VIDEO CAMERA 1993

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SHOP WINDOW -- AUGUST

 

TELE-CONVERTERS

 

HEAD

CLOSER ENCOUNTERS

 

INTRO

Camcorder zoom lenses sometimes need a little help. We've been taking a close-up look at some of the teleconverters now on the market in this month's Shop Window feature

 

COPY

Camcorder zoom lenses have been getting steadily more powerful; not so long ago 6x magnification was the norm, but even now, with most machines having 8x zooms there are still times when you want to get that little bit closer to your subject. The simple answer is to screw on a teleconverter lens, there's one to fit just about every make and type of camcorder, ranging in price from under 30 to almost 300. Magnification factors extend from 1.5x to 5x but for most users the 2x teleconverter is the most convenient size, effectively doubling the power of the camcorder's own zoom lens.

 

Teleconverters fit on to the camcorder lens's filter thread; this screw fitting varies in size from 27mm, for the smallest palmcorders, up to 55mm on larger machines. It is important to choose the right size for your machine,  but most teleconverters come with a set of step-up or step-down rings, to fit lenses either side of the nominal thread size.

 

The autofocus systems on some camcorders can be affected by converter lenses, so be aware that you will almost certainly have to resort to manual focus. In order to avoid vignetting (shading in the corners) it is usually necessary  to set the camcorder's zoom to maximum magnification. Most of the larger teleconverters are too heavy to allow front-focus AS systems to work properly, even the smaller one can cause problems. It's important to make sure any screw-on lens fits your machine, without fouling the microphone, AF window or the  remote control and white balance sensors. Exposure systems can also be affected as the amount of light entering the lens is reduced, this may also cause vignetting at low light levels. For this reason teleconverters are best suited to outdoor shots, in good light. In all cases you will need a good quality tripod as the extra magnification and narrower depth of field will accentuate any camera shake. All of the accessory lenses we've looked at come with some sort of carry case or pouch, though the quality varies quite significantly.

 

The optical quality of these lenses is generally very high and such aberrations as there are unlikely to show up on video recordings made on normal 8mm and VHS-C machines. Owners of high-band equipment may feel there is a case for paying for better quality lenses, though unless the lens is going to be used all the time medium quality lenses should be quite sufficient.

 

Space is limited so we've only been able to cover a proportion of the teleconverter lenses on the market in any detail; we couldn't include multi-lens kits, for instance, or variable-magnification zoom lenses, and in the cases of some of the more prolific manufacturer we've limited our comments  to representative samples within their range.

 

 

MAKE/MODEL         

mag

thread sizes mm * = fitting A = adaptor

factor

27

37

43

46

49

52

55

   s

AICO AIA-LA-018

2x

A

*

A

  49.99

AICO AIA-LA-019

5x

*

A

A

165.99

CULLMANN VC-T1

1.5x

*

A

  76.50

CULLMANN VC-T2

1.8x

*

A

123.50

CULLMANN VC-ST

5x

A

*

279.95

HAMA 44362

2x

A

*

 49.99

HAMA 44363

3x

*

A

A

139.99

HAMA 44372

3.5x

*

A

A

129.99

HAMA 44373

5x

*

A

A

139.99

HAMA 44381

1.5x

*

A

A

  86.99

HAMA 44382

2x

*

A

A

  79.99

HAMA  44385

4x

*

A

A

A

199.99

IQ  3010

2x

*

A

  32.90

IQ 5400

2x

*

  29.99

IQ 5500

1.5x

*

  21.99

IQ VC5X

5x

*

  99.99

OPTEX 2X

2x

A

A

*

A

A

  44.90

SIGMA VT-P

1.5x

A

A

*

   74.95

SIGMA VT-L

1.5x

*

A

   59.95

SIGMA VTS-37

1.5

*

A

A

   39.95

SIGMA VT18

1.8

*

A

   89.95

SIGMA VT-3

3x

*

A

179.95

SIGMA VT5

5x

A

A

*

189.95

SIMA SLS-T2

2x

A

*

A

   49.99  

TOKINA VSC-18 PRO

1.8x

A

*

A

   66.00

TOKINA VC-20S

2x

A

*

   63.00

TOKINA VC-20

2x

*

A

A

   66.00

TOKINA VC-200Hi

2x

A

*

A

115.00  

VIVANCO VC20

2x

*

A

   39.99

VIVANCO VC55T

1.4x

*

   39.99

VIVANCO VC75T

2x

*

   49.95

 

 

AICO AIA-LA-019 165.99

Compact and well-made 5x teleconverter, complete with  rigid carry case. Ideal for smaller machines,  where space and weight are at a premium

 

Optical performance  8

Build quality               8

Value for money         8

 

 

CULLMANN VC-T1 76.50

Highly efficient 1.5x converter, a lot lighter than it looks and although not particularly powerful it will give a useful boost for high-band compacts. Comes with hard carry case.

 

Optical performance   9

Build quality                8

Value for money         6

 

 

CULLMANN VC-T2 123.50

Optically uncompromising, suited to top-end, high-band machines where a image quality is important. Soft pouch supplied.

 

Optical performance   9

Build quality                9

Value for money         7

 

 

CULLMANN VC-ST  279.95

Imposing 5x converter for larger high-band machines, exceptionally well built, with extending lens hood, macro converter and tough carry case. A serious lens for serious camcorders.

Optical performance   9

Build quality                9

Value for money         7

 

 

HAMA 44362 49.99

High-performance 2x converter, ideal  for better quality TR-style palmcorders. Supplied with 27mm step-down ring  for oddball machines like the Panasonic S1. Hard case supplied.

Optical performance    9

Build quality                 9

Value for money           8

 

 

HAMA  44385  199.99

Chunky 4x converter, designed to fit most compact machines, and machines with a focal length of 50mm or more. Superbly well built and protected by a rigid carry case

Optical performance     9

Build quality                  9

Value for money           8

 

 

IQ  3010 32.90

Fairly run-of the mill 2x design with passable optics. Cheap and uninspiring push-on lens cap and barely adequate soft pouch. Fine for occasional users, fair value.

Optical performance   7

Build quality                7

Value for money          8

 

 

IQ VC5X  99.99

Budget 5x converter, despite somewhat elaborate shape, surprisingly good performance and well suited to most VHS-C and 8mm compacts. Noisy focus action. Nasty-looking but sturdy hard carry case supplied 

Optical performance   8

Build quality                8 

Value for money          9

 

 

OPTEX 2X

Optical performance

Build quality

Value for money

 

 

SIGMA VT-P  74.95

A big 1.5x lens for big camcorders, heavyweight construction, designed to take the knocks, fine optics, suitable for high-band machines; let down by cheapo soft pouch.

Optical performance    8

Build quality                 9

Value for money           8

 

SIGMA VT-L 59.95

Very similar to the Cullmann T1, though considerably cheaper, but without hard carry case. Same general comments apply.

Optical performance   9

Build quality                8

Value for money          8

 

 

SIGMA VTS-37 39.95

Compact and well-designed 1.5 converter for TR-type palmcorders, durable and well finished, good value. Soft draw-string case included.

Optical performance    8

Build quality                 8

Value for money          9

 

 

SIGMA VT18  89.95

Virtually identical to Cullmann T2, though significantly cheaper. Same impressive performance, suited to high-band machines. Supplied with soft pouch. Recommended.

Optical performance   9

Build quality                9

Value for money          9

 

SIGMA VT-3 179.95

Long-nosed 3x teleconverter, supplied with close-up lens. Fairly bulky, for what it is, but very well made and reasonable value. Rigid carry case supplied.

Optical performance   8

Build quality                8

Value for money          8

 

 

SIGMA VT-5  189.95

Chunky  5x teleconverter, design and performance very similar to Cullmann ST, supplied with same converter lens and hard carry case. Good value.

Optical performance   9

Build quality                9

Value for money         8

 

 

SIMA SLS-T2

Optical performance

Build quality

Value for money

 

 

TOKINA VSC-18 PRO 66.00

Substantial-looking 1.8x converter, though deceptively light. Optically satisfactory, fine for most compacts. Supplied with rigid carry case.

 

Optical performance     8

Build quality                  8

Value for money           8

 

 

TOKINA VC-20S 63.00

Lightweight 2x converter for TR-style palmcorders. Simple, robust construction, supplied with rigid carry case.

Optical performance   8

Build quality                8

Value for money          8

 

 

VIVANCO VC55T  39.99

Lowish power 1.4 x converter but very well-built, and good value for money, for palmcorder owners looking for a comparatively modest increase in power. Hard case supplied.

Optical performance

Build quality

Value for money

 

 

VIVANCO VC75T  49.99

Virtually identical to the Tokina 20S, so especially good value for money, coupled with better than average performance. Hard case supplied. Recommended.

 

Optical performance   9

Build quality                9

Value for money          9

 

 

CONTACT ADDRESSES

 

AICO INTERNATIONAL               

Aico House, Faraday Rd, London Road Ind Est, Newbury,  Berks

RG13 2AD Telephone (0635) 49797

 

CULLMANN UK,  9 Moorbrook, Southmead Industrial Park, Didcott,

Oxfordshire, OX11 7HR.  Telephone (0235) 511527

 

HAMA  Unit 4 Cherrywood, Chineham Business Park, Basingstoke,

Hants RG24 OWF. Telephone (0256) 708110

 

JESSOPS Jessops House, Scudamore Road, Leicester  LE3 1TZ

Telephone (0533) 320033

 

OPTEX ELECTRONICS  2 Tewin Court, Tewin Road, Welwyn Garden City,

Herts AL7 1AU. Telephone (0707) 376660

 

SIMA  (PRISMA Europe Ltd),  Priory House, Pitsford Street, Birmingham

B18 6LX. Telephone 021 554 5540

 

SIGMA (CZ SCIENTIFIC INSTRUMENTS) PO Box 71, Ripon Way

Borehamwood, Herts WD6 2AR. Telephone 081-953 1688

 

TOKINA (INTROPHOTO)  Priors Way, Maidenhead, Berks SL6 2HR.

Telephone (0628) 74411.

 

VIVANCO Unit C ATA House, Boundary  Way, Hemel Hempstead, HP2 7SS

Telephone (0442) 231616

 

 

---end---

R.Maybury 1993 1706

 

 

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