by Jared Abrams | 16th December 2010
Here is a breakdown the follow focus units we showed in the Quick Take Video. Most support equipment is very subjective. What works for one person may not work for another. The purpose of this review was to get as many follow focus units in one place so our viewers would know what is available on the market. There was no winner or loser. As I stated in the video all of these units will get the job done and help you keep things in focus. **They are listed by cost lowest to highest based on internet pricing from their website or an authorized dealer. D|Focus– The D|Focus follow focus gear can be moved to the back via an Allen screw. The gearbox is exposed to the elements. The marking disk is flat and the gearbox smooth. The gear is permanently attached to the gearbox. The indicator is actually an Allen wrench for quick adjustments. The D|Focus is around $150 US. ***Correction. The D Focus Gear can be moved to the back of the gearbox via a small Allen screw. Thanks for pointing that out. IDC– The IDC follow focus is a friction-based system. The old skateboard wheel has been replaced by a metal wheel with a thin rubber gasket that presses up against the focus barrel of the lens. The IDC comes with it’s own base plate system. No rods are required. There are two indicator markers in the housing of the focus wheel. It has a base plate that has a locating pin for the camera. Each base plate is camera specific. It is surprisingly precise for a friction-based unit. The IDC Follow focus is around $299 US. Cavision– The Cavision follow focus gear will work on both sides of the gearbox via a small Philips screw. The gear is attached via a Philips screw to the gearbox. It has a single flush mount rod tie down making it easy to use with any base plate system. The knob was a little small. The marking disk is flat and the gearbox was smooth. The Cavision came with three fixed lens gears. The Cavision follow focus is around $350 US. Genus Bravo– The Genus Bravo follow focus gear will work on both sides of the gearbox via a knob screw. The gear is attached to the gearbox via a thumbscrew. The back of the gearbox also has a cover to protect it from the elements. The follow focus mount tie down is flush mount. Making it easy to use with all base plate systems. The rod tie downs are not spring loaded but are small and take up very little room. The marking disk is beveled and the gearbox is smooth. The Genus Bravo also came with one adjustable lens gear. The Bravo is around $500 US. Redrock Micro– The RRM V2 follow focus has been around for a very long time. The gear only works on one side of the gearbox. The gear is attached to the gearbox via a small metal setscrew. It does have a quick release rod mount system. The Indicator marker is flimsy. The marking disk is beveled and the gearbox is smooth. Redrock Micro has a V3 in the works that should be available early 2011. The wireless follow focus has been shown here, it’s just a dream until we can actually purchase. The RRM V2 Follow Focus is around $550 US. Shoot 35– The Shoot 35 Follow Focus gear will work on both sides of the gearbox via a small Allen screw. The gear is attached to the gearbox via a small Allen screw. The follow focus tie down is not flush mount. The gearbox is smooth and the knob is robust. The marking indicator is beveled. The shoot 35 Follow Focus comes with it’s own case and a Speed Crank was included as well. The Shoot 35 also came with three adjustable lens gears. The Shoot 35 follow focus is around $550 US. Cinevate– The Cinevate Durus follow focus is a single rod mount system. It has a very large focus wheel and is a very beefy system overall. The gear is attached to the gearbox via a single Allen screw. The entire gearbox can be flipped via four Allen screws for reverse throw lenses like Nikon. There is one single spring loaded tie down. The marking disk is beveled and the gearbox smooth. The Durus came with three lens gears that attach via mounting screws depending on the diameter of the lens. The Cinevate Durus Follow Focus is just under $1K US. Genus Superior– The Genus superior follow focus was designed by TLS. The gear can be used on both sides of the gearbox. The gear is attached to the gearbox via a thumbscrew. The entire gearbox can be flipped for reverse throw lenses like Nikon. It has a quick release rod mount system that is flush mount and will work with any base plate system. The marking disk is beveled and the gearbox smooth. The Genus Superior follow focus is around $1K US. Zacuto– The Zacuto Z-focus follow focus gear can be used on either side of the gearbox. The gear is mounted to the gearbox via a metal grooved pin that mates to a rod inside the gearbox. The entire unit can be flipped to the dumb side very quickly via a two-way rod mount system. The marking disk is beveled and the gearbox is smooth. The Z-Focus can be fine tuned via a single Allen screw if any play develops over time. The focus knob is on the small side. The Z-Focus is around $1300 US. Vocas-The Vocas MFC-1 follow focus has a center mount gearbox and the gear will work on both sides. The gear is attached via a thumbscrew and locating pin. The rod mount is flush mount via a quick latch system. The gearbox can only travel up and down not camera left to right, however the center mount gear makes up for that. The focus knob has a built in three-way adjustment knob that will limit the rotation of the gear from “Free Rotation to Full Rotation with stops and Half Rotation” According to the company’s website. The focus knob is small hence the three handled speed crank. The Vocas MFC-1 follow focus is around $1400 US. Chrosziel– The Chrosziel follow focus gear will mount to either side of the gearbox. The gear is attached to the gearbox via a center screw and two locating pins. The single rod mount tie down is flush mount and will work with any base plate system. The marking disk is flimsy but large. The knob is a good size for both short and long focus throws. The gearbox is smooth. The Chrosziel follow focus is around $1700 US. Arri– The Arri MFF-1 follow focus gear will work on either side of the gearbox. The gear is attached via a screw into a metal gear drive on both the gear and gearbox. The entire gearbox can be flipped for reverse throw lenses like Nikon. The rod mount is flush mount and it will work with any base plate system. All of the latches are spring-loaded and can be positioned out of the way. The marking disk is beveled and the gearbox smooth. The focus knob has a built in throw adjustment. This will let you determine the rotation of the knob itself via two indicator levers, one blue the other red. This will let you set the exact hard stops on the focus knob itself. The Arri MFF-1 is around $1800 US.Read more
by Jared Abrams | 18th July 2010
I am lucky enough to have my C5D office at Birns and Sawyer, Hollywood and recently grabbed the follow focus units that they had for this little side-by-side comparison video. I must warn you that this is by no means a “Review” of any kind. They happened to be there so we thought that we would show them to you next to each other. There may be some features that we have not described here. I would suggest doing your own research before purchasing any of this equipment. C5D Top Man Chris Collins shot and edited the video. We nabbed the music from our pal Tidwell. A follow focus is absolutely a great tool for HDSLR work. Still lenses are not designed to “follow focus”, they are designed to quickly capture focus. In most cases this means a very short focus throw from infinity to close focus. This makes pulling focus very difficult. A geared follow focus will increase the focus throw and give you a fighting chance to keep the subject in focus throughout the scene. I would like to also point out that most camera accessories are very subjective. Whatever works for you, is the best tool for the job. In the shop there were five follow focus units to be had for this comparison. I wanted to show the Arri FF-5 HD to illustrate a common professional style follow focus that has been used for years in the motion picture industry. The Arri FF-5 HD is quite expensive at around $3500 complete. It is almost twice the price of the Arri MFF-1 shown here at around $1700. The Arri MFF-1 is one of the best follow focuses you can get for HDSLR work. The adjustable rotation of the follow focus is a great feature when using Canon lenses. The entire gearbox flips over to reverse the rotation of the gear, which works well for Nikon lenses. It is the most expensive at around $1700 US. The Chrosziel DV Studio Rig follow focus is very sturdy and the gear can be positioned in either the front or back of the gear drive. This is helpful when you must get close to the camera body with smaller prime lenses. The knob is large which will add more rotation to a short throw lens, like a Canon Zoom. They also make a “Varilock” knob with adjustable rotation. (See Link) The Chrosziel DV Studio Rig shown here costs around $1500. Zacuto’s mid level Z-Focus follow focus was very smooth right out of the box. Most follow focus units are fairly stiff new and will loosen up a bit over time. The gear can also be positioned in the front or rear of the drive. The gear was a little small on the unit we had but that is an easy fix. The Z-Focus is $1350 US. They also make a “Flippable Reversible” version for $1675 US. The Red Rock Micro Follow Focus V2 was the least expensive of the bunch at less than half the price of some of the other units. The prime gear cannot be flipped from front to back and the indicator marker is flimsy, but this is a great follow focus for the price. I have used one for over a year without problem. The Red Rock Micro V2 costs $545 US. There are many other types of follow focus units on the market ranging from the $150 D-Focus, to well over 1K by companies like Vocas, Cinevate, and Genus. The five shown were just some of the popular follow focus units on the market readily available to us at the time. I spent many years as a First A.C. and have used a lot of different types of follow focus units. I have even used cloth tape and pulled focus off the barrel in a pinch. It really does not matter how you get to the party as long as you get there.Read more
by Jared Abrams | 15th July 2010
Zacuto Z-Finder Junior Arri MFF-1 Follow Focus Here are a couple “Quick Takes” on the Arri MFF-1 Mini Follow Focus and The Zacuto Z-Finder Junior. The Arri MFF-1 is one of the best follow focus units money can buy. It has adjustable rotation, great for Canon glass. The gear can be reversed, great for Nikon glass. The Z-Finder junior is is also a great tool for HDSLR shooters. We shot these with the new iPhone 4 and cut it with the iMovie App on the iPhone 4. I plan on doing a few more of these this week. Let me know if there is any gear that you would like to see in a “Quick Take” in the comments section.Read more
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