Sunday, March 26, 2017

Servo Control for DSLR Lenses ZOOM IRIS FOCUS like an ENG camera!

OK so here at OTW we shoot a lot of LIVE Performances and the big dilemma is always pinning down the LONG LENS rig for Close ups from the last row near the back of the venue. We usually get stuck with an expensive and lower resolution camera mainly a 1080i or 1080P capable camera using a B4 type lens. An even more expensive solution involves aSony B4 adapter for one of our F55 cameras. 

So in looking for a more economical method we began our search for a DSLR based solution. We have a CANON 5D Mark III and Mark IV (4K) cameras with several varieties of Canon EF L glass telephoto lenses like 70-200, 100-400 with 1.4 and 2x extenders. so with focal lengths in the 100-800mm range we had what we needed on the camera/lens side. So now we had to nail down the ENG/Servo type solution...what is available to solve this problem? Well we did some deep digging around and found these products:


From Alister Chapman - FOCUS, IRIS and ZOOM CONTROL !
"So here’s a little something I have been working on. This was born out of necessity and the reality of shooting 4K ENG style with a large sensor camera. Like many I needed a zoom lens with a good zoom range. 10x zoom was my minimum. While you can get some very nice PL zoom lenses, for example the Fujinon Cabrio 19-90mm this is only a 4.7x zoom. There are higher ratio zooms like the beautiful Angenieux 24 to 290, but this is a massive lens requiring a massive tripod and not at all suitable for ENG or handheld shooting. Sony F3 and F5/F55 users do have the option of the Sony SCL-Z18X140 which is an 18mm to 240mm servo zoom. It’s a good lens, not fast (f3.5 – f6.3) but useful, but quite a lot of money for such slow lens that is clearly based on DSLR optics. So, what about a DSLR lens? Well that’s what I started to look at, there’s plenty of choice, including the Tamron 18-270 a nice and useful 15x zoom range (just be aware that the Tamron’s focus back to front compared to most broadcast and film lenses). There are also the Canon and Sigma 18-250mm lenses."  
So as of this date the product is still unavailable! To read more click here .

ZACUTO: CONTROL GRIP and Z Motor:

The Control Grip was inspired by Zacuto’s Next Generation Recoil shoulder mounted rigs that place your camera over or behind your shoulder for perfect balance and comfort. This more traditional style of rig pushes focus, monitoring, and camera control further forward, creating a lighter and shorter rig. The Control Grip is a comfortable handgrip that offers the operator the ability to start and stop the camera, has three programmable camera function buttons, and a joystick for full menu operation on most cameras. Add the optional Z-Motor for a rocker servo zoom and iris control that uses only two cables, no control boxes, and has a self powered battery that lasts all day. The Control Grip is the most user friendly camera/lens control system on the market.


Rachel at Zacuto and we will get a close look at their control grip and see  the full set of features of this new product scheduled to ship this Summer!  Most of you are familiar with the high quality of Zacuto products and how they stand behind them. We have tested many of their products in the field including when they sent us DSLR support gear during our filming of the Deepwater Horizon disaster and I have to say I was very impressed with their products back then as well as today. So more to come after NAB..



MOVO:A SHIPPING SOLUTION

So we did find one company shipping a product and remarkably for under $400.00. The MOVO MFF400 Premium motorized follow focus and zoom control video shoulder rig! You can check them out HERE. They even have a lower cost product and both are available on Amazon.com. A Movo unit is on the way for testing and we'll let you know how it goes.



There actually were several solutions out there but most of them no longer ship similar product? One has to ask why and we can only assume that either:
A. These products were too early for market
B. Product demand is minimal ?? Seems hard to believe especially now with so many DSLR cameras being put to work!

Here's a few of them and a youtube link to product info on most of them:


TURRET "Zoom" for DSLR

Viztool HandiZoom
Eurocrane DSLR Zoom/Focus Remote System.
Several are of the DIY category using parts from Arduino, Celestron and other sources so if you're handy it's probably worth checking out and building your own solution.

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