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Which FF-unit does what


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#1 Mihai Nicolau

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Posted 19 August 2010 - 03:44 AM

Hello,

I would like some advice on which FF-unit if best for what purpose.
For example Arri's FF4 vs FF5. I know FF4 is the standard right now but what about the FF5 ? Is it a newer generation ? Does it work better on some type of lenses (larger,smaller barrells) ? Which one should I get and know for sure that it would hold up for most jobs ?

How about O'Connor's FF unit ? Has anyone used it. It seems very solid and well build and it's nice that it comes with a 15/19mm option from the factory.

Thanks
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#2 Mitch Gross

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Posted 19 August 2010 - 09:46 AM

FF4 is designed for cine use. FF5 has a different gearing ratio and a longer swing arm, which is more appropriate for stills lenses and ENG video lenses that do not rotate their barrel as far to go from close focus to infinity. OConnor CFF-1 is also designed primarily for cine-style lenses, and allows clearance for the fattest lenses possible.

My company sells this stuff so I don't want to be in the position of pushing one over the other. Just starting what their design concepts are.
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#3 Evan Luzi

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Posted 19 August 2010 - 12:22 PM

Hello,

I would like some advice on which FF-unit if best for what purpose.
For example Arri's FF4 vs FF5. I know FF4 is the standard right now but what about the FF5 ? Is it a newer generation ? Does it work better on some type of lenses (larger,smaller barrells) ? Which one should I get and know for sure that it would hold up for most jobs ?

How about O'Connor's FF unit ? Has anyone used it. It seems very solid and well build and it's nice that it comes with a 15/19mm option from the factory.

Thanks


Hey Mihai,

I just got off a shoot recently in which I used O'Connor's FF. Like you speculate, it is very solid and well built. I was very much a fan of it. It was easily customizable and like said above it is designed for the lowest clearance possible for bigger lenses. You can swing the gear under the lens, or on it's side and have the gear on either side of the lens since the FF wheel simply detaches and reattaches to the other side. The 15mm and 19mm option is also nice though on the 19mm rods it doesn't slide as smooth since it's clearance is JUST enough to fit. I will say that it was great in how tight you could get the gears to lock and that allowed for very little play on the wheel. If you get a chance to check it out, I would and see if you like it better than Arri's options.
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#4 Mihai Nicolau

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Posted 19 August 2010 - 03:26 PM

Hey Mihai,

I just got off a shoot recently in which I used O'Connor's FF. Like you speculate, it is very solid and well built. I was very much a fan of it. It was easily customizable and like said above it is designed for the lowest clearance possible for bigger lenses. You can swing the gear under the lens, or on it's side and have the gear on either side of the lens since the FF wheel simply detaches and reattaches to the other side. The 15mm and 19mm option is also nice though on the 19mm rods it doesn't slide as smooth since it's clearance is JUST enough to fit. I will say that it was great in how tight you could get the gears to lock and that allowed for very little play on the wheel. If you get a chance to check it out, I would and see if you like it better than Arri's options.


Hey thanks for sharing. Some questions though, you said "very little play", shouldn't a unit of this caliber be without any play at all at least when it's new or did I set my expectations to high. And did the sliding issue became a major nuisance or is that something you can live with ?
Would it accomodate some exotic or big lenses that the FF4 wouldn't ?

Does it compare to an ARRI unit judging from a rental business point of view ?

@Mitch: thanks for the info.But for example will the FF4 or the CFF1 work with photo lenses like the Zeiss ZF or Nikon zooms and primes ? Is their arm long enough to reach them ?
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#5 Dom Jaeger

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 03:06 AM

Getting no backlash in geared systems like a follow focus is pretty hard without introducing tight spots. You need to back the gear meshing off a little to allow free movement and so every coupling adds another bit of play. The belt in the swing arm flexes a little, and as the unit gets older and suffers the inevitable hits to the handwheel, the slightest damage to the driveshaft throws out the meshing.
The Arri units are pretty durable though, with good internal adjustment available to get the backlash to a minimum.

The only lens in our fleet of cine lenses that the FF-4 doesn't accommodate is the 35mm anamorphic Lomo, for which we have a modified FF-3. I don't know about photo lenses.

I haven't got my hands on the O'Connor CFF-1, but it looks like a very usable design. I'm curious as to what their "minimal backlash mechanism" might be. The offset handwheel, while a good idea for functionality, adds another gear (or belt), and must make it more susceptible to damage from knocks. Arri fell into that trap with their 2-speed handwheel on the FF-3, which was a nice idea but made it more vulnerable to knocks and the extra gearing, if not carefully calibrated, added enough play to put a lot of focus pullers off.

The dual 15mm/19mm option also sounds like a great idea but as Evan discovered you sometimes pay a price for flexibility.

The true test of the O'Connor model will be to see how they hold up after a year of use in the field. Arri have had decades to fine tune their design.
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#6 Mitch Gross

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 09:29 AM

The ARRI and OConnor follow focuses will absolutely work with the stills lenses.
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