Ikan Friction Follow Focus – The F3 Review

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Canon 60D with Ikan F3 Friction Follow Focus System on 85mm F/1.2

I finally had some time to test out the Ikan F3 Friction Follow Focus system, it's actually quite neat. What's there to really say about it? It's built with quality parts, and it does the job for any entry level DSLR shooter looking for a first time follow focus system. It's a friction based system so no geared rings required. Position it to just about any lens and it will immediately improve the ergonomics of focusing. The unit I have here has a dual rod mount adapter, but the F3 was also designed with a clever standard 1/4 x 20 thread for even more mounting possibilities.

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If you've got a Rod rig, Tripod, Shoulder Support, from the left, to the right, over the top or even from the bottom, you really have no excuses on why you can't mount this thing. DSLR or Mini Camcorder, I bet it will even work just fine on those tiny little focus wheels on a Canon HV30 - can't do that with a ring geared FF. Just from the flexible Power Arm alone there's a hundred different places to lock it in place. It's obviously super lightweight, and not too shabby on the price. Many of us don't have an enormous collection of lenses, so If you're looking for a simple and effective follow focus that works, Ikan's got a good thing here. You won't find too many follow focus systems that have the flexibility to mount onto just about any camera and any lens combination like this. Here's the link over at B&H (which is cheaper than through the Ikan website): Ikan F3 Friction Follow Focus system

Or check out more information about the additional accessories for the F3 Follow Focus system over at Ikan's website: http://ikancorp.com/productInfo.php?id=232

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30 thoughts on “Ikan Friction Follow Focus – The F3 Review

  1. helton

    are these pictures above of the actual item on b&h. Or do I have to buy a monitor arm and make the changes.???Appreciate it!

  2. Noel... I've got it mounted on a RedRock theEvent rig and had the same issue of the gear/wheel not being able to move close enough to the lens to engage it. This is because of how high the RedRock quick release clamp is.

    However what I did was go to my local hardware store and get a large nylon nut and a longer 1/4-20 hex screen. I removed the gear box (which is designed to be removed so you can reverse the configuration) and used the nylon nut at a light weight space with the longer hex screen running through it to the gear box.

    In less than 1 minute... and for less than a $1 I brought the follow focus up 3/4" and now it works perfect for my lenses.

  3. Noel R

    I am returning my Ikan F3 follow focus today. I had a chance to work with it and here are my findings;

    1) If you are using a viewfinder with an attachment plate (I use a Zacuto VF 2.5 with a gorilla plate) and a quick release plate under it, be aware that there will be a considerable amount of space between the lens focus ring and the follow focus gear/wheel.

    2) The F3 can only be adjusted side to side. There is NO height adjustment. Moreover, the sample that I got had the pointed gear knob underneath (used to tighten the gear mechanism) oriented inwards at its tightest, so this prevented the side-to-side adjustment from fully going all the way towards the lens when I need it to.

    3) I mostly had this adjustment issues when using smaller vintage prime lenses. I use quite a few from my Nikon collection. I was able to use the F3 fairly well with my Canon USM zoom lenses. They are mostly fat enabling the F3 gears to reach them with minimal adjustments.

    4) I also had an issue with the other focus gear/wheel that I turn when the other wheel is engaged to the lens. This wheel I use to turn had a wiggle. There was a small but annoying amount of play when you turn the wheel. It was NOT tightly engaged with the other wheel. I asked Ikan support of there was any way to tighten this wheel and they said there was no way this could be done because the F3 comes to them manufactured as is.

    5) I was also a little disappointed with Ikan tech support. I brought these issues to them soon after I got their F3. To be fair, they were all polite and called me back promptly, but I felt they were not really willing to do anything to make the product work for my needs. They've always said outright they would do what they can, but just didn't.

    6) I tried to make my own modifications to the product. I replaced the pointed adjustment knob with a flat hex screw and plastic washer from Home Depot and was able to maximize the sire-to-side adjustment. But I still need to get the gear further inwards for my smaller prime lenses. It was either that, or some kind of height adjustment via a metal spacer under the gear box, or a bigger gear wheel. I made these requests to Ikan, and they were NOT willing to work with me on this.

    I am submitting these comments to hopefully be of help to others out there who are researching this product. The F3 is fairly well made as compared to what's out there. But if you are using a Viewfinder with a plate (Zacuto, Red Rock, Letus, etc.) and a quick release plate along underneath, make sure you are aware of these potential (problem) issues and that Ikan will NOT be of any help to you.

    Noel R

  4. Yeah those Vitor parts are very tempting. I use a friction follow focus system from iDC but on my older Lieca primes the focus ring is a bit too heavy for them and it tends to slip. Im very happy with it however all my canon and tamron lenses

  5. Michel

    The parts Vitor links to seem to be almost the exact same parts used by Ikan.

    I won't pay 10 times more just for them putting the parts together.

  6. Emm

    Post author

    It should still work. It just needs to make contact with the focus ring. The FF is highly adjustable.

  7. spaceflows

    @victor... I second the request to see some pics of your DIY follow focus. I was eyeing those very gearboxes for a DIY FF. The ingredients look good. Hope to see it in action.

  8. I bought the Ikan F3 about a couple weeks back. I did a quick video review of it with my GH1 on my website using Panasonic G series lenses and a Canon FD.

    This is the only FF I know of that can sneak into my Panasonic 20mm f1.7 pancake lens. So for that I am grateful. Definitely not the FF for lenses with heavy focus rings. Luckily I don't have any really heavy focus rings (yet).

    Check it out the video review here http://www.offthebend.com/2010/10/ikan-f3-follow-focus.html

  9. Emm

    Post author

    @lensdude this is my mount. The unit comes with a rod rig mount. You should follow the links to the ikan website to get more info.

  10. Lensdude

    This looks interesting, but...

    Is there any way to make focus marks? I don't see the usual erasable disc?

    I see more and more stuff being added to the camera hot shoe these days. Having that arm sticking out from the hot shoe like that just looks awkward and dangerous to me. Hot shoes were designed to hold flash units not all this scaffolding. There are no lens gears with this system, its all pressure on the focus ring. That means you need a certain range of modern lenses with a smooth focus ring to work. Older manual focus lenses would be a problem. I think it was IndiSystems that had a similar design? Except they mounted it from below using the tripod mount which I think is more secure.

  11. Emm

    Post author

    @jarrett - Probably something like a cheese plate with different mounting points. I'll play around with it to see different ways I can mount it, but should be fairly simple to come up with alternatives if you don't have rods. This actually would fit and is fairly cheap from Express35 http://express35.com/rail-system/295/

  12. whats a good cheap baseplate? I'm going to be using the manfrotto 577 quick release plate. Do you mean an additional plate, or will the 577 do what you mean where you said using a baseplate with a 1/4 thread?

  13. jason

    I'd like to see a smaller wheel/gear option so short throw lenses like the Tamron 17-50 are easier to use.

  14. Emm

    Post author

    Yes it will work the power arm, but if you want a firm grip on the lens the rod support it comes with is more firm. Or you can use a baseplate with 1/4 thread.

  15. so the only parts needed for this build are one power arm and one ikan ff3? If thats true, im about to pull the trigger! I have been looking for a way to mount an ff and leave it on. This way I would be able to swap between glidecam, slider, and tripod as long as i have enough 577 quick releases right? Hoping so.

  16. Emm

    Post author

    I don't think you can do this with the IndiFocus itself. Looks like Ikan has a double layer of metal. If you look carefully, there's like a second layer of metal used just for the 1/4x20 mount. Comparing the two, it looks like the Ikan has a better wheel too. Having the largest wheel possible helps make longer throws easier, rather than taking your hand off and continuing rotation. Unless your wrist rotate 360 degrees..lol.

  17. jason

    Thanks for the post! I've been waiting for a review for awhile for the Ikan ff. The Ikan and IDC ff seem great for event work where changing lenses happens often. The indiZOOM doesn't rotate like the Ikan where both wheels can be used as the gear and the IDC is too expensive and won't mount to rails.

    It would be great if you could change the wheel size for focus rings with short throws. Hear that Ikan?

  18. Lu

    Emm,

    what's the exact name for the Power Arm.
    Made by ikan, too?
    Having trouble finding it...can you help?

    Thank you...Lu

  19. The gear box also rotates so you can use with shorter primes and just about any rail set up. Not many other follow focuses do that unless you're paying big bucks.

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