My New Tricked Out Video Camera with DOF Adapter

by Jimmy on April 28, 2010

I built a Depth of Field (DOF) Adapter for my video camera so that I could obtain shallow depth of field, have more control over focus and aperture, do rack focusing, and attain a more “filmic” look from my consumer digital camera.  The depth of field adapter basically lets me use SLR camera lenses on my video camera, allowing me to do all the cool tricks mentioned above.  I followed the highly detailed tutorials written by the legendary video DIY’er Daniel Schweinert at his website.  Check out my pictures and test footage using the adapter below:


My dad and DIY DOF adapter

My dad helped me build the DOF adapter by soldering the vibrating motor to the phone cable to the battery pack. My dad is the man. And my gosh, look at that mustache.

Jimmy and DIY DOF adapter for Canon HV40

After I ordered and received the dozen or so parts I needed to build the DOF adapter, I went to work slowly and carefully putting it together. Here I am hot glueing the all-important focusing screen into the DOF adapter.


Jimmy Nguyen and Depth of Field Adapter

My video camera, depth of field adapter, and Rode shotgun mic on a Shrigg Rig rail system sitting on a tripod floating on a rainbow. The camera is mounted upside down because the DOF adapter flips the image being recorded.

Inside the Depth of Field Adapter

A look inside the depth of field adapter. You can see the focusing screen (left) and EOS tubes and macro lens (right). If you do not want to build, but buy a pre-made adapter you could look at the TwoNeil and Jag35, which cost around $400 each.


Depth of Field Adapter with Canon HV40

Bird's eye view of DOF adapter and Canon HV40.

Creeping behind a DOF adapter

Creeping behind camera.


Test footage:

Notice how Lenah and the purple Babushka doll in the background go in and out of focus.  This is called doing a rack focus.  This would not be achievable without the adapter.  The disadvantage of having a DOF adapter is that it lets in less light, but then again it forces you to learn how to light a scene properly.

Having the out of focus background (nice bokeh) and shooting at 24 frames per second is what makes a movie look more “filmic” and less digital (i.e. everything is in focus and at a faster frame rate like watching sports on TV).

For all the techies:
I used an old 1960’s Nikon non-AIs 50mm 1.8 lens.  I used the Canon EOS tubes and thus, had to use a Nikon F to Canon EOS mount adapter.  The focusing screen was an Ees.  I smudged the screen a bit when putting it into the GG-holder.  I couldn’t focus on infinity because I think my focal flange is off by 1 or 2 mm.  Basically, I have to keep fine-tuning the adapter.  I’m just getting started.  I have not yet bought a 7 inch lcd screen, but I think it’s a must because I’m tired of looking at everything upside down.

Why you should buy a Canon HV20, 30, or 40:
If you want to start getting into movie making, the first camera you should buy is one of the Canon HV series camera.  Either the HV20, 30, or 40.  Brand new they cost $700.  However, you can get them barely used for as low as $250.  They shoot in high definition using miniDV cassettes (HDV).  I know you may be thinking that miniDV cassettes are outdated and that the newer HD cameras with the built-in hard drives and optional SD storage chips are the future and the only real option nowadays.  Indeed if you go to your local electronics store, you will be hard pressed to find any of them selling cameras that use miniDV’s.  However, you have to trust me that the Canon HV’s are so much better than any other HD camera at it’s price range.  Here’s why:

First, this is a consumer level camera that performs like a professional.  The picture quality and resolution is amazing and I would say that I almost always get better footage with my HDV camcorder compared to my Canon HG10 hard drive camera that record to AVCHD.  To me, the difference in picture quality is very clear.  However, you will find people who argue the other way.

Second, the HV20/30/40 cameras have a cult-like following that cannot be explained in words.  The website is the place where thousands of HV20 enthusiasts go to share tips, tricks, and their general love and awe for this little camera.  If you want to know anything about videography or want to know what video equipment is the best to buy, even if you don’t own this camera, is still a place you should check first.  I have learned a great many number of tricks, techniques, and hacks from perusing the forums for hours and I feel like I really can get anything I want out of this camera.   For example, one hack I learned was how to control gain, aperture, and shutter speed on the camera when shooting in low light situations.  Don’t understand what that last sentence meant?  I didn’t either until I bought this camera and started exploring  And where did I learn all about the DOF adapter?, of course.  You can also sell and buy used cameras and video equipment from everyday video enthusiasts just like you on the website.

Third, logging footage from miniDV cassettes to your computer is grueling.  For every one minute of footage you have, it takes an equal one minute to capture the footage onto your computer from the miniDV.  So if you have 6 hours of footage, it will take an actual 6 hours to log that footage onto your computer.  Compare this to the convenient hard drive and chip cameras that let you transfer hours of video through a common USB chord in minutes.  Okay, I know you’re thinking, “How is this an advantage for the HDV cameras?”  First, a miniDV cassette is tangible and an instant backup of all your video.  Second, you can simultaneously upload and cut your footage into as many necessary clips as you want.  Third, logging HDV footage is time-consuming, but it forces you to review all your footage a second time and focus on the in and out points (the natural cuts for your movie).  This will help you tremendously and save you time later on when you start editing your movie.

Basically, I love this camera and all that it can do for me.  If you don’t want to build or buy a DOF adapter, then at the very least I suggest getting a wide angle lens for the camera.  The Canon WD-H43 0.7x is what I use and it costs about $140 or so.  Now that all this is done, let’s make some better movies.



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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Marcus February 19, 2014 at 4:33 am

It is now Feb. of 2014, and I am STILL stubbornly in love with my HV40 – so much so that I am even now setting up a 35mm Letus adapter rig for my shoulder. I still think the images from this little jewel equal anything out there. I just LOVE all the manual controls in this unit – and with the lens adapter, it isn’t at all unreasonable to say it is capable of shooting a polished feature film. I was just wondering, are you still one of chosen, devotedly shooting on your HV? Or have you caved in and gone the way of tapeless formats? Please say it aint so.

2 Jimmy April 2, 2014 at 8:25 am

Hi Marcus,

I do like the gritty look that the dof adapter gives me, but maybe that’s because I was using old lenses with bad low light capabilities. I use the 7D more now because it performs better inside. Have you been making any videos? I’d love to see them. You should check out “Bellflower.” The writer/director/actor of the movie created his own camera that got really unique looking depth of field.

3 Brendon September 4, 2018 at 11:23 am

Hey, Jimmy, you said you get tired of looking at everything in your shot upside down. Is it possible to install everything upside down so that the image will appear right side up?


4 Brendon September 4, 2018 at 11:28 am

The link to the very detailed tutorial that you followed is dead because it appears they’ve taken down the page…

Just letting you know.


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