Going with one of the most common anamorphic adapters for beginners, the Panasonic LA7200 gives great performance at wide angles, but struggles under a lot of circumstances.
Many thanks to mrs. Gabi Akashi for helping me out in the World Tests!
- Look for a Panasonic AG-LA7200 on eBay
- Look for a Panasonic DVX100 camera on eBay
- Look for a Canon EF 17-40 f/4L on eBay
- Watch PROSPECT, the short that made the world in love with the Panasonic LA7200
- Download the full resolution sharpness tests
- Watch a text video with the Panasonic LA7200 on a RED Scarlet
- Check out Thales Banzai’s website
- Make a 95mm filter holder for the Panasonic LA7200
- Watch the Century Optics WS-13 review
- Check Gearbase Camera Rentals, in Vancouver
All the RED links on this post are part of eBay’s Partner Network, so if you purchase anything through them, you’re helping me to keep this project going.
You can support this project on Patreon. Make your contribution and help the Anamorphic Cookbook!
Tito Ferradans signing in for Anamorphic on a Budget Video Reviews. Time to talk about another classic anamorphic, the Panasonic AG-LA7200. It’s the widest anamorphic adapter available. Made for the DVX100, the camera that revolutionized indie filmmaking, the name of the lens reads LA for Lens Adapter, 72 because it has a 72mm deep filter thread – this one, provided by Gearhouse Camera Rentals has a glued blank 72mm ring around it to make life easier – and 00 because the front has no threads of any kind. Stretch is 1.33x to convert the DVX100 4:3 sensor into 16:9. On a modern DSLR it stretches perfectly to 2.36:1, Cinemascope aspect ratio. Well, considering the size of the front element, it would be hard to have threads there. The adapter has a cool looking square design which immediately implies you’re not using a regular lens. The Panasonic is one of the go-to anamorphic adapters for beginners since working with it is rather simple. Just screw your lens at the back, align and go out to shoot. Don’t worry about focusing or anything, just do it on your taking lens and you’re good. Later on you’ll struggle with close focus or larger apertures performance, but not at the start.
This test was shot using a RED Scarlet and my old Panasonic LA7200 adapter. Multiple 4.5″ diopters were used with my custom-made clamp and the anamorphic was paired with Contax/Yashica Zeiss Lenses, 28mm f/2.8, 55mm f/2.0 and a 2x Tele-Extender on the 55mm for some of the shots. Iris was mostly at f/4.0-5.6
Special thanks to Thales Banzai, current owner of the lens, for letting me use his tests.
Let’s talk about some stuff that aren’t mentioned so much around, like there are two versions of the lens, one with this small hood and one without it. I once designed a kind of clamp that went in front of the Panny and enabled 105mm filter threads for diopters, but ended up selling mine a few years ago. The one with the hoodie can hold 105 diopters by wedging them in there! Also, at some point Andrew Reid posted that the Foton-A diopters worked really well with the Panny and that caused the extinction of the Foton-A diopters. As you might have noticed by now, it’s kind of hard to find diopters for this adapter due to its massive front glass.
UPDATE – OCTOBER 2016: I recreated the filter holder for the LA7200 and made a tutorial about. This time it holds 95mm filters, and it’s very easy to make!
Aligning it is pretty easy, again, the screw to lock and unlock rotation and, if you don’t have a flashlight or a good flare source, here’s a trick I learned from another video on how to align it using the Panny’s original lens cap. Just straighten out the square in the middle and you’re good to go!
It’s a light lens, at 400g, with the downside of having a full plastic body which can easily crack and break. Square glass elements also lead to no oval bokeh, of course.
PRICE and AVAILABILITY
There has been no variation since its release, years ago. It used to sell for $1000, now it still sells for $1000. On auctions you’re very likely to get one for $500 or $600. It’s largely available, always on eBay, mostly overpriced, though. I don’t think $1000 is a fair price for this adapter.
It’s able to get good detail inside its focus range, from 4m to infinity. Very poor at close focus. You can see my failed attempts at using smaller diopters (77mm) and getting massive vignetting. Has bad image quality at the edges, but somewhat better than the Centuries.
It REALLY struggles with long lenses, rendering terrible results at 85mm and 135mm. I don’t know why but this specific one I have here has a soft spot near the center. I could see it in these tests but didn’t notice in real world use.
Performance comparison with and without a +1 diopter
The LA7200’s flares are strong, thin, long and super saturated blue. They’re similar but not identical to the Century’s. I guess it’s the quality of the glass and coatings used in these DV adapters.
Winner by far with no vignetting at 28mm (Mir 10A 28mm f/3.5) and full frame. At 35mm (Mir 24M, 35mm f/2) you even get rid of some of the worst edge areas. It shines with wide angles and works very well with modern wide zooms such as Canon’s 17-40mm f/4 or 16-35mm f/2.8L, covering the entire sensor of an APS-C camera.
The LA7200 is easy to handle and performs incredibly good at wide angles. Good for that documentary-feel camera. It doesn’t like longer lenses, requiring diopters even more than the Century, and diopters are hard to find. I taped a whole bunch of them in order to get this video kind of in focus. It’s also very soft at faster apertures, showing its best performance when the taking lens is stopped down to f/4 or f/5.6. It flares pretty easily, flares are easy on the eyes and helpful in alignment, which is also a breeze due to the lens’ rectangular shape. It’s a very simple lens and gives you good stuff right out of the box, but in order to get incredible shots, you’ll have to know it well and play its strong side, finding solutions creatively and sometimes tweaking your shots to the lens’ needs.
We reach the end of this episode but don’t worry because I’ll be right here with new content next week. Remember to subscribe in order to get the videos as soon as they come online! Also, it’s never too much, take a peek at my blog for written versions of all the reviews and the entire Anamorphic on a Budget guide. I have some other videos planned with the Panasonic, trying to make it shine more easily. Stay tuned! See you guys next week.