Redrock Encore/ EX1 Review

9
Aug
2009
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Yes, I know I am a bit late to the party but better late than never?

IMG_0152The Redrock M2 was the second adaptor I bought after the Letus FE. I did quite a lot of work with it but found the set up frustrating, the edge sharpness poor and the light loss too much. I stopped using it in favour of the Brevis.

Skip forward a couple of years or so and the main camera I use with my 35mm adaptors is the Sony EX1 and EX3. I have only had great success with the Letus line of adaptors with this camera. The only ones to give me edge sharpness due to a special achromat that Letus brought out to fix the issues with the EX lens. Other manufacturers have struggled in my opinion to get that edge sharpness right with this camera. Cinevate have tried and I have still not been pleased with results from the Brevis and EX. I keep hearing they are working on something, but as an owner of 3 Brevis adaptors I find it next to useless with the EX1. Great with other cameras. Just not the EX1.

The SGBlade came close, but still that edge sharpness just wasn’t there.

IMG_0150

This brings me onto the Redrock Encore. It’s been out a while, but it took me a while to get one, then when I did, work kept getting in the way of me testing it… that and bad English Summer weather. Finally I managed to go out and do some filming for a couple of hours this afternoon.

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The Encore is based on the old M2 design with a HUGE number of improvements. This is what their website says are the main new benefits:

“Best light efficiency available in the industry at slightly less than 1/2 stop light loss (including the microX Encore flip accessory)

Completely redesigned optics for edge sharpness and vignette-free operation

Rugged high quality construction for durability and silent operation

Complete Bundle solutions

M2 Encore Technical Details

1/2 stop light loss – best efficiency in industry, and superior color contrast when stopping down

Completely reformulated optics to eliminate distortion and vignetting

Faster, easier setup (with simplified attachment to microX)

Collimating lens mount (new adapters come pre-collimated from the factory)

Universal camera support, including Sony EX series cameras FINALLY!!

Silent operation

Interchangeable lens mounts without opening the adapter, including PL mount

Interchangeable knob accent colors

New, more powerful motor for silent operation, faster shutter speeds

Internal dust trap

Access port for cleaning adapter internals and inserting optional internal mattes

Rechargeable battery for 18+ hours of continuous level power I SCREWED UP AND FORGOT TO CHARGE IT, SO INSERTED 2 AAs

Integrated battery charger: external sources power the adapter and charge internal batteries

Works with external battery bricks such as v-mount and Anton Bauer

Battery indicator status for charging, on, and low battery

All new screen holder with optional mattes and frame sizes for academy 35mm, SLR 35mm, 4:3, 2.35″1 (cinemascope) and more I NEED TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS!

Fast shutter speeds up to 1/500 and beyond

Legendary Redrock Bokeh from cinescreen II with cineLux BEAUTIFUL BOKEH

Intelligent power (Internal Power Regulation, Built-in battery charger, power management and fault protection, diagnostic status indicator)

Shock mounted motor to reduce vibrations and to protect the motor and gg

Full rubber gaskets in all seals for silent operation and light leak prevention

Works with existing Redrock microSupport system Baseplate and microRods

Aircraft-grade machined aluminum construction

100% glue-free assembly

Weight of complete M2 Encore Indie Bundle: 6lb 12 oz (3 kg) )including rod support, baseplate, microX Encore and all mounting equipment)”

That’s a lot of features.  The most important for me was by far the edge sharpness and vignette free operation and light loss. Well the good news is I can report they are superb. Although I didn’t do any low light filming I set it up inside my house and I could use it with ambient light, something the old M2 could never do.

I also used the new LIVE LENS which lets you use L series Canon glass which has an electronic aperture. Using the new LIVE LENS mount you have a separate controller for the iris powered by a 9V battery. This is the first proper EOS lens mount for any 35mm adaptor that gives you proper iris control. A big deal.

Using lots of my new Canon glass bought for my 5dmk2 I took the rig out to my favourite spot around the corner from my house, just by Richmond Lock. I tested out the Brevis here and the Nikon D90.

I used an f1.4 24mm, a real test for edge sharpness, an f1.4 35mm, an f1.5 50mm, a shift tilt 24mm f3.5 and an 80-200 IS f2.8 Zoom.

Tripod wise I used my Vinten Vision 11 as this is quite a heavy rig and it was secured onto the Sony VCT plate using the Genus adaptor. The best I have used so far. Really solid and a great price.

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Now design wise it’s very similar to the M2, from the outside. It’s all new on the inside. Do I like the old design? No? But I understand why they have kept it for now, it gives current M2 users a cheap way of upgrading. A great idea…but I would prefer a TOTAL redesign please Redrock!

I found the rods very well made, but a bit heavy, hence me having to use a big pro tripod. I would be interested to see their handheld setup to see how well they work together. I love the quick release of the adaptor from the achromat which is screwed onto the EX1. A lovely touch (take note other manufacturers, I have been asking for this for ages!). I only ever used the M2 in “soft mount” mode, this is a world away! It’s this achromat that makes a huge difference for the EX1. It has been redesigned to take into account the issues with the EX1 lens and it does an terrific job. Great edge to edge sharpness. FINALLY. I can’t tell you how excited this made me. Every adaptor I have used apart from the Letus line has been a massive disappointment in this area. I could not understand why the other manufacturers could not do what Hien from Letus had done so very quickly and create a new achromat.

Great edge sharpness on 24mm lens

Great edge sharpness on 24mm lens

Not quite sure if I had it totally set up right as I had to zoom in a bit further than I have to with my Letus. I am sure there are adjustments to make, but this was my “virgin flight” with the Encore and I have much to learn.

So we have a beautiful BOKEH, great edge sharpness, no vignettes, hardly any light loss. This really is a world away from the old M2 and finally another adaptor you can use perfectly with the Sony EX1/ EX3. Its been a long time coming!

Support base

Support base

IMG_0147MVI_0130

Live Lens control

Live Lens control

On/ Off switch. Reassuring solid

On/ Off switch. Reassuring solid

Live lens battery pack on side of Encore

Live lens battery pack on side of Encore

Nice logo

Nice logo

Those Canon lenses are stunning

Those Canon lenses are stunning

MVI_0138MVI_0139MVI_0141It was fun shooting with a 35mm adaptor and the EX1 again, it’s been a few weeks as have been mostly shooting on full size cameras or my Canon 5dmkII. The image out of this combo is truly knockout. A totally different look to the 5dmk2, much softer more film like. BUT OH MY GOD IS IT HEAVIER!! You forget how much you get spoilt with the 5d. But being able to use lovely features like timelapse and overcrank was wonderful (not forgetting being able to shoot native 25p!!). Focusing was a doddle with the EX1 LCD and peaking and you gotta love not having to convert the footage into something you can edit with. Just import using XDCAM transfer and it zips in.

Now if only Redrock can take what they have done here and put it in a more modern shape, perhaps an all in one shape like the Letus then we will really be talking, especially if it could be the weight of the SG BLADE. In the meantime all us EX1 and EX3 users can now rejoice as their is a “newish” kid on the block that works brilliantly with our baby. The Encore is a world away from the old M2. This really is a great 35mm adaptor.

Click on the image below to look at the little edit I did of the footage I shot today. if you are an XR or Vimeo member you can download a full HD mp4 version. Looks V nice!

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Comments

  1. Peter Urban says:

    Thanks for the review. Finally a solution that lets us use one make of glass on DSLR video AND 35mm adaptor video – hahah … until Nikon comes out with that killer pro video SLR ;-).

    Did you encounter any issues / hassles with back focus adjustment and or focus plane alignment (to get proper focus across the entire image)?

    1. pbloom says:

      Letus are working on a LIVE LENS type thingy. You have a Letus don’t you?

      1. Peter Urban says:

        No, we’ve waited on getting an adapter and got the 5DMK2 first. I think the encore is a justifiable investment for us where we can get the ROI till adapters go out of ‘style’. What do you think of combining it with the cinevate carbon rails system. Not sure what matte box to accommodate different lens length redrock or a lighter box with zwingaway – other options?. Same with follow focus zacuto just seems to expensive…? And finally tripod quick release plate – confusing options. Tips are appreciated as always.

        1. pbloom says:

          i couldn’t imagine the proteus system working well with the redrock

          tripod quick release plate from Genus along with vct 14u

          redrock ff is v good.

          1. pbloom says:

            RR matte box is just a bit too heavy for my liking

          2. Peter Urban says:

            Which matte box do you suggest. I kind of like the genus 4×4 but it doesn’t swing and with the zwingaway I seem to loose flexibility for different lens length – which kind of defeats the purpose of swinging the box when I can’t easily get different length lenses in – do I get the dilemma right or am I missing something?

            How bout putting the cinevate carbon rods onto the RR rig replacing the stainless steel ones? Only other decent light option is Zacuto?

        2. Steve Weiss says:

          I have been trying to figure out for years why Phil uses a tripod release plate. I hate those things. I had to use those for years with ENG cameras and wiggle something terrible. Plus every decent tripod has a quick-release plate, so why add the weight and have two quick-release plates. Phil’s just used to it, but I really can’t see doing it.
          Steve

          1. Alvise Tedesco says:

            ah ah. Totally agree

  2. Geoff Charters says:

    Thanks Phil, very helpful

  3. Jeremy Brull says:

    …just wondering: in terms of performance, is the Encore comparable to the Letus Extreme/Elite or the Letus Ultimate?

    Cheers,
    - Jeremy

  4. Prune says:

    Hi Phil,

    What about chromatic aberation ? Seems to be some…. Is it comparable to the Letus/SGBlade ?

    BTW, nice green t-shirt :)

  5. oh my god, the photos are spectacular…. Now see the video ;)

  6. Philip,

    I have been waiting for a review on the RR M2 Encore used with an EX1. Thank you for this, the images produced are just amazing. I can’t afford the Letus and now knowing that the Encore works well in an EX1 is great to know. Thanks Philip, always appreciate your incite on products.

  7. Thanks Phil – we appreciate the thorough vetting. I wanted to mention briefly that the ideal zoom setting is around 77 for EX cameras. The optics of the Encore result in a wider field of view (fov) than other adapters, so your wide angles are wider.

    Regarding weight, the Encore is about the same weight as other 35mm adapter solutions – video DSLRs of course are lighter, though often we are adding gear to cinematize these cameras and get them heavier for better balance and stabilization.

    Brian

    1. pbloom says:

      I had to zoom to around z80…I am not sure I had it quite set up right, I went to z80 to avoid a small top left vignette. Am sure it’s user error! It most often is.

      With regards to weight I really mean with this camera. The EX1 is a fragile beast. There are so many electronics packed into that handle that I hate carrying it the when fully rigged with handle. The same with the Letus too. It is a touch lighter than the Letus for sure, but the rails are a bit heavier than my Zacuto ones, but incredibly sturdy and perfect for the Encore.

  8. Todd VanSlyck says:

    I’m assembling mine as we speak. I practically stalked the FedEx man today.

    1. pbloom says:

      enjoy! it’s lovely!

  9. John Hwang says:

    awesome!
    i am a happy Redrock owner and you are my videographer idol. so it’s great
    to finally see a review from you on the Redrock.

  10. Xan says:

    nice to see you back on the ex’s phil :) we’ve been waiting to see another master piece :)

  11. Tobey says:

    Very good review PB=) I have searched the web for a long time for a review like this and finally;)

    I have one question though… I´ve just bought the Sony EX1 and im now buying a new 35mm adaptor (Letus or Redrock M2). I´m making a international snowboard movie in 09/10 with a nice budgett and its going to be alot of traveling and winter shots.

    Wich one would you recomend, the M2 or the letus (extreme or elite)?

    It would be great if you responded=) I have tried to find out which one to buy for several weeks now but i cant decide… so which is the “best”?

    1. I would go with the M2 Encore, just because of greater fstop flexibility. With the Letus Extreme/Elite you will be limited to stopping down no farther than f4, which means you always have very shallow depth of field. There are times when you need or want a deeper focus and with the M2E you can stop down the taking lens and achieve that.

  12. Joe B. says:

    Phil, Thanks for the review. Didn’t you find the Cinemek G35 a viable EX-series option as well, at least optically speaking (disregarding the nagging non-flip issue)? I’ve got a Brevis I had originally purchased for use with an HVX/HPX. I ended up with an EX3, and am trying to use the CinefuseXL element and the flip to accomodate the different optics. Have considered making a switch, or just picking up a new adapter “better suited” to my camera, or even waiting/springing for a relay. That said, I really do appreciate Cinevate’s responsive service, and ideally would like to make the Brevis work for my EX3. Cinemek footage looks fantastic, too, of course, if different. Thoughts? Thanks for being the tireless advocate and resource for independent filmmakers; have no idea how you make the time, very thankful that you do–Gracias, JB

  13. Marcello Mazzilli says:

    Thanks for the review… One thing I don’t understand about these 35mm adaptors… With cameras that have a removable lens (like my HM700) the adapter will hook directly on my camera with the bayonet mount, or i will have to use my stock 17x Fujinon and screw the Red Rock in front? Sorry .. it might seem a stupid request… but I never read these things around on reviews

  14. Steve Nelson says:

    Hi Philip,

    Regarding the optional mattes for 2.35:1 etc., I haven’t been able to find anything on their website regarding this. Did you do any further investigating into this by chance? I’d love to do some cinemascope type stuff and have looked at the current options available and have pretty much settled on getting a wide angle adapter (.6x – .7x) then use cropping to chop the top and bottom off in post to get to 2.35. Any info on the mattes would be great!

    1. pbloom says:

      i have heard they have decided not to make them now