What is a C-Mount?

Malcolm Tatum

The C-mount is an important component in many forms of camera equipment. A form of lens mount used for closed-circuit television cameras as well as 16mm movie cameras, this type of mount is also commonly employed with trinocular microscope phototubes. The basic design for the C-mount was originally developed for use with movie cameras, and was later modified for use with other types of equipment.

Woman holding a disc
Woman holding a disc

In general configuration, the C-mount is a type of lens mount that includes a threaded connector, allowing the device to be screwed into place with ease. The typical design calls for a male thread pattern on the mount itself, making it easy for the mount to connect with the female thread pattern on a compatible camera. Once in place, the mount makes it very easy to position the lens and begin the process of setting the exposure and the focus prior to initiating a shoot.

Not every movie or video camera is configured to accept the application of a C-mount. Some models can be outfitted for the mount with the use of what is known as a C-mount adapter. The adapter essentially makes it possible to match the thread pattern for the mount with a corresponding thread pattern on one end of the adapter. The opposite end of the device can then be mated with the thread pattern on the camera itself, providing a stable mount for the lens.

The main benefit to the use of a C-mount is to ensure crystal clear focus during an active shoot. In many instances, a mount of this type is used to position a lens that will enhance the image captures when the camera shutter is activated. For video or movie cameras, the C-mount can be used to position a lens that helps to minimize glare or shadowing that could negatively impact the clarity of the footage as it is shot.

Even with the use of an adapter, the C-mount is not compatible with all types of movie and video cameras. This is especially true if the body of the lens tends to make operation of some of the camera features difficult, especially if the photographer’s access to the shutter mechanism is blocked. For this reason, it is usually a good idea to make sure that the make and model of the camera is considered to be compatible with the lens in question, then determine if a C-mount is the best option for securing the lens in the desired position.

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