The 50-Dollar Follow Focus gives you precise, repeatable control over your lenses. Built to last and a joy to use. Read more
This project was successfully funded on February 13, 2012.
About this project
International shipping is covered. So even though the rewards say U.S. and Canada only, it's not true. We will ship internationally at the listed reward prices. Cheers.
***Please note, the rails and quick-release plate in the pictures are not included. You will need 15mm rails to use the follow focus.***
The 50-Dollar Follow Focus
All we wanted was an affordable way to adjust the focus on our DSLRs in a precise, repeatable manner. We wanted a device that performed solidly and intuitively and we didn't want to spend a lot of money on it since we'd rather spend our hard-earned dollars on more lenses or food and beer for the underpaid crews on our low-budget shoots. But such a follow focus didn't exist, until we made one, that is.
You see, we happen to have a small uninsulated garage that's heated with kerosene. Within that garage we have a homemade CNC mill that we call, The Robot. Together with The Robot, we began making our dream follow focus. We reimagined and simplified. We added features, tested and removed some features, and added others, until finally, we came up with the 50-Dollar Follow Focus. It's a nifty little device with a self-explanatory name.
Here are some of it's unique personality traits:
The Stoutness of a Lumberjack
It's designed to last longer than any camera you'll ever own. We CNC machine most of the parts from heat-treated aluminum, and we designed those parts to be impervious to abuse. However, on the off-chance that you're a world-renowned abuser of gear, you can rest easy knowing that the entire unit is user-servicable, and replacement parts will be available from us, or in some cases from hardware stores or industrial supply houses.
The Movement of a Ballerina
Just because you can't drop a grand or more on a high-end follow focus, doesn't mean you don't need precise control. While it may be unconventional, our design eliminates backlash, letting you hit repeatable marks from either side of the marker. And we added a user-adjustable spring preload so that you can adjust the friction. The mechanism incorporates replaceable teflon thrust washers so it's smooth, almost as if it were lubricated by guacamole. Because of these refinements, the 50-Dollar Follow Focus makes even the cheapest photo lenses focus smoothly.
The Detailed Personality of an IRS Auditor
It's the small details that make a product a joy to use. That's why we've spent the last year iterating the design way beyond our original notion. We added built-in marker lines. We added a repositionable handle that lets you quickly set a mark, or put the handle at your preferred position. We added user-adjustable friction. We also gave the handles a nice textured finish that feels exquisite on the fingertips.
Easy to Get Along With
We went with a toothed-belt design because it works with almost any lens you throw at it, and when set up properly, has almost no backlash. We coud have done it with gears (an adapter for geared lenses is in the works) but we wanted to avoid having to buy gears for all of our lenses. The belt gets the job done with the least expense. The belts and pulleys can be changed to accomodate any size lens or to give you just the right balance between speed and control.
A Post-Apocalyptic Instruction Manual
The 50-Dollar Follow Focus is probably the only camera accessory on the planet that comes with an instruction manual written under the assumption that you'll be using the device after some sort of apocalypse. While perhaps not immediately useful, it's a feature you'll be sure to appreciate if that day ever comes.
What We Need
We've already got The Robot making parts, so about two weeks after our goal has been met, we'll start shipping the rewards. However, The Robot is old and not very fast. It makes a fine product, but it does so at its own slow pace. To make sure the 50-Dollar Follow Focus stays true to its name, we need to be able to make them faster and we need to make bulk buys of the parts we can't make ourselves. To do this, we need your help. The money we raise here will help us purchase some production tooling and will allow us to buy material in the quantities needed to hit our $50 price point. That's it. Pledge now!
Unless you're a physicist, there's no stretch in the belt. It's not elastic like a rubber band. It's a kevlar-reinforced timing belt. These belts are often used in CNC machines and other equipment that needs precise synchronization between rotating elements.
Not really. It is possible to have it slip, but you'd need to really jam on it for that to happen. It doesn't take a lot of pressure to clamp on to the rail, and as long as you haven't forgotten to tighten it, it shouldn't ever slip from the forces generated by focusing.
Can you install a marker wheel for marking the follow focus positions instead of using the etched lines you're planning on putting in?
It's possible, and we have some ideas for marker upgrades, but it will be a while before we get around to designing one. I agree it would be useful when you need more than one mark.
That's going to depend on: the diameter of your lens and which pulley you're using.
Big pulley = more range. Smaller pulley = less range. The two pulleys we'll be offering in the rewards are 41mm in diameter for the big one, and 25mm diameter for the small one. The repositionable handle lets you cover the full range, just not always in one pull.
Yes. This will be detailed in the post-apocalyptic instruction pamphlet.
No. Some time in the very near future we'll be releasing a set of rails, but right now they're only a gleam in our eyes.
Pledge $10 or more
THE DREAMER - Hey, you don't need a 50-Dollar Follow Focus now, but you might, soon. Think of this as insurance that the FDFF will be available when you need it. As a reward for your forethought, you'll get a lens cloth imprinted with a fabulous handlebar mustache design, as well as the words, "Stand by for action." Add this option to the other levels if you want an FDFF and a lens cloth.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $60 or more
16 backers All gone!
THE STRAIGHT SHOOTER - You know you want one, so you get one. For $60 you get one 50-Dollar Follow Focus in the color of your choice (The Italian: all red and black powder coat), (The Canon Fanboy: Red, White, and Black powder coat) (The Dark One: All black anodized). Note, the extra $10 is for shipping.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $60 or more
THE STRAIGHT SHOOTER - You know you want one, so you get one. For $60 you get one 50-Dollar Follow Focus in the color of your choice (The Italian: all red and black powder coat), (The Canon Fanboy: Red, White, and Black powder coat) (The Dark One: All black anodized). Note, the extra $10 is for shipping to U.S. and Canadian addresses only. International shipping will be extra.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $75 or more
22 backers All gone!
THE BIG SHOOTER - You've got some big lenses so you'll need a 50-Dollar Follow Focus that includes a larger pulley and a longer belt. And that's what the Big Shooter package gets you: An FDFF in the color of your choice, the standard belt and pulley package, plus the bigger belt and pulley. Also, free shipping.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $75 or more
THE BIG SHOOTER - You've got some big lenses so you'll need a 50-Dollar Follow Focus that includes a larger pulley and a longer belt. And that's what the Big Shooter package gets you: An FDFF in the color of your choice, the standard belt and pulley package, plus the bigger belt and pulley. Also, free shipping in the U.S. and Canada.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $150 or more
3 backers All gone!
THE ZOOM BARON - The FDFF can be used as a smooth-zoom lever as well. So why not get two? For the price of a single, sloppy-geared follow focus from some other manufacturer, you'll get two rock-solid 50-Dollar Follow Focus units in your choice of colors, plus a large belt and pulley kit for each. And because you're obviously Baron material, we'll throw in an appropriately-bushy clip-on handlebar mustache to seal the deal. Also, free shipping.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $150 or more
THE ZOOM BARON - The FDFF can be used as a smooth-zoom lever as well. So why not get two? For the price of a single, sloppy-geared follow focus from some other manufacturer, you'll get two rock-solid 50-Dollar Follow Focus units in your choice of colors, plus a large belt and pulley kit for each. And because you're obviously Baron material, we'll throw in an appropriately-bushy clip-on handlebar mustache to seal the deal. Also, free shipping in the U.S. and Canada.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $500 or more
4 backers Limited (46 left of 50)
THE PRODUCER - You're a big shot, and everyone needs to know it. When you become a Producer, you'll get two Zoom Baron packages (That's four FDFFs) to throw around on set. We'll also anodize or powder-coat your follow-focuses in ANY colors you want. And in any combination. If the color exists, you can have it. Let your garish side run wild. Plus, and here's the kicker, you'll get a limited edition CNCd aluminum case, finished in discrete, textured black, with pockets specially shaped to hold a pair of mirrored aviator sunglasses and a clip-on handlebar mustache. Engraved on the inside of the lid are the words, "Stand by for action," and Your Name, whatever that may be. We won't be making more than 50 of these special cases. And free shipping, of course.Estimated delivery:
- (21 days)