Zoe Lanc-DV Controller Review at DVinfo.net

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Old June 1st, 2003, 05:33 PM   #1
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Zoe LANC-DV Controller Review

NOTICE: Bebob has recently introduced a new model of this controller featuring several enhancements. In light of this development I have decided to reorganize and revise my remarks on this product to accurately address both models. Look for the full review on the Watchdog site soon.
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Old August 14th, 2003, 06:05 PM   #2
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Ken's review of the Zoe is now online at http://www.dvinfo.net/articles/camaccs/zoedvlanc.php.
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Old August 29th, 2003, 02:55 PM   #3
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Belated praise for Ken: Great review! Have been considering this controller (with sony cams in mind) for some time. Too bad the dvx100 hasn't got proper lanc input! Thanks again.
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Old August 29th, 2003, 08:12 PM   #4
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Those of you who have been following this forum for some time know I had a serious problem, for various reasons, with Ken Tanaka's last review of the Zoe controller, which I consider to be the best in the marketplace. I think Ken has done a good job of updating his review of the Zoe, with one quibble: he has not said how well the Zoe controls the zoom lens function, which is the major reason most people buy a lens controller. In my humble opinion, the Zoe does this job better than any other controller available on the market. While it does not totally eliminate the annoying "hiccup" found on the Sony cameras and many others, it certainly masks it for all but the very slowest of zooms. To my knowledge, there is no controller that can eliminate the hiccup. It is built into the system. Since the DVX 100 uses a different method to power the zoom, that camera has no hiccup using the Zoe, but suffers from a "lag," which can be equally annoying. Of course, it cannot control focus on the DVX100, which is true of all controllers.

The Zoe is indeed resistant to moisture, which is no small deal since it is possible to fry your camera in a humid situation. Some other manufacturers warn that using their controller in these situations will void the warranty and may damage the camera.

All functions of the Zoe perform as advertised with my PD150. Additionallly, the Zoe will flash to warn of a low tape or low battery situation. I'm sure Ken just never got to that point in his test.

The small size of the Zoe makes it ideal for those of you who may want to use a controller with some type of stabilizer device.

And finally, the Zoe comes with a two year warranty, which is quite generous for an electronic device these days.

Just thought these additional points were worth mentioning.

Wayne Orr, SOC
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Old August 29th, 2003, 09:35 PM   #5
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Thanks for mentioning the flashing indicator, Wayne. I did not get to a low-battery point while testing but I did notice the "No tape" flash. It's a nice feature but, as a practical matter, I suspect most folks will see these indicators in their viewfinder first.

I've actually spent many hours using the Zoe with my GL2 since writing my review. I know that you've often remarked, here and in your Zoe review, that it smooths-out zoom motion better than any other controller. Perhaps Sony lens servos operate differently from Canon's. But I honestly have not observed the Zoe driving the zoom either better or worse than other controllers that I use. All of my prosumer camera's lenses (except for my XL1s' 3x) feature a bump at the start of a move no matter how much finesse I use. Do you know of a trick to avoid this?
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Old August 30th, 2003, 01:19 AM   #6
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There is no way to avoid that "bump" or "hiccup," as I call it. The best you can hope to do is "bury" it in a pan or tilt where it will be vitually invisible. Readers should remember that I am refering to the very slowest speed zoom. For most of your work using the zoom, the bump will not be noticeable using the Zoe. I, personally, have had less success with other controllers.

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Old August 30th, 2003, 06:24 AM   #7
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Hi, I own several zoom controllers, including the Zoe DV-Lanc, VariZoom Pro-L, VariZoom VZ-Rock, Canon ZR-1000, etc.

I would not rate the Zoe DV-Lanc as the best in the market. I realize much more control with the VariZoom Pro-L than I do with the Zoe. Iv'e tested these on a VX2000, GL1, GL2, XL1S, PD150, TR500, PDx10. I may be forgetting one or two others...

Is the Zoe a sweet zoom controller? Yes, but it is way over-priced. No offense here, it just is. It is also not as well-built as the VZ-Rock, which is more affordable and offers better overall performance. Is it the best zoom controller? No, the VariZoom Pro or PG series offer more control over speed and taper. But then again, different people may have a different idea of what makes "the best zoom controller".

Just my two cents really, not that I rely on these zoom controls too much... I usually manually zoom, if I zoom at all... but when I do require a zoom control for the big money shots, I find myself allways reaching for the VariZoom. That's just the way it is in my world. Of course, it may be different in others.

- don
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Old September 30th, 2003, 08:48 AM   #8
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Interesting that you should rate the VariZoom controllers so highly Don. I've just tested the Stealth and the Rock for Computer Video magazine (October) and came to very different conclusions. Because oif the faults I found I had the controllers re-tested by someone else and they confirmed my results.

tom.
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Old January 19th, 2004, 01:45 PM   #9
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And what would those results be, if I may ask?
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Old February 22nd, 2004, 06:30 PM   #10
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Zoom playing up with XM2

Hi Ken,

Just purchased the Zoe controller and did my first shoot with it a couple of weeks ago and I have noticed a weird behaviour with the zoom function of the controller.

Using my XM2 I plugged it in and operated the Zoe unit as a zoom only. All seemed ok until I tried to do a few logarithmic zoomins and zoomouts. By logarithmic, I mean that I zoom in or out as fast as I can and then gradually ease off until I slow down the zoom to a smooth stop... (perhaps there is another word for it but that's beside the case).

Anyway, the problem with the zoom is that it starts off fast (as it should), and starts to slow down (as it should) but then at a certain point (just after half way), it jumps as if the zoom speeds back up and then back down to a complete stop. Obviously all this should be smooth.

If I try to do this using the zoom controller on board of the XM2, it performs as it should... smoothly and without any undesired glitches.

Do you (or anyone in fact) have the same happen to them? I have already swapped the Zoe for a new one and it does the same thing, which means it is not the Zoe. Perhaps you guys could try it out..?

I know from your review Ken, that some features are not adopted well by Canon… could this be one of them? (I hope not!)

Cheers,
Jack

PS: I am able to post an example of what I mean.
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Old February 22nd, 2004, 06:58 PM   #11
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Hello Jack,
It's certainly hard to tell where the hitch may be from here. But my off-hand bet would not be with the Zoe controller, particularly since you're getting the same results from two units. My suspicions would lie further up the cable, probably in the XM2's LANC processors and/or in the XM2's zoom servo motor.

In reviewing LANC controllers (ex: the Zoe and Varizoom) I learned that LANC is basically just a serial control communication protocol. It's the responsibility of the lens (or camera, in our case) to accurately interpret the incoming stream of LANC commands and to respond accordingly. Each speed change represents a slightly different LANC command sent to the camera.

One possible way to isolate the issue is to borrow one of the full-sized Varizoom controllers such as the PRO-L that features a dedicated speed dial. (I think Zoe also now has a speed dial controller, too.) Then see if there's a hitch at one speed setting.
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Old February 26th, 2004, 06:47 AM   #12
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Hello jack, hello ken,

as you see in the signature, we are the manufacturer of Zoe.

Indeed, Ken is right and it is very difficult to clear from here where the problem is, but I could imagine that it isnīt a remote problem

I donīt think that the test with the Pro-L will help farther: the Lanc protocoll recognises (As long I know) 8 different speeds. Some cameras offer the 8 different steps, some not. The limitation of the Maximum speed, wonīt change it

We will organise to get an XM-2 in the factory to repeat the kind of Zooms you make, to see:

1) do we see the same behaviour (what I think will be the case)
2) where does the effect come from.

I should be able to give you some more infos in a couple of days and to confirm where the problem comes from and if there is a possibility to avoid it.

Feel free to contact me if you have any more question, remarks or critics.

cheers,
pierre
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Old June 21st, 2004, 11:34 PM   #13
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I'm bumping this up rather than start another zoom controller thread.

I'm in the market for a controller, I've narrowed it down between the zoe and varizoom rock. Both are the same expensive price $300 ouch! I've tried a friends varizoom and liked it except for all the buttons.

I do mostly mtv like educational videos with lots of quick cuts and i found it annoying i had to take my eye off the subject and move my hand every time i started and stopped. Would the zoe be easier to operate rec button?
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Old June 22nd, 2004, 12:36 AM   #14
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Hello Pete,
Beyond basic functional characteristics controllers tend to be very personal accessories. I own five of the things (3 Varizooms, 2 Zoes) and have used four of them pretty extensively. Each felt a bit awkward to me during initial usage, and one still does. But what I can tell you is that you really have to use one for a while to get the feel of it. Borrowing one for a few hours, particularly one with several surface buttons, will not really give you that familiarity.

The Varizooms and the Zoes have different feels. The Varizoom's buttons became blindly familiar to me quickly with some practice. Their different positions and shapes helped that process. From my experience, the Zoe's membrane buttons took just a bit longer for me to feel comfortable with, even though there are fewer buttons. But it, too, is easy to operate blindly.

The bottom line is that working with either of these controllers for an extended time is the only path to dexterity. I would not say that one is better than the other in this regard. It just takes some practice.

One final note: Bebob has recently revised the design of their controllers. You can review the new LANC controller at 16x9's site. I recently reviewed the DVX100/DVX100A version of the controller which appears to be an identical physical design to the LANC controller. While the new Zoes are a bit more functionally rich, I did not find the PZB to be quite as comfortable to use as the original Zoe.
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Old June 22nd, 2004, 09:24 PM   #15
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ken, thx for the links you're on top of your game. The review answered my button/noise question b4 i could ask. :-)
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