It’s finally here! My bitching about the shipping time for my rails was totally erroneous: it was delivered in less than 2 days. The problem was with the supplier shipping my order 2 weeks after I placed it!
So without any further delays, here is my first impression of my intermediate cinephotographer kit.
When I was shopping around for my kit, my biggest concern was weight. Since my Manfrotto 501HDV can only hold about 2.5kg, I had to make sure the whole system would be under this limit. As the biggest and heaviest part of the kit, rails have the biggest impact on the overall weight. That is why I went with the 12” carbon fiber rods from Indi Systems. 12” might seem a bit short but as you can see, I have enough room to put everything plus a matte box if I ever want to look fancy.
Installation of the whole kit was much longer than I expected. Adding the rails and the follow focus to the tripod increase the number of moving parts that need to be screwed and tighten. As soon as there is one loose part, shake appears on the screen resulting in crappy clips. This movement is mostly caused by the FF ‘pushing’ the lens/camera up or down and can probably be reduced by improving the position of the FF gear on the lens gear and using a better attachment system on the rails.
Something that might not be obvious at first is that the dFocus mount does not have anything to lock itself on the rails. No matter how much you squeeze the screw it is only going to hold on tighter the metal plate on top of it. Being a bit loose generates some shakiness. My advice would be to get a DIY rail mount and modify it so it could squeeze both rails into place and keep everything in perfect alignment.
On the other side, it is great to be able to adjust every part of the system. Otherwise, it would not be possible to accommodate every lenses. In my case, I had to make a few adjustment to find a setting that allows me to use both lenses with minimal adjustments between the two.
My biggest deception was with the DVCity lens gear. It must be bad luck but none of the gears fit easily on my lenses (EF50 1.4 & FD28 2.8, going to tests others soon). I really had to squeeze them in and it was so much work that I think I will keep the gear on the 50mm even when I am shooting stills… I am going to get a few gears from Dfocus, they must be so much easier to install and remove!
Lets be honest, we are not talking about Zacuto, RedRock Micro or Cinevate quality stuff here. Yet, knowing that my overall spending for this whole kit is less than the price of their cheapest part, I am
surprised happy by how well everything is fitting. Of course there is some shake when pulling focus but I think it is mostly due to bad technique.
What is next?
The only missing part of this puzzle now is the focusing loupe. I don’t believe in spending a fortune on this so it is probably going to be a ghetto loupe. I have shopped around and finding a 3” wide rectangular loupe is not as easy as it sounds. All the ones I have seen so far have a circular base which prevents me from seeing anything but the center of the screen…
It is too late (dark) for me to start doing some test footage but I will shoot some tomorrow.