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February 23, 2012

Okii Offers USB Controllers for Canon DSLRs That Don't Interfere with HDMI

In the past year Okii has put out two interesting tools for Canon HDSLR filmmakers - the Okii FC1 USB Focus Controller and the MC1 USB Mini Controller.  They are both notable for being among the first camera controllers for Canon DSLRs to use the USB protocol -- this means you can keep the live view on, either in camera or via monitor, while remotely adjusting camera settings.  Now, although using the USB protocol presents pros, it also has its cons:

Blogger Gray Jones goes over both in his video review:

The biggest practical concern that comes to mind with regards to the FC1 is the “stair stepping” the lens goes through while racking focus.  As Gray points out, this is one of the downsides of using the USB protocol - most HDSLRs weren’t designed with video friendly rack focusing in mind, so it makes sense that there would be issues when trying to use the internal controls to do so smoothly.  You can adjust the size of the stair steps, but it’s something to keep in mind if you're deciding whether to buy a FC1 vs. buying an external follow focus set-up.

All the same, as the following video shows, you can still get some very nice effects when all of the attention isn’t on the smoothness of the rack focus - such as a descending jib shot:

And as Gray points out, these are situations where having a remote controller can be invaluable - when using a crane, jib, or any other situation where the camera is placed in an awkward unreachable position and you need to control functions.  In those moments a controller, whether for setting pre-set focus points or simply changing the aperture, can be a big time saver and headache solver.

At $400 for the FC1 and $230 for the MC1 it will be up to you to decide whether your shooting needs justify the investment, or whether renting one makes more sense.

Here are some of the details for the MC1 USB Mini Controller:

Features

  • Initiates video start/stop, image capture, digital zoom, autofocus, and live view
  • Controls ISO, aperture, and shutter speed (while not recording)
  • Optional 11-minute recording restart
  • Does not interfere with HDMI output for external monitor or electronic viewfinder use
  • Uses standard mini-B to A USB cables (the same cable for connecting a Canon camera to a computer)
  • Non-powered USB extension cables extend range to 25+ meters
  • 30+ hour battery life on two AAA alkaline batteries
  • Compatible with lithium and rechargeable AAA batteries
  • Three 1/4"-20 threaded mounting points on the top and sides
  • Constructed of CNC milled 6061 aluminum
  • Approx. 3" x 1.5" x .75" dimensions and 3.4 oz (96g) total weight with included batteries

And for the FC1 USB Controller (it includes all the functions listed above plus the ones below):

Features

  • Controls focus by use of lens autofocus motor
  • Controls exposure compensation, and focus zone position (while not recording)
  • Saves and returns to four focus points*
  • Reversible knob direction to match 3rd party lenses
  • Non-powered USB extension cables extend range to 25+ meters
  • Approx. 2.7" x 2.7" x 1.6" and 4.7 oz total weight with included batteries

Links:

Your Comment

8 Comments

The Okii focus controller has been one of the most valuable pieces of kit I have purchased. For a moment put aside the slight stepping when rack focusing and think about how quickly you can set the focus of a shot without taking your hands off the camera. It speeds up your workflow. Change composition, set focus, record etc.

This short clip shows the Okii focus ability.
https://vimeo.com/35844678

Consider all the work I do is documentary so I have just one take to get it right. I'm sure it could be much smoother given a more controlled environment.

February 23, 2012

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I am actually intrigued about how this could work very well with timelapsing and stop-motion animation. It would need a display for that though. so you could input nr of frames as the duration and then when it takes a picture it would do the stepping between exposures. creating a smooth stop motion followfocus that should be very repeatable.

February 23, 2012

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I'd look at what Jag35 are doing with their wireless follow focus gear.
More expensive, but you get what you pay for. No one near as dear as a Preston or Arri LCS.
Buying a jag would set you up for use on future camera set-ups.

February 23, 2012

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Sam

Wondering if I can rig this up with my Glidecam HD4000 with any success.

February 23, 2012

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Great Blog, Keep the posts coming.

Here's a new short film shot on the Nikon D7000 & Canon 5D Mk II:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYwOf-BtiNY

February 24, 2012

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This make me think about how much i love the touch focus on the gh2. if only they had made a bigger senson camera...

February 25, 2012

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jc

Hi there,

We've been testing and using these controllers for quite long time and we can certainly say they are invaluable for LOT of purposes. Any situation where you need to control your camera mounted in a hard to reach place (e.g. car mount, tall tripod, jib, crane, etc.) will require some controller like these ones.

The MC1 was mainly designed to be mounted on rigs for run and gun setup, but it can also work great for the situations mentioned above (although it can't control focus like the FC1).

Regarding smoothness we also found that Canon EF lenses with USM motors can be very smooth. In the REAL World when you're watching a video, movie or any kind of footage, you would NEED to be VERY carefully checking the smoothness of a rack focus operation to notice there may be some stepping involved there. Otherwise you wouldn't notice it. So it's not an issue at all.

Just a note: there are still Coupon Codes available for both products when purchasing directly from the manufacturer. We posted them some months ago.

Regards.

February 27, 2012

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