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    Seamless Follow Focus Gears
    #1
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    Just wanted to talk about some of the gears I recently bought from a seller on eBay (helicoptersean)

    They are 3D printed, nice and hard material. He's got a handful of rings that are already tested to fit popular lenses (Tokina 11-16, Zeiss ZE/ZF, etc). I contacted him about getting rings for my Nikon 17-55 and Nikon 80-200. He hadn't made them so he had me measure and use some test rings he printed to get the exact fit. The 80-200 even required a custom 2-part slide-together ring, which he was happy to do for me.

    I also told him my concern for the rings sticking out too far (I have fitted areas in my cases already) and he made me some low-profile rings that fit perfectly into my case.

    The throw on my Zeiss lenses are so long that the follow focus would often hit the seam of adjustable FF gears, so this is an awesome solution. The quality is great for the price and when they are slid onto the lens, they are very snug and feel like built-in cine gears.
    Josh Becker
    www.joshbecker.net
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    #2
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    Hi Josh,

    I've came across your post after searching for some more info on those gears. In fact I've became frustrated with the whole FF gear thing simply because I can't seem to find the appropriate one without giving my lenses to do a cine mod (which I don't want to).

    I have a set comprised of:

    ZF.2 3.5/18
    ZF.2 2/25
    ZF 2/35
    ZF.2 1.4/50
    ZF 1.4/85

    I've just tried out almost every gear around. You name it. The ones I'd liked the most were SgPro FF gears with studs. They were a 360º design like Cinevate ones but the damn studs have marked all my Nikkor focus rings and because of that I've forgotten stud FF gears. Fortunately I didn't tried them out on my Zeiss set.

    Now… These gears look great but they come across the Atlantic (I'm in EU), with a high price tag and on top of it I will need to pay custom fees here for overseas items so I will appreciate if you could answer some questions:

    1. Are they really snug? No fiddling, no wobbling (that's to say no lag when rack focusing)?
    2. Are they marking your lens in any way (if you remove the gear it won't leave marks on the lens)?
    3. Are they an easy fit?
    4. How are they fitted? If they are pressed fit I see that my 3.5/18 has a slightly larger f-ring diameter than the focus ring and it certainly won't come in from the front element.
    5. Consider that you had to pay 21% more for them (my customs fees). Do you still consider them to be better than the competition?

    Thanks in advance for your thoughts on this.


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    #3
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    Looking at the ZF 18mm, you may want to ask the ebay seller about it. He could do a split-ring style like he did for my Nikon 80-200.

    They are definitely very snug. I anticipate leaving them on my lenses all the time, since they are such a low profile that I will never need to take them off (to fit them in a case, for example). I could see them possible causing some indentations on my Tokina/Nikon lenses, but you'll have that with anything putting pressure on a soft rubber ring. The advantage to these though is that it's even pressure all the way around, not small points of pressure like your other FF gears.

    I just attempted to make them slip (holding focus barrel tight and trying to rotate just the ring) and I can't get it to rotate at all. Like I said, very tight. As far as I can tell, they caused no marks sliding onto my Zeiss ZF lenses.

    They are press-fit from the back of the lens (for most lenses). If that doesn't work, talk to him about doing a 2-part gear.

    When you are putting them on, it can feel like it's maybe too hard to slide them on, but trust me it is worth it in the end. Just inch them on bit-by-bit, making sure you are working your way around the gear to keep it even. Once they are on they are rock solid, not going anywhere.

    I think a 20% markup is worth the premium, as long as you are OK with them being a semi-permanent solution. I wouldn't try to remove these if I didn't have to. I am pretty confident that the lens would look fine (no damage) but they are just so tight that it would be a hassle. I keep those adjustable gears around for rental lenses and stuff, but these gears are perfect for my set.
    Josh Becker
    www.joshbecker.net
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    #4
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    Thanks Josh,

    I've contacted him. I'm looking at indiSYSTEM Snap gears as well. I have yet to decide...


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    #5
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    I actually also have the Snap Gears. They use a somewhat squishy grip strip on the inside to grip the focus gear. The rare earth magnets that close then together are relatively strong but those strips are squishy enough to introduce some play/movement. And on one of my lenses, the 70mm gear was too small, but the 75mm was too big, so I had to add extra grip material on the inside to get it tight onto the lens. This introduced a LOT of wiggle. I think I ended up putting tape around the focus on the lens to build it up larger so the gear would fit with less of the grippy stuff.

    They are a clever design and pop on/off quickly, but considering that you have to kind of futz around with varying thicknesses and combinations of the grippy stuff in order to find what works for a lens defeats the fact that they are fast to snap on and off. The worst is having two lenses that are *close* in diameter but slightly different. That means you'd be adding/removing little grippy strips mid-shoot to get the gears to work. Not worth the headache.

    In my opinion, if you're going to be wanting a long-term rock-solid solution, these seamless gears are the way to go.
    Josh Becker
    www.joshbecker.net
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    #6
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    Thanks again for your insight. Was very helpful.


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