Lens Mount Guide for Production Cameras

Welcome to this lens mounts guide for production cameras. The purpose of this page is to give you a full understanding of the lens mounts you’ll encounter when you shoot with different cameras. When you buy or hire, you might be given a choice of lens mounts, because on some camera they’re interchangeable. This can be confusing if you don’t know what the mounts are and what lenses are available.

If you take a look at the Recommended Cameras page, you’ll see I’ve listed the possible lens mounts for each camera. By clicking a lens mount, you’ll be brought to its section on this page.

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Differences Between Lens Mounts for Production Cameras

There are a number of ways lens mounts are different from each other. The most obvious is the locking mechanism. With some, you slide the lens in and then twist to lock. With others, you position the lens and turn a ring to lock.

Mounts are designed to work with a specific sensor size, so they have different diameters. A Micro Four Thirds mount has a smaller diameter than an EF mount, for example.

The flange focal distance varies between lens mounts. This is the distance between the back of the lens and the camera sensor. On a Micro Four Thirds camera it’s 19.25mm, whereas on an EF camera it’s 44mm.

If you want to attach a lens to a camera with a mount that doesn’t match, you’ll need an adaptor.

Photography and Cine Lenses

All the lens mounts listed below have lenses that fit them. Most of these lenses are designed for photography, but some are cine lenses for film production.

Photography lenses are used all the time for indie film productions. In general they are reliable lenses that produce great results. But dedicated cine lenses are better quality. They have a more robust build with superior optics and internal mechanisms. They use T-stops instead of F-stops, giving you more consistent exposure between different lenses.

On a cine lens, the aperture ring is de-clicked for smooth exposure adjustment. And the lens rings are toothed for follow focus and FIZ (focus, iris, zoom) systems.

Because of their better quality, cine lenses are more expensive. Photography lenses can be de-clicked and toothed rings attached to make them more filmmaker friendly.

Passive and Active Lens Mounts

Lens mounts for production cameras can be passive or active.

An active mount means there’s a power and data connection between the lens and the camera. Functions such as focus and aperture are controlled from the camera body or touch screen.

A passive mount means there is no power or data connection between the camera and the lens. Use the focus and aperture rings on the lens to make adjustments.

Be aware, some lenses are designed to be used with an active mount. If you attach them to a camera with a passive mount, you might not be able to control focus and aperture.

Attaching a Lens to a Production Camera

The are two methods for attaching a lens to a camera. Which one you use depends on the lens mount.

Method 1:

  • Line up a mark on the lens with a mark on the mount (usually a red or white dot)
  • Push the lens into place
  • Twist the lens clockwise to lock *

* With Nikon lenses, you twist them anti-clockwise to lock.

Method 2:

  • Line up slots on the lens with pins on the mount
  • Place lens into position
  • Turn a ring on the mount to lock the lens into place

B4 Mount

Camera type: broadcast

B4 Mount

The B4 mount was designed for older Electronic News Gathering (ENG) cameras. They had a very small 2/3″ sensor and used the 4:3 aspect ratio. But you can shoot wide screen with a B4 lens on modern cameras that have the capacity to crop their sensor.

It’s unlikely you’ll want to use B4 lenses for shooting a movie, unless a retro news vibe is what you’re after!

They are usually zoom lenses with an integrated hand grip. The hand grip has a rocker-style zoom control, record start / stop button, a push autofocus and an auto / manual iris switch. It might also have a RET button, press this to see the last few seconds of your recording.

You can attach a B4 lens to a camera which has interchangeable lens mounts or where a B4 adaptor is available. The lens is powered via a 12-pin Hirose connector. The Hirose cable should be supplied with the lens. The lens sends data to the camera which is displayed on the monitor. This includes focus, aperture settings and depth of field.

The advantage of B4 is the lenses have a much longer zoom than lenses with larger image circles. They also have a greater depth of field than lenses with a larger diameter.

One of the issues with B4 lenses in chromatic aberration (colour fringing). Some adaptors have technology which reduces this.

Because B4 has been around for a few decades, you’ll find secondhand lenses online.

Manufacturers of B4 lenses

Abakus, Angénieux, Canon, Fujinon, Sony

E Mount (Sony)

Camera type: mirrorless, video, cinema

E Mount

This is Sony’s proprietary mount. You’ll find it on their Alpha range of mirrorless cameras, FS5 and FS7 broadcast cameras and the high-end VENICE cinema camera.

While the E mount is large enough for a full-frame sensor, compatible lenses can vary. Choose E or FE lenses for a camera with an APS-C or Super35 sensor. But only use FE lenses on a camera with a full-frame sensor.

Because of the popularity of Sony’s Alpha cameras, you’re find plenty of new and secondhand E lenses.

Manufacturers of E and FE lenses

7Artisans, Carl Zeiss, Fujinon, Handevision, NiSi, Rokinon, Samyang, Schneider, Sigma, SLR Magic, Sony, Tamron, Tokina, Venus Optics, Veydra, Voigtländer, ZY Optics

EF Mount (Canon)

Camera type: DSLR, video, cinema

EF Mount

This is a popular mount for many different types of cameras, simply because there are so many EF lenses available. The EF mount is designed for full-frame photography, but works just as well on the smaller Super35 sensor.

There’s a wide range of prime and zoom lens. And with an estimated 100 million EF lenses made by Canon alone, there are plenty of new and secondhand lenses to be found.

Manufacturers of EF lenses

Canon, Carl Zeiss, Irix, Meike, Rokinon, Samyang, Schneider, Sigma, Tamron, Tokina, Venus Optics

F Mount (Nikon)

Camera type: DSLR, cinema

F Mount

The F mount is designed for full-frame sensor, but works fine with a Super35. While not as popular as Canon’s EF mount, you’ll find some cinema cameras offer an F mount option.

Nikon always seem to do the opposite of Canon. So the focus, aperture and zoom rings operate in the opposite direction.

The F mount has been around since 1959. There any many great new and vintage lenses to be discovered.

Manufacturers of F lenses

Angénieux, Carl Zeiss, Hartblei, Kenko, Kiev Arsenal, Lensbaby, Meike, Samyang, Scheider, Sigma, Tamron, Tokina, Vivitar, Voigtländer

L Mount (Leica)

Camera type: mirrorless

L Mount

This is a relatively new lens mount for full-frame mirrorless cameras. Initially developed by Leica, it’s been adopted by Sigma and Panasonic. The idea is you can mix and match products from all three companies.

Previously they’ve been big supporters of the MFT (Micro Four Thirds) mount. But the adoption of the L Mount and larger sensors, suggests they are moving away from that format.

Manufacturers of L lenses

7Artisans, Handevision, Leica, Meyer-Optik, Panasonic, Sigma

LPL Mount (Arri)

Camera type: cinema

LPL Mount

The LPL mount for production cameras is the latest from Arri. It’s designed for large format cameras such as the Alexa LF and Alexa Mini LF. It has a reduced flange distance which simplifies the internal mechanism. This prevents distortion and chromatic aberration (colour fringing). It has a larger rear aperture, keeping light rays more parallel when focused on the sensor. This prevents vignetting and improves colour reproduction.

Tests with the LPL lenses show reduced racking (slight zoom when pulling focus), also known as breathing. And they produce more natural looking bokeh. Bokeh is where you see a bloom around out of focus lights.

Manufacturers of LPL lenses

Angénieux, Arri, Carl Zeiss, Cooke, Leica, Sigma

Very new lens type. Stunning quality. Insanely expensive

M Mount (Leica)

Camera type: cinema

M Mount

The Leica M is designed for full-frame photography cameras, but can be used with smaller sensors. It’s been around since the 1950s, so was originally intended for film cameras. M lenses are fully manual, so you can’t use autofocus or control them from the camera body. Known for their quality, new M lenses are very expensive. Search online for cheaper secondhand lenses.

The M mount was used on the Leica M3, regarded by some photographers as the best 35mm film camera EVER!

Manufacturers of M lenses

7Artisans, Carl Zeiss, Leica, SLR Magic, Voigtländer

MFT Mount (Micro Four Thirds)

Camera type: mirrorless, remote, action, drone, cinema

MFT Mount

Developed by Panasonic and Olympus, MFT was released in 2008. It’s designed for mirrorless cameras with the small Micro Four Thirds sensor. This format has enjoyed much success and can be found on a range of different cameras. From compact photography cameras, to Blackmagic cinema cameras, to action cameras used on major films and drones from DJI.

There’s a definite move towards larger sensors and a bunch of new lens mounts for that purpose. This doesn’t mean MFT is suddenly going to disappear. There’s definitely a place for cheaper, more compact lenses. And new MFT cameras are in development.

When using MFT, it’s more difficult to get a shallow depth of field. This is because of its smaller sensor. But if a blurry background and bokeh effects are not your priority, there are advantages to working with smaller cameras and lenses.

Manufacturers of MFT lenses

7Artisans, Carl Zeiss, DJI, Entaniya, Kowa, Leica, Lensbaby, Meike, Mitakon, Olympus, Panasonic, Rokinon, Samyang, Sigma, SLR Magic, Tokina, Venus Optics, Veydra, Voigtländer

PL Mount (Arri)

Camera type: cinema

PL Mount

The PL mount was designed by Arri specifically for cinematography. It uses a four-point friction lock to support heavy cine lenses while maintaining a consistent flange focal (back focus) distance. PL lenses have always been a popular choice for cinematographers working on major movies.

PL lenses are fully manual, so there’s no autofocus or controlling them from the camera body. So you’ll probably want to use a follow focus or lens control system.

Manufacturers of PL lenses

Angénieux, Arri, Atlas, Canon, Carl Zeiss, Cooke, Fujinon, Hawk, Kinoptik, Schneider, Samyang, Sigma, SLR Magic, Venus Optics

RF Mount (Canon)

Camera type: mirrorless

RF Mount

Canons latest mirrorless cameras haven’t been as popular as those from other manufacturers. And as EF lenses can be adapted for the RF mount, on one is rushing to make RF lenses. When Canon releases more RF cameras over the next couple of years, we’ll no doubt see more lens options.

Optional adaptors for EF and EF-S lenses. Using an EF-S adaptor automatically produces a cropped images. There are three types of EF adaptors, one is a straight adaptor, the other has a customisable ring and the third has a built-in filter holder.

Manufacturers of RF lenses

Canon, Rokinon, Samyang

X Mount (Fujinon)

Camera type: mirrorless

X Mount

The X mount has been around for a few years, so there’s a good selection of XF and XC photography lenses. XC are more compact and are usually cheaper. XF lenses are better made and produce better quality images. Fujinon have produced MKX, a range of professional cine zooms.

Manufacturers of X lenses

7Artisans, Fujinon, Handevision, SLR Magic

Z Mount (Nikon)

Camera type: mirrorless

Z Mount

Like most new mirrorless camera mounts, Nikon’s Z format is taking a while to build momentum. You can use the FTZ adaptor to attach Nikon’s F lenses to a Z mount camera.

Manufacturers of Z lenses

7Artisans, Nikon, Venus Optics

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