Buying a Brevis turns out to be a big mistake…
I ordered a Brevis Depth Of Field (DOF) adapter from Cinevate for my Sony PWM-EX1 camera two weeks ago. It was going to be my third DOF adapter, but the first for the new EX1.
Although i paid for a 2-businessday-delivery, FedEx showed up after seven days, due to a delay at Memphis for over one day, and the weekend inbetween.
I was excited to finally receive the Brevis and my collegue Bart and i went to work, mounting the Brevis to the EX1 and doing the fine adjustments such as the collimation.
We spent at least eight hours trying to get the back focus and general picture adjusted to our requirements, but to our disappointment we did not succeed. We ended up with vignetting, banding and no corner-to-corner sharpness, whatever we tried.
I think we took the Brevis totally apart at least three times. Tweaked every possible setting as per Cinevate specs and demo videos.
After another few hours i got fed up with the whole thing, when we looked at the picture on a larger HD monitor; there were a lot of small black particles visible on the imaging element (groundglass) and a off-color smudgy spot, so we took the main-tube apart (again), cleaned it out and cleaned the groundglass and put the thing togehter again. There were scratches on the groundglass we could not remove. Half an hour later, all black dots were back! Switching the oscillator on did not remove those, but changed them in little round soft halos. What a mess… Repeated the cleaning process; used clean dry compressed air and a anti-static brush (as advised by Cinevate). To no avail at all… again within a few minutes the pollution was back!
The first reaction of Cinevate was total surprise and the advice to watch the videos again, to make sure that we had put the rig together as should. Dust in the Brevis was another mistery, since it is assempled in a clean room. Not really helpful.
Much to my surprise, i found many complaints on the internet (and even on Cinevate’s own forums) about this problem and communication between disappointed people and Cinevate; so our case was not that surprising and special at all!
When i talk about Problems i mean:
- specifically a EX1 setup; i can not speak for configurations with other cameras
- dust on the imaging element that looks like carbon particles. The clean room story is nice, but the tube is NOT air tight: easy to proof: blow or suck on the oscillator-adjustment hole and you will blow or suck air through the adapter-plug and all the edges of the tube. This is a situation that is absolutely not acceptable; i have read reports from very dissatisfied Brevis users that leave their Brevis at home when they go out to shoot, because they don’t trust the thing anymore and are tired of cleaning it every half hour…
- problems with banding: according to two experts in the field of optics, the prisms of the Brevis Flip unit are too shallow. Because of the large chip size and strange artifacts of the Sony iris, the prisms need to be a tad bigger. Now zooming in on the groundglass shows banding and some vignetting. There is no way to get rid of those, other than getting at least a F5.6 on the camera and zooming in far past the “80” or approx. 45mm. point, but that enlarges the black specks and other groundglass artifacts again… Or buying another camera. This also counts for the EX-3 by the way. Further, there is green CA on the left edge of the screen – apparently coming from the EX1 lens in combination with the Flip prisms.
- No edge to edge sharpness. No idea where that comes from; probably the imaging element and/or achromatic lens are not in line or just not precisely mounted.
I am very disappointed. I have read a lot of hype on the Cinevate site, watched all the movies and instructions and did a lot of Googeling before buying. I watched some footage by Philip Bloom and others using the Brevis (with interresting comments like “vignetting added in post”)… Yeah… Even Phil now admits that there are serious problems with the Brevis and the EX1.
I have learned that there is NOT a single DOF adapter that works really good with the EX1 on the market today, maybe with the single exception of the Letus Ultimate (4000+ dollars). But (and THIS IS IMPORTANT) the others are honest about it!!! Only Cinevate claims that they have solved all EX1 issues (at least in their official commercial hype, once you have access to the forum, you can read that there are still problems with the EX1 – some parts of the forums are only accessible AFTER you have bought a Brevis…).
I have discussed this matter before with Wayne Kinny who makes the SGPro and SGBlade (www.shoot35.com) , and he was honest about it. He did initially advised against buying a SGPro. Unlike Cinevate, who advised me to buy their only-working-solution-on-the-market.
I must say that Cinevate offered me to return the Brevis, but i did not take that opportunity (another 135 euro Fedex charge, plus -5% restocking), but i took my losses and sold it to another indie film maker that uses another camera.
I lost 400 euro’s on the deal, and – more important – lost two valuable weeks of time. I feel mis-advised and thus ripped off.
I want to advise against buying a Brevis for the Ex1 and i seriously find that Cinevate should stop doing so too. This is NOT a professional product, meaning that it is not fit to use in a production environment. The people i work for would not be satisfied with the results.
The SGBlade and Letus Extreme do not have the banding problem, bus do have some CA and no edge-to-edge sharpness on the EX1, but they are HONEST about this. At least they have solved the banding/vignetting AND do not have a dust problem at all due to the rotating ground glass – two things the Brevis is not going to offer for some time, as i understand.
Final word: if you own an EX1 or EX3, skip the Brevis. If you own another camera and you don’t care about the dust problem, go for it – but there are more affordable solutions around.
Still not sure about this all? Do some searching on Google and the Cinevate forums. And, don’t forget: people like Phil Bloom who receive goods free of charge or at cut prices, to experiment and evaluate, are NOT a trustworthy reference.
Let me be clear about this: the Cinevate support team is OK, but they are faced with a problem they are not able to solve, that must be frustrating for them too – they should only be more open and honest and not trying to blame the problems on you.
I did order a new DOF adapter immediately the same day i sold the Brevis. I am now waiting for the SGBlade from shoot35.com to arrive sometime in march. I trust the makers, and the principle. They have been able to solve the problems that worried me the most in the Brevis, and it is a few hundred dollars cheaper. Also they offer free international shipping! Maybe you ask yourself: why have you not bought the SGBlade in the first place? Well… i needed a DOF adapter for the coming week and Shoot35 was not able to get me one in time. The Brevis was my second choice and they promised (but fedex failed) to get it to me in a day or four.
I did not only lose 400 euros on the deal, but now i also have to rent a Letus Ultimate to use for our workshops that start after next week… A thousand dollars more and i could have bought the Letus ultimate myself…
OK – got that off my chest.. 😉