B4 to EX3 adapter

It’s difficult to get excited about things like adapters but that’s exactly what I was when Mike Tapa of MTF Services sent me his latest creation for review and testing. The “Powered B4 to EX3 Adapter” lets you attach any 2/3” B4 mount lens to your EX3, maintaining full servo zoom, auto iris and VF info. This ability opens up a whole new world of focal lengths to EX3 users, not to mention vastly improved ergonomics over the stock lens. When tripod mounted you can zoom, as you would traditionally, with your left hand – no more reaching around the camera, fantastic! Hand held you’re likely to end up with a more tired right arm as 2/3” lenses tend to be fairly weighty compared to the lightweight EX3 lens.
At first glance you may think the electrical connector and cable on the adapter look a bit awkward, as I initially did. But any concerns I had were quickly dismissed when I mounted a lens and put it on the camera. The cable tucks perfectly neatly away behind the mic mount, where there is even a cable clip to make sure it stays put. Once it’s in place, you hardly notice it.
One thing to bear in mind with this adapter is the sturdiness of your support. With the stock lens you can get away with a fairly lightweight tripod and head but once you add a bigger lens and go for longer focal lengths you’ll struggle. I have used a Sachtler DV12 with 2/3” cameras for news, feature and commercial work for the best part of 10 years and found it the ideal balance between weight and stability. But the DV12 struggled when I flicked in the extender to film some Marsh Harriers during testing for this review. What that means is, depending on your filming intentions, you may have to cough up over £1500 for some new sticks. On the plus side, the results could be fantastic. I’m lucky to have the choice of Sachtler 12,15,18 and 25’s for my work and I found the 18’s gave a good result. I have upgraded the base plate on my EX3 to a heavy duty one that works with an industry standard quick release plate. The quick release may not be essential for most users but, in my opinion, the heavy-duty base plate is. This is especially the case if you’re intending to put heavy (and expensive) glass on the camera.
The laws of physics and optics mean a 2/3” lens/EX3 combination is better for telephoto work but wide angles still work fine, just not quite as wide as you would be on a 2/3” camera.
Ultimate image quality will entirely depend what lens you put on the front, as the adapter is purely electromechanical – there are no optical elements. I tested various lenses and all gave good results, even an old non-HD lens! Used SD lenses are readily available on the Internet and there are some absolute bargains to be had if you are prepared for a possible compromise on absolute image quality. I recommend trying out whichever lens may interest you on an EX3 before you part with your cash because lens quality can and does vary considerably. Also be prepared to work within f4-f8 to maximise performance, especially on older lenses.
I don’t usually use my EX3 for my normal work but I did whilst testing for this review and found the results using an SD lens were absolutely great across all focal lengths. I must admit, I was surprised at how good the images were. Get yourself a good HD lens and prepare to be blown away! Of course, it’s going to dent your bank balance to buy a 2/3” HD lens but the B4 mount has been around for a long time and is likely to stay around. So your investment should stand you in good stead if you intend to upgrade your camera to a 2/3” one in the future.
I tested the adapter with various lenses and found no problems other than I’d turned my EX3 into an IPhone. That’s right folks – it was life changing! If you’re a regular EX3 user and do a lot of tripod work this adapter will improve your life 100%. It transforms the ergonomics of the EX3 completely when you put a “real” lens on the front. It also has the added bonus of taking away the EX3’s “Z1ness” and making it look like a pretty serious bit of kit and that could be rather useful if you want to impress clients.
As for the adapter itself, like all MTF Services products, it’s a fine piece of engineering that is definitely built to last. The combination of beautifully machined aluminium and electrics makes it fairly pricey for an adapter, but it’s considerably less expensive than the Fujinon option and quite reasonably priced as an entry into the world of 2/3” glass. £695, but highly recommended.
Paul Marshall
Paul Marshall or “Slim” is a lighting cameraman at ITV Channel Television. He has over 20 years experience of 2/3” ENG cameras in news, feature, corporate and commercial work. When not filming he spends his time photographing wildlife and if he’s not in when you ring, he’s probably in Africa!

Tags: b4 to ex3 adpater | lens adapter | sachtler | dv12 | ex3 | mtf services | mike tapa | iss041 | N/A
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