DJI Introduces Drone Follow Focus for Inspire X5 RAW Drones and Ronin

For their new DJI Inspire 1 and X5 RAW quadcopters DJI introduces a new drone follow focus system that is also compatible with the DJI Ronin.

Just two weeks ago we reported about the new DJI Inspire 1 Pro, X5R Drone, one of the most advanced affordable camera drones that are equipped with a micro four thirds camera and RAW capabilities. Here’s DJI’s drone follow focus that integrates with their existing remotes and allows accurate focusing on Inspire drones and also the DJI Ronin and Ronin-M.

1441985749000_1186063The Focus features a handheld remote controller (transmitter) with a focussing knob to give you the feel of a traditional mechanical follow focus. The wireless system sports a range of up to 330′ line-of-sight with a delay of 14ms.

The DJI Wireless Follow Focus System uses the existing wireless connection of Zenmuse Z5 series of camera/gimbals systems, thus it is also compatible with the DJI Ronin and Ronin-M handheld gimbal stabilizers and comes a a kit with a motor for those.

The system including the motor is $1,999 and is said to be available in October (LINK)

The standalone drone follow focus (hand-unit only) will connect to the DJI Inspire 1 remote and cost $999 (LINK)

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Matthew Carmody Reply
Matthew Carmody October 2, 2015

Considering the crazy prices of most similar products, this is a breath of fresh air for many.

Sebastian Wöber Reply
Sebastian Wöber October 2, 2015

You’re absolutely right. Using their eco system to make a wireless follow focus is brilliant. But then again, don’t you think charging $1k for the motor is a bit much?

Sasha Bajac Reply
Sasha Bajac October 2, 2015

Way to expensive, compared the how much the Ronin costs….
Also DJI remotes looose connection on longer shoots at least once.
My Motion Dogs $3000 follow focus looks funny but was super reliable so far while used on my Ronin.

Sasha Bajac Reply
Sasha Bajac October 2, 2015

$300 I meant!

Tim Naylor Naylor October 3, 2015

If you’ve priced wireless follow focus units, this is an amazing deal. Also consider combining the motor with the receiver is brilliant and should’ve been done by the established players ages ago. Considering a Heden Carat runs 5000.00, Preson single channel 11,000, and Arri 15,0000, 2 grand for a single channel is a steal.

I currently have one in my possession and will be running extensive tests this Sunday. More to report. I currently own Cinegears single channel which has many great aspects for the same price but has a bit too much mechanical play in the system (about 1/16th of an inch) for critical focus work. It’s fine for iris pulling or gimbal work. So far, out of the box, the DJI has about 1/64th of play which is virtually negligible. Let’s hope the rest follows.

Ivan Verlaan October 3, 2015

If in fact this is a higher-quality unit, it seems to be a good deal. Not sure about “amazing” though :)

Looking at budget wireless systems… my experience is only with gimbal work (commercial & narrative), for perspective:

• The older Redrock system is ~ $2,500 and I’ve been quite happy with that performance. I like having the receiver on the bottom of the Ronin to help with balance, then a lighter motor unit up front.

• Haven’t used the Cinegears unit yet, but heard there were connection issues. Great to hear your experience.

• Used the Ikan (approx. $2k) on one shoot, and probably won’t ever again. Had connection issues and it was way too sensitive when it worked. Hand unit has terrible button placement (easy to unintentionally push something). Unintuitive compared the RR unit – maybe good for an owner/operator if you can get used to it?

So, DJI comes in at basically the same price point as the major players. I think a lot of people (including myself) were expecting another Ronin situation: deeply undercutting existing players and offering unbelievable price : performance ratio.

This seems like a reasonable price, and I can’t wait to see real-world performance tests. I think we all just wanted a magic box that would solve our focus issues for less than $500 :)

William Malone Reply
William Malone October 3, 2015

One thing that is never mentioned in any review of wireless follow focus devices is “accuracy”. Can you put down marks and have the device reliably return the lens to exactly the same same mark? Personally, this is the most important thing a follow focus can do. I have purchased expensive ones and cheap ones and they have, so far, all failed miserably.

John Terendy October 4, 2015

Can this system be used as a stand-alone follow focus setup?

Tim Naylor Naylor October 4, 2015

First Impression:

So I just finished testing it with my AC. It’s incredible. I put on a 90mm Leica Summicron and it passed all the tests with flying colors. Feathering back and forth (as if someone is rocking in a close up) it was super accurate with no noticeable delay. My AC said she’d take over the Heden Carat. For my uses, gimbals and primes, it’s perfect. The motor / receiver combination is genius. Cinegears were the first to do this. But DJI has taken it one step further by making it significantly smaller (a bit over a 1/4 pound). Unlike Cinegears, there’s virtually no play on the mechanics. I haven’t stress tested it on a proper shoot in NYC where there’s a morass of RF signals to deal with but will soon. Tomorrow, I’m taking it on a camera test in Brooklyn and I should have a better answer in terms of how it holds up on the field.

Hand Controller: Design and build are top notch. Nothing loose or janky. Excellent fit and finish. The hand controller has an LCD menu for fine tuning settings. Then there are four pre-set buttons. These work exceptionally well and you can adjust the speed on the pre-sets. Perfect for iris pulling. It charges with a micro USB. Don’t know how long it lasts. But if you do run out, you can get by with plugging in a USB brick. It came with no instructions but was easier enough to figure out.

Motor: Small. About the size of Heden. But considering it includes the receiver this is quite an achievement. I’m a big fan of motor/receiver combos as it’s one less cable and piece of gear to deal with. It can also be daisy chained to more motors. I suspect there’ll be an upgrade path to a two/three channel controller to maxmiize ths. I’ve only used it on Leica primes which require not much torque. Hopefully I’ll be able to put it on an Optima 24-290 later this week to see what it can really pull. The precision is impressive especially for small micro movements. Something my cinegear struggled with.

Cables: Comes with D Tap to Lemo and Lemo to Lemo.

Case: Laser cut foam. Tight fit. Easily can handle airport gorillas.

Range: Not tested yet. But considering they designed for use on their Inspire, I suspect it’ll be good.

Overall: For gimbal and weight concerns, I believe it’s a game changer. For everyday use, if it can pull stiff lenses or large zooms on a winter day it’ll be the deal of the decade. Compared to other budget units (Cinegear, RedRock, and Ikan) it’s in a league in terms of build, response and features. Compared to mid budget (Heden Carat, Bartech) I’d take it over those in a heart beat mainly because it performs as well (so far) and is smaller. Compared to high end (Arri, C Motion and Preston), it remains to be seen if it can tug the big lenses. For whip racks (10″ to infinity in half a second) something my AC says she has no need for, it’ll lag slightly at the end. Something a Preston will not do (it’ll rip the guts out of your lens before it breaks). Not a big deal.

Value: For 2k as I said before I think it’s a steal. Size, weight, build and feature set it matches or out does units costing three times as much.

Updates; They’ll be adding a remote on/off feature in the coming weeks. I start a movie soon and plan to use it on that. It couldn’t come a moment too soon as we plan to use it for Steadicam Tango which has a weight limit of five pounds. We’ll be taking it Garrett Brown’s (Steadicam inventor) next week to test it with the Tango. Can’t wait to hear his impression.

That’s all for now. In about a month’s time I’ll know everything about it as it’ll be doing some heavy lifting on a movie. Let’s pray it makes it through.

John Terendy October 4, 2015

This is fantastic news.

Ivan Verlaan October 4, 2015

This is great info, thanks!

Someone else has asked above – but is it possible to use this as stand-alone… not on the Ronin?


John Terendy October 4, 2015

Tim, did you use it as a stand alone unit?

 Paul Warsaw Reply
Paul Warsaw December 13, 2015

Tim, any further news on the DJI Focus post your movie shoot please?

John Terendy October 4, 2015

Tim just confirmed to me that the DJI Follow Focus will work as a stand-alone.

Oscar Goldman Reply
Oscar Goldman October 8, 2015

What does “RAW” stand for?