Canon 7D Tips: DIY Follow Focus Ring for Video/Stills

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Have you seen some of the homebrew Follow Focus Ring solutions for the Canon 7D?  (Homebrew#1 and Homebrew#2)  I was going to Home Depot to try to build my own, but I stopped on the way to the kitchen.  You see, those solutions reminded me of a jar opener I had in the drawer.  Take a look.

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This jar opener is several years old.  It is made out of rubber and is flexible enough to fit a variety of jars.  With its gripping teeth, open-ended design, it is perfect as a Do-It-Yourself Follow Focus Ring.  It is flexible enough to fit around my Canon 15-55mm EFS lens and even my Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS L.  And, it works!  I used it in my latest video Sample of Shoulder Mount Stabilizer.   The stills above were from the intro where I used my DIY Follow Focus Ring.

My main concern about the homebrew solutions is clamping something to these expensive lenses.  Do you really want to chance bolting a steel plumbing clamp to your lens?

A Follow Focus Ring allows you to manually adjust the lens focus smoothly on the fly.  A camera lens is already designed to do that, so a Follow Focus Ring just needs to make it easier.  The $1000+ solutions from Redrock Micro and Zacuto do it by adding gears and a dial knob.  But, all you really need is a handle on the lens to make adjusting the focus easier.  That’s where the jar opener comes in.

I was hoping to point you to a place where you could purchase this jar opener, but it is harder to find than I thought.  Ace Hardware carried the jar opener in red during the Summer 2009, but is now a clearance item.  I went to Bed Bath & Beyond as found this one.

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It works for a small lens, but it can get you thinking.  It needs to be a jar opener with a flexible open ended design which can accommodate large jars of various sizes.  So, before you spend $1000+ on a Redrock Micro or Zacuto rig, stop in the kitchen and see what you find.

 

15 thoughts on “Canon 7D Tips: DIY Follow Focus Ring for Video/Stills

  1. Glad to hear!! I knew they still had to be around … just a matter of the season. Please let me know how you like it.

  2. First of all, thank you for all these nice posts. I recently bought a 7D and am completely new to HD video. I find these tips are great!

    After seeing this tip I decided to look for one of these and actually found one on eBay. I bought it for less than 4 dollars (including shipping cost to the Netherlands). I haven’t really tried it yet, but it does fit around my 70-200L IS USM and 24-105L, even though it is very tight.

    Thanks again and I hope there’s more to come!

  3. Glad to hear people are using it. I thought it was a very clever low-cost solution.

    I hope some company in the US starts carrying these jar openers again. I would love to buy a few spares! They are small enough to leave in your camera bag and a flexible enough to fit on a variety of lenses. So much more convenient than buying those overprice follow focus gears (where you need a different gear for each and every lens diameter!)

  4. Just look for it on eBay, they hardl cost anything and I think they’re sent from the US anyway.

    Now we need to find a cheap alternative for the Z-finder, which will be harder I guess… 🙂

  5. Thanks again! I just ran a search for “rubber jar opener” on ebay and found it.

    As for the Z-finder, take a look at LCDVF. It is similar to the Hoodman 3.0 loop but with a better mount. It uses a magnetic mount instead of stupid rubber bands.

  6. Thanks, but I already saw that one. The price tag is still quite high for me. I also saw on some forums that the adhesive used to stick the mount to the camera (that alone sounds kind of awkward to do) does not work very well.

  7. I was concerned about gluing the mount on the camera too. But, people rave about it on Twitter and the forums. The LCDVF & the Hoodman Loop 3.0 are the two least expensive viewfinder loops currently available. Delkin does make a Pop-up LCD Shade Cover (which was “inspired” by Hoodman’s original design). I used the original Hoodman version on my 20D. It is does work, but the full loop cover is better.

    The 7D’s screen with the Zagg InvisibleShield does protect and LCD screen and is pretty good even in direct sunlight. If you find something, please let me know.

  8. I saw another blog that talked about a guy in China using this same thing. You can find them on ebay, its called a Multi Opener.

  9. Very nice innovation. Has anyone tried using a string (from under your foot tied to a screw on the bottom mount of the camera) as a kind of guerilla tripod?

  10. It does work well. I like the rubber one better since it is smaller and easily fits in a camera bag. The rubber one pops up every so often on ebay and other places.

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