HV20 and Letus Extreme mini

Today before the festive stuff began I attached the Letus Extreme Mini to the Canon HV20 to see how it worked.

I went into my parents rainy garden for 15 minutes and stood under the gazebo and knocked off a dozen shots.

This is far from art, far from my best work. But I could hardly spend a couple hours today out somewhere pretty making the most of it. Then again the 15 minutes I spent with it highlighted my inexperience with the HV20. Coming from a professional camera or even a “prosumer” camera, the HV20 is VERY fiddly. Only the focus has an independent control, all the others that are controllable are through the menu.

I didn’t use an external monitor as I think that defeats the original concept of the mini. A portable Letus that you just stick on the HV20 when you go away or don’t want the hassle of a full rig.

Obviously coming from the EX1 this was always going to be a shock. It was. Focusing to start with was incredibly difficult. I had no idea when stuff was in focus properly. I kept having to change the little focus dial to adjust focus. Not sure why as I would have thought once it was focused on the GG it should be fine.

Gain…there are no manual gain controls and it was grim outside. Not much light so the little HV20 was introducing a fair bit without my permission. I think there are some fiddly work arounds like pointing the camera at bright light then locking in that F stop then tweaking but not sure, if anyone could give me an idiot’s guide then please do. The image I got mostly was grainy as hell and not very nice. Not a mini fault, not really an HV20 fault. More a novice operator fault. We have it easy with Pro cameras, all the controls are on the body and very obvious and very easy to control. these little ones take much more work to get good stuff out of them. The compression of this clip hides most of the gain and no don’t ask me for a 720p version. When I have something I am proud of that will happen!

Apart from the fiddly controls, when there was no gain AND I managed to get proper focus it worked very well. The mini is just like it’s bigger brother, only er, smaller. It’s lighter but apart from the smaller body everything optically is identical. It’s a shame with the small lens diameter you can’t stick it on a bigger camera. If you could then rods wouldn’t necessarily be needed. Talking of which I didn’t use any rods and it was fine. Although when I stuck on my 105mm lens I was nervous…

I need to do further proper tests in better light and with a clearer understanding of how the exposure works. After all, I like to shoot wide open on my 35mm lenses a lot of the time so most exposure I like to control from the camera…

Very interested to see Letus have released their modular flip for use on all the 35mm adaptors out there bar the M2. The competition between the makers is really hotting up. Can only be good for all of us!

Again, apologies for the rushed nature of this test. It is Christmas Day, the weather is pants and I missed my EX1. I felt like I was being unfaithful! You can visit Letus here.


  1. I have been given an excellent video tutorial as to how to control the aperture and not have gain. I will do another proper test shoot with the HV20 and extreme and really make it look lovely for everyone!

  2. Philip

    FIrst all thanks for all the great footage. Beautiful stuff. A few things about the HV20 which might help.

    1. If you have a memory card for taking pictures in the camera, then when shooting video if you press and hold the photo key the camera will give you Aperture and shutter speed readings

    2. Press the SET key and use down arrow until you see the EXP. Then press the up arrow. You should see the gain control on the upper left side of the display. What’s great about this is once you have that selected the exposure is locked.

  3. Oh yeah, almost forgot. I am thinking about getting Letus mini for my HV20. What is your opinion of it? Hard to tell which is best, Letus, Brevis, Redrock.

    Your thoughts would be helpful

  4. One last question, if I may. The Piccadilly footage (which is stunning by the way) Was it shot 50i or 25 fps. Also, could you tell me any other things regarding how you got that ‘golden’ look. What grading techniques etc. I am going to shot a short film soon and that is exactly the look I am after.

    Thanks again. And any questions you may have about the HV 20 please feel free to ask


  5. thanks brad. Piccadilly furs like 99% of what I do was shot 25p.

    The golden look was purely in grading with Magic Bullet looks.

    For the HV20 the Letus Mini makes so much sense. It was designed for this exact camera and it does work beautifully.

    I need to get myself a mini sd card so I can do that trick. I saw it on a video that someone sent me a link to. So fiddly. But i think i will have more success next time.

  6. I was afraid you were going to say Magic Bullet. I recently installed a Matrox Pahrelia AVPe graphic card which allows me to preview footage on external HD monitor… but Magic Bullet does not support the card. So , now I am wondering if I should put back my Ndvia card to take advantage of Magic Bullet Looks. Wish I could figure out a way to preview the footage with the Nvidia through the firewire of the HV20, but so far haven’t had any luck with that. Oh well, I guess I’ll put back the Nividia… it’s better to have properly graded footage than to be able to view pooprly graded footage on the HD monitor.

  7. Hi Brad

    Am a mac man not a PC man so not sure what is going on. I didn’t realise looks was only compatible with certain cards.

    Grading needs to be done using a proper HD monitor to make it as good as possible but you can if you have to just do without. After all everything is about compromises. Otherwise you would be shooting on an EX1 rather than an HV20!

    I created my own look for Piccadilly Furs, quite complicated and most shots need different tweaks.

  8. Went back to my Nvidia card and can now use Magic Bullet. I use dual monitors anyway and since computer monitors are HD I really don’t see that much of a down side. Just made a preset in PPro for grading which uses the entire screen of my second monitor. So, there you go… Bob’s your uncle!

  9. Phil:

    I’ve been fighting the focus issue at a gorilla production level (in other words not a lot of cash) using the HV20 and Letus35a for about a year. The small LCD makes it difficult to focus critically. I do use autofocus to get it close, then adjust. You really need a monitor. In my case, and without a flip module, I mount the camera upside down, and I’ve used an 7 inch SD DVD player with video inputs as a monitor. Still not adequate, and will have to go for a better monitor.

  10. Phil, I do have a field monitor. What I was talking about was an external HD monitor for grading during editing. Found a nice work-around.

    Sorting through MB Looks… I was wondering if you would be kind enough to tell me what basic preset you used for the look for Piccadilly furs… to get me on the right path.

  11. What and were is the video tutorial as to how to control the aperture you talked about, can you post a link? Thanks! also I have a question. I am so new to this thing I have no background in video or photography I just have a passion for telling a story and cinematography and I want to express myself in that way, I have a little over $3,000 bucks so I can a get a Canon HX A1 or a Canon HV20 plus a letus, rails, monitor, some lenses, and maybe a follow focus. How would you advise some one wanting to get into film? Get a nice camera learn hot to use it, then step up into the 35mm realm or just jump into the 35mm realm. What would be the pros and cons of both? Thanks for all your inspiring video.

  12. What is that lens you have on the Mini in the above picture?
    Also, I am curious, once the HD video is shot and edited, where do you save it to be shown later? I mean, do you play back from camera everytime? what if I do not own a HD Player or Burner? Am I in over my head? If always playing from the camera, won’t that wear down the heads too fast? Also, shooting over the same tape over and over, is that a problem as well? Please let me know. I really need some guidance.
    Thank you
    Allen Rivota

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