Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Few Pictures From the D|Focus "Factory"

I took a few minutes out of the busy day today to snap some pictures of what we are working on. (It was also an excuse to use my new (used) Canon FD 24mm f/1.4L lens with my GH1.)

6 square feet of Delrin and 8 square feet of white acrylic ready to be transformed into D|Focuses.

Two batches of rail mounts cut. We can fit 24 of them on a 12 x 12 inch sheet of material. It takes about 2 hours to cut one sheet. The parts not need to be de-burred and drilled.

Here is the CNC Mill at work. We use a 3/16" end mill turning at 5000 rpm. It takes several passes to cut each part out.

Watching the green characters scroll on the screen reminds me of The Matrix.

NOT D|Focuses

Quit laughing and get back to work Tony!

Waiting on Drive Gears

Knobs get a brass insert glued in with JB Weld, then they are drilled, drilled again and tapped for the set screw.

We use a lot of acetone when building D|Focuses. Its perfect for removing any residual oils and sticky residue.

Got to have some tunes!

Here is one of the very first D|Focuses I sold (number 14 actually) in for an upgrade to the new V2.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Couple of Tutorial Videos

Instead of trying to type out instructions for the Lens Gears and DSLR Mount, I decided to just do a couple of quick tutorial videos instead.

I shot these with me GH1 in 1080 24p mode and am really pleased with the image quality!

Cameras and lenses provided by

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Holiday Orders

Hi everyone, just a quick word about Holiday orders from D|Focus System.

The response to the V2 and new Pro Lens Gears has been very strong (more on this later) and there is a current back-log of orders. I am doing my best to get these together and shipped out but it is looking unlikely that any new orders will be in the hands of customers before Christmas, especially for international customers. I apologize for any inconveniences this may cause.

If you need your order faster you may check with JAG35 ( As they will have limited stock through the month.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Shipping Prices Have Increased

Since I started selling the D|Focus keeping the shipping and handling costs down have been a priority, especially international shipping. My solution was to use USPS Priority mail small flat rate boxes. They are provided for free from the USPS so all one has to do is print the label online and stick it to the box. These have the lowest international shipping rate I could find and they save me the time of having to fill out customs forms by hand.

Unfortunately the small flat rate boxes are, well, small. I just found out today, the hard way, that there is no way I'm going to fit a D|Focus V2, 3 Pro Lens Gears and a DSRL mount in that box. I have to use a larger box.

International shipping charges will now be $22 and $35 depending on what size box is required.

The D|Focus System is meant to be a low budget follow focus solution and keeping all costs down is a priority. I wish I was like BHPhoto or Newegg and could offer really cheap, or free shipping. Maybe someday...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Few Words On The New Lens Gears

I thought I would take a few minutes to share some of the thought and design process that went into the new Pro Lens Gears.

Since March of this year I have been experimenting with many designs for lens gears and searching for an "off-the-shelf" solution. There are a lot of large diameter gears available, but they are all usually quite expensive and have a very thin gear face width, 1/16".

My favorite lens gears were the ones made by Redrock micro and I frequently would refer customers there, instead of purchasing the DIYish solution I was using. RRM's gears are quick and easy to install, no worries about alignment like some other designs. They are also large in diameter which means less torque is required from the follow focuses gearbox to turn the lens (helpful for some "stiffer" lenses like Zeiss.) Unfortunately they are not cheap at $64 each and you would need a few sizes if you have a variety of lenses.

So the challenge with designing the new Pro Lens Gears was how to incorporate the large diameter and quick on-off feature of Redrock's lens gears, while also making them adjustable and cheap.

An early rendering

I am fortunate enough to have several connections in the local machining community and one day a couple of months ago Tommy from Redline Mold was at the shop. He sort of half-jokingly asked me if I was ready to build a mold (we had discussed this a while ago, but I was no where near ready for such a big commitment.) The answer was yes. The D|Focus really needed a more professional lens gearing system. So we set to work to come up with a design. Tommy suggested a few thing and we went back and forth a bit. Then it hit me, why not have one gear, with some kind of interchangeable "leg" system to adjust for the various size lenses? This has been done before, with screws, but the problem is that it takes a long time to get them setup and adjusted correctly. But having fixed length "Legs" with a pinching style of gear tensioning onto the lens, the length of the legs wouldn't have to be exact.

I set to work on a prototype, using an existing lens gear that I had left over from experiments, I super-glued some nylon screws to the inside and used a Dremel to cut them to length. I was not sure it was going to work but to my surprise, even with the hack-job dremeling the legs to length, the gear held remarkable secure to the camera lens!

First CAD drawing of the New Pro Lens Gear

I struck a deal with the JAG35 crew to help pay for the mold. They have been selling the D|Focus for several months now and have been in need of a lens gearing system to go with it. Then it was just a matter of getting the CAD drawing to Tommy and letting him go at it.

One side of the Mold. The T shaped inserts are what form the retaining slots for the legs.

The other side of the mold with the Mold Cavity.

Tommy is a freaking pro and had this thing together much faster than we were expecting.

Injection molding is not cheap. There is a large initial investment and a relatively large minimum number of parts the molder will make. But the benefit is that the cost per part is very cheap. So once the mold is paid for the whole process becomes a good investment (assuming one can manage to keep selling the parts!) Also, when its done by a pro like Tommy, your parts come out looking top notch!

I couldn't be more pleased with the final result! The lens gears work exactly as I imagined and look as professional as they can. Unfortunately they are more expensive than the cheap DIYish solution I was offering. Sorry about that, but I think they are still within most people's price range. Definitely not as hard to justify as Redrock's $64 solution.