50-Dollar Follow Focus by Wiley Davis — Kickstarter.
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!