April 12, 2012

Need a Zoom Rocker for Those DSLR Lenses? VizTools and HandiZoom to the Rescue

So you've been looking for a zoom rocker on your DSLR? This is one solution (but it's PL only and expensive). While the zoom lenses for Canon cameras (or any DSLR for that matter) do not have proper teeth for a zoom control to grip to, VizTools has come up with a solution called the HandiZoom. After adding a gear to each lens, it gives you complete control of any zoom, and allows variable zooming with the attached zoom rocker controller.

Originally posted by Dan Chung at DSLR News Shooter, check out this video of the HandiZoom in action:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=PiqT4gVEa0s

The HandiZoom attaches to a rail system underneath the camera. This is going to be the best solution you're going to find if you're interested in using a DSLR camera in a similar way to an ENG camera. It will also you to control certain camera functions, like magnify and iris, using the usb port - similar to the Okii and Manfrotto controllers. It will need power - so you'll be looking for a battery that can do 5V-15V DC.

I've shot plenty of stuff where I've really wanted a zoom rocker but I prefer the look and soft backgrounds that a DSLR gives me. It's not even necessarily about being shallow, but having the backgrounds a little out of focus really brings your subject forward, and it's just harder to do on the wider focal lengths of a fixed lens on a 1/3" or 2/3" camera. Even if you don't need the zoom controller, I think it'd be interesting to use this attached to a handheld rig - because I've always preferred putting a camera on my shoulder and having the other hand free for focus and anything else.

If the price is right (no word yet since this hasn't reached the manufacturing phase), this is going to be a lifesaver to tons of shooters who do primarily live shooting. For weddings and similar events, it's often necessary to zoom - and sometimes you've only got one shot at something and you need the zoom move to be gentle and smooth. This can't be done very easily when you're hand-holding - like you could if it were an ENG camera. Speaking of that, this could also make DSLRs legitimate news gathering cameras. All you need is the rig, and it will function almost as good as your Panasonic or Sony 2/3" broadcast camera (and better in low-light!) - though it would still be missing the ND filters - and the codec makes editing a little more complicated (not to mention that tape is still used in many places). Either way, this could be a fantastic addition for anyone who does a lot of live shooting and needs the zoom motions to be smooth.

Link: VizTools - Website

[via DSLR News Shooter]

Your Comment

27 Comments

haha this is awesome but looks so silly! I love it

April 13, 2012

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Rob

I'd buy one.

April 13, 2012

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This is pretty cool!

April 13, 2012

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Dangerous stuff! One of the things I like about DSLR video is the fact that you don't get those unnatural zooms slipping into your film-making. It forces you to shoot like a pro.

April 13, 2012

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Hail hail to that!

Whenever I cover an event, I do use my zoom, but only to radically change my perspective/framing, so that it cuts together in the edit (e.g. from medium to wide). However, I only use that technique whenever it's impossible to move myself.

April 13, 2012

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What? This isn't a 1970's budget feature?

April 13, 2012

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Angelo

Yes zooms in filmmaking can be very, very bad. This is much better for ENG/Live Event stuff. There is a time and a place when you need the ability to zoom and you may be the only camera and there's nothing else to cut to - so you need that slow zoom so that it still looks good. This is really what this is for.

But also, look at it this way, it's a much better way to hand-hold the camera and have a hand free to focus.

April 13, 2012

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

Yup there is a time and place for those slow zooms definitely..but once i started using DSLRs I never went back to the zoom even on a regular cam panasonic hpx

April 13, 2012

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Joe

also u need a lens that doesnt change the aperture automatically when "zooming in". the standard 18-55 that comes with your average 60d wouldnt work with this. your smooth zooms would be riddled with jumpy changes in aperture.

April 13, 2012

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Pat

if you were to invest in this zoom rocker i would hope you first invested in a decent lens. the 18-55 is a piece of trash i'm sorry its worthless

April 13, 2012

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Joe

I've been wondering how it would handle stiffer zooms on something like Tamron lens.

April 13, 2012

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Darius

That is awesome! Controllable zooming is one of the two big things I've missed shooting with a DSLR (the other being decent in-camera audio, of course). I'm not exclusively a "filmmaker," so having the capability to do slow, smooth zooms in certain situations is one of the reasons I still hang on to my HVX200.

And even if I didn't occasionally need a smooth zoom, it provides an actually-useful handhold! I don't use the handle on my redrock micro shoulder rig half the time because I have to reach up to the camera to start/stop recording, make an adjustment, etc.

...so I wonder if it has LANC control so we could add in something like this for even more flexibility:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/330007-REG/VariZoom_VZ_ROCK_VZRock...

April 13, 2012

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If you accept that cameras are the eyes of the audience, why would you do things with it that eyes can't? Puzzles me... I much rather have a remote FF motor which will allow you to do a vertigo (zoom and dolly together), but only if the piece you're shooting motivates it...

April 14, 2012

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This + Canon FD 35-105mm f3.5 (parfocal test https://vimeo.com/34529130) + FS-700 = Ultimate run and gun/event rig.

April 13, 2012

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Bear in mind that this works out to a 35-105 x 1.6 = 56-168mm focal range. Not wide, not really tele...

April 14, 2012

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Actually it is still 35-105. The only people that care about
'equivalent FOV/crop factor' are FF still shooters. Plenty
of us never shot FF and know what 35-105 looks like on
Super 35....we don't think in terms of how a FF chip would
'see' this scene with the same lens.

April 19, 2012

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Gabe

This is also great news for AF-100 shooters!

April 13, 2012

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Justin

is everyone else missing the idea I have about just moving this forward and usung it as a focus rocker!?

April 13, 2012

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Perry Wilson

That is what I was thinking!

April 13, 2012

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Ditto that! Follow focus motors are so expensive...

I have a bartech, but a 2nd one (for aperture) would be another $6k... If that motor is any good, it could work for focus or aperture as well as zoom.

April 19, 2012

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Daniel Mimura

Focus rocker would be cool if it was accurate and had variable speed, but I don't know if it would work well with lenses that have a short focus throw.

Also, zooming has been very popular with Tony Scott type handheld - actiony stuff, but the zooms are typically snappy to create the feeling of chaos and action.

April 13, 2012

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Granville

Never mind that the production value of that video came out the industrials of the late 90s...

Notice how they never showed you a single zoomed shot from the device working...

I've tried putting my follow focus on the zoom ring on a Tamron zoom - sure it wasn't Canon L glass but the results were not good. You could see every bump in the gear mechanism during zoom - it wasn't clean by any stretch of the imagination.

The problem is the glass... these lenses weren't designed for performing smooth video zooms.

In instances where you need this I think this might be one of those instances where it's best to put the DSLR away go back to the camcorder.

April 13, 2012

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I would much rather a "focus rocker".

April 14, 2012

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maghoxfr

This is a perfect solution for DSLR shooters who do event/wedding work. This is also great news for cameras like the AF100 and the FS100.

April 18, 2012

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David

Nope it's still 35-105. You probably mean it would
have the equivalent FOV as a FF still camera would
at 50-150 or whatever. But the focal length does not
change. And lots of us are video or cinema shooters
and have never shot FF stills. I know what 35mm looks
like on Super 35 all this 'crop factor' stuff only has any
meaning to someone who can only 'think' in FF terms.

April 19, 2012

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Gabe

When will this product be released because its been a year since the last nab! So any clues on price and release date?

March 29, 2014

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Firas

Maybe you guys are right but what about using zoom with a pro film maker approach? For example the zoom used by Stanley Kubrick or in the style of Hitchcock with a zoolly and those def need a mechanical zoom to create the effect wanted

June 30, 2014

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Robert