my $3.99 solution for smooth zooming on a VG-10 at DVinfo.net

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Old January 6th, 2011, 11:54 AM   #1
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my $3.99 solution for smooth zooming on a VG-10

I've struggled ( as have many) getting a smooth zoom while shooting. Without getting into the debate of whether you "should" or "shouldn't" zoom while shooting, I find myself doing so on occassion, with predictably poor results.

I toyed with the idea of modifying a follow-focus unit, and discarded the idea since I have no desire to hack up a piece of expensive equipment to try to make it do something it wasn't intended for.

Another post on the forum about using a larger motion would smooth out the zoom got me thinking...this is what I came up with

Zenfolio | Wayne Reimer | Camera equipment

It cost me a grand total of $3.99 at my local Princess Auto ( if you're Canadian, you'll understand). The apparatus is sold as an oil filter wrench. I lined the hoop with a piece of an old mousepad to provide a scratch free surface where it contacts the lens.

My first preliminary tests say...FANTASTIC!!! it works wonderfully, I can zoom very smoothly, it goes on and off easily, and my heart won't be broken if it gets lost.

I haven't yet tried it on the focus ring, but I can imagine a reason why it wouldn't work there as well
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Old January 6th, 2011, 02:30 PM   #2
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Brilliant. TYVM. I have a wrench I've never used in the garage, no more jerky zooms!
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Old January 6th, 2011, 07:16 PM   #3
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Excellent solution Wayne.

If I had one complaint about my EX1R, it would be that the zoom servo motor is crap and the zoom is jerky at low speed. Your idea is simple and I can see it would be very effective. Thank you. I'm off to my auto parts store now.

Cheers

Russ
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Old January 8th, 2011, 07:43 PM   #4
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When the servo is not engaged, the EX1R zoom ring rotates with a very small friction. Therefore I'm afraid the weight of a tool like that would prevent from letting go of it depending on which direction the handle points.

--AOK--
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Old January 8th, 2011, 08:38 PM   #5
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It's actually not terribly heavy. I initially mounted it so that it was vertical with the lens fully retracted, and although there is slow creep from full zoom, it's indeed slow.
Personally I never take my hand off the lens anyway when I'm shooting, so I have just shift my hand position slightly. I very seldom ever maintain full zoom for any length of time, so it's really not a huge issue.
I'm going to do some tinkering with the design when I get a bit of time, and try to "re-invent" the concept with lighter materials and some form of quick release around the lens barrel. I think I can make something functional with CF rod, or possibly nylon threaded rod that will work just as well with less weight.
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Old January 9th, 2011, 12:27 AM   #6
 
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I use the plastic black cycling clip ties that hold the bottom of your trousers in so they don't get oil on them. I got Jan Van Der Meer to post me some from Netherlands as I couldn't find any here in Oz.

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Old January 9th, 2011, 05:14 PM   #7
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That looks great! how do they stand up to wear and tear?
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Old January 10th, 2011, 07:17 PM   #8
 
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Quite heavy duty Wayne. I haven't seen any over here as I said but if you come across any in a bike store in N America let me know as I am always keen to get some more.
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Old January 12th, 2011, 02:56 PM   #9
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I'll keep my eyes open...I've never seen anything like them before, but then I haven't been looking for an alternative for pulling zoom, either ;^)

I'mve gotten my hands on several carbon fibre arrow shafts, as well as some CF strips used for reinforcing radio control airplane wings. The strips are quite springy, and should adapt well to the applcation. Threading CF rod is not practical, so I'm exploring alternative ways to allow the anchor point to move up and down on the shaft without too much effort, yet still "lock" in place

I'll post any successes as they occur........ wish me luck.
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Old January 12th, 2011, 04:20 PM   #10
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I have tried something similar but not so expensive. I used a piece of plastic rod ~ 1/4" in diameter held in place with a rubber band. The rubber band was placed over the middle of the rod and the rod was placed over the lens barrel. The other end of the band was curved around the lens barrel and hooked over the end of the rod. i.e. the rubber band ended up in a "u" shape. I used it as a crude follow focus and set it up so that when the bar was horizontal I was back to my focus position.
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Old January 13th, 2011, 07:48 AM   #11
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in your version, was the rod held flat against the lens, or was it perpendicular? if flat, did you find it gave you enough "large hand movement" to work smoothly?

It's been tooo cold here to get out and shoot much with this gizmo, so I've been stuck with "pretending" to zoom inside with the dogs as subjects. I think this may be on the right track; the zooms are MUCH smoother than hand-held.
It has started me thinking again about motorizing it though. I have several small RC servos that are very quiet in operation...a rubber band resistance pulley around the lens and adjustable set points on the servo throw would give me the ability to have the lens throw fully through it's zoom range without over stressing anything under power, a digital/proportional controller ( again from the radio control industry) would allow for variable speed...I think I can fabricate something small enough to nestle between the rails instead of hanging off the side...by avoiding gear drives it would minimize the transmitted noise, and the miniaturization of the components combined with the torque those little servos put out in a very tiny package.
I have a small metal lathe and a vertical mill...I think that once the current project is done, I may take some "me" time, and fire them up. I'd like to see if I can "re-invent" a powered zoom for this current crop of manual zoom cameras, and perhaps make something useable on a DSLR as well.
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Old January 13th, 2011, 04:08 PM   #12
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Hi Wayne.

Too cold to go outside? Minimum overnight temperature here was about 27 degrees centigrade with humidity so high that I left footprints on a brick floor.

My “version” was more proof of concept than anything I have used often. All I did was to lay a rod or a piece of tubing ( ~ 6 - 8” long and ~ ¼” diameter) across the lens i.e. at right angles to the optical axis of the lens. The rod was first threaded through a rubber band that hung from roughly the centre of the rod. Once in place the free end of the rubber band was passed under the lens barrel and up the other side where its free end was hooked over the end of the rod. To increase the rigidity I added more bands. However a bit of flexibility can be useful for smoothing the action as those who use rubber bands on their pan handles will tell you.

If you are interested in using small motors there are a lot available in very small sizes with choices of gear boxes, voltages etc. These can be very quiet and very efficient but not cheap - you would be upset if you lost one. I have used them for lens controls in underwater housings and remote pan and tilt heads. I tend to use Faulhaber as they are well represented in our area. Other manufacturers include Maxon and Escap.
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Old January 13th, 2011, 09:54 PM   #13
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+27C....that would be.....about 54C warmer than it is right now on the Canadian prairies, where I (regrettably) am. Waist deep snow, and a 20 km wind add to the delights of Canadian winter...

Heavy Sigh....

I'm thinking as a proof of concept I'll likely use cheap (ish) servo motors. I have the ability to machine aluminum stock on my little mill, so I will fabricate a small rod mount to carry the servo. I can power it from a single cell lithium battery, and I have a couple of 2.4 ghz digital proportional receivers that will work with a motor controller in a very small enclosure ( I'm envisioning something slightly bigger than a matchbox).

"If" I can get something functional, I'll try to do a better job of documenting the effort than is my norm...
for a guy with a lot of camera equipment, I'm terrible about taking photos of stuff like this..

If you have any photos of your design, I'd love to have a look at them. It sounds interesting.
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Old January 15th, 2011, 07:38 AM   #14
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alastair Traill View Post
Hi Wayne.

Too cold to go outside? Minimum overnight temperature here was about 27 degrees centigrade with humidity so high that I left footprints on a brick floor..
Nar that's tiddy weather. 35C overnight recently here in the WA outback! ;-)
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