The First USB Follow Focus Controller For DSLRs

Every now and then someone comes out with a product that really makes me say, "why didn't I think of that?" If you've ever been on the set of a serious movie production, you know that the camera operator or steadicam operator hardly ever focuses the lens himself. Instead he relies on a well paid focus puller who can perfectly eyeball every focus distance and follow focus any lens set on any aperture. It's really amazing to watch. Well now a company called Okii has developed a USB focus puller for Canon cameras that can not only pull focus but also record and save a specific movement. I have no idea why they did not include audio on this video but if you watch if you can see two different points of focus being saved and then automated. It's amazing what you can find when your favorite tech blog forces you to change over to Engadget :)

USB follow focus - focus point test with 5D Mark II from Slippers on Vimeo.

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13 Comments

That looks pretty great! The controls look pretty confusing though.

deffinately a step in the right direction, although the DSLR itself is very juddery. but im guessing that is the lens, and will be lens dependant, :)

it is annoying about gizmodo isnt it! now there just needs to be something like this for nikons!

This guy may have been an electrical engineer, but he certainly wasn't an ergonomics engineer lol. I can't wait to see where this product leads. :D

@Nathan No kidding! The finger dance/button pushing was almost laughable, but we'll just assume that a much more elegant and realistic approach will be used when version 2.0 comes out. :P

Patrick Hall's picture

I think you can program the buttons to do different things. I know it appears to be complicated but maybe that was just the system they programmed for this specific video.

Man that is very cool. As for usability, it could be that the different leads were run to the buttons and then they just figured out what each one did. In that case future versions would probably be more intuitive. Now, I have zero experience or ability in this sort of thing so I am completely coming off the top of my head here. Things may not work that way at all. So, I guess what I'm saying is, I'm basically writing to see myself write. Glad I could be so much help. :)

Hi there,

Thanks for posting this!

I just would like to make some clarifications and comments.

- These news were announced many weeks ago, I don't know why Engadget English picked it up just few days ago, because Engadget Spanish did it right after the announcement.

- You can find the original Blog post including this video and LOT more information here: http://5dmark2.wordpress.com/2011/01/20/usb-follow-focus-controller/

- The video posted above was intended to show the main features of the Okii USB Follow Focus controller. Of course you don't need to do every single operation, it was just to show most of them.

Since lot of people watched the video but didn't read the full description posted at YouTube, here is the description:

" It is a USB Follow Focus controller that can do LOT more than changing focus. It's compatible with all Canon HDSLR cameras. Check full details at the BLOG (URL above).

This video has no sound (sorry), it's only intended to show some operations and features of the USB controller.

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 (changing colors, etc.) 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. "

- People can find some more video tests with FULL description of camera, lens and Okii USB Follow Focus settings here:

http://vimeo.com/user5475900
http://www.youtube.com/user/5D2Team

Best regards,

Pablo (5D2Team admin)

Patrick Hall's picture

@5D Mark II Team, I saw a few posts from you guys before I put this up on the site and I wasn't sure if this product was actually yours or Okii. Can you give us a little clarification on your two roles? One and the same?

Hi Patrick,

The manufacturer of this USB Follow Focus controller is Okii Systems LLC, not us, at all. We ONLY participated on the beta-testing process (which was long but very-very interesting), giving some feedback, suggestions and reports.

Since our Blog focuses on technical topics (not really a news site, since there are much better ones), campaigns to inform users and request improvements to Canon, and also some special promotion news (when they are available) then we spent a bit more time on the Okii USB Follow Focus than other topics (actually we have a delayed report of a specific Canon lens issue, some Tutorials and Reviews to be published..)

But again, and as posted on http://5dmark2.wordpress.com/usb-ff-controller/ we are NOT the designers nor manufacturers.

Since we found this device very exciting, handy and with a HUGE potential for lot of uses (especially those when you can't reach the camera or lens, or don't want to touch them whilst filming), we decided to make a special section on the blog.

In fact the section was planned to be dedicated to "Special Gear", but since we only had this device to post at that time, we renamed it to "USB FF Controller" (maybe a mistake, but well, we might add new sections in future for upcoming "Special Gear" or just remap the blog).

We also posted some tests made with this device (and we'll post more in future, including other user's tests/demos).

We think it's really great. BUT of course, we don't mean in any way that this works like a mechanical follow focus. It's different, it has benefits and limitations. That's why we specifically encouraged (in the link posted above) all readers to take the time to read the technical documentation and the User Guide to avoid confusion. Its performance will vary depending on the lens being used, that's mentioned on the technical article, User Guide and we also mention it in our posts. We really don't like to make any confusion, at all.

But we think this device is really useful with lot of potential. Once you understand the way it works, the limitations that you may find, and the proper way to configure it, you start getting the benefits.

Best regards,

Pablo (5D2Team admin)

Thanks for the clarification and additional information, Pablo! It looks to be one heck of a powerful unit. It seems to be highly cumbersome to use.. do you know if they plan to implement a graphical interface or at least more clearly labeled controls?

I have made a USB follow focus that work better than the ones mentioned above, as you know the possible focus speed for canon dslrs are three, my system is driven by and encoder and can move lenses with fine adjustements and also sppeding up things – if you turn slowly just fine adjustments, turning faster thru 2nd and 3rs speed

I will publish soon some videos of thw system, I think I will have ready the first production unit (now I am using the bigger prototype) in about a month

The product name will be LinkyFocus

stay tuned

Fulvio

First prototype of LinkyFocus USB follow focus it's ready, check the video on the website http://linkyfocus.linkyway.com

Fulvio