Image of Bausch & Lomb 1897 Lens

A lot of videographers want to expand beyond the lenses that are offered for their Sony cameras. They could have other lenses for a different camera platform that they would prefer to use, or they may even want to shoot with a vintage lens. The problem though is that when you adapt a lens, you lose the ability to have autofocus. However, Fotodiox says that their PRONTO Lens Adapter can give autofocus to practically any lens as long as it is attached to a Phase Detection AF Sony camera — even vintage manual lenses.

Fotodiox shows off how the lens works in a recent YouTube video posted on Fotodiox’s YouTube channel with camera expert, Bohu.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9J1xL0u1P9s

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In the video, Bohu unboxes the PRONTO lens adapter and says that it is ready to mount right out of the box and that there is no need to charge it because it gets all of its power from the camera itself.

The adapter works because it is able to move the lens forwards and backwards in cordination with the Sony’s autofocus system, and will move the lens into the right position to achieve proper focus automatically.

Bohu says that if you use the PRONTO lens adapter with one of Fotodiox’s lens mounts, you will have the ability to give autofocus to a lot of vintage lenses, even ones that are 120 years old. Bohu demonstrates how the PRONTO len adapter can give a vintage lens from 1897 autofocus.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4I05JIHXTbM

He attaches the PRONTO lens adapter to a Bausch & Lomb 1897 lens, which was made for box cameras, and instead attaches it to his Sony camera. He notes that the lens has to be less than two pounds, otherwise the adapter’s motors will not be able to smoothly move the lens.

When shooting with the 1897 year old lens, Bohu does have to manually adjust its infinity focus, but after that, the PRONTO is ready to work.

The PRONTO seems like it could give videographers the luxury of keeping some older lenses that they would prefer to use. We’re not sure how many of you actually have 120-year-old lens, but it's great to know that you could have the option to use one with the PRONTO if you so choose.

Sean Berry is a blogger and Videomaker Associate Editor.

1 COMMENT

  1. Hi everybody! Thanks for checking out the videos on the PRONTO lens adapter. We’re obviously super excited about where this technology is going. As a filmmaker, I’m anxious to get this hardware going for Sony’s video modes, but for now it’s just for taking stills.

    I have shot video with my 120 year old lens by using the bellows attachment you seen in the video, and a conventional lens adapter. You focus by adjusting the length of the bellows, which can be a little fidgety. No rack focusing for now! I encourage everyone to try shooting with some vintage glass – nothing beats the unpredictable creativity that comes out of these experiments!

  2. Hi everybody! Thanks for checking out the videos on the PRONTO lens adapter. We’re obviously super excited about where this technology is going. As a filmmaker, I’m anxious to get this hardware going for Sony’s video modes, but for now it’s just for taking stills.

    I have shot video with my 120 year old lens by using the bellows attachment you seen in the video, and a conventional lens adapter. You focus by adjusting the length of the bellows, which can be a little fidgety. No rack focusing for now! I encourage everyone to try shooting with some vintage glass – nothing beats the unpredictable creativity that comes out of these experiments!

  3.  Bellowscopes for focussing seem to have gone into eclipse. When I abandoned some of my 35mm gear for 'digital' I put two Minolta bellowscopes into storage, which 'seemed a good idea at-the-time' How right tht proved to be. Using a bog-standard mid price-range 'Fotodoix' adaptor, I now have a series of lenses, of proven performance, which I have recently resurrected, and use on a Lumix GH-5, which of course is a highly adapatible camera. Rack focussing is now a big plus with both of these devices, which were beautifully built and finished in their day. Additionally, many high-quality lenses came in short mounts and some like Leitz lenses gave the options of conventional focussing mounts for range-finder cameras, or the use of a bellows and accessory reflex viewing system which working in macro. The downside is the lack of auto-focus, which I take to be a Sony exclusive at present judging from the article. However, I have always preferred manual focus, as have done a great many other people and do not feel at all disadvantaged by the lack of auto. Konica-Minolta lenses may be obtained on the 'pre-loved' market for very reasonable prices and adapt well, with a wide range to choose from. Bear in mind though, that lenses, to be adaptable in this way must also feature manual aperture-setting. A point which must be borne in mind when vetting lenses for re-purposing. Otherwise, it is 'win-win' all the way, and the ability to focus manually, tends to 'separate the men from the boys'.

    Ian Smith – Dunedin, New Zealand