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Sony XDCAM EX Pro Handhelds
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Old March 11th, 2010, 07:27 AM   #1
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Zoom controllers, other questions.

I am a photographer enjoying my entry into this new world of video. There are many differences and much to learn, which is part of the fun. One problem I have is getting smooth zooms - especially the transitions into the zoom (an example can be seen around 3:09 in this video)

Will a zoom controller like the Libec or Varizoom solve this problem? If so, does anyone have any recommendations between the various controllers? Also, I have seen focus control with the zoom control mentioned. I would love to buy the correct thing instead of trying one, then ending up with another, as has been my track record so far (with tripods, fluid heads and cameras - I have a EX1R now, which I love).

VariZoom | VZ-PG-EX Pistol-Grip Zoom Controller | VZ-PG-EX | B&H

Libec | ZC-9EX Zoom Control PMW-EX1 | ZC-9EX | B&H Photo Video

Libec | PH-9 Zoom Handle Operator Controller | PH-9 | B&H Photo

I also wonder if a dolly like this will allow a smooth transition if I move (roll) the tripod while the camera is running,

Miller | 394 Lightweight Dolly for Solo DV/ENG Tripod | 394

Does anyone have any slider recommendations? I am using a Sachtler FSB-8 fluid head and a Miller Solo DV tripod.

I also need a lavalier mic system. I see Lectosonics and Sennheiser systems - any advice?
Any other hints or recommendations are welcome. Thanks!
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Old March 11th, 2010, 10:10 AM   #2
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There is a lot of variability in your potential problem. It could have been operator error, cold fingers might have betrayed you.

But the more likely problem is in the lens zoom control. The fuji lens can have issues with executing slow zooms. it's a random thing where some cameras are better than others.

I bought the manfrotto zoom control. It's a nice piece of equipment. But when I tried to use it on my fuji W/A it would skip & jerk. I sent the lens in and got a loaner...same issue. I found out here that the libec would help, so I ordered the libec. Sure enough the libec cured the jerky zoom problem with the loaner. I then asked fuji to send my old lens back to me and it also zoomed OK with the libec whereas it can't with the manfrotto. fuji sent me a 3rd new replacement lens and it works fine with both controllers.

So who's to blame, fuji or manfrotto or sony??? Hard to say. Is libec making up for fuji shortcomings? Ultimately all that matters is what works.

But my solution is to own the libec to make sure I get smooth zooms. I do think the manfrotto is a nicer piece of equipment...WHEN IT WORKS!

Ultimately, these cheap cameras cannot duplicate the fine zoom control found on expensive broadcast cameras/lenses/controllers. I have a Microforce controller that zooms so slowly you can't tell it's moving, but it cost several thousand $.
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Old March 11th, 2010, 03:00 PM   #3
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Libec ZC-9EX Zoom Controller

I have the Libec ZC-9EX zoom controller and I wouldn't want to operate without it. Any time I am on the tripod I use the Libec. It has consistently provided smooth zooms, even when I am just trying to creep in closer. The only variable I have noticed is that the amount of pressure I have to exert on the thumb switch to initiate a very slow zoom will vary. It isn't too much of an issue, but the variability does force me to be very careful when initiating a very slow zoom as the "catch point" varies. I also like that it allows me to easily slow to a stop and I can both accelerate and deaccelerate quickly as I do when covering sports.

I also have the Libec TC-70 tripod and fluid head which I am very happy with. It is very inexpensive (less than $1,000 CDN) and yet is very smooth and well built.

Good luck in your explorations. I am sure you will find your photographic background to be of great use in the field of video.
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Old March 12th, 2010, 06:47 PM   #4
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Thanks Ed and Alan. I ordered the Libec today.

Bill
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Old March 15th, 2010, 01:07 PM   #5
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Bill, its too bad you didn't wait to order as I strongly recommend the Varizoom VZ-Pro-EX
VariZoom | VZ-Pro-EX Comfort-Grip Zoom Controller | VZ-PRO-EX

I have not had any problem with very slow zooms, and one of its best features is the adjustable speed knob. While zooming, you can turn the speed down to perfectly feather the zoom to a stop.

Also, Varizoom makes focus controllers
VariZoom | VZ-JZF-PRO-EX Focus/Zoom Studio Kit | VZ-JZF-PRO-EX

For lavs, you can't go wrong with Sein's G3. I use Sony's UWP, which cost less and are nice but most of the high quality lav's aren't designed for the Sony.
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Old March 15th, 2010, 03:43 PM   #6
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Hey Steve, the Varizoom looks very robust, but is considerably larger than the Libec unit. One of the features I like about the Libec zoom is that it is small enough that it will fit very nicely on the Zacuto Z-grips kit for hand-held operation. As with any equipment, it depends upon what you are trying to achieve. I go back and forth from tripod to handheld alot and therefore I like the compact Libec design.
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