Ultimate F3 ENG rig?


So, here’s what I am working on. This is a “work in progress” but I’m liking where it’s going. My aim is to create a truly useable kit for the F3 that will turn it into an ENG type camera. Now I’m not suggesting that the F3 is a good camera for news or that type of fast moving thing. But for documentaries it has a big place and the easier I can make it to use, the better. The rig is made up form all kinds of bits and pieces.

1: This is an old Canon J16x8x2 SD broadcast lens, which becomes a 20 to 320mm f4 zoom lens. It works OK, fine when wide but a little soft in the corners at the long end.

2: New metal body HDSDi Cineroid EVF attached with a custom bracket (5)

3: Genus GMB-P ENG camcorder adapter with 15mm bar support. This has the quick release wedge needed to work with the VCT-14 tripod plate.

4: My B4 to F3 adapter. Watch this space, in production very soon.

5: Custom made (by me) PMW-F3 ‘H” plate. This attaches to the two 1/4″ threads on the top of the camera body and gives you lots of 1/4″ threads along the entire length of both sides of the top of the F3. To this attaches a custom fully adjustable viewfinder mounting system.

6: Custom made shoulder mount. On production units this would be a little shorter, it’s a bit tall on the prototype. It features an adjustable soft shoulder pad and mounts for the cheese plate and VCT-14 adapter.

7: Genus cheese plate.

8: IDX V-Lock adapter plate. But you could also use an Anton Bauer plate.

9: DSM V-Lock battery (98Wh). Will run the rig for over 4 hours.

10: VCT-14 quick release plate.

The balance point for the rig is just slightly forward of the centre of the shoulder pad, so it’s really nice to handhold. A slightly bigger battery or a Convergent Design Gemini on the back would give near perfect balance.

So, what do you think, would you by this lot (excluding lens and EVF) as a kit? I’m looking to do a small run of kits, no idea of the price yet. More pictures below, click on the thumbnail for a high-res image.

F3 Shoulder Rig

26 thoughts on “Ultimate F3 ENG rig?”

  1. Hello Alister,

    I don’t understand this. The image circle of a 2/3″ ENG lens isn’t big enough to cover the F3’s 35mm CMOS, or is it?

    Best regards,


    1. If you put a standard 2/3″ lens directly on a Super35mm camera you will have an image in the middle of the screen surrounded by black because the projected image circle will not cover the entire 35mm sensor, only the middle 2/3″ bit. By adding a magnifying lens between the lens and the sensor you can expand the image to fill the whole sensor and thus the whole screen.

  2. I’ve been looking for a similar solution for some time, but am not handy enough to creat something myself

    Have you seen the shape products made in Montreal? Also a vct plate option for quick release and mounting and innovative rosettes with push button adjustments.
    I’ve also looked at the element technica plates, but they can’t direct mount on a sachtler qr plate or vct – you need their hybrid plate and then a dovetail which seems to defeat the purpose.

    FYI, Abel Cine in the US has come out with a modification to allow a Panasonic or Sony HD VF mount on the F3. I have not yet seen it.

    Thanks for the great site. I’ve just discovered it and appreciate all the info and the hard work.

    1. The Abel Cine VF kit is great if you have a Sony or Pana VF, otherwise the cost is prohibitive as an HD VF can cost $5k.

  3. Hi, Alister.
    I’m looking to buy the shoulder pad and battery bracket as soon as possible. Please keep me informed. I’ve been leaning toward the Zacuto VF, What’s the pros of this one?

  4. Love it. I’ve seen the AbelCine versions which are horrendously expensive. An Af100 guy (editman) out of sweden has also built one. Very interested – I love that for some work its ENG, then rerig for drama.

  5. Allister,

    Great rig. Like it. I’ve been considering adding a couple of F3’s to my cameras. Several for multi-camera shoots so they match. Currently own ex1r’s and pmw-350’s. Not sure if I would keep the 350’s if I invest in F3’s.

    I like to use Nannoflash with all the above, so post can be richer with color correction, etc. How would this work with this rig? How would you think the above camera’s would cut with it?

    Also, I have 10 old Nikon manual normal lens I had with my F3 back in the 60’s. Love those lens. Would they work with the F3’s? I see you use Nikons from time to time. Or should one invest in new glass as well?

    At lastly, do you have a price point for the kit you described above and have you put it together yet?


    1. Your old Nikon lenses would be useable with the right adapter. Provided they are in good condition I would expect good results, best to test and see.

      The NanoFlash will of course work with the F3 and will give a nice improvement of the internal 35Mb/s recordings. However where the F3 really starts to shine is when you record the output to 10 bit and the NanoFlash is only 8 bit. I have a Convergent Design Gemini as well as an Atamos Samurai and I’ll be reviewing both of these next week, so watch this space.

      I am probably not going to do the shoulder mount. I’ve got too many other projects on the go at the moment, but I am doing the lens adapter and hope to have some news on Monday about this.

  6. Hi Alister. I am looking for a zoom lens for my PMW F3. I currently have a set of CP2 primes which are lovely but, in order to get the most out of this camera I need a zoom lens. I’m not convinced by the SCL-Z18x140 lens. Its very slow, has a huge drop off at the tight end and is ridiculously expensive. Further more, it only works with the F3 so it’s not exactly future proofed. I have just ordered a MTF Nikon adapter, could you recommend a good zoom lens to go with it? Preferably something very wide but with a long focal length to avoid the need for constant lens changes.

  7. The Canon glass is nice… but with the 2/3 adaptor it extends the lens too far forward for my liking. These adaptors are also horribly expensive and you lose two stops in the trade off to get the Canon zoom and servo. Rest of the rig looks great. Great solutions for the EVF support which is rock solid, and the lightweight and small form factor shoulder pad makes a great deal of sense. I am currently using the Shape BP6000 designed for the F3, and it’s rock solid with the Quick-release V-lock, but heavier. Everyone always throws heavy iron at accessories at F3’s from Berkey plates, Zacuto cheese plates etc. Robust is good, but weight is key too for hours of shooting with this on your shoulder, I like your design concepts here to help develop that. A proper quick-release V-lock is a must in my view, so I can snap it back on the tripod and off as the situation calls for is essential.

    1. The MTF B4 adapter is only approx 20mm longer than the standard PL mount, which of course you remove. It’s much shorter than the Abel Cine or Abekas adapters. It’s also a lot cheaper at £1,200 GBP. Yes you do loose 2.5 stops, so your f1.8 broadcast lens becomes f4/f5.6 which is comparable to most high ratio DSLR zooms. With the Viewfinder in the right position the camera sits vey nicely on your shoulder and the hand grip on the lens is just where you want it. My prototype shoulder mount includes a standard Sony VCT-14 quick release mount.

  8. Hi Alister,
    Would the MTF B4 to PL adapter work on my F3 as well? What are the differences between the B4 to F3 and the B4 to PL adapters?

    1. The base plate was custom made. A cheap alternative is the Tilta base plate but with the quick release platform removed and holes drilled specifically for the F3. For the top plate you can get the Genus F3 top cheese plate, The lens mount is now made by MTF it is the B4 to FZ kit. There are many 15mm rail mounted V-Lock battery plates on the market, again Tilta is one source. For the viewfinder I would use the much better Alphatron 035W. Your probably looking at around $3.5k – $4k for everything but the lens.

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