5D Mark II Team

Improvements & Gear

USB Follow Focus Controller

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 we have told 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, but with the HUGE advantage that it does not turn off the rear LCD screen! So think about the possibilities…

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 whilst 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
  • and much more… (full details will be available after the official release)

Compatibility:

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.

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

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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January 20, 2011 - Posted by | Accessories, Articles & Tech Info, EOS 1D Mk IV, EOS 5D Mk II, EOS 60D, EOS 7D, EOS T2i/550D, NEW Devices & Accessories, News & Info, PROMOS, REVIEWS | , , , ,

48 Comments »

  1. Price? Price?! Price?!!

    Comment by Nikita Pavlov | January 21, 2011 | Reply

    • We can’t tell yet, but it’s really affordable.

      And if you use the COUPON CODE we will give for all readers, you’ll even get $50 discount.

      Stay tuned, the official release will be very soon.

      Of course, we’ll post when it’s released too.

      Comment by Admin | January 21, 2011 | Reply

  2. Can the controller focus the camera while recordIng video? Can it be used like a cinema follow focus?
    Thanks,
    Jonah

    Comment by Jonah | January 21, 2011 | Reply

    • Of course, the controller CAN change/pull focus whilst recording video.

      Thanks for asking, we edited the list of features and make it clearer that the focus change/pull is completely possible whilst recording video.

      Cheers.

      Comment by Admin | January 21, 2011 | Reply

      • Is it possible to pull focus by hand using the knob whilst recording?

        Thanks, Jakob

        Comment by Jakob | January 21, 2011

      • The controller can of course change/pull focus whilst recording video.

        After official release the manufacturer will give more details to understand the way it works and features it has.

        We will also post a much more detailed article with the Coupon Code for everyone who would like to buy one.

        It’s very interesting to note that the manufacturer will give 30 days return policy, so buyers can test and if not satisfied, it can be returned. We think that is awesome. (Honestly, the controller is awesome too!).

        Comment by Admin | January 21, 2011

      • So the answer is no. Manual focus isn’t possible whilst recording. Manual focus meaning controlling the unit by hand using the knob.
        I suspected as much, and the main reason why I won’t buy this unit. Seems like it’s limited to what’s possible in the Canon computer software.

        Comment by Jakob | January 22, 2011

      • I don’t understand your comment. It’s very clear that you can use the knob to change focus while recording, as explained in “Some of the features include:

        ● Change/Pull focus using the knob or 2 dedicated buttons (Near/Far smooth focus buttons) even whilst recording video

        Manual focus IS possible while recording. That’s the whole point of this. You turn the knob while recording and the focus changes.

        Comment by Admin | January 22, 2011

  3. […] Now, there’s more to read and there’s the “Special discount” just mentioned – but it since they’ve shared the information with planet5D we want to share back – and therefore, you need to jump over to the 5D Mark II Team’s blog to read the rest! […]

    Pingback by Hot off the presses - new USB Follow Focus Controller | planet5D-Canon HDSLR news | January 21, 2011 | Reply

  4. […] Более подробно http://www.5dmark2.wordpress.com […]

    Pingback by Cinema DSLR » Архив блога » USB фоллоу фокус | January 21, 2011 | Reply

  5. So simple to use the camera’s intrenal motor to do what it was made to do!!”focus” Can’t wait to get one. Whats next? Manual iris control during recording? And even manual volume control via USB.

    Comment by Chris Parker | January 21, 2011 | Reply

  6. Holy crap! It’s like a DJ MIDI controller for cameras. Looks like I’ll be getting one for impending video work. Deeply impressed.

    Comment by Gizmo | January 21, 2011 | Reply

  7. fxxk.this amazing.how much. I want one.

    Comment by karl | January 21, 2011 | Reply

  8. Any mounting options?A 1/4-20 hole tapped at the base would be great for mounting on a tripod pan-handle or 15mm rods? I sure could use this on my Jib.

    Comment by iNero | January 21, 2011 | Reply

    • Sure!

      As mentioned in the “Brief Description” it has a 1/4″-20 standard mounting hole, so it’s easy to mount on any support.

      Additional mounting accessories may come soon too.

      Comment by Admin | January 21, 2011 | Reply

  9. […] inside the camera and it turn the focus using the autofocus already built in. Clever! So the USB Follow Focus is small light and elegant: This entry was posted in Geek. Bookmark the permalink. […]

    Pingback by Follow focus via USB | Tongfamily Website | January 21, 2011 | Reply

  10. Since this hasn’t been explained fully, i’m guessing that this leverages the autofocus motors in the lenses? Allowing you to rack focus and follow focus on a USM lens without needing to hook up any additional follow focus equipment?

    Essentially for Canon users who use Canon autofocus lenses, we could achive a good follow focus by plugging this into the USB and setting focus points?

    Can you control the speed of the focus? if someone is walking in frame toward the camera, you may need to vary the speed of focus.

    In terms of design of the unit, it would be nice to give some space around the focus ring where you could mark in and out points for manual rack focus (think whiteboard material).

    If this is what I think it is, this is super exciting, i would definitely be down to give this a try.

    Comment by Mike Kippen | January 21, 2011 | Reply

    • Mike,

      To be as precise and clear as possible we quote the answers given by the designer and manufacturer below:

      Correct, the USB follow focus leverages the autofocus motor, much like the EOS Utility. Unlike the EOS Utility, you’re not tethered to a computer, and you’re also able to send a continuous stream of precisely timed commands, giving you a smooth result, depending on the step size and lens in use.

      The maximum speed that focus commands are sent can be controlled. In fact, this is one of the most important settings on the controller. In combination with the two smooth focus buttons, you can achieve whatever rate you want up to a certain extent, since there are mechanical limitations due to the lens design. For instance, you can’t rack focus from MFD to infinity in a fraction of a second, like you could do with a mechanical follow focus, because the camera cannot accept commands past a certain rate, and the autofocus motor cannot turn the lens that fast when it has to go step by step.

      Regarding the focus marking ring, like seen on a mechanical follow focus: this isn’t possible. If you link the knob (which is a rotary encoder) to each command, and queue them up, then the experience feels very detached. If commands are queued, then having the controller set to send a maximum of 10 commands per second, while turning the knob at a rate of 20 commands per second, would result in the focus continuing to move after you stopped turning the knob. This would be awful for focus accuracy and make it difficult to use. Instead, commands are not queued up, so that the focus stops moving as soon as the user stops turning the knob. Because of this characteristic there is no point in having a marking ring.

      – Stay tuned, we’ll make the announcement when the device is officially released (very soon), and all readers will be able to check the manufacturer’s website for more details and information.

      Comment by Admin | January 21, 2011 | Reply

  11. […] it will see me through multiple cameras. Alas, I can always dream. I will however be investing in a USB Follow Focus as soon as I can, which looks very promising. The fact it’s got functions beyond pulling […]

    Pingback by Must…Resist…. « E.H. Al-dabagh | January 21, 2011 | Reply

  12. Can you humor us with a ball-park estimate on when this will be released? We would like to know about how long you’re going to have us in a holding pattern, waiting for this… also, where price is concerned, perhaps a ball-park figure on that as well? Don’t worry, we’re not going to hammer you over it not ending up being the exact price that ultimately shows up… not asking for something rock-solid & guaranteed to be the ultimate price, just an approximation. Something like “probably not more than $XXX.00”. Any encouraging tidbits of information are always appreciated.

    I look forward to a cool product that will shame all of the “you can’t do that, no way” crowd into not wanting to show their faces around here for a while. We should create a booby-prize award for the most backward-thinking individuals (as opposed to forward-thinking), to give them some recognition for their closed-mindedness. Perhaps with a little statue-thing, similar to an Oscar, but of something like either an ostrich with its head buried in the sand, or some character with his head stuffed up his xxx (you all know what I’m referring to). Cheers!

    Comment by Walden Barney | January 21, 2011 | Reply

    • Hi,

      We are not the manufacturer so we couldn’t tell an exact date, but everything seems to indicate it will be released before the end of this month.

      The price is less than $500, and if you use the Coupon Code that will be posted here on the blog after the manufacturer officially releases the device, then you’ll get a $50 discount.

      We’ll announce it and post as much information as possible, and of course the link to the manufacturer website too, where you’ll be able to find even more information and buy it if you want.

      Cheers.

      Comment by Admin | January 21, 2011 | Reply

  13. Sounds encouraging… I understood you are not the manufacturer, but it looked like the manufacturer had actually left a post or two on here, so I thought there was a possibility that they might see & respond. Anyway, the info in your response is good.. thanks, and keep up the good work – you provide a lot of useful content & resources here, and that’s much appreciated.

    Comment by Walden Barney | January 21, 2011 | Reply

    • I can assure you that the manufacturer barely had time to see the article and didn’t leave any post at all.

      The only “post” by the manufacturer was in fact a quoted text that I included in a reply to a reader’s comment & question, intended to be as much clear and technical as possible.

      BTW, Thanks a lot for your words.

      Cheers.

      Comment by Admin | January 21, 2011 | Reply

      • …my mistake… I thought I had noticed a post by the manufacturer. Sorry if I misread. I’ll be looking for the upcoming release, and continuing to keep an eye on all the good information you pass along to us.

        Comment by Walden Barney | January 21, 2011

      • No worries!

        Hopefully we’ll be able to bring some more exciting news in near future too!

        So far, this device is the first to come soon.

        We still have a pending special report on a Canon lens that has “more than usual” failure rates, but that’s a completely different story indeed.

        Comment by Admin | January 21, 2011

  14. I won’t bother asking for the price, since I have read the other comments but just wondering is there email subscribitions I can add my email to so I will be notified as soon as it is released? Just to make sure I get the first batch and I am dying to get one of these!

    Thanks
    Dillon Pearce

    Comment by Dillon Pearce | January 21, 2011 | Reply

    • You can subscribe to our blog using the fields at the right of this page, so you’ll get an email when we post an article.

      We’ll post once the manufacturer officially releases the product, and then you can check our article, the additional information, and the link to the manufacturer site, and buy it if you want, with the coupon code benefit.

      You’re right.. the first batch is not so big, so honestly we don’t know how fast it will run out of stock.

      Comment by Admin | January 22, 2011 | Reply

  15. […] […]

    Pingback by USB Follow Focus Controller - Canonistas.com | January 21, 2011 | Reply

  16. […] en “Fotoactualidad” ; Descripción en “5DMk2Team” […]

    Pingback by Control a distancia, por cable USB, de algunas DSLR Canon EOS | fotochismes.com | January 22, 2011 | Reply

  17. I would like to use this on a 21′ jib, is it possible to send a USB signal that far???

    Comment by bob | January 24, 2011 | Reply

    • The “safe” length for a USB cable shouldn’t be longer than about 15 feet.

      But you can reach 21 feet and even further if you use special USB cables that keep the signal strong using some electronics.

      They’re not expensive and allows you to reach long distances.

      So yes, you can use the controller from “long” distance without any problem if you use the proper cable.

      Comment by Admin | January 24, 2011 | Reply

    • Just hook your camera up to a net book, they cost less and they do more over the usb connection to the camera(focus, wb, camera control and viewfinder)

      Comment by Kevin | January 26, 2011 | Reply

      • If you do it, you’ll realize there is a communication “lag” (delay) between the camera and computer, you can’t focus in Real time, you can’t even do a smooth focus (you need to click lot of times with a mouse instead of using a knob), you can’t do automatic programmed rack focus, and also what it is very important: the camera will turn OFF the LCD screen and you can’t use an external monitor.

        Besides you have to carry a netbook instead of a small device.

        Basically, what you say it’s a completely different option, and in most cases useless on the real field.

        Comment by Admin | January 26, 2011

  18. sorry if been asked before ” will they ship to the uk “…thank you

    Comment by Gavin | January 24, 2011 | Reply

    • Hi, no worries!

      We think they will. Right after the controller is officially released, we’ll post a deeper review and a link to the manufacturer website (a Coupon Code too for those who would like to buy it) where you’ll be able to find LOT more details of everything.

      Cheers.

      Comment by Admin | January 24, 2011 | Reply

  19. hi. i am from Hyderabad ( INDIA). i am eagerly wa.iting for this device to launch

    Comment by raghu konda | January 26, 2011 | Reply

  20. OK, it’s been a few days. We all want it 🙂

    Comment by Carl | January 27, 2011 | Reply

    • Won’t need to wait much longer, indeed 😉

      If you want to be immediately notified, please subscribe to the blog, so you’ll get the announcement via e-mail just right after posting.

      Thanks!

      Comment by Admin | January 27, 2011 | Reply

  21. Please let us know when the USB controller is release.

    Thanks

    Comment by melvin | January 28, 2011 | Reply

    • Please check the blog again today 😉
      Or subscribe to the blog and you’ll receive all articles via e-mail immediately after we post them.

      Thanks.

      Comment by Admin | January 28, 2011 | Reply

  22. any future plans for making the device compatible with the panasonic gh2?

    Comment by stevep | January 29, 2011 | Reply

    • Nice question to ask to the manufacturer 🙂

      As soon as we can provide any news about that, we’ll post an article. Stay tuned!

      Thanks for reading and posting your comments/inquiries.

      Cheers!

      Comment by Admin | January 30, 2011 | Reply

  23. Hi,
    Do you give the COUPON CODE to reader who is out side US? And will the seller ship it to world?

    Comment by gn2k | February 1, 2011 | Reply

    • Yes, the COUPON CODE is valid worldwide.

      And yes, the manufacturer does ship outside USA (although it seems the controller got out of stock very fast!, we suppose it will be back in stock in few weeks. We’ll post when it’s in stock again).

      You can subscribe to our Blog if you want to receive email notifications of new articles as soon as they are posted.

      Cheers.

      Comment by Admin | February 2, 2011 | Reply

  24. hi all
    great job boys !!
    I hope only that the final price is around 200 Euros
    so also who uses economic camera can purchase it.

    good job
    hi
    salvatore B

    Comment by salvatore | February 4, 2011 | Reply

  25. […] bit of kit over on the 5D Mark II Team blog, a USB focus controller for the Canon series of Digital SLRs, with a rather innovative physical […]

    Pingback by USB follow focus for Canon – the marc daly blog | April 5, 2011 | Reply


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