Manfrotto One-Ups the Competition with Focus Controllers for Canon DSLRs
As with any NAB event, new devices and prototypes are always being announced. I'm sure we will be seeing even more DSLR products than we saw last year, and Manfrotto is attempting to get in on this popularity by announcing new rigs specifically designed for small cameras. While it seems that we get a new DSLR rig every single day, Manfrotto is also going to be announcing other devices that are far more useful and necessary for Canon DSLR owners.
I'm a little late, but thanks goes out to planetMitch and Cameratown for reporting on this. You can find the full press release at Cameratown. We've already covered a fantastic device, the Okii USB controllers for Canon DSLRs, but these focus controllers that Manfrotto has developed look to be much closer to industry standard, and they are offering two versions. Here's a brief description of both versions:
- Clamp version (on the right)
Small and compact, the Canon-compatible clamp remote control attaches to flat surfaces, or to pipes and tubes (such as standard video head pan bars or a Manfrotto Fig Rig).
Features: Photo/video switching, Focus knob, Rec/stop or photo shutter release, Live view on/off, Digital zoom, Autofocus, Focus memory, Focus speed limit, USB connection for firmware upgrades.
- Pro version (on the left)
The Canon compatible Pro version is designed to be used as one of the hand grips of a SYMPLA shoulder support, where it means that a single camera operator can properly support the weight of the camera and rig to ensure smooth, accurate framing and movement, while also controlling all camera functions, without removing either hand from the rig. The Pro version can also be used hand-held and away from the camera and its support, it can be attached to video head pan bars or set up in any number of alternative configurations.
Features: Photo/video switching, Focus knob, Selective focus, Rec/stop or photo shutter release, Live view on/off, Digital zoom, Autofocus, Focus memory, Focus speed limit, Camera settings (exposure, ISO, aperture…), LCD screen relays camera information, USB connection for firmware upgrades
To my knowledge, this is the first time that a Canon DSLR compatible device like this has been developed to either be incorporated into a tripod handle, or act as its own hand grip and allow focus to be controlled through the camera's own focusing mechanism. These look like fantastic implementations and will offer firmware upgrades right on the device, to fix any issues that might arise, or to interface better if Canon makes an update to its own firmware. It's not clear how these devices actually connect, but looking at the cable in the photo it seems like it might connect via the remote port rather than the USB port like the Okii, but I could certainly be proven wrong.
The Pro version seems to have similar camera control features that the top Okii device has, so the only remaining question on these will be price. If Manfrotto can offer these at similar price points to the Okii devices ($400 and $230), I think we'll have a winner on our hands. No price was stated in the press release, but I'll take a stab and say $200 for the Clamp version and $350 for the Pro version - but that's pure speculation on my part.
I fully expect that you'll see many more devices like this in the near future, and it's certainly possible that Manfrotto will not be the only company announcing a focus controller or similar at NAB. It also seems that a version for Nikon's cameras could be released at some point down the road.
Anyone interested in these? I know if the price is right, these are going to fly off the shelves - but personally most of the lenses I own are manual focus and manual iris only (for maximum compatibility and hard stops), so this is less of a necessary product for me. But for those out there who have mostly Canon autofocus or L lenses, this is going to be right down their alley.