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Old February 9th, 2010, 05:18 PM   #1
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Libec vs Manfrotto zoom controller

I bought a Manfrotto zoom controller for my EX-3 last summer. I had jumpy zooms with my W/A. I sent in my W/A for service. Fuji sent me another one. It had similar jumpy zooms.

After reading some comments here at DVi, I bought a Libec zoom controller for my EX-3. No more jumpy zooms.

I contacted Manfrotto regarding this apparent defect in their product. I received a reply asking what zoom controller I had (I stated which one in the original messages). I responded to Manfrotto with the model number and have not heard anything since.

At this point it appears the Manfrotto controller is incapable of working properly with the EX zoom lenses but the Libec is. And it appears Manfrotto isn't going to respond to my request for remediation of the problem.
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Old February 9th, 2010, 06:10 PM   #2
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libec ...

The libec zoom has been working well for me too.
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Old February 9th, 2010, 07:04 PM   #3
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I have the Manfrotto #521EX and it has been performing just great since I started using it 4 months ago. Smooth zooms at all speed settings and nice starts and stops.
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Old February 9th, 2010, 07:14 PM   #4
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I'll second the Manfrotto for how it works.

How it attaches isn't so great and I had to re-glue the rubber pads as they kept falling off, but the control part works great.
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Old February 10th, 2010, 09:35 AM   #5
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I did receive a note from manfrotto this morning...

"The 521EX was designed specifically for the EX-1, not, which is why you are having this problem. The product is not “defective”… it is not compatible with the EX-3.

Who did you purchase the controller through? If they state differently, then you should be able to return it for a refund."
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Old February 10th, 2010, 09:39 AM   #6
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My manfrotto did work fine with the stock lens but terribly with the EX wide angle lens. The Libec works fine with the wide angle lens.
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Old February 10th, 2010, 12:49 PM   #7
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update

I received a reply from the retail supplier who, according to Manfrotto, wasn't supposed to sell their zoom control for EX-3 use...


tripods, heads, monopods, light stands, camera supports, lighting supports, professional tripod 521EX - REMOTE CONTROL SONY EX1

"The Manfrotto Remote Control 521EX is designed for Sony PMW EX1/EX1R/EX3 cameras."

So either the Manfrotto "Technical Support Supervisor" doesn't know his own product or he's "making stuff up".
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Old February 10th, 2010, 06:11 PM   #8
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Hi Ed,

Not sure if you are going to like what I have to say...

I have the same Manfrotto controller. Bought it for my EX3 over a year ago as I NEEDED a remote zoom control really badly and nothing else I could find was available. I assumed all EX cameras have the same servo zoom drive unit (I still suspect they do contrary to the view of some of the people here). The remote sucks there is no two ways about it. The ergonomics of it does not really allow you to do repeatable zooms at a slow level. The physical design of it is so clumsy in terms of how the hand fits it. The thumbwheel also brings in another factor that when you have it dialed down to do slow zooms, I suspect the resolution of the control lessens dramatically... similar to the effect you get with MIDI controllers when you have a control strip that doesn't have the standard MIDI specified 127 steps between off and full on you get what is called "a zipper effect". Again this is hunch about this problem.

Anyway, usually with a product when you buy it there is a 30 day money back guarantee from the RETAILER and then after that the statute of limitations kicks in. It sucks to be us but I am pretty sure that is the case unless you can prove Manfrotto deliberately and falsely marketed their product we have a device that is going to go into a box, never to be used again.

In any event, my days of buying Manfrotto bobbles and gear are over and I certainly won't be plugging any Manfrotto gear in the future. If they come clean on this junky zoom controller they developed for the Sony EX series then that's a different story. Even an admonition or a valid technical explanation (that even pins Sony on the matter) would go a long way in my books.

Last edited by Andrew Stone; February 10th, 2010 at 08:16 PM. Reason: correcting the use of a term
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Old February 10th, 2010, 07:27 PM   #9
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libec works on the 1/3/350

the libec worked great on my ex1 and my ex3. good deals on it at tapeworks i think they are running a special?
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Old February 16th, 2010, 06:21 AM   #10
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As a happy user of two Manfrotto zoom controllers, I think some facts should be straightened up here.

Manfrotto is offering the speed dial, which in theory, makes the 521ex capable of the slowest zooms of all controllers, available for the EX line of cameras. I said "in theory", because in practice this also enables the Manfrotto to attempt those ultra-slow zooms, and here is where the problems begin...

As we're all aware of, the slow zoom implementation by Sony/Fujinon is far from perfect in both the EX1(R) and EX3. When setting the speed for the handle zoom button, speeds below 10 are not guaranteed to work by Sony themselves (it's mentioned in the EX3 manual, and in the EX1R firmware, you cannot event set it to digits < 10).

Add the fact that particular EX lens units differ in how smooth and slow their zoom can be by themselves (i.e. using the camera rocker), and it's clear that Manfrotto is not to blame.

In another thread, I asked sombody raving over the Libec to provide us with a clip, showing in real time the zooms that controller is capable of - but I never got an answer.

On the other hand, my Manfrotto 521ex is capable of zooming from full wide to full tele (00-99) in one go, lasting as long as almost 2 minutes. And, it's been so with 2 controllers, and 2 lenses (as my original lense has been replaced by Sony for all another reason)...
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Old February 16th, 2010, 09:18 AM   #11
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Just for the record, I have the 521ex, and it works great for my EX-3.
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Old February 16th, 2010, 11:18 AM   #12
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Libec

I don't know anything about the Manfrotto, so my comments are only about the Libec, but it is very smooth on my EX1, not as smooth on the PMW350K. It's the same zoom controller, so the difference must owe to the particular lenses.

The plug for the EX1 is different than for the PMW350K. The Libec came with an adapter to work with both. These are just potentiometers, so unless there is a noted distinction in the input impedance of the circuit the pot is connected to (which I doubt strongly), these zoom controllers from Manfrotto and Libec (with the right adapter) should work universally with all the variants of the EX1/EX3, and Canon and Fuji eng lenses.

The Libec strikes me as having a taper or curve to the potentiometer, since it seemingly takes a fairly large movement to evoke a very slow zoom response at the beginning, and thereafter the zoom rate seems to accelerate as the pot is turned farther. This is good because it adds more resolution or fineness to the slowest zoom speeds, but still limited to whatever low speed smoothness limitations are in the lens zoom servo gear drive. I have not actually plotted the ohms/angle of the knob to confirm any of this, it's just my observation from turning the knob and watching the zooming action. The libec shaft is metal, and the bearing surface is smooth and free of friction, again contributing to the smoothness/fineness of the knob rotation. A gentle spring action returns the knob to center, and there is some amount of deadband at the center to prevent the zoom from creeping.

The Libec is only a zoom controller, does not control focus.
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Old February 16th, 2010, 06:29 PM   #13
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Piotr

With my W/A EX lens, I get significant stuttering with the manfrotto controller. With the same lens I get no stuttering with the Libec controller...at the same slow speeds. How can that be the lens fault? The libec can go slowly where the manfrotto cannot.
On my standard lens, I get the same result with both controllers.
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Old February 16th, 2010, 11:16 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed Kukla View Post
On my standard lens, I get the same result with both controllers.
So, one could ask: how can that be the controller's fault?

Seriously though, I'm not using the WA lens so I can't tell.
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Old February 17th, 2010, 09:01 PM   #15
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Evidently the stock lens was easy enough for both controllers to work. But the W/A lens was a bit harder to accomodate, for whatever reason.
Under this circumstance, the Libec still works fine but the manfrotto fails miserably.

I suspect there is a rather wide range of quality control variation from lens to lens. But the Libec seems to be able to handle this wide range of specifications. I'm not the only one to have the Libec work where the manfrotto failed. some aparently are having this same problem with the stock lens
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