It's a long time coming, but the Redrock microRemote wireless follow focus is finally shipping. We first took a look at it during NAB 2011, and then again at NAB 2012, but it's finally in stock and available to purchase. Tom Gleeson of the Australian Cinematographers Society recently took the Redrock microRemote for a spin, and he gives his impressions working with the device in the video below which also features Mike Seymour of fxguide/fxphd.
It's important to remember before going further that affordable is a relative term, but when you consider that Preston systems, arguably the best out there, can go all the way up to $30,000, it definitely puts it into perspective:
This was posted this in the comments on Vimeo:
A situation you need to be careful with this system is running off set with the hand controller then running back just before the take as you will find the hand controller has lost radio connection and needs time to handshake back to the receiver. Problem being nobody wants to wait while this happens. Best to leave the hand controller near the camera so its ready to roll at any moment.
As far as wireless follow focuses go, something that often separates the cheap ones from the more robust professional configurations is lag and the performance of the motor. The less expensive wireless systems tend to have very loud motors, which can be obnoxious if you're in a quiet environment. They also may not have any calibration at all with your lenses, which could lead to forcing the motor to go farther than it really needs to or spinning more than they need to on lenses that don't have hard stops.
I haven't used the Preston before, but I've used the Bartech system, and it was as rock-solid as could be, with great range, and automatic calibration whenever power was lost. The Bartech though is a few thousand more expensive than the Redrock, but it really depends what your needs are. If you have a little time to fiddle with the Redrock (which really isn't that much at about 30 seconds), it could certainly be worth saving the money and getting that system, especially since lag is non-existent (which was the case when I messed with it a year and a half ago).
If you want to see a little bit of the iPhone attachment (which I've read is not out yet because the app has not yet been approved), here's our video from 2012. Skip ahead to 3:24 to check out the microRemote:
To get a complete system with the handheld wireless controller, the Redrock starts around $2,500, but you'll probably need a few more accessories to get it working, which is where the $3,000 number comes from. If you just want it with the finger wheel control, it starts under $2,000. There really isn't anything else like it currently on the market in this price range -- definitely not something with motors that are this quiet -- so if you are an owner/operator and you need something that won't completely break the bank, the microRemote looks like a great solution.