The Mofage POCO Variable ND adapter (Amazon) is a brand-new drop-in filter Adapter that allows you to control your image in many different ways. It has a huge promise and delivers on a lot of stuff.
But there are some things about it that really made me think about the more philosophical side of filming video. Especially because Mofage has created a product with tried and true competitors who have put a hefty price on similar adapters. So let’s break it down into the good and bad.
First things First
Why the Mofage POCO uses the PL standard
The adapter might come in a few different types of mounts, but you can’t change the front adapter. This is because PL mounts do something that few other mounts can do. They have a long flange distance. The flange distance is the distance between the image sensor and the lens. Because the flange distance for PL lenses is quite long, most camera mounts can afford to put an extension of sorts between the camera and the lens to compensate for the “missing space”. The other benefit of PL lenses is their upper-tier glass. This is because PL is an almost universal lens mount system between cinema cameras.
Why the adapter
The adapter uses a drop lens system to provide more control of your image. Putting the glass behind your lens eliminates the need for matte boxes or front filters. This means that you spend less time tinkering with extra accessories while also cutting down on weight in order to get the same benefits behind your lens. Mofage currently offers multiple types of inserts: white streaks, white mist, black mist, Variable ND (VND), and clear filters.
Mofage POCO build quality
The build on the Mofage POCO adapter is excellent. It has a really nice heft to it. The anodized aluminum has great texture, making it feel very durable. The adapter also has a really nice satisfying smoothness to the rotation of the adapter. The button that releases the drop-in tray feels nice and tactile.
The glass performs very well. NDs have really gotten better over the years, especially VNDs. But even by today’s standard, the VND performs surprisingly well. If you’re looking for a good VND you want these four things:
- Low Color Shift – A great VND will alter the image as little as possible. Because of the physics of how VNDs work it takes good quality materials to make them not change color. As the VND darkens, it becomes more susceptible to changes. The POCO has a yellow cast on the image. At the maximum darkness, I see a very fixable image. Notice the apparent yellow shift on the white paper on the right and the silver deer on the left.
- No Fringing – Lower-quality glass will create colored halos around subjects. The POCO adapter experiences zero fringing whatsoever.
- Contrast – Similar to color shift, altering the contrast of the image is also a priority. The POCO adapter loses very little contrast and is very fixable in post.
- IR pollution – IR pollution is the effect of infrared light that affects the interpretation of colors for the camera sensor. Specifically, the most apparent color is black. Blacks tend to lose contrast and change to a purple-ish hue. The adapter, however, handles black very well in the harsh sun, and it seems largely unaffected.
The VND can provide anything from 1-8 stops, which means that you’ll be able to overcome even the harshest of suns and maybe even keep it on if you go somewhere indoors if it’s well-lit. The gear feels smooth, and it’s pitched to match follow focus gears. This means you are able to mount wireless follow focus systems and control the light coming into your sensor without adjusting the parameters of your shot, i.e., aperture, shutter angle (or speed), or ISO.
For clarification, 1-8 stops is an awful lot of stops. This is essentially the equivalent of you stopping down from F1.4 to F22.
The POCO adapter has a whole lot going for it. The build quality is excellent, and the quality of the glass is fantastic money for value. The money-for-value part for me is what screamed at me when I was presented with this. I absolutely love the idea that the adapter has interchangeable mounts. You can easily and manually swap your own mounts for the basically-nothing price of 20 dollars. This is immensely impactful to the cost of building a kit with PL adapters since, as far as I know, this is the only adapter that offers that. In addition, the drop-in inserts are also incredibly fairly priced. You can replace your filters with new styles and effects at less than 50 dollars (after their Kickstarter!). This means creating a total drop-in filter control kit, including the adapter, will run you less than any other system.
The… less good
This part of the review breaks my heart because there is so much to love and many things showing that Mofage is committed to making a great product. With that being said, there is definitely room for improvement.
The flange distance of a regular PL adapter is virtually endless. Any lens that fits the adapter will likely fit on your camera. However, this changes when there is additional glass added between the lens and the sensor. POCO has fantastic clearnece. Very few lenses will have a hard time mounting on this adapter. However, sitting the glass far enough back to accommodate a wider set of lenses comes at a cost.
Two problems are caused by sitting the filter back very far, especially when working with DSLR-style cameras (as opposed to box style, like the RED or Mini Alexa). First is the residual design element of the optic prism, which used to be in DSLRs. Even my modern A7iii, which has no optics or built-in flash, keeps the prism structure at the top. This makes it extremely hard to access the filter release button. A cage only makes it even harder to access.
The second issue is cage clearance. Cage clearance refers to the protrusion of the cage on the side of the camera that is not the handle. Both of my daily drivers, the sony A7iii and my Red Komodo, struggled with this. With my sony, the VND gear hits the top of the cage when mounting, and It sits 1mm away from the cage when it’s set, and the VND is impossible to take out. We have the same problem with our Komodo.
Update: Mofage updates that some cages indeed do not work well with the FOCO adapter. If this is a critical factor for you, Mofage tells us that the komodo is working fine with a SmallRig cage. Mofage says that they will publish detailed instructions to help users choose a cage at a later date.
This shocked me a little bit more because we use a Tilta cage. This has to be one of the more common cages in the wild. In addition. Because we were unable to remove the filter, the filter was blocking the lens release button on the Komodo. In order to remove the adapter from the komodo using a Tilta cage and a VND, you will need a flat screwdriver in order to press the button.
The Mofage POCO has so many fantastic features and good things to say about it, but it also comes with a fair bit of challenges when working with it. I dove into a more philosophical approach in this review because it really got me thinking about how we film today. There is a time and place for everything, and this adapter might be hard to use for you or incredibly worth it for you. Between the competitive pricing, high-quality glass, and design flaws (features? Hard to say), the Mofage POCO offers a really compelling device that can most likely be a worthy investment.
Just remember to check your cage clearance or consider a half cage to be extra sure.
Mofage POCO – Conclusion
All in all, the Mofage POCO has been a roller-coaster of a review. But At the end of the day, I am confident in recommending the kit because it’s not bad. It’s just different. The benefits they provide far outweigh the minor inconveniences you might encounter. Being priced at a competitive $329 ($599 after their Kickstarter finishes) means you get a very capable adapter at a very affordable price. If you are considering buying this adapter, take a look at their Kickstarter, which is ending really soon, and you can save a little money.