to test them in our next newsletter. Stay tuned!

Lumix BGH1 box camera with Canon Cinema EOS Servo Lenses

Before we felt confident recommending the Canon Cinema EOS Servo Lenses, we needed to test one and determine its compatibility with our camera. After all, with a Panasonic Power Zoom lens like the PZ14-42mm and PZ45-175 lenses, we can control zoom, iris and manual focus. So we were very interested to see what would change with the Canon glass.

We ordered a sample of the Canon 18-80 T4.4, Manfrotto MVR901EPLA, and the Metabones Canon EF to M4/3 adaptor and proceeded to see if everything works as we’d expect. One note on the Metabones adaptor: it really is the magic of this combination! They are translating our command language to work with the Canon lens, and offering not only this adaptor but a “Speedbooster” focal reducer adaptor that will give the lens 1 stop more light (from T4.4 to T3.1) and the angle of view of a super35 sensor. When using the Speedbooster with these Cinema EOS servo zoom lenses, only use the .71 version; you will get vignetting with the XL version, which is a .64 focal reducer.

With the Metabones adaptor and lens connected to the BGH1, I quickly noticed how well-connected everything is. I used a BGH1 TILTA cage and rods with a Wooden camera lens support, but it was totally unnecessary with this combination: the lens weighs only 2.6lbs (1200 grams). That’s about .15lbs less than the Panasonic 200mm F2.8 M4/3 lens that has no servo-zoom motors, so you can be assured the camera mount can handle this weight. The total weight of the camera, lens, and Metabones was 2001 grams (70.58 ounces, 4.41 pounds), making this an appealing combination for a budget-friendly pan-tilt head like the SALRAYWORKS PT60 or the MulticamZilla for a total PTZ solution.

Once the camera was mounted to the tripod, it was time to connect the Manfrotto MVR901EPLA to the remote port of the camera. There’s not much to think about, really – once it's connected, you'll need to slide the zoom/focus rocker down to all the Manfrotto to control zoom or focus on the camera, and then the zoom speed control can be set as well. The operation is very easy: simply switch the rocker control from focus to zoom and you’re off to the races. Focus will allow the camera to show a focus assist window, while zoom can show you the focal length of the lens. The Manfrotto MVR901EPLA also controls the camera’s iris; with a long press of the IRIS+ or IRIS- control, you can see the aperture change, shown in yellow on the BGH1. It is important to note that not everything on the MVR901EPLA will control the BGH1 or the lens. For example, the power button won’t turn your camera off and on, and the one-touch AF button does nothing (for the Canon or Panasonic lenses), but it is common for some features to not be passed through.

Lumix BGH1 box camera with Canon Cinema EOS Servo Lenses

Since the BGH1 will be used often in a set-it-and-forget-it location, one of the best aspects of using this combination is the fact that the Cinema EOS Compact-Servo lenses are Parfocal. This means that you can set the focus one time at the telephoto end and when you zoom, and the lens will keep you in focus. This is a great feature, but it requires some setup and awareness. You need to set up the lens flange back to match the shorter flange of the Micro Four-Thirds mount. The Metabones does most of this for you, but you will need to lift the flap marked FB and turn the screw and look at your monitor to determine that focus is set for infinity. This will require you to point your camera to something far away, set the lens focus to infinity marker and set the FB (flange back) screw until your image is sharp. Also, be aware that as you adjust focus, there is a focus scale that the BGH1 will show you on the monitor. Just ignore that, as it’s not calibrated to the Canon lens.

setting the flange back screw on the Metabones

I hope you can tell from the article that I am pretty smitten by this combination. It makes for a terrific cinema-look solution for live events (especially when combined with the Metabones .71 Speedbooster) and has terrific low-light capabilities as well. For people who need more reach, Canon also makes a 70-200mm T4.4 Compact Servo zoom, and it’s only .15lbs heavier than the 18-80mm. With this duo I am sure you can capture all but the most extreme long distances.


Mathew Frazer, LUMIX USA

[email protected]