Newest generation of focus follow rigs make pulling focus easier for digital cinematographers shooting with the latest Video DSLRs.
Since the introduction of the first HD Video-capable DSLR nearly five years ago, a new industry has born and grows, offering gadgets and accessories designed to optimize the use of DSLRs as Cinema cameras for everyone from casual video shooters to serious auteurs. Redrock Micro, whose complete line of products is available at Adorama, has been there since the beginning, building and constantly refining its tools designed for serious digital filmmaking. Redrock’s latest generation of follow focuses have been redesigned. Are they right for your needs? Let’s take a closer look.
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Who needs follow focus?
Before we look at the latest Redrock Follow Focus (the entire line is available at Adorama), let’s take a step back: What is follow focus and why do you need it? Follow focus is something worth seriously considering if you’re getting serious about shooting videos with your DSLR. That’s because most DSLRs will not autofocus when you’re shooting video and even if your DSLR can autofocus, it’s a best guess, and that limits your creativity. Focusing manually while shooting is an awkward operation if you are trying to turn your lens focus ring, and camera movement is more likely. That’s not very professional.
A follow focus lets you measure out each scene, and preset the beginning, middle and end points as the focus shifts during a shot. A focus puller (someone separate from the videographer) can adjust focus while you’re shooting.
OK, now that you’ve got that, let’s take a look at the RedRock’s latest Follow Focus.
Redrock FollowFocus: Which One’s Best For You?
Redrock recently introduced revamped follow focus models: Redrock microFollowFocus, Redrock microFollowFocus | Blue , and Redrock microFollowFocus | blue Studio, all of which can be purchased at Adorama. All of them are constructed of all-machined aluminum, have standard 0.8 mode 32 film-pitch drive gear an Arri standard accessory port, a rubberized focus wheel grip, flappable gearbox (this is an advantage when using shorter lenses), the new Redrock Custom gear box, which is used to control precise movement and can be adjusted to reduce “play,” which can develop over time so the unit works just as it did when you first used it.
So, what’s the difference? Price, and a handful of features that may or may not be important to you.
The Redrock microFollowFocus (available at Adorama) offers outstanding performance at the lowest price and other than an optional 3D marking disc that’s available, the features listed above are everything. If you’re on a budget, that may be plenty for $595.
The mid-range model is the Redrock microFollowFocus | Blue ($795; available at Adorama) ), which, in addition to the above, offers a quick release clamp, a reinforced focus indicator, and adjustable hard stops, which are important when using still lenses with a free-spinning focus ring such as those designed for a Canon EOS DSLR. The focus indicator can be positioned anywhere and locked into place so you can more easily pull focus from one predetermined area in a scene to another. A double-sided focus wheel is available as an optional accessory. An illuminated marking disk makes it easier to operate in low light. The additional focus wheel can be added so you could pull focus from either side of the camera. If you can swing the extra $200 this may be worthwhile because it has features that can truly make a difference.
There is only one difference between the Redrock microFollowFocus | blue and top-line Redrock microFollowFocus | blue Studio, available at Adorama, and that’s the double-sided focus wheel, which is included. Is that worth paying $1,190? My advice: Unless you know for sure you will need this feature, go for the microFollowFocus | blue. You can always add the double-sided focus wheel later, if you need it.
All three follow focus units are made in the US and come with a lifetime warranty.