wireleess follow focus


It seem like every time I post a video stabilizer review, I often receive the same question - 'How can you adjust focus?'. Typically i'll just answer this question by replying with a text comment, but i'm sure it's still not very clear. Hopefully this article can help visualize a few ways focus can be achieved when a camera is balanced on a stabilizer, thrown on a video crane, or other device where adjusting the lens would be cumbersome or impossible.

One option to adjust focus (without physically touching the lens) can be by use of an electronic follow focus system. In the video below, Vimeo member Nicholas D shares how he's setup his camera on a SteddiePod Stabilizer with a Cinematics USB follow focus [Thanks Nick]. The USB systems will be limited, as they will only work with certain cameras (mostly Canon) and only with compatible auto focus lenses - not manual lenses.

Barber Tech SteddiePod
Barber Tech SteddiePod
Cinematics USB Follow Focus
Cinematics USB Follow Focus

An alternative could be to use dedicated Wired or Wireless electronic follow focus systems attached to the outside lens gear. The benefits to these systems is that they can be used with pretty much any lens that supports manual focus. The throw can be remapped for shorter or longer focus movements at the dial, and higher end systems allow to you store focus points. The full wireless systems are helpful when you need another person to manage focus so that the camera operator can move about freely.

If you plan to work with a Wireless Follow Focus, Camera Motion Research has announced the new Radian Pro kits that will send a Wireless HD Video stream via HDMI to a remote monitor. There are ways to achieve this through a DIY solution, but the Radian Pro claims to use a more commercial version transmitter / receiver that can transmit through a broader range of channels for longer distance, low latency, and clearer image. The Radian Pro is available in both a Unicast or MultiCast version (multiple video streams).

For myself, I may not use a WFF for every project, but I do use Wireless Video when operating on longer cranes/jibs or even just to share a feed for others to view (so they aren't hanging over your shoulder). Add a remote Pan/Tilt head to this combination, and you'll be able to man a camera from a distance away while focusing and zooming. Great when you have to leave a camera somewhere you can't be seen like on stage, or perhaps even at a church during a wedding, or in the middle of a racetrack.

Sorry for the lack of great examples, but hopefully this article is somewhat helpful and gives you ideas of what you can do with such tools. Remember that these are not limited to just these types of Stabilizers (a.k.a Steadicam). These are the same tools that can be used on those amazing Brushless Motor Camera Gimbal Stabilizers everyone has been recently obsessed about.

find-price-button Camera Motion Research Radian Pro Wireless HD Video Kit via HDMI


Jehu from Jag35 talks to Olivia and shows off their new Wireless Follow Focus system balanced on a Steadicam Merlin along with a Hacked Asus WiCast to send video to the focus puller. Jag35 has different version motors available depending on how much torque you need for the lenses you'll be using, giving you more affordable options. If you don't require a Wireless system, the same motors work with a tethered remote which they showed us on a seperate shoulder rig. After handling the units at NAB, they are very responsive, quick, and accurate for a Follow Focus on a budget. Gotta get me one of these. More information found below.

Jag35 remote wireless follow focus
find-price-button Jag35 Remote and Wireless Follow Focus systems


If you're looking to tackle a home made Wireless Follow Focus project, you might want to give VImeo member Phillip James a holla. For the past few months, he's been working with Arduino to design his own WFF, and seems to have worked out all the bugs. It definitely looks like all the parts are in the right places, and appears to be very precise in movement. Take note that one thing inexpensive WFF's are known for is the amount of noise it can generate. WFF's have a place and sound should always be captured seperately (like on real sets).

If you're not up to the task of a DIY the most inexpensive one to first hit the market was from Jag35. Although it worked pretty well, it's been polished up quite a bit lately. Pricing is unbelievably cheap if you've ever shopped around a for one. Prices are available following the link below.

find-price-button Jag35 Wireless Follow Focus system