Lumix GH1, the independent filmmakers’ camera?

Unlike the current crop of video-capable DSLR cameras from Canon and Nikon, the Panasonic Lumix GH1 with its micro 4/3 sensor allows, with an appropriate adapter, the use of virtually any lens — micro 4/3, 4/3, Canon EF, Nikon F, Leica R and M, 16mm film C-mount, etc. For lens junkies like me, this opens up a number of creative possibilities and now the folks atHot Rod Cameras have come up with what could be the perfect filmmaker solution: a PL mount.

With phenomenal optics from the likes of Arri/Zeiss, Cooke, and others, PL mount lenses are the workhorses of the movie industry. These lenses can be found mounted on everything from Arri film to RED digital cameras — and now can be used on the GH1 through the use of the Hot Rod adapter. As someone who was a videographer many moons ago and is now getting back into shooting independent films, this is an incredible breakthrough.

A few years ago I purchased a Letus depth-of-field (DoF) adapter for my Canon HV20 HDV camera. That little unit allowed me to mount my collection of Nikon lenses to the HV20 and although I lost an immense amount of light, it opened my eyes to a whole new world of creative possibilities. Rather than continually investing in upgrades of the DoF adapter, I decided to wait and played with what I had for I knew at some point, someone would come up with an affordable digital camera that could use interchangeable lenses and eliminate the need for a DoF adapter altogether. Several manufacturers did (obviously), but the Lumix stands out because it is the first of this generation of independent filmmaker cameras that can use cinema optics and it took the folks at Hot Rod to come up with a system that makes sense.

What stands out about the Hot Rod PL mount is that it is more than just an adapter; it is a mounting system that not only adapts PL lenses to micro 4/3, but it also provides support for the camera with an integrated tripod and rail mounts. The system approach solves one key problem with the GH1 (and any other camera in its class) in that the camera body was never designed to support the kind of weight associated with PL lenses. Add the requisite accessories to pull focus or attach a mattebox and it becomes obvious that the little Lumix micro 4/3 mount couldn’t survive an average shoot.

The Hot Rod Cameras’ PL mount for the Lumix GH1 is the right idea executed well. This is one bit of kit that goes on my wish list. In fact, it looks like it may be time to retire my DoF adapter and HV20. Now I just need to come up with the funds for the PL mount and a lens…