Fc1-usb-controller-224x149In 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:


  • 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):


  • 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