Follow focus isn't a term that's likely to be familiar to all aerial camera operators or videographers. That's because it's usually confined to bigger budget productions or "serious" film making.
In simple terms, follow focus allows for precise and repeatable focus moves by a camera operator or, if you have the budget, a separate focus puller/camera assistant. It's a control wheel that is linked to a gear wheel which turns the focus ring on the lens. The control knob usually has a white disc around it which can be marked with focus positions so that the puller can get it right every time. On film sets the focus distance is even checked with a measuring tape to get everything spot on.
A typical, on-camera follow focus mechanism. Credit: Camtree
What has this got to do with Inspire 1's and Ronins? Well DJI has brought out DJI Focus
- a remotely controlled follow focus and the exciting thing is that it can be used on both the new X5 cameras
for the Inspire 1
quadcopter and on the Ronin
handheld camera stabilisers.
DJI Focus follow focus remote
Who'd have thought the popular Inspire 1 would have developed into an even more accomplished performer when it first launched in November 2014. A quadcopter with a single remote controller has now transformed into a dual controller, 4K Micro Four Thirds, 16 megapixel, interchangeable lens, solid state drive, remote follow focus beast. That means, with the addition of Focus, up to three people could be controlling difference bits of one Inspire while it's in the air.
When used with the Inspire 1 Pro
or X5R cameras
, the Focus remote controller
(£835.00) has to be cabled to the Inspire's remote. This means it uses the Lightbridge signal to communicate with the camera rather than its own, built-in, wireless system.
The DJI X5R (and X5) on the Inspire 1 can be used with DJI Focus
The same three man set-up could apply to the Ronin
or the lighter Ronin-M
- one person manoeuvring the stabiliser, a second controlling the camera remotely and a third using DJI Focus on a wireless link. The Ronins need the full DJI Focus kit
, which consists of the remote and the follow focus mechanism. The remote can operate up to 100 metres away. Focus talks to a receiver with a motor and cogged wheel which engages with the focus ring on the camera. These two items are sold as a set for £1629.00. The DJI Focus can also be used as a remote for any type of follow focus motor.
DJI Ronin - works with DJI Focus as well as a camera remote
DJI Focus with remote follow focus motor
The Focus remote has its own menu on an OLED display. It lets you tweak the settings to make it work just how you want it to. You can set multiple focus points and adjust the speed at which the lens will move between them. That makes complicated moves easier but also repeatable. Endpoints on the DJI Focus can also be adjusted and set so that it matches any lens that you want to use.
You can connect other devices to the DJI Focus or connect to other gear because it has a built-in rosette mount. It's powered by a long life battery which can be changed easily if necessary or charged through a USB port.
The DJI Focus is expected to available from October.
DJI Focus showing the menu