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Correct way to mount a heavy lens


Dominik Bauch
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An experienced AC would know all about this, if you’re using one. 

Definitely use a lens support if the lens is heavy and/or long, and make sure the support is correctly set to the right height. I always check by making sure that when the lens is in position resting on the support I can lock and unlock the PL mount lock ring as normal. If it feels very tight then the mount is being stressed and you need to adjust the support height.

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14 hours ago, Phil Rhodes said:

I see far too many people move the support up until it merely touches the underside of the lens and then walk away.

I've also seen people mush the lens support up too much! 🙂

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Oh, boy. My favorite topic... I may be a little overly sensitive on this subject, but I have been burned in the past.
I think everyone has their own method, but here is mine.

 

I have a Cooke 18-100mm which clocks in at about 14 lbs and is around 18-20 in inches long. Needless to say that's a lot of weight to hang off the front of any camera. 

I've seen a few cringe inducing attempts to mount that lens by several camera assistants and finally came up with a procedure I feel comfortable with. Your milage may vary.

First rule:

If you don't have the upper body strength to handle a 25 lbs camera and 15 lbs lens with confidence ask for help!

There is no shame in asking for assistance! Nobody will think any less of you and if they do they are off the show. 
We're a team and here to support each other as needed. 

Dropping the camera / lens or flexing the mount and knocking the camera out of focus will cost you dearly.
Especially if you didn't ask for assistance, when you obviously needed it. 

 

MOUNTING / UNMOUNTING

- Use 19mm rods and appropriate lens support bracket.
- Mount Alexa on baseplate with 19mm rods in place
- Rotate camera 90 degrees so the PL mount is pointing at the sky/ceiling and you're looking down on it. I place some sort of cushion under the battery plate to protect it. If you do this with the camera mounted on a tripod / head make sure it's stable and won't tip over!
- Carefully lower the lens into the PL mount and lock it. Watch out for the rear element! Support lens and camera by hand and keep everything steady and level.
- Line up the lens support post with the lens and screw it in. Lock down support bracket to rods. Next lock down the support post on the lens support bracket. This should give you a neutral lockdown without the support post pushing up or pulling down on the lens.
- Double check everything is properly tightened down.
- Rotate camera back into neutral position.
- Viola!

Reverse to unmount.


This is where we get to my other pet peeve.

Please do not grab the camera by its handle and then cup the bottom of the lens and use it as a second handle, when you lift a +40 lbs rig onto a head or when raising or lowering the tripod etc.

Personally I'm also not thrilled with using the rods to lift the camera, because you are transmitting that force into the lens support, which then transmits it down the lens into the mount. But that's just me, because I got burned in the past.

Granted a good set of 19mm rods are pretty darn stiff, but I still find it unnerving. Anything attached to the lens mount is basically a giant lever and physics are for real.

 

I now install handles on my camera, even if it's sitting on a tripod. They make for perfect grips for lifting and manhandling the camera and eliminate any temptation to grab the lens or support rods.

 

Anyhow, that's how I do it. 

 

Extra grip for manhandling camera. Depending on the follow focus setup I put them on both sides. No, that's not a Cooke 18-100 :-)

IMG_2091.thumb.jpg.c3d1a4e11b6f05666280d57058e58888.jpg

 

 

 

Edited by Feli di Giorgio
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Re-sharing from a post made four years ago. Just my personal method, please try it if it helps you.

I’m not a fan of pointing the unprotected sensor or mirror shutter up to the sky, as I feel it will be more exposed to the elements. Also, it seems to me the camera would be in a more unstable position this way, and harder to control a heavy lens due to gravity if there are clearance issues. But as long as it’s safe, whatever works for you is ok. 

 

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6 hours ago, Satsuki Murashige said:

I’m not a fan of pointing the unprotected sensor or mirror shutter up to the sky, as I feel it will be more exposed to the elements. Also, it seems to me the camera would be in a more unstable position this way, and harder to control a heavy lens due to gravity if there are clearance issues. But as long as it’s safe, whatever works for you is ok. 
 

I’m not sure about pointing a camera straight up with the lens cap removed either. You risk things falling directly onto the sensor, even just specks of grit or dust.

 

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i can't say that i have ever seen anyone tilt the camera upwards to mount a heavy lens.
i think you would be asking for something to drop straight into the sensor.
this is often not practical either - if a camera is on a hostess tray of a car rig, or on a stabilized head, rainy/snowy day, windy/dusty location, etc.

different ACs have their own preferred methods, but generally for a big lens like 24-290 optimo people will attach the lens support to the lens, and then put the lens support on the rods to take off the weight, then guide the lens into the mount. sometimes this does not work as the support pushes the lens up too much, and you need to loosen it so the lens can be inserted straight into the mount.

with a smaller but heavy lens like 180mm ana prime (14 lbs?), or cooke 65mm ana macro (12 lbs), i would put the lens support on the rods first, then use both hands to guide the lens into the mount. close the mount, slide over the lens support and attach to lens.

before doing any of that, and especially unmounting, lock the tilt on the head!

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It's pointed up with the sensor exposed for just a few seconds. If there are two people involved in this you can even remove the PL lens mount cap at the last moment.  

Obviously using commonsense and being situationally aware are two requirements.

I also don't recommend doing it like this I the rain. Or with the camera mounted on a car rig.

 

But like I said, everyone has their own method. That's how I do it when conditions are right.

 

 

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  • 2 months later...
  • 2 years later...

The way I've always done it going back to my film days, is the lens support post screws directly into the mounting collar on the lens (most of the time) and when correctly balanced the setup will slide smoothly right up to the mount and positively lock with no friction or force needed when properly aligned.  You should be able to test the weight and setup by loosening the mount from the rods and it will slide right back perfectly balanced.

Afterwards, you'll probably be quite pleased with yourself and you'll walk off and go have a beer and brag up a storm about how awesome your lens balancing skills are and so forth. 

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