Z-Drive and Tornado


The Z-Drive

The Z-Drive is a unique direct drive universal follow focus that can be used in an infinite number of positions. It can be used on the operator side in a frontal downward position for shoulder mounted use. It can be used in a angled backward position for use with a whip if you are standing behind the tripod or dolly. It can be used at any angle up, down or in between on the operator or assistant side.

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 for comfortable use when the camera is on your shoulder.  This is the perfect follow focus for a Recoil set up (find out more about Recoil Rigs here) as it brings focus control further forward where you need it, as well as down and out to the side.

Please watch the video below to learn more about The Z-Drive and Tornado.

The Z-Drive comes with a 1 ¾” diameter .8 pitch gear to connect to your lens gear. If your lenses are not pitched to .8 or are not pitched at all (most DSLR and basic video camera lenses are not) you can add the Zacuto ZipGear Universal to your lens so the teeth match our gear correctly for smooth lens rotation. The Z-Drive has a dry erase marking disc to create distance points for repeatable focus pulls. The Z-drive can act as a stand alone follow focus or be combined with the Tornado hand grip to make an incredibly stable focus and stabilizing device.

The Tornado

We recommend using the Z-Drive with our Tornado grip when working handheld. The Tornado grip connects to the Z-Drive follow focus via a standard whip port. The unique 60 degree curved shape of the Z-Drive and the comfortable horn shape of the Tornado grip make a mechanical follow focus handgrip perfect for single operator shoulder mounted work.

Z-Drive and Tornado

Above: Z-Drive on the left and Tornado on the right

Slide the Tornado grip into the Z-Drive whip port by pushing down on the round plunger and pushing the Tornado into the port. Once you release this plunger it will be securely attached. Grab the horn handle with your bottom three fingers, placing your forefinger and thumb on the scalloped focus wheel. Turn your whole hand to focus. For lenses with a large focus rotation, release your thumb and forefinger, ratchet your wrist back and grab the scalloped wheel once again for more range.

This unique Zacuto twist on the traditional follow focus and whip set up is perfectly engineered for use with a Recoil kit. We will be offering the Z-Drive and Tornado as individual products and in a Recoil Handgrip Kit along with a Zgrip Z-Mount Zwivel single handgrip. This kit will create a double handgrip system for 15mm rods.


As always, please call, email or connect via live chat to Zacuto sales and customer service with any questions or comments.

Join the conversation

22 Responses to “Z-Drive and Tornado”

  1. Denis on October 4th, 2013 8:14 am

    It’s here finally. Thanks for the info! Love from London x

  2. Tasmyn Shirlaw on October 23rd, 2013 4:14 am

    Beautiful!!! Wow

    Where can I get one in South Africa? Pro sales Do not have

  3. Jon Wood on October 23rd, 2013 3:56 pm

    what if I wanted to put that grip back on the handle of my tripod and use it like a studio broadcast mechanical focus wheel. Is there an extension cable available to make that happen?

  4. Rachel Kenton on December 9th, 2013 3:57 pm
    Rachel Mahrle

    We considered some extensions in an early model but found that we exponentially lost precision and smoothness. The Tornado is essentially a whip. This is designed to work up by the lens as a handle.

  5. MorePeanutButter on December 10th, 2013 8:14 pm

    Anything truly creative can be art.

  6. Robert Richards on August 10th, 2014 7:32 pm

    Hey guys
    I’m using my tornadow with Zeiss cp2 glass and I would like to get a larger gear. I was looking at 1.3/8 Diameter Gear, would that be the right choice. I was just looking for some advice before I make the buy.


    Robert Richards

  7. Rachel Kenton on August 11th, 2014 9:41 am
    Rachel Mahrle

    Hi Robert,

    The gear on the Z-Drive is fixed and cannot be exchanged the way you can on our standard follow focus. Email or call our sales/customer service dept. They may be able to offer some other options.
    312 863 3452

  8. John on January 6th, 2015 1:35 pm

    Is it possible to set this up on the right side? Also would it be possible to run one on each side using one side as a zoom control?

  9. Rachel Kenton on January 7th, 2015 11:28 am
    Rachel Mahrle

    Hi John,

    Yes, both are possible.

  10. Paul Del Vecchio on June 20th, 2015 3:36 pm

    This follow focus looks like it would get in the way of a mattebox. I can’t tell if this is the case though. Will it get in the way of something like a Tilta Mattebox?

    If so, do you have an extension arm for the .8 pitch gear?

  11. Rachel Kenton on June 22nd, 2015 10:47 am
    Rachel Mahrle

    Hi Paul,

    You are correct, the Z-Drive cannot be used with a mattebox when working shoulder mounted. We do not make an extension. Sorry to disappoint. If you have more questions please contact our tech/sale team at or 312 863 3456

    – Zacuto

  12. Alexander on August 4th, 2015 11:43 am

    Is it really possible to use Z-Drive follow focus with one of DSLR run’n’gun rigs (Marauder or Enforcer)? Yes, technically it is possible, but was Z-Drive designed to be used in this way? In all videos about Z-Drive it is used with Recoil rig and vice versa, Enforcer/Marauder are used without follow focus at all. The question is: how Zacuto would recommend to build a compact rig with follow focus?
    Thank you!

  13. Rachel Kenton on August 4th, 2015 12:53 pm
    Rachel Mahrle

    Hi Alexander,

    We recommend always going with a shoulder rig if you want to use a follow focus. It will keep you balanced and steady. A Marauder and Enforcer really aren’t the best for that. Our VCT Universal is the best place to start, then add the follow focus and mount for an offset monitor or viewfinder. You can certainly forgo the handgrips to keep the rig compact and grip the baseplate rods. Email or call 312 863 3452 to get more info and chat about the right set up for you. – Rachel, Zacuto

  14. Alexander on August 7th, 2015 12:47 pm

    Hello Rachel,

    Thank you for the answer. The general idea was to build a really portable rig with follow focus. In all videos about Marauder and Enforcer operator performs focusing using the lens focusing ring itself. So why not to add Mini DSLR Baseplate and Z-Drive to the setup to perform focusing a lot more easier?
    Another question is: will the added height of Mini DSLR Baseplate allow to use Z-Finder?
    Thank you!

  15. Rachel Kenton on August 7th, 2015 3:25 pm
    Rachel Mahrle

    Hi Alexander,

    The extra weight is not ideal when it’s all on your hands. Also, when you have your hand direct on the lens ring you’re also supporting the camera weight and aiding with overall balance. While it is possible, by adding a follow focus in this particular set up and moving your hand down and away from the lens you lose those two advantages. I’ve passed your questions and email address on to our customer service team who will get in touch. They can be reached at or 312 863 3452. – Rachel, Zacuto

  16. Iain on September 8th, 2015 3:42 am

    can the turning direction of the z drive be changed to the opposite of the way it turns out of the box?

  17. Rachel Kenton on September 8th, 2015 10:53 am
    Rachel Mahrle

    Hi Iain – the gear is not reversible, but the entire unit can be flipped for placement. Here’s the instruction sheet which may help answer questions: If you’d like to chat more please contact tech support at either or 312 863 3452. Thank you! – Rachel, Z-Team

  18. Denis on September 20th, 2015 11:26 am

    I also need to use the Z drive with a matte box and need a larger gear. It would be great to get that part option added (please!).

  19. Rachel Kenton on September 21st, 2015 9:46 am
    Rachel Mahrle

    HI Denis, It’s still possible we’ll be releasing something like that, but it’s not currently top of list. I’ll let the designers know folks are asking for it though. Thanks! – Rachel, Z-Team

  20. kevin lopez on September 21st, 2015 4:07 am

    hey guys,
    i’m planning on buying the zdrive along with the tornado grip.
    the thing is i’m using a voigtlander 50mm nokton most of the time which is a very samll lense (53 mm of diameter).
    i’m going to send the lens to Duclos so they can mod it to a cine lens by adding a gear around it, i’m just afraid that the follow focus won’t be able to reach the lens.
    Do you think it’s going to be doable ?
    thanks for the help

  21. Rachel Kenton on September 21st, 2015 9:56 am
    Rachel Mahrle

    HI Kevin, The Z-Drive has tons of ways to be adjusted and we haven’t had issues with anything but the smallest of pancake lenses. That being said, it can depend on whether any other aspects of your set up require the Z-Drive to be in a particular spot. If there’s a dealer near you maybe you could try it out beforehand? Also, you can send photos of your setup to with a quick email about your concerns and we may be able to give you more info. Thanks – Rachel, Z-Team

  22. Michelle Cosco on May 16th, 2019 12:37 am

    I’ve been doing a lot of run and gun reality ENG on c300/ sony fs7 (w/metabones adapters) with Canon lenses. Primarily 24-105 and 70-200, occasionally primes. I’m struggling to find a way to balance ,y rig and make it ergonomical. We bounce from shoulder to hip quite often but I’d happily find an apple and shoulder up if my camera wasn’t jacking up my shoulder. I’ve had a lot of joint fatigue the last few months. Do you think this would be realistic solution to some of that? I’m investing in personal counterweights and considering the recoil rig as a whole but financially I can only go one piece at a time.

About the Author

Zacuto creates production grade, filmmaking camera accessories. Our gear is made entirely in the USA, designed by filmmakers for filmmakers. It comes with an unparalleled lifetime warranty and our world renowned customer service. Our focus on high-end electronic equipment and universal balanced rigs is the future of Zacuto and the industry. Our iconic red and black gear has a loyal fan base around the globe. From Hollywood cinematographers to indie filmmakers to event shooters, there is only one choice—Zacuto, the industry standard. Zacuto’s original designs free filmmakers to focus on innovation, inspiration, and creativity.


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