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Old May 13th, 2009, 09:01 AM   #1
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The Cine City Shoulder Mount/Follow Focus

Has anyone got the shoulder support and follow focus from the Indian company The Cine City? If so, what's the verdict on quality?

I am considering this and maybe the UFlycam too.

Any advice most welcome.

Cheers

Avey
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Old May 13th, 2009, 10:36 AM   #2
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I tried CinCity...

I did not buy items you are considering but I ordered so far 3 products from India and I guess I was really out of luck:

- So called "El cheapo" shoulder mount (advertised by Mr. Bloom) was a total disaster. The piece was made of low grade plastics, design was bad and most important it came broken. As soon as I initially inspected the unit I knew I can't mount my EX1 on it since some major parts were plastic... Ended in garbage.

- Universal rod camera mount: well built, nice metal finish little stiff on screws. I really hoped to use this mount with my EX1 and Genus matte box. No luck. Design does not allow it. Now, this is no flaw of the unit it self. Just a wrong idea on my side... Ended being sold the next day.

- 90-100mm lens gear ring for follow focus. I got this as a bonus for my other order to try it and possibly order more in a future. At $7 a piece, great deal. But the size of the ring is not 90-100mm The maximum diameter you can have mounted is 93mm, not 100mm. Now, my EX1 lens being 96mm it was useless for me. I could not mount it to any other lens since all others were much smaller diameter, so for now it will stay in the bag some other lens in a future...

Bottom line, so far my experience was "all miss, no hits"...
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Old May 13th, 2009, 11:29 AM   #3
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I have the cine city follow focus.

I just got the cinecity/dvaccessory/dvcity follow focus. So far, it is about as expected. I've used the redrock followfocus a lot so I will let you know how i think it compares. It is very similar in design to the redrock followfocus but there is definitely more play in the gearbox. Also the handle is ABS instead of metal, and reasonably well machined except it does feel a bit more fragile and is more lightweight than Redrock's, and the cuts in the accessory hole are noticeably lesser quality than the rest of the handle, but the accessories (I got the whip and speed crank) seem to fit alright, although I definitely find myself being more careful with this FF because the weight of the handle makes it feel a bit like if you jam in the whip, the handle could break or something. I'm not saying it will break but it doesnt inspire as much confidence as the redrock, but then being more lightweight can be a good thing as well. Mine came without the handle totally tightened to the axle but that was easy to do with a small allen key i had (all screws appear to be metric allen screws since this followfocus is from india).

I measured 2.5mm of completely loose play measured (maybe another 1mm in play if you force it) on the outer edge of the marking disc. 2.5mm equates to about 1% of the a full turn or 3.6degrees (measured 80mm diameter). Not amazing performance but certainly usable. This might become a bigger issue on lenses with less focus throw (like the AF lens I have getting delivered tomorrow), but I was testing this on my 50mm/1.4 nikkor-s prime lens and on my sony EX1.

on my EX1, I get about 400degrees of travel on the ff handle (just over one full turn), and it has about a 120degree of travel on the lens.

The speedcrank seems fine to me, although i havent used a speedcrank with redrock's FF. Normally I like my FF knob quite loose, but I feel like if I have it as loose as I want without the speedcrank, if i put in the speedcrank, the weight of the crank might cause the knob to turn a bit if my hand is not on it. I solve this by tightening everything a little and then there is no drifting. This might be more an issue with my operation than the unit itself.

The whip seems OK. Not amazing, it seems a bit too tight, but I think that was because it came from outside in the freezing cold. when i opened the box the whip was practically rigid, and turning the knob would almost require using the whip like a crank. With a little use and some warmer indoor temperatures it seems much better but still a little tighter than I'd like. Should work now though, just not sure it will work outside. I'm not sure if this is a common problem for whips. I have used redrock's whip outdoors in freezing weather and it didnt have any such problem, but it was only for a few minutes so it is unlikely it would have been as affected by the cold as this whip which had been sitting in the back of potentially freezing trucks and freezing warehouse for days.

One of my biggest problems with the redrock FF is the tightening mechanism. Because of the way it is made, as you tighten the unit into place with the drive gear mated with the lens gear, the drive gear is pulled toward the lens out of your control and made too tight. It is even worse on this cinecity FF. The parts are just lower quality and tolerances less strict so you have to loosen the screw even more to allow the drive gear to slide to or away from the lens, and as you tighten it into place there is a greater chance of it pulling the gears too close together. Once it is attached, it works fine otherwise, and when it comes down to it, you have to pay extremely close attention to both the RR FF and the CC FF when attaching it to the geared lens, you really need to hold the sliding section in place so that tightening does not change the pressure you are applying between gears. Basically both systems suck for this but you just have to get used to it and once you know what you are doing it is not that big of a deal.

I removed all the parts that I could and re attached them to see if I could improve the unit's functioning, but besides tightening the drive gear and the handle onto their axels and making sure they are seated correctly and tightly, there is very little else you can do. There does not seem to be a way to access the internals of the gear box. there is one threaded hole in the gear box, but otherwise it is sealed. I'm not sure what this hole is for, i figure it may be for avoiding pressure buildup but I am not sure why it is threaded.

Personally I actually like the position indicator better than redrock's. I never understood why RR would use that metal piece that is not on the same plane as the marking disc, perhaps i just dont know how to use it correctly, but your marks line up differently depending on what angle you are looking at it from because the indicator sits above and in front of the disc. cinecity's is on the same plane and therefore easier to match up with marks.

Overall, its basically what I expected. I feared it would have an unusable amount of play, and that was almost realized until i tightened down the knob to the axle. For $349 with 6 gears, speed crank, and whip it is an amazing deal but not without its tradeoffs. The gears alone would be $320 from redrock. Overall the systems cinecity sells are about 1/3 the price of similar setups from redrock, which in turn is probably 1/2 the price of most other competing companies who make followfocuses. Of course there is also the concern that I have heard from some saying that indian equipment is stealing designs from other companies, so if that concerns greatly that will be an issue as well. This has always been a bit unclear to me since redrock is a relatively new company compared to most cine equipment companies and isnt everyone just making gear that 10 other companies have already made, changing the design a bit to fit new price points or feature sets, and marketing it as their own? I dont want to get into it too much, but these seem like awfully simple devices that are all based on the same concepts that were only original decades ago. Personally I have considered buying redrock equipment since they do serve an important low budget film market segment and make good quality equipment but never have in the past because of the incredibly long lead times. Also I have not found redrock equipment to be quite on the same level of quality as some of the arri, zacuto, or red equipment I have used which is obviously more expensive.

Anyway, I will be keeping this follow focus for use on my canon 5dmk2 and ex1 for use on my cavision rails/handheld rig. I was a bit worried that it would arrive and be a really horrible follow focus and I'd have to return it. I love the idea of investing in high quality equipment that will last forever and work on every camera and have very high resale value but if you cant spend the $1500+ that such equipment costs, this $300 follow focus does seem to do the job fine. I cant vouch for its ability to last over time but I can update once i get to use it a bit more.

BTW how the heck did cinecity process and ship me this item from india in 4 business days for $20?? I paid for the item the last Thursday afternoon and it arrived this morning (Tuesday). That is even shorter than redrock's projected lead time, not counting shipping (their lead time especially on new equipment has always deterred me from buying their stuff in the past, although it is much shorter nowadays)

Also a word of advice, if you buy from cinecity, only do it by email with a sales rep (sales@thecinecity.com). their online store is more expensive than their ebay auctions, and their sales reps can mix their ebay deals with their store deals or give discounts (or at least he did for me, i think 10% off is standard if you go through a rep as opposed to the online store). They had a deal for $299 for the FF+gears+whip on ebay so i contacted their sales rep and had him give me the same deal and added on a speedcrank for the normal price ($49) and I think shipping was cheaper than ebay as well.
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Old May 13th, 2009, 11:45 AM   #4
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Cheers for that Noah, I think I might give the Cine City lot a go then. For my uses, I doubt that paying three times the price would be worth the extra investment at this stage.

Maybe later eh?

Very good review, thorough and honest. Much appreciated.

Avey
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Old May 13th, 2009, 01:01 PM   #5
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Cine Follow Focus

I have the Cinecity follow focus / rails / matte box. The FF works fine. At first I thought it had too much play in the gear box but discovered that the gear wheel just needed to be tightened using the set screw. Although the speed crank causes some drift at the 9am and 3pm positions, tightening corrects the problem but focusing becomes stiffer. All in all, I'm happy with the FF, especially with the price.
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Old May 13th, 2009, 01:35 PM   #6
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yeah, after using it a lot more since my initial review, id say its OK for the price. The whip i bought broke the first time i used it (the plastic shell around the shaft is too stiff so it broke off near the knob since it didnt seem able to handle bending of the whip) but it seems to still work ok with some gaffers tape securing that part of the plastic shell back in place. The gearbox definitely has some play which I wonder if I could fix by opening up the gear box. I've mostly used redrock followfocuses (the new one and the old one) and the build quality of this definitely isnt nearly as good, I had to grind out the slot where the tightening screw sits so that it would slide smoothly toward and away from the lens gear, and the threaded fastener that holds the screw tight is certainly a bit cheap. the ff also has basically no dampening so if your lens focus ring is loose, you have to be a little careful of the knob drifting especially if you use a speed crank. i use it a bit on my ex1 though which has a lens ring with a lot of dampening so i wouldnt want my followfocus to add even more drag. i am still glad i bought this follow focus, although i feel bad when other people have to use it since it is probably one of the cheapest followfocuses out there and definitely has its share of problems. im perfectly fine dealing with some of these issues since even the redrock ff's ive used have their own problems (both of the last two redrock ffs ive used had issues with the drive gear being loose, one was fixable and the other needs a new drive gear, but thats not a problem you want to find out about in the middle of a focus pull).

its a good placeholder that does the job until i can get what i really want to invest in, a nice remote follow focus.
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Old May 13th, 2009, 10:01 PM   #7
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I would be happier spending $100 on this D | FOCUS than $300+ on the CineCity follow focus. It looks equally 'rustic' but is a lot less money to risk.
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Old May 14th, 2009, 11:14 AM   #8
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Thanks for everyone's help, I've now ordered the stuff from Cine City and we'll wait to see how good I find it when it arrives.
Cheers for that Nigel, it would have been a good alternative.

Avey
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Old May 14th, 2009, 12:05 PM   #9
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I ordered the D Focus unit, with 4 focus gear sets, in combination with a set of rails from Studio 4, with total outgo of under $300.00. We will see just how this low budget approach works.
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Old May 14th, 2009, 12:57 PM   #10
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It's a pity Chris & Wayne are on separate continents or we could have arranged the definitive 5D Mk II budget follow focus shoot-out:-) Seriously, I will be really interested to hear what you have to say about the equipment when it arrives.

I find the price of a follow focus amazingly high from the likes of Zacuto, RedRock, Cinevate etc & even $300 seems an awful lot of money for a few plastic gears & whatnot. Today I just took delivery of a new Canon Pixma MX850 All-in-1 printer/scanner/fax that lists at around $300 & contains an awful lot more precision engineering parts than one of these follow focus units. It really is an AIO. It prints duplex, scans both sides, prints on CDs, has Ethernet, a colour LCD screen etc. I paid a lot less than list as it was a special from the Canon Outlet Store on eBay but if I had paid $300 I would have felt that I was getting $300 of value whereas I am not so sure I would feel the same with a unit that looks like most of it came from a box of Lego.
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Old May 14th, 2009, 04:45 PM   #11
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Never a truer word said Nigel. Never a truer word said. I mean, I know they under-price printers etc to hook us into the inks which are over priced, but still, it still stands that these bits of camera gear are somewhat over priced I think.

Still, if that's the market that's the market. You pays your money and you takes your pick. If you want to pay top dollar for Zacuto and so on, then that's up to you and your wallet I guess. At present I do want a follow focus and me and my wallet have made our choice…

I have a canon Pixma 800. A couple of years old now but still a cracking good piece of kit.

Avey
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