Focusing on the Follow Focus

Let’s focus on the follow focus!  A follow focus is a device used for controlling focus when shooting film or video.  It is an important tool in any filmmaker’s kit.  It allows for precision and stability whether working alone or with an assistant and enables you to be more efficient with your focusing.  Zacuto offers two styles of follow focus.

Let’s find out more about these two distinctive follow focus units.

Follow Focus V2The Z-Focus V2

The Z-Focus V2 (pictured left) follow focus is our more traditional follow focus and is a true work horse! It can be used shoulder mounted, on a tripod or slider etc.. It is a completely universal system that simply needs a set of 15mm lightweight spaced rods to attach.  It clamps on your 15mm rods at any point and slides back and forth and laterally to align with your lens.

This clamping method means you can add and remove your follow focus at any time without having to slide it on from the front of your rods. It can be used on the operator or assistant side and has a reversible function for use with Nikon lenses. The Z-Focus V2 comes standard with a .8 pitch 1 3/8” diameter gear. The gear can be flipped to the front or back of the unit to accommodate shorter lenses.

 

The Z-Drive

The Zacuto Z-Drive is a unique, universal direct drive follow focus, designed with single operator shoulder mounted rigs in mind. Because it has a universal joint and no internal gears it can’t develop play. It attaches to a single 15mm diameter rod and curves away from the operator at a 60 degree angle creating space and distance from the lens. This is the perfect follow focus for a Recoil rig set up where the camera is directly over your shoulder. It can operate on the camera assistant or operators side of the rig positioned forward toward the lens or backward towards the tripod/dolly etc.. It comes with a fixed 1 ¾” diameter .8 pitch gear to connect to your lens.  Video:  Steve and Jens discuss the features of the Z-Drive and Tornado.

Z-DriveZ-Drive

Zip Gears

Both follow focus models include a marking disc to create distance marks for repeatable focus pulls.  While the Z-Drive gear is fixed, the Z-Focus V2 gear can be removed and exchanged for other size gears.   We offer a .5 pitch gear (Canon broadcast lenses), .6 pitch (Fuji lenses), .8 pitch wide gear and .8 pitch 2 ¼” diameter gear. No matter which follow focus you choose, if your lenses are not geared (like most DSLR and basic video camera lenses) you can add our ZipGear Universal to your lens and use the .8 gear that comes standard with the follow focus. The ZipGears are a .8 pitch 13.5” strap. Cut them to fit the circumference of your lens and tighten with a connector and Allen key. We offer a single ZipGear Universal and a pack of four called a Prime Lens Kit.  You also have the option of purchasing them with or without stops. Find all these accessories and more here. 

Zipgear Universal with Stop

Whip Ports

The Z-Focus V2 and the Z-Drive have standard whip ports for whips and other accessories.  Let’s look at those accessories now!

The Tornado is a special accessory for the Z-Drive.  It attaches via the whip port.  The curve in the Z-Drive brings focusing forward so you can reach it easily and the comfortable horn shape of the Tornado grip completes the setup. These products combine to create a unique mechanical follow focus handgrip perfect for single operator shoulder mounted work.

 

Z-Drive and TornadoZ-Drive on the left and Tornado on the right

Whips

Zacuto offers both 12” and 6” whips which can be used with either follow focus. A whip can be used to pull focus if you need to focus the camera without physically touching follow focus.  This tool can also prevent any vibrations or camera operator body shaking from transferring to the camera.

Zacuto Zwhip

The Z-Crank and optional Z-Crank handle are particularly useful for a large rack focus. With a Z-Crank, your hand only has to spin the rod, which in turn spins the follow focus wheel.

If you have any questions about any of these accessories or would like assistance deciding which follow focus is right for you, please call, email or live chat with our friendly customer service team. We’d love to hear from you!

Want to learn more about the Z-Drive and Tornado? Watch the video below

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2 Responses to “Focusing on the Follow Focus”

  1. Loren S. Miller on November 25th, 2013 7:11 pm

    Have you got a simple rig which offers follow-focus on one side and follow-FOCAL (as in ZOOM) on the other? I like to shoot two-fisted and would love to have such controls available near handles. In fact, I’d look seriously at any low profile rig which allows control over these lens aspects hold holding the DSLM left and right.

  2. Rachel Kenton on December 9th, 2013 3:53 pm

    What camera are you using? The Canon C series and Sony FS100 and 700 have removable camera controls that can control Zoom and we make relocators to put them at a handle. Okii makes something similar for all Canon DSLRs.