November 27, 2013

Lenzhound Might Just Be the Most Affordable Open Source Wireless Follow Focus Ever

lenzhound wireless lens motor control system wireless follow focus kickstarter camera shooting filmmakingOur recent post on the Redrock microRemote made it pretty clear that the desire for an even more inexpensive wireless follow focus solution is very real. As it would turn out, there is a very affordable alternative with significant momentum on Kickstarter -- the Lenzhound Wireless Lens Control System. Going for under $400, the Lenzhound is also notably based on the Arduino open source electronics system. With these powers combined, Lenzhound might just be the most affordable wireless lens control system aiming for 'pro.' Read on for the Kickstarter video and more details.

Thanks to several of our commenters for bringing Lenzhound to our attention! First, here's the pitch video for Motion Dogs' Kickstarter campaign -- which is already 96% funded with a whole month of pledging left to go:

The Lenzhound 'stand kit' consists of the DB-1 motor unit (named for the shape of one of its primary parts), a single-channel controller, drive belt, latex lens band, and a 12v 3800mA lithium battery with charger. Right now 'regular' delivery of this full package is pledging for $360:

lenzhound wireless lens motor control system wireless follow focus kickstarter camera shooting filmmaking 3

Like many pieces of affordable tech, there are going to be significant ways this unit does not stack up to far more expensive solutions -- the Kickstarter campaign specifically mentions filling a need of the DSLR-budget level shooter, after all. Most obviously, the Lenzhound operates pulley-style instead of using a direct gear drive mechanism. There also looks to be some lag in the system, though it's difficult to tell how much at the moment. This may be a deal-breaker for some, though it's possible latency could be minimized by the time the unit is shipping (or perhaps later, in programming).

That said, it's pretty amazing to think any wireless lens control system in this price range is (or soon will be) an option, and its level of performance may very well suffice depending on the need and application. The 'freerun,' 'playback,' and 'Z-mode' set of functions make for solid value out-of-the-box, which can be further customized with accompanying software. That added bonus of being open source really shouldn't be overlooked. For more details, be sure to check out Lenzhound's page on Kickstarter.

Considering this product is almost definitely Kickstarted (and then some), who out there thinks this may be the affordable wireless follow focus system they've been waiting for?

Link: Lenzhound Wireless Lens Motor Control System -- Kickstarter

Your Comment

20 Comments

Wow! This looks really awesome. The lag is a big deal breaker for me. When you are pulling on the fly (every situation i've used a wireless follow focus for) its critical that you be able to adjust for the movement of the camera and/or the actors.

Still really impressed considering how expensive a Bartech or Preston system costs. Lets just hope it doesn't make any noise like the Jag 35 wireless follow focus. It was so noisy it stayed in its case the entire shoot.

November 27, 2013 at 7:02PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

2
Reply
Alan

I know it looks cool and all but i´m still waiting for my snap focus (in november 2013, mind you). So im staying away from kickstarter for now.

November 27, 2013 at 7:04PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

0
Reply
Galo

WOW really I was going to back it at the time but forgot. Last time I checked their site it said a 2 month wait for a snapfocus but now you cant even buy one on it.

November 27, 2013 at 7:29PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

8
Reply
Lee

Yah, its not looking good.

November 28, 2013 at 7:28AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

0
Reply
Galo

Yea I backed it too...on the first day! I think I'm #34 on the fulfillment list. They recently told me that they should be shipping mine with the next batch in 3-4 weeks, hopefully that's true. It was also my first Kickstarter pledge, but that didn't stop me from a long string of random Kickstarter backings that followed.

I think I have a Kickstarter addiction problem eh heh heh

November 29, 2013 at 2:23AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

0
Reply

"And then some" - this line seems to becoming quite a fad at the moment.

November 27, 2013 at 7:23PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

0
Reply

Damn it, I thought it felt old school. Anyway, I meant that the product was easily going to surpass its goal. Actually it looks like it did, wooh!

November 28, 2013 at 12:19AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

2
Reply
avatar
Dave Kendricken
Writer
Freelancer

+1 for old school. No problems with that line

November 28, 2013 at 3:49AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

3
Reply
Fresno Bob

I backed it almost instantly. I asked the guys about lag and they said "it is very responsive" noise from the motor is low according to the FAQ. Even if I just use it when I am doing crane shots its worth the price @£175 its a steal

November 27, 2013 at 7:24PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

0
Reply
Lee

Lag? For $260 I'm more than happy to turn the knob a split second before I need to.

November 27, 2013 at 7:30PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

0
Reply
Tyler

about the lag the full response I got t=fro them was ....
It's totally responsive - no delay. We do have acceleration curves built in but they're at the micro-second level, so you don't feel it but it helps with the torque of the motor. But the curves can be customized too so you can find your own sweet-spot in responsiveness.

November 27, 2013 at 7:35PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

4
Reply
Lee

I love this kind of stuff, how people within the wider community have turned their hands and minds to making advanced tools more affordable to every film-maker, however I do think that it'd be good if there was a gear attachment available too.

November 27, 2013 at 8:11PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

0
Reply
AdamS

I have a Libec Swift Jib 50 and Remo 30 on which I run a Sony EX3 for recorded and live webcast event coverage. I've been looking for an affordable wired or wireless remote follow focus solution that I can run on the jib. My needs aren't as challenging as film style shooting as I don't need to rack focus, just minor changes from time to time. I applaud all these efforts to produce tools like this that expand our capabilities, especially for those of us running the proverbial "one man show".

November 28, 2013 at 1:10AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

14
Reply

Who downranked this harmless comment? I see that all the time on here. WTF?

January 30, 2015 at 6:18PM

0
Reply
David Gurney
DP
1872

Just so everyone knows, I messaged David & Daniel about the lag issue (which I noticed here, especially when he goes to '3': http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXNriLNFCoA&feature=youtu.be). Here's the response I got:

"Don't worry, the final system will be very responsive and have a good "hand" feel. The video demo was mostly a torque and a belt friction test. We weren't dialing speed at all. The transmitter has about a 40 millisecond delay on our current chip and the production chip it will be even less. The actual speed setting for the motor will be variable by the operator. The MAXIMUM speed is a function of torque, speed profile curve, and the specifics of the particular lens. We weren't demonstrating maximum speed there. There was no profile curve on that stepper driver in the video and without a profile curve you can't really maximize speed. Hope that answers your question."

So it looks like the production version should be much improved.

November 28, 2013 at 2:11AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

3
Reply
Justin Minich

Thank you, that's reassuring. This was my biggest concern.

November 28, 2013 at 3:11AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

4
Reply
Symeon Platts

Justin,

thanks for sharing that! I didn't see that video before. I actually just quickly pledged to claim my spot. I was planning on researching it later.

This too was my biggest concern. From the video, it looked like it responded almost instantaneously but i'd agree that it reached the endpoint pretty slowly. Hopefully as the project nears they end the release an updated video like this.

November 29, 2013 at 2:28AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

0
Reply

I'm in the final stages of an open source *wireless* follow focus which you can check here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXpLIT_GN6Q&feature=c4-overview&list=UU7d...
Since I'm not in the USA I'm not able to kickstart it, but it is a great project I share on my blog (adisoffer.tumblr.com) and plan to sell as a kit if demand rises.

November 30, 2013 at 1:08AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

5
Reply

well... realistically, when and how much?

November 30, 2013 at 1:58PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

6
Reply

They said deliveries were to begin in Feb, 2014. It's now July, 2014 and still no word about sales at MotionDogs.com, just an email signup sheet so they can tell us when devices begin shipping.

I guess it's harder to bring a functioning, mass-produced product to market than first thought....

July 4, 2014 at 11:37AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

0
Reply
Dan