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Old June 23rd, 2005, 01:46 AM   #16
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"And this is because the limitation on zoom control of the GL2 lie mainly in its limited (six, I believe) zoom speeds, not in the controller."

Well, the ZR1000 has a variable position - 1>5 fixed speeds PLUS a "V" for variable; the XM2 has variable both grip and handle zoom controllers. Fred, I don't understand?

Grazie
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Old June 23rd, 2005, 06:30 AM   #17
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I've had a Varizoom Stealth since December 2001. At the time, it was the only thing on the market (as far as I knew) save a couple of cheap-o devices. While happy as a lark to have a remote control on the pan bar instead of a hand on the camera, I quickly became frustrated with the difficulty in maintaining a consistent zoom speed, especially zooming out. When I discovered the ZR-1000, I thought it was great. I bought several and stopped using the Stealth.

In my opinion, a rocker is hands down a superior physical control over the joystick because it is easier to control given the motion and control aspects of the human hand (IMHO). Add to that the ability to dial in a maximum speed and you can smash the rocker, forget about speed control, and concentrate on the million other things you need to pay attention to.

However, the ZR-1000 has some drawbacks. The mount design is poor. It has two v-bumps in a thin steal clamp for different size pan bars instead of a single centered one. This means the controller does not sit centered on the bar. Therefore, when you smash the rocker, the controller can start to slip and spin on the bar. You might think that you can just tighten it but you'll find the next drawback, the screws are cheap little metric screws (hard to replace when lost or to re-engineer) with tiny heads that are difficult to get "tight" by hand and if you use a tool, you'll need a tool to get it off or adjust it and all you may end up doing is bending the steel clamp. Further, even on the largest diameter setting, the ZR-1000 won't fit on the adjustable pan bar of my head let alone a monopod leg.

The next drawback is one that has been mentioned here and I didn't understand it until I went back to my Stealth on my new head. That is the ramp up on the ZR-1000 is instant whereas the Stealth, ZOE, and other higher quality devices automatically cushion the ramp up and down to smooth out the speed change.

So, while the function of the ZR-1000 max speed dial and rocker are desirable, the implementation (zoom and mount) leave something to be desired. Like I said, when I was a novice, I was happy. But now, it's limitations are frustrating and while I hate the joystick of the Stealth, it's the only thing that fits my head and I do appreciate the cushioned speed ramps.
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Old June 23rd, 2005, 06:59 AM   #18
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Hey Ernest, so if you were going to do it all over again, what i.e. rocker vs the buttons/slide thingy controller, what would you do differently,

Thanks in advance,

Steven Davis
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Old June 24th, 2005, 07:01 AM   #19
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I prefer and recommend rocker. The more throw, the better so be careful of designs that use small rockers. But like cameras, there's probably no single one that has everything. [pet peeve on] AFAIK, none of them have given any thought to cable management. There's always a cord dangling (coiled or not). [pet peeve off]

I have my eye on the Zoe because it lets you set a maximum speed and then maps it's entire throw onto the range from 0 to max speed. It also cushions the start and stop. AFAIK, the VZ-Rocker doesn't have max speed function yet. They do have edit buttons which are great for backing up after a shot you want to trash. but I'm slipping into what the comparison will ferret out and render explicit.
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Old June 24th, 2005, 03:20 PM   #20
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Ernest, you are to be commended for writing a very astute and comprehensive critique of zoom controllers. Your initial love affair with low-end controllers is obviously quite common, but your awareness of the short comings in these budget units sends you to the top of the class. Of course, the hard lesson is that you have spent good money for at least two of these units, and you will now be spending even more to step up to one of the top controllers. But don't feel bad; I'm a professional operator, and I went through the same expensive learning curve with my PD150 before I found the ZOE. Sure, a quality controller costs a good deal of money, but who in this group bought a "cheap" camera? I'm happy to save money when possible--I think the Spider Brace is an outstanding value--but sometimes you just have to suck it up and pay the piper. But your post was spot on. Good luck in your next purchase! Here's a couple of other points for those in the market.

The number one reason you buy a zoom controller is to be able to do smooth zooms with your camera. Duh. Notice in Ernest's post he keeps coming back to how well, or not, a particular controller allows him to zoom.

"I can do really slow zooms by setting my controller to number 1 speed." You learn to drive a car by learning to feather the accelerator. It takes lots of practice, but it makes more sense than setting the accelertor to "1," or whatever.

Don't be overly impressed by "extras." A good controller will have power up/down, record start/stop, and some focus control. Everything else is "nice to have," but not "need to have." Smaller sized controllers don't have as many optional controls, but their small size allows them to attach comfortably to a shoulder brace or steadicam-type device.

The big-money zoom controllers on professional cameras all use a twist-type zoom control. No buttons, no rockers, no joy sticks please.

Investigate the warranty. Buy from a reputable dealer. Try it for a couple days, and if you don't like it, return it. Pay with a credit card to protect your return rights.

Finally, don't listen to people who tell you, "Real filmmakers never zoom." The zoom lens is a tool, and just like any other tool, it requires skill to use properly, and if used poorly, or overused, it will make a mess of your project.

Wayne Orr, SOC
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Old June 24th, 2005, 06:12 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wayne Orr
The number one reason you buy a zoom controller is to be able to do smooth zooms with your camera. Duh. Notice in Ernest's post he keeps coming back to how well, or not, a particular controller allows him to zoom.
What about focus, particularly with hand-held using a brace or stabilizer?

Easily changing the focus without disturbing the camera was the primary reason I bought a LENS controller. Although there are certainly times I will want to zoom while rolling tape, I have a more frequent need to change focus as either the camera or subject moves.

So what do most people use a lens controller for, zoom or focus?
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Old June 27th, 2005, 03:03 PM   #22
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Libec ZC-3DV review coming soon

I just ordered a Libec ZC-3DV for $99.95. It should arrive tomorrow, so I'll have a few days to practice with it before using it at a wedding Friday with my Panasonic DVC80. This will be my first time shooting with any kind of zoom controller, so keep that in mind when reading my review. I ordered from B&H, who suddenly lowered the price from $140 to $99.95. Don't know if it's a sale of what, but for that price I figured I would give it a try. Unfortunately, I don't have a Lanc camera to use it with. I may let me friend use it with her Canon GL2 and have here evaluate that side of things.
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Old July 3rd, 2005, 09:47 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Graham Bernard
"And this is because the limitation on zoom control of the GL2 lie mainly in its limited (six, I believe) zoom speeds, not in the controller."

Well, the ZR1000 has a variable position - 1>5 fixed speeds PLUS a "V" for variable; the XM2 has variable both grip and handle zoom controllers. Fred, I don't understand?

Grazie
Grazie,
"It should be noted that the lenses of these cameras, like those of their prosumer peers, zoom at preset steps of speed. The best results that any lens controller can achieve are to accurately replicate the range of speeds that a lens permits." -- Ken Tanaka, in his review of the Zoe.

So using "fixed speeds" on a controller selects from the available speeds, while "variable" steps through them as you push the rocker or joystick further. I've read elsewhere, but I can't find the references now, that the GL2 has six speeds while Sonys have eight.

And with all due respect to previous posters, I'm skeptical of the notion that higher end controllers can soften the transition between speeds. As I understand it, controllers can't add functions, they can only trigger them. As I said earlier, in this respect I don't see any difference between the built in controller on my $120 Sony tripod and my $380 Manfrotto controller.
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Last edited by David Ennis; July 3rd, 2005 at 10:02 AM.
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Old July 3rd, 2005, 11:03 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ernest House
...I have my eye on the Zoe because it lets you set a maximum speed and then maps it's entire throw onto the range from 0 to max speed....
But only by selecting the camera's available preset speeds in that range. If you select speed #2 as the highest speed then at about half-throw you switch from zero to speed #1, then at near full throw you switch to speed #2.
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Old July 3rd, 2005, 01:36 PM   #25
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Down to two

Well, for all my reading and limitted ability to understand language, I'm down to two choices for my GL2.

The atractive part for the Bogen is that I can use it for a handle, which is nifty, but I'm a control freak, 'pun intended', and think I would miss the rocking action. Just continuing my thoughts, thanks for all the input on this thread.

Bogen / Manfrotto
Price : $ 269.95
Shipping Cost
522C

or the

Varizoom
Price : $ 234.95
CMPCT ROCKER CNTRL (BLK) f/CNTRL L CAM


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Old July 3rd, 2005, 03:19 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred Retread
But only by selecting the camera's available preset speeds in that range. If you select speed #2 as the highest speed then at about half-throw you switch from zero to speed #1, then at near full throw you switch to speed #2.
Yes. These controllers are faced with the unenviable task of translating the very analog movement of a joy stick/rocker to the discrete steps of the camera's digital zoom speeds. It is conceivable that the Zoe is not alone in remapping the entire throw but merely alone in that their marketing people chose to highlight it. The Varizoom doesn't remap because it doesn't let you set the max speed in variable mode. I hope they add that feature soon as I like some other "nice to have" functions they have that the others don't.

I think the camera is also an important participant in overall smoothness. I'd expect the XL2's 16 speeds to give more granularity to the discrete speeds within a range that a given controller has to work with. Also, the XL1s ultra slow speed at the bottom of it's range would, I think, result in any controller that steps thru the available speeds on it's way up and down from a max speed to have a more cushioned ramp. But stepping thru the available speeds on the way to/from a max speed is way better than anything that just smacks the camera with a command to zoom at speed 5.

As your tag line says, I too would like to know how these things are wired so I could know what's engineered vs perception and best pick the one.
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Old July 3rd, 2005, 07:35 PM   #27
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My Manfrotto, btw, has three dedicated buttons to select the behavior of the zoom ring. Two can be set to any of the lens's speeds and the zoom will be constant at the set speed regardless of the amount of zoom ring displacement. The third can also be set to any speed, but then its function can be toggled between simply selecting a third speed and selecting variable speed with the set speed as max. That leaves a lot of easily selectable options at your fingertips.
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Old July 5th, 2005, 09:22 AM   #28
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I've just upgraded from my old ZR1000 Canon zoom controller to the Manfrotto 523 Pro for my FX1 (and client's Z1)
I think that the build is very good and I like the feel of it a lot.
The one thing that concerns me however is that I cannot achieve the slowest zoom speed with the controller that I can with the rocker control on the camera itself.
I thought that the controller was only as good as the LANC settings of the actual camera, so what gives here then?
Please tell me that I've not set something correctly (though I've yet to discover anything that can be set...)

Robin
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Old July 6th, 2005, 09:19 AM   #29
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Well it's a done deal, I ordered the EZ Rock from Varizoom, I will post when I get it.
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Old July 8th, 2005, 09:16 PM   #30
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Robin, if you press the "I" speed button for a few seconds (until the light goes off) it factory resets to the cam's lowest speed. If that doesn't do it for you, something's wrong.
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