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The Vertigo Lens Turret is one of the most anticipated Kickstarters for years [updated]

2 minute read

After what seem like ages - and, in fact, genuinely is - the Vertigo Lens Turret finally goes live on Kickstarter tomorrow.

[Update: As indicated by Ian himself in the comments, turns out that the newly monickered Vertigo-M decided not to go on Kickstarter in the end but shift to direct pre-sale, with units available for $1475 (Ian says $1650, but the website disagrees). "Unlike Kickstarter etc., if we can’t ship you a useful VERTIGO-M by October 20, we’ll refund your money," it states. A version that additionally supports the Sony FX6 along with the already published cameras has also been made available for an extra $175.]

Regular readers will know that we’re a bit leery of Kickstarter campaigns, preferring to talk about them once they’ve been fully funded and there’s good chance the product in question will actually find its way to the marketplace. Caveat emptor, and all that. But it’s not a hard and fast rule and we’re allowed to break it when the product in question warrants it. And if ever something justifies that approach then it’s the Vertigo Lens Turret, which finally launches on Kickstarter tomorrow

Developed by Ian Kerr csc, the MultiTurret, as it was then, was first unveiled at NAB 2019.  It’s taken four years to get it up to this point where a Kickstarter will fund “a limited number of advanced prototypes” and in that time it’s evolved a fair bit.

The Vertigo-M, as you can tell from looking at it, is all about being able to quickly switch between different lenses. The updated turret allows cinematographers to switch between up to three EF or PL lenses mounted onto an initial small selection of cinema cameras. This could potentially be a positive boon for documentary and factual filmmakers who need the flexibility of a zoom with the look, speed and compactness of a prime.

There are a couple of improvements over the latest prototype, detailed in the graphic below (with a couple of interesting redacted items).

vertigo turret improvements

Kerr says he’s been rigorously testing the Vertigo around the planet, capturing scenes on The Amazing Race (CBS), Modern Marvels (Discovery) and The Nature of Things (CBC) as well as several documentaries.  

“After the overwhelming response at NAB 2019 to the MultiTurret, I’ve spent the past four years beating the shit out of the prototype and it’s still working great!” he says. “Cinematographers are a grumpy, demanding bunch (I should know) so it was important to find out where the Vertigo works at it’s best. I’ve tried and failed to destroy our prototype and have been delighted with the results, particularly in low light and in demanding factual scenes where I want a cinematic look. It’s time to share the Vertigo with our very patient supporters and take it to the next level together, tweaking it’s features and then releasing turrets into the wild.” 

vertigo lens turret 2

The first Vertigo release will fit the Sony FX9, Venice and FS7 Mk2 cameras (the best cameras for compatibility have short flange distance mounts and larger — S35+ — sensors). But Kickstarter supporters will help decide the next compatible model, with the choices looking like being from among the Sony FX6, ARRI, RED, or Canon RF. 

Pricing and availability? We’ll know more when the Kickstarter launches. But hey, we can tell you about the weight if that’s at the top of your question list. 

The weight of the new Vertigo will be approximately 1kg (2lbs). Add on the lenses and you increase that obviously, but it’s not just about weight it’s about balance. Kerr gives the example of a set of three Canon L-series lenses taking the combined weight to roughly 4kg (8lbs), which he point out is similar to the weight of a Canon 17-120 T3 zoom but half the length, meaning it requires less counterweight/ length on the back of the camera.

We’ll update this all when the Kickstarter goes live. In the meantime, watch Ian Kerr demo and explain the Vertigo Lens Turret in what we can only call inimitable style.


Tags: Production Lenses