semi OT: Build your own mini35 for less than $400

vitamin_D wrote on 12/10/2003, 12:32 PM
The originator of this idea, Agus Casse out of Guatemala, designed his with parts lying around his house. His design cost him less than $30, given that he already had the more expensive parts lying around, and items like a macro zoom for his TRV-18 aren't too costly.

I'm in the middle of building my own for a GL1, which realistically will end up costing me about $380: $120 for a used f/1.4 Nikon 50mm lens; $210 for a +7 macro from Century Optics; and $50 for assorted materials from Radio Shack and Home Depot.

I'm calling mine the Agus35 Pro - still a far cry from $8,000!

Here's the thread:

Here's sample footage:

- jim


vectorskink wrote on 12/11/2003, 2:11 PM
Hi Jim

I viewed your footage. Seems to have a very narrow depth of field, I like it! What do you mean by "Mini35"???? What was the purpose of doing what you did?
vitamin_D wrote on 12/11/2003, 2:55 PM
Actually, it's not my footage. I grocked it from Agus Casse's website -- it's he who designed the adapter and that's the best of his "test footage" of it in action.

The Mini35 is an adapter, initially only for the XL1, but now with other fittings as well, made by a company by the name of P+S Technik. It allows for the use of 35mm prime lenses on a DV camera, and retains their DOF characteristics, giving the footage a more familiar look.

It also costs about $8,200.

Agus's design exploits the same optical principles, providing any DV camera with 35mm's DOF, but costs considerably less.

- jim
filmy wrote on 12/11/2003, 3:53 PM
Also, after reading the entire thread over at, Agus does not use a XL1 and the adaptor can be made for under 20 bucks - under $10 if you are resourceful. I think the idea is very cool and this is the first real easy method I have seen to do it. I think it is funny because reading the posts, people are getting very serious and asking for "pro" versions and looking at custom ground glass and buying other accesories that would make it "under $400". Still a long way from the thousands that the "mini35" adaptor costs, but also a lot more than the orginal concept of doing it for under 10 bucks.
vitamin_D wrote on 12/12/2003, 8:04 AM

The difference in price between Agus's design and mine was the purchase of a macro zoom, which doesn't come cheap for 58mm lenses -- $210 (whereas they're had for $35 for 37mm lenses like the TRV-18 he has), and the cost of a used, fast 35mm manual focus lens ($120).

If you actually read the thread closely, you'll see that he had these things "lying around," and in fact, the quoted $10 cost of his adapter is a bit misleading -- that was the cost of his first, rough draft setup that ultimately didn't work out. His more recent setup, from which his best footage is taken, includes the cost of a $35 macro/wide zoom lens.

The reality of building one of these assumes that you might not have all the pieces needed just lyin' around your house, and so if you have to purchase all of the items needed, you'll spend about what I did -- $380. I'd rather my quoted price be higher and honest, than seductively misleading.

- jim
filmy wrote on 12/12/2003, 7:21 PM
I did read the entire thread and looked at almost all of the footage. Can you do it for around 10 bucks? Sure, as the thread said, and as many people do have needed items around the house. I don't have the 25 CD-R case but I do have a 100 and a 50. I have 35mm camera lens. I have batteries. etc etc. I think if you go back and read the thread you will see that the orginal idea was to say "hey this can be done for a lot less than what people are selling something like this for" Now if you re-read my post above you see that I comment on the irony of people asking Agus to build one for them and how much to do it and others asking for a "pro" verison and so on. I think the whole DIY concept is just awesome and I love this idea - I am just now building a "steady -cam" for under 20 bucks. Obviously I got the idea form someone who did it for under 14 but the cost of parts may vary and you can't include the time it takes to make it.

So here is what I think the concept is - a pinhole camera. Most people have probably made one of those as a kid and maybe with/for their kids. Pretty cool. Now any number of people can just come up with better ways to take pictures - and *poof* now we have people building their own SLR's for under blah blah dollars. But then you have lost the concept. Yes you can take a camera lens and play around with it, and many people have. Agus seems to have created a buzz with his method however. Adding a cheap CD player moter was someones great idea and, yeah, that takes the price up a bit. Someone else suggested the 35mm still camera mount for large lenses to be used to mount the DV cam with the 'agus 35' and that brings the price up. And everything you did brings the price up. And so on and so on.

But at it's core you can go out and get a 25 CD-r pack and that is maybe the most cost if you already have the still camera lens laying around and a toy with a motor (or an old cd player of some sort). Given rebates and such these days CD-Rs, and even CD players, could end up being free or under 10 bucks. If you have to go buy parts you will be over that 10 bucks (And actually somewhere along the line Agus changed that to under 15 - that little piece of him smoking a cig is brillant)

Now if you want to be totally anal - the stuff he has doen he has also run through After Effects with the Twixtor plug-in to deinterlace used the Magic Bullet suite for the 'film look'. So if you add those costs in - it is a hell of a lot more than 10 bucks and a hell of a lot more than $400. So even your price is about a grand or two too little to get the final end result.