Opteka FFR-900 Motorized Follow Focus Zoom Control

Years ago Intuit released a belt driven remote follow focus system (seen in video above). The product looked like an excellent idea, but the retail price listed for $3,999 US (seen here). Needless to say it didn't exactly fly off the shelves.

FFR900_GEARSOpteka FFR900 Motorized Follow Focus Remote
find-price-button Opteka FFR-900 DSLR Remote Motorized Follow Focus Zoom Control System

Opteka has revised this basic idea and now offers an FFR-900 Motorized Belt Driven Follow Focus System. The FFR-900 doesn't just offer one, but two motors that clamp to 15mm rails to control both focus and zoom on your DSLR lens. Rocker switches to control the motors are mounted to 15mm hand grips, and sensitivity (i'm guessing speed) of the system can be adjusted in a rear controller. The motorized FF is powered through standard Canon LP-E6 batteries (batteries and charger included).

FFR900_HANDLES_500xFFR900_CONTROL
Opteka FFR-900 Rocker Switch Handles & Main Controller

From what I can tell, the motors can be controlled by the main controller, and the rocker switched handles don't need to be plugged in. This could be a handy solution for Steadicam work, but keep in mind that it's basic forward and reverse DC motors. This will work if you're moving around and your focus points continuously change, but unlike a real motorized follow focus system, you can't program multiple focus points in and jump back and forth which is ideal for stationary tripod shots.

While the Intuit version is sold for $3,999 the Opteka FFR-900 is sold for just $399 and is bundled with a modified CXS-300 shoulder support rig. What do you guys think? Is this a Hit or Miss? For additional information, the Opteka FFR-900 Remote Follow Focus system can be found via eBay (click here).
FFR900_back
find-price-button Opteka FFR-900 DSLR Remote Motorized Follow Focus Zoom Control System

For USA residents, the FFR-900 is also available via Amazon (found here).



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27 thoughts on “Opteka FFR-900 Motorized Follow Focus Zoom Control

  1. Samuel

    I bought this rig to use with my BMCC with Canon Lenses and was super pleased with the concept and it's initial operation. However, after a couple of hours of use, the servo motors would spin, but they slipped on the pulley wheel, so there was no ability to turn the belt. I sent them back to Opteka, and received two more servos. The second set did not operate as long as the first ones until the same slippage occurred between the servo shaft and the pulley drive. I contact Opteka once again and they have been months getting back to me.

    Conceptually, the rig is great. Functionally if have had these problems with the servo motor shafts remaining connected to the pulley wheels which turn the belts.

    Anyone else had this problem?

  2. Hi guys!

    I bought not the same, but the very similar, rig from Vidpro at B&H last week. Really, I think it's the same rig from the same producer, just with different brands (produced in China?)

    Here's the link: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/943737-REG/vidpro_vimr400_mr_400_motorized_focus.html

    As I do ENG with a microphone on the camera, I felt the noise was to high. The focus control works very well, but it's fixed speed (after you adjust the main speed with the sensitivity controllers), so it's pretty useless for fast focus. It will work much better with a normal follow focus.

    The zoom controller would've been much more interesting, but when I put it at full speed the gear would slip and slide and suddenly I couldn't zoom anymore. The gear is to soft and slips very easy. It should've been more like the gear on a normal follow focus. With slower speeds it worked pretty well.

    It's also a shame that the cables in the handles are fixed, so you cannot take one or the another off if you want too.

    But in the end it's just not good enough. So i returned it the next day and bought this: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/856444-REG/Opteka_OPTCXS300_CXS_300_Dual_Grip_Video.html

    It's the same, just without the counterweight, the height control and the motorized stuff. I also bought a follow focus and some other gear to personalize my DSLR rig.

    I would really love someone to make a motorized unit like this, just without fixed cables in the handles and the noise, and with better gear to control the focus and zoom.

    The noise is like a hiss. Sadly I didn't do any sound check with the camera microphone as they were back in Norway.

    Hope this short review helped. (sorry for the novice English)

  3. Troy

    Hey dudes, I bought this the other weekend. IT'S REALLY QUIET! The focus and zoom work great, and you can control the sensitivity, which is huge thing for me cause I got it to use with the Black Magic Cinema Camera. The only problem I had was attaching the base plate to the BMCC, the BMCC has a very hard outer shell. It took some maneuvering but I got it on.

  4. nate

    i thought the same thing as randy with the noise level of the motors. on the other hand, it should be fine if you are only using the audio as a scratch source to line up with adr or a boom. it is noticeable with my on camera mic but to me, you can really only hear it if you are looking for it and it is passably subtle.

    i felt that even with the speed wheel turned all the way down, that the zooms were still too fast to do any slow dramatic or even a normal paced pulls in or out. but if you use the focus control side and mount it to the zoom of your lens, it seems to move a little bit slower. so that might be an option if you are having the same problem as me.

    on the bright side it does work smooth and effectively. and the shoulder mount and rail system is actually pretty nice. the rails are better than the cheapo ones i found on here and then bought via of ebay. it could be the rails or the just the clamps but these seem to have a coating that is less sticky when loosened and easier to adjust than other set ups. i've found this to be true with even some of the more expensive systems we used in another shoots.

  5. Randy

    Received this in the mail today and assembled it. Mounted my Canon 60D with battery grip. Had to remove the battery grip so that the gear thing would reach. Got everything working, and it was nice to see there is a little control wheel that lets you adjust the sensitivity of how fast it zooms/focuses.

    What I am going to have to test when I have more time is the sound of the motors, and how much they'll be picked up by a mic. They seem unacceptably loud to me, kind of a squeal, but they WERE right next to my head.

    Anybody else hearing this with theirs?

  6. Yeah before making a nice unboxing video about it, please tell us about the sound and sensitivity of control (can you push it half so it zooms slower?).

  7. Omar

    Jack Larkin, Can you tell us if you did get it? i'd love to know your review and if you did do an unboxing.. how is the noise and control? some people have made very good points above and I'd love to know more about its possibilities. Thanks.

  8. Jack Larkin

    Hey everyone, I also am very interested in this product. It is realeased on March 10th, however, I ordered it from a seller on Amazon, and i think the seller didn't realise that the product was a pre-order, and they shipped it to me last saturday. I get it tomorrow and I'm very excited! Let me know if you want me to post an unboxing and review sometime this week because I'm getting it early.

  9. nate

    i'd love to see a review of this thing! imho opteka hasn't always made the best stuff but even a broken clock is right twice a day. seems like it could be a real winner if it's not too noisy and or cheaply made...

  10. Derrick

    @Emm...Yeah...Steadicam would be interesting. I was thinking it could be cool to have that control in a jib shot.

  11. Emm

    Post author

    @Derrick - There are a few questions I'd like answered about the product, and I think it could come in handy in certain situations if it works well. It's too bad they built the controls into the handles rather than just something that can be mounted to any handle like a 1/4-20 thread on the back or something. Could be nice to mount onto my Steadicam Handle.

  12. Derrick

    I'm glad this has a better price point. I loved the idea but always felt the Intuit was waaaay overpriced. I'm interested to see how this "pans" out.

    You gonna review it Emm?

  13. Hi Emm,

    I agree the sensitivity I'm sure would help to zero in on critical focus but it still might be a little hunting to be done and in a back and forth exchange between actors there may not be the time to hunt too much.

    Interestingly with their current price point of $399.00 they still have a lot of room to enhance the system and scale the price accordingly. Ideally what we need to see is a wired version similar to what we see here but with true close loop control such that a marker disk with a wheel can be used to get repeatable focus at lets say the $750.00 dollar range. On top of that the next tier would be a wireless module and transmitter that can be added to the base system for another $500.00 bringing the total system price to $1250.00 for the additional $250.00 you can add the second motor for zoom control. For a fully configured price point of $1500.00.

    If this can ever be done they will sell like hot cakes. And I do think someday someone is going pull this off.

    Till then I'm just going to keep doing my best to pull focus myself or cherish the days I have a good AC with me. Don't get me wrong the follow focus like any tool does not make my focus better but it can certainly make it easier.

    Mark

  14. Hi Seenematic,

    I would say that the motors could possibly move a slide but in looking at the photos it appears that these are two planetary gear head motors which in itself is not a problem. It could however be a problem in terms of the amount of torque the motors can generate. If you have a good bearing slider like the Konova or Edelkrone then it is very possible theses motors could also move a slider in the horizontal plane. What you might find however is that the speed is not what you want or need for your application. Either too slow or too fast. Granted I will assume what they are calling sensitivity equates to speed or rate.

    If you look at it from the standpoint of having a tool that can be rigged to do double duty and you are already happy with what it can offer as a follow Focus/Zoom control then there is no reason not to give one a try and see about getting a longer belt and a few compatible idler pulleys to motorize your slider. Just be sure to make the DIY video and share it here!!!

    Happy DIYing,

    Mark

  15. Emm

    Post author

    @seenamatic - You read my mind. On a level surface should be easy and it has a 15mm mount so even easier to find a way to mount it.

  16. Emm

    Post author

    @Mark - Yes this setup could be tricky nailing critical focus and I can see how one can overshoot a focus point. I'm guessing this is where the sensitivity comes into play where it will be slower as it focuses. I wonder if the rocker switch can also control variable speed with half press or is it just full on / full off? Would be great if there was a video around this product.

  17. Brian Siano

    A motorized FF is nice, but what'd be MUCH more effective is a unit that can attach a mechanical cable to a FF rig, like the Fotga. Something that can pull the dial in either direction: we could stand by with a slider or lever in our hands, and adjust the focus on the fly.

  18. pops

    at what point do we just give up on DSLR's and go back to real video cameras? The prosumers are even looking to be pretty good quality nowadays. I hadn't looked for a couple years. But.. man.. I had adding all this "crap" just to be able to have a camera handle like a real one.

    With that said... I think it looks pretty awesome if it's smooth.

  19. Hi Emm,

    It looks like they have done a reasonably nice job cleaning up what would otherwise be yet another follow focus based on hobby servos. Now that said I think the unit still may have good utility if you are using your DSLR in an ENG Run and Gun style as a single shooter this could give you better control of the lens and zoom while still maintaining good stability. Also assuming the control links can be extended this could be a great system for jib operation.

    However if you are doing more cinema style shooting where you have a 1st AC this system is still pretty far from the holy grail of an affordable follow focus system. In looking at the specs and photos its clear they have avoided all the cost that would go into a true closed looped control system such that instead of Rocker switches there was a true rotating focus control with a marker disk and solid repeatability. Can you imagine trying to rack focus back and forth between two subjects with this system? I shot a movie last year where I had a 1st AC for the first time and it was heaven. I would love to be able to give the AC a remote in the same fashion as a Bartech but at a much more affordable price point. I think we will see it some day but unfortunately this is not that day.

    Cheers,

    Mark

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