Varizoom VZ-Rock Controller Review questions at DVinfo.net

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Old June 2nd, 2003, 04:19 PM   #1
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Varizoom VZ-Rock Controller Review questions

By popular request (again) I have temporarily pre-posted the text of this review at this thread. Please use this thread to ask any questions concerning that review that you may have.
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Old June 2nd, 2003, 11:24 PM   #2
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Ken, thanks for a thorough review of both controllers. I seriously appreciate your time to share the details of your experience with the two controllers reviewed. I do have a couple questions/points if you don't mind...

1) How does the Rock compare to the full-sized Varizoom controller regarding variable speed and fixed speed zooms? My main interest in getting a zoom controller is to be able to easily control the slowest possible zooms without speeding up or stopping...

2) Have you had any experience with Manfrotto's offering? The 522 is the controller I put in my top three for investigation...

At this point I feel confident in going with the choice I was leaning towards anyway... you just confirmed my assumptions, at least on the "Rock"...

Please help on the crawl question r.e. the Pro-L or PG-L... if one of those is A LOT better at crawling then I'll deal with the bulk... if it's a pretty minor difference I won't.

Thanks.

matt-ee-boy
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Old June 2nd, 2003, 11:40 PM   #3
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I have very good success getting anything from a "Mickey Rooney" (small creep) crawl to a quick zoom in/out with my Varizoom Pro-L. I like the variable potentiometer which also allows me to change speed as I make a zoom move if need be.

- don
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Old June 3rd, 2003, 01:10 AM   #4
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Matt,
1. The Pro-L and the Rock are really different animals that each require some practice to fully exploit. The Pro-L has most, but not all, of the functionality of the Rock. But it uses a dial to control your zoom speed. Typically, your thumb will be on the rocker and your forefinger will be on the dial. The rocker actuates the zoom-in/zoom-out commands. By rotating the dial with your forefinger you can speed or slow the zoom process. The Rock places both functions in the thumb rocker. The harder you press, the faster the zoom moves. The Pro-L would be more accurate for a constant-speed zoom since you could pre-set the dial speed and then just leave it. But I wouldn't say that either design is more accurate for a variable zoom since both will require coordination and practice. Keep in mind that your camera's lens is only capable of perhaps 5 preset zoom speeds; no controller can alter that. You can already see the best results possible by just using your camera's rocker. The Pro-L, PG-L and Rock will all be able to acurately replicate that performance.

2. I have only had a fleeting experience with the Manfrotto during an unrelated demo, so I cannot make a fair comparison.
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Old June 3rd, 2003, 10:14 AM   #5
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Thanks for the input Don and Ken... I guess what I'm asking is this: "Can the VZ-Rock do a Mickey Rooney EASILY... (i.e. with EASE) in the manner that the VZ-Pro-L can?"

I understand the physical design differences between the two controllers and that it's like comparing apples and apple-flavored oranges... but the main focus that I've had about all the zoom controllers remains the same... all I REALLY want is to be able to maintain the slowest possible crawl... in fact I wish they made a crawl-zoom controller that ONLY did that... just kidding.

Anyway, it's obvious that the Pro-L will be superior at maintaining a slow crawl... but what I want to know is wether or not it's ALMOST as easy to do a slow crawl with the Rock? With the limited number of zoom speeds available I'm hoping that the rocker is a tad forgiving when trying to hold a steady zoom... is that the case?

The complaints I've heard about the large Varizoom controllers are: 1) Large/Bulky size 2) "Radio-Shack" looking/feeling buttons and dial 3) No tactile feedback on the buttons... you just push and hold until you get a reaction... Other then that I've heard mostly good things about them... solid, well-made, obviously effortless slow-crawls as Don and Ken point out...

It's points 1) 2) and 3) that make me wish the Rock could be deemed as EASY TO SLOW CRAWL... Like suppose I want to slow-crawl whilst panning... or whilst tilting... or whilst dutch-angling in an effort to make my viewers barfy... Will they be barfing whilst admiring my slow crawl or will they notice speed changes if I choose the Rock as my weapon?

So whatta' ya' say?

Also KEN, in your review you expressed some minor concerns with attaching the Rock to a fat pan arm... does the Rock attach OK to a really fat pan arm? A down-right obese one? Ok I mean to say an inch and a quarter diameter monopod?... If not I guess I can just torque it down on my left thumb as hard as I can... if nothing else then I'll have the odacity to show up at my wife's bridge club with the biggest ring...
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Old June 3rd, 2003, 10:47 AM   #6
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Matt,
I don't know what a "Mickey Rooney" is. But, as I said, you can slow crawl with either of them just fine. The dial-style controllers just offer you the ability to preset a speed. The speed limitation is ENTIRELY that of your lens.

The Rock's mounting bracket looks like it can accommodate just under 1.5".
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Old June 3rd, 2003, 10:13 PM   #7
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Thanks Ken. I was just concerned that it may be hard to keep your thumb steady enough to maintain one exact speed with the Rock, whereas with the Pro-L that isn't a concern...

The Rock reminds me of a large version of the little zoom rocker on my cam and I was just worried that it may still be a little difficult to hold it with just the right amount of pressure to hold a super-slow crawl... since it's next to impossible on my cam.

That's why I'm "belaboring" the point between the Varizoom full-size controllers or the Rock, 'cause the slow crawl is EFFORTLESS with the Pro-L... I just wanted to be sure it's EASY (using minor effort) with the Rock... I need all the help with shooting skills that I can get...

Sounds like it is... unless I check this tomorrow and see that you say it isn't, I'll have one on the way this week.

Thanks Again!

P.S. Mickey Rooney = "small creep"... ask Don.
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Old June 5th, 2003, 02:17 AM   #8
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Adios amigos

From another galaxy far away.

"VariZoom has an outstanding reputation and a superb product line. In my opinion there is no better lens controller manufacturer than VariZoom. They were the first to offer lens controllers for DV camcorders (they've been in the higher end pro market long before that) and in my opinion there's nothing better. I'm the lens control poster boy, I've tried them all, and VariZoom is the only one I'll allow to run ads on my site"

Sorry, but I think this is bull****. "They've been in the higher end pro market"??? I've been a professional camera operator for over twenty years, and I have never seen anyone use a VariZoom controller on any projects. But apparently there is a wide audience for this bull**** so, Enjoy. I'm outa here. (Applause applause) Here's the bottom line: Varizoom prduces a lot of crap IMHO. Notice that they come out with a new product every couple of months, depending on what the market is talking about. The Rock controller is obviously a rip-off of the Zoe; released about six months after the Zoe. They used to produce button controlled units, but now they realize the rocker units are more in line with the professional gear, so now they produce rocker units. How many zoom control products will they introduce until they get it right? When I complained to them about their product, they told me that they were used by Steven Soderberg in his film (remember the name?) implication: I didn't know what I was talking about). Now they have changed their product line. Hell-lo.

This comment from Chris: "In my opinion the VZ Rock is a solid hit and you won't be disappointed. There'll be a lot more info about this controller on dvinfo very soon".
OK. If you want to believe a review from a site that advertises the Varizoom product, then you are welcome to it. I don't know about the Rock, I admit I have never used it. But I do know about Varizoom's earlier product, and I don't much care for them. This is a company that looks for an opening in the marketplace, then creates product to fill the need. Regardless of whether or not it is a quality product. Where are all the glowing reviews of the FloPod? Varizoom reads all the "wish lists" and then they create product to fill the void. No matter whether they are worth the money. Just buy me, and if you don't like the product, well, that's because you don't know how to operate it, not the fault of the product. How good is the VZ Rock? Here is a quote from Tom Smith of Varizoom: "I still think that_our original design (see VZ-PRO-L, VZ-PG-L), which utilizes the separate speed dial, is in some regards superior, but the VZ-ROCK is our answer to the demands of_certain_valued customers." So, Varizoom has a productr for every consumer's need. Isn't that handy.

As far as the Varizoom on the dvinfo site, well you be the judge.. If someone was paying you money to advertise on your site, would you knock their product?

As I said, it's time for me to get out of here. I am getting too cynical. But I admit to my cynicism. How about the others? Please, when you buy, use your credit card. And if a product doesn't meet your expectations, then return it and demand a refund. And don't be sucked in by so-called "experts." If you are not happy with an expensive piece of gear, don't be bullied by the manufacturers or so-called experts on these lists; return it and demand your money back.
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Old June 5th, 2003, 11:50 AM   #9
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Wayne,
I have long since learned that your opinions are hardened. Certainly, you are entitled to them, however ungraciously you sometimes express them.

But I feel must rebut your remarks for the sake of onlookers to this thread.

I wrote both of those reviews with absolute fairness and honesty. Varizoom, seeing that I was planning to review the Zoe, did ask if I would review their VZ-Rock and offered me a complimentary unit for doing so. I agreed to review the VZ-Rock but only under the conditions that
  • I be allowed to do so fairly and,
  • that I either return the VZ-Rock to Varizoom or purchase it outright when I completed the review.
I was not "bullied", pressured, cajoled or coerced into writing a good review by anyone. I can assure you that that would not be possible. Despite the insulting inference of your remarks, there actually are people with a strong sense of integrity, Wayne. You're reading a note from one.

Cynicism can be a healthy defensive attitude to have. But, like a strong spice, a little goes a long way. Excessive amounts ruin the dish and, if ingested in large quantities, become toxic.

You did make one point on which we can agree:
Quote:
And if a product doesn't meet your expectations, then return it and demand a refund. And don't be sucked in by so-called "experts." If you are not happy with an expensive piece of gear, don't be bullied by the manufacturers or so-called experts on these lists; return it and demand your money back.
I am not a "so-called expert", just a fellow member. These are not products that require an expert to review; they are sold to, and used by, the general public and are not very technical in nature. But I certainly agree that people should use care when buying these products and return them if they are not satisfied.

By the way, I liked the VZ-Rock very much and bought it from Varizoom.
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Old June 5th, 2003, 06:29 PM   #10
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Some claifications:

From another galaxy far away: << "VariZoom has an outstanding reputation and a superb product line. Etc. >>

I'm the one who posted this on 2-pop; signed my name to it.

<< I've been a professional camera operator for over twenty years, and I have never seen anyone use a VariZoom controller on any projects. >>

VariZoom controllers are used by CNN, National Geographic, CSPAN, Discovery Channel, the list goes on. There are thousands of them in use on a daily basis everywhere. Every pro shooter I've ever met has at least heard of VariZoom.

<< The Rock controller is obviously a rip-off of the Zoe; released about six months after the Zoe. >>

The Rock controller is an enhanced VariZoom Stealth, which itself was released long *before* the Zoe.

<< They used to produce button controlled units, but now they realize the rocker units are more in line with the professional gear, so now they produce rocker units. >>

Incorrect. For years, VariZoom controllers were all rocker units. They did button controls for a brief period, now they're back to rockers like they were originally.

<< How many zoom control products will they introduce until they get it right? >>

Kind of like asking how many different kinds of cars will (insert automobile manufacturer) introduce until they get it right. Do you need a minivan or a sports car. Do you need a Prol-L or a Stealth controller.

<< If you want to believe a review from a site that advertises the Varizoom product, then you are welcome to it. >>

I've said it many times before and will say it once again: I don't allow just anybody to advertise on my site. I've turned down a lot of money from dealers and manufacturers who just weren't right for DV Info. I'll allow only those advertisers whom I trust to be top-notch, honest and reputable, and whom I know on a face-to-face personal basis. Nobody else gets on board with me otherwise. I don't accept lemons for sponsors.

<< I don't know about the Rock, I admit I have never used it. >>

Well, that speaks for itself then.

<< Where are all the glowing reviews of the FloPod? >>

It hasn't shipped yet. When I get a review, I'll post it, whether it's a dud or a homerun or anything in between.

<< Varizoom reads all the "wish lists" and then they create product to fill the void. >>

How is that a bad thing? More companies need to do this.

<< As far as the Varizoom on the dvinfo site, well you be the judge.. If someone was paying you money to advertise on your site, would you knock their product? >>

I'll be the first one to tell you that for me personally, the VariZoom button controllers were not my favorite (but they don't even make them anymore). And although it's a popular seller, the VariZoom Stealth is not what I would consider to be their best product. There's some kind of odd misconception that advertising is a bad thing. Well, it isn't. Effective product marketing is essential for business survival. Having excellent word-of-mouth alone won't cut it; just look at Canopus for an example.

<< And don't be sucked in by so-called "experts." >>

This is good advice, and it works both ways. I'd like to echo it: don't be sucked in by so-called "experts." That's why I started this board, to get a lot of different experiences and opinions in here. In a first and foremost polite, professional manner.

<< If you are not happy with an expensive piece of gear, don't be bullied by the manufacturers or so-called experts on these lists; return it and demand your money back. >>

VariZoom is one of the easiest companies to deal with; they have a lengthy warranty and a liberal return policy. As I have done so in the past, I'm always available to walk through a return process or other problem with anybody who buys through my site sponsors.

Hope this helps,
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Old June 5th, 2003, 10:39 PM   #11
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I lost it

That's right, I flipped out, and I apologize. But let me say, the letter that started it all on the 2-pop site from Grouper is so obviously a plant, I started spray painting everyone with the same brush. Or, spray can. Then, to be called a schill for Zoe; I just went off. Big mistake.

I still disagree with some of Chris Hurd's statements, and I have a problem with a site reviewing products advertised on the site. But obviously I am not the "truth police," and if no one else can see a problem with this, well, time for me to pipe down, or get outa Dodge.

So, adios amigos. Happy trails to you! I'm gonna chill out, maybe take in a movie. How about, "Anger Management?"
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Old June 6th, 2003, 01:01 AM   #12
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<< I have a problem with a site reviewing products advertised on the site >>

Wayne, all I can say is that Creative Cow, for whom you are a forum moderator, operates exactly the same way as this, as does 2-pop, where you are a frequent poster. I'm having trouble understanding how this is a problem for you here but not on those other sites.

To go a step further, all print magazines in this industry do exactly the same thing. As for myself, I don't consider it wrong, in fact, I don't see how you could not do it. It wouldn't make sense not to. "Motor Trend" has ads by Ford and it reviews Ford automobiles. "American Photo" has Nikon ads and it reviews Nikon cameras. Where's the problem.

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Old June 6th, 2003, 07:12 AM   #13
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The fact that this whole "back and forth" was made public and NOT controlled behind the scenes speaks VOLUMES for this site!

I've been edited against my will on dv.com and couldn't believe it... I had a couple of posts where I called Jay Rose an audio God and he edited my posts so I wouldn't offend anyone...

Hmmph, that's why I spend so much time here now... it's good to know that we can all have our opinions and share them in a truly open "f-o-r-u-m"... which is something a lot of sites are moving AWAY from...

Kudos everybody.
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Old June 6th, 2003, 11:45 AM   #14
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Hello Chris

Did you miss me while I was gone? Sorry, but I just had to respond to Chris's well tempered comments.

When Ron Lindeboom asked me to moderate one of the forums at the Cow, I had strong misgivings. I told him I valued my independence, and my freedom as a visitor to speak my mind when I felt people were being misled. I warned that I would not rubberstamp any advertising on the site, and he said they were alright with that. To date, there have been no problems, but I promise you, the first time there are, I am outa there.

The concern I have with Ken Tanaka's review on the Rock, is that the connection between VariZoom and your site is not obvious to the casual reader, since there are (blessedly) no ads here. (How do you do that?) A reader would have to dig a bit deeper on the dvinfo.net to discover your relationship with Tom Smith and his company, not that you have ever tried to hide it. I just think it should be made known to all the readers, so they can decide whether or not they should take this relationship (reviewer and advertiser) into account when evaluating a review.

Is this issue worth creating a rant over? Probably not, and therefore my apology. Is it important that readers look for the hidden agenda? You bet it is. When General Electric controls 35% of the media in this country, and has huge contracts with the Defense Department, you have a duty to question the integrity of the news you are receiving on CNBC regarding "Operation Iraqui Freedom." A free flow and exchange of ideas also has the obligation to look behind the message and see who is delivering it, and why.

Some have looked behind my message regarding the Zoe and the JTL Everlight Kit, and decided I must be a shill for these companies, since they don't agree with my message. Not much I can do to respond. Kind of like trying to respond to the question, "Do you still molest children?" They don't like the message, so they are suggesting I must be on the "take." Would that they were this critical of everything they read or see on tv.

When I was in high school many years ago, I had a teacher who encouraged me to look for the truth behind the message. Unfortunately, sometimes this can make you a bit paranoid, and you have to rein yourself in and question your own motives. But my hope is that maybe just one reader out there looked beyond the flames and actually got something of value out of this exchange.

BTW, Chris, thank you for the kind words on the 2-pop site. But couldn't you have slipped in something about my six Emmy Awards???<G>

Now I really am outa here for a little therapy.
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Old June 9th, 2003, 12:09 PM   #15
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Howdy from Texas,

<< The concern I have with Ken Tanaka's review on the Rock, is that the connection between VariZoom and your site is not obvious to the casual reader, >>

See DV Info Net Sponsors, which is the most frequenty linked page on these boards.

<< since there are (blessedly) no ads here. (How do you do that?) >>

How? Simple. Because unlike my competitors, I put the user experience before profit. Because I'm interested primarily in an intelligent exchange of ideas and information, and not in generating more ad revenue. Because I think overly aggressive marketing is the kiss of death. Because I know the right way to run a message board, which is what makes this place better than its competition. Not bigger, but better, due primarily to the high-caliber membership it draws, which is in turn due to the way I run it.

<< A reader would have to dig a bit deeper on the dvinfo.net to discover your relationship with Tom Smith and his company, >>

Tom McKay and his company. Tom Smith is part of the tech support division of VariZoom. My relationship with Tom Smith is that he is a fellow UT film school grad, someone with whom I can argue about Peckinpah over a beer. My relationship with Tom McKay is that I have on occasion in the past helped to work his booth at several trade shows, and may do so again, but that's common knowledge to thousands of tradeshow attendees, and anyone who knows me and anyone who knows VariZoom. It's because I'm such a firm believer in their product line and the way they do business. It ain't no secret.

It is my intent that readers reach this board through the pages of the www.dvinfo.net website, where there is a link to our sponsors on every single page there.

<< not that you have ever tried to hide it. >>

Well, yeah. I have never once tried to hide, cloak, conceal, cloud, obfuscate, muddy, deny, obscure, veil, shroud, dissimulate, squash or otherwise squelch my relationship with any of my site sponsors. Quite the opposite, actually.

<< I just think it should be made known to all the readers, so they can decide whether or not they should take this relationship (reviewer and advertiser) into account when evaluating a review. >>

Again, I can't understand how this is a problem for DV Info but not for all other sites that compete with us, and not for magazines such as Videography which has Panasonic ads and reviews Panasonic products, or for that matter Motor Trend, which has Ford ads and reviews Ford products, or any other ad-supported printed publication in the free world.

Apparantly either I'm a bad guy for running ads directly on the message boards because then we're just as annoying and profit-driven as everybody else, or I'm a bad guy for not running ads on the message boards because then we're somehow not disclosing our relationships with our site sponsors, despite continuous references to them.

But I've worked my way out of no-win situations before. One less likely alternative is to place a series of very small graphic ads along the bottom of the main forum index page. Another alternative is to place an annoying text announcement at the top of every forum (which has already been done to some degree in some of our hardware forums as a "where to buy" notice). Probably I'll ad a "sponsors" button along the upper right forum link buttons that appear on every page. I haven't decided yet and am open to member suggestions. Either way, no one can rightfully accuse me of having a hidden agenda.

<< Is it important that readers look for the hidden agenda? You bet it is. >>

Sure it is, except... there ain't no hidden agenda here. Thanks,
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