USB Follow Focus Controller

** UPDATE – August 29, 2011: There is a coupon code available thru September 14. Please check this post.

** IMPORTANT UPDATE – January 28, 2011: The USB controller has been officially released. Please click here to check full features details, full specifications, technical information provided by the manufacturer and test videos.

PREVIEW: Accessory for Filmmakers & Photographers

As far as we know, this is the first USB Follow Focus controller that will be released in the world. But the best part is that this device can do MUCH more than controlling focus!

As already mentioned in our previous article, we have been participating in the beta-testing process of a very nice new device compatible with all Canon HDSLR cameras that will be released by the manufacturer very soon.

Today we can unveil some more details of this amazing accessory that will be extremely useful for both filmmakers and photographers.

Please note: we are not the manufacturers nor designers of this device. We have been testing it and giving feedback, reports and suggestions since 2 months ago.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION

The controller is pretty well made, it feels solid and strong but it’s lightweight at the same time. Enclosure and knob are made of black anodized aluminum, giving it a very nice look.

It has a round shape design, easy to handle and a 1/4″-20 standard mounting hole on the back face, so you can easily mount it on any kind of support.

It obviously works via USB cable connected to the camera, so basically you can remotely control your camera.

Since this device does NOT turn off the camera LCD screen or HDMI external display, you can mount the camera on a crane, jib or similar support and control it from the distance.

That is a HUGE advantage compared to a computer tethered to the camera! (since whenever you connect the camera to a computer, the Live View display on the LCD screen or HDMI external display will be disabled).

(Please note that current Canon cameras don’t allow to use both rear LCD screen and HDMI external displays at the same time, you have to choose one display option).

All controller operations can be done remotely via USB cable without even touching the camera.

UPDATE – Control your camera from 82′ (25 meters) away!

From the manufacturer’s website:

“If your intended use is as a remote control for a camera mounted on a crane or jib, the USB Focus Controller has been successfully tested with normal USB extension cables past 25 meters in length.”

The controller can work in 3 different modes:

  • Focus Points
  • Settings adjustment
  • Focus Zone selection

As you can see on the picture it has 9 multifunctional buttons, 1 knob, a power switch and a very nice and helpful multicolor LED.

The controller usually comes with white buttons (except the Start/Stop button which is red), but the user can also replace them with other colors.

It’s amazing how well the manufacturer has implemented such a bunch of features in this device with a LED that changes its color to indicate almost all actions, helping the user to exactly know what he/she is doing.

There is a HUGE work behind this device, and a HUGE potential inside it (available to the user!).

Some of the features include:

  • Turn Live View mode On/Off
  • Start/Stop Video recording
  • Take pictures
  • Change/Pull focus using the knob or 2 dedicated buttons (Near/Far smooth focus buttons) even while recording video
  • Capability to save 4 focus points (2 “hard stop” points + 2 focus points) and do a Rack Focus by just pressing any of those buttons
  • Toggle Zoom level x1, x5 and x10
  • Change camera settings
  • Ability to use HDMI external displays while remotely operating the camera & lens (display is not disabled when using this controller)
  • and more… (full details will be available after the official release)

Compatibility (updated list):

The USB Controller is fully compatible with the following cameras:

SPECIAL DISCOUNT FOR READERS

The manufacturer kindly allowed us to give all readers a COUPON CODE to get $50 discount!

This code will be published after the official release in just few days, so stay tuned!

Using the USB Follow Focus Controller

This very short video (without sound, sorry) is only intended to show some operations that can be done, and some of the controller’s features. Sorry for not being able to provide a HD video this time (see at bottom). Also, since the LED is very bright, in this video it is not easy to see how good it actually is and how much it tells once you learn the controller’s operation.

Basically, on this video we did the following operations:

  • ISO adjustment
  • Turn Live View mode ON (ISO, aperture, shutter speed and exposure compensation can also be changed in LV mode)
  • Check focus of subject “David” using zoom level function, and save focus point #1 for later use
  • Move the focus zone to the subject “chair”, adjust focus using the knob with the help of zoom level and save focus point #2
  • Start recording video
  • Rack focus from focus point #2 to focus point #1 by simply pressing focus point #1
  • Stop recording video
  • Move the focus zone to subject “David” to show that the rack focus was done properly.

NOTE: In the real world you do NOT need to do many of those operations.  We just wanted to show most features in action, adding visual confirmation that they actually work, so many steps can actually be skipped in a real work.

Setup: Canon 5D Mark II + Canon EF 24-70 2.8L @50mm

Sample: USB Follow Focus OKii on Kessler PocketJib

Courtesy of Eric Soulier:

Some additional videos can be found here: USB Focus Controller

Additional Comments

After testing and using the controller for over 2 months, we can certainly say it is amazing. It’s one of those accessories you start to love especially if you are a filmmaker or someone who do macro photography (or do those kind of video/photography shootings that require avoid touching the camera/lens or when it’s hard to access to them).

It’s important to note that a USB Follow Focus doesn’t work exactly as a mechanical Follow Focus, especially due Canon’s USB implementation and since the controller is electronic and not mechanic. Both have their own limitations and advantages.

The user should read the detailed information provided by the manufacturer to understand the way this works, its possibilities, what it can and can’t do. That will be available on the official release.

We will post Full HD video and more details in few days after the official release, so stay tuned!

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