CPM Camera Rig’s Follow Focus has many features and great build quality. The construction is solid, with high quality materials and minimal plastic. The body is made of anodized aluminum, which is strong and lightweight. The gears are made of nylon so there will be no corrosion to hamper the smoothness. The marking disc is the only plastic used on the whole unit and comes with the added benefit of being magnetized for easy replacement when the time comes.The arm is nice and long so that the contact point is near the center of the lens, which reduces vibration and ensures the smoothest control of the focus ring. The gears are housed to keep them safe from debris. The rail inserts are industry standard 15mm holes spaced 60mm apart, so it should fit right into most rigs. There is a standard square connector on the knob that will accommodate whips from many manufacturers – like the Zacuto ZW-16.
There is an abundance of knobs on the unit to customize everything to your liking. For starters, the knob underneath the gear can be twisted to adjust the tension of the action. Even with the tension all the way up, the action still feels nice and smooth with very good feedback. Another knob along the side can be twisted off in order install the gear on the opposite side of the housing. For me, this feature is huge because I have several compact lenses like my old Nikkor AIS primes and the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4. If it weren’t for this feature, I wouldn’t be able to get the follow focus close enough to the focus ring to operate these lenses. Another huge feature that is usually only available on more expensive follow focuses (or should I say foci?) is programmable stops. First, adjust where you want the stop marker to rest. Then, simply twist the small thumb knobs to set your A and B focus stops. This also comes in handy for Canon lenses that rotate infinitely. I love setting the A stop at macro and the B stop at infinity to give these lenses much needed stops for video.
The CPM follow focus comes with your choice of a 7” or 8” gear, which is nice because most follow focus units don’t come with a free gear. The gear has a slim profile which is convenient if you prefer to store your lens in your bag with the gear on it. The gear works like a zip tie so you can attach it nice and tight. Thanks to the rubber backing on the gear, it holds firmly to the lens so there is no slipping or loss of contact. The only downside is that it is difficult to remove. However, instead of taking the gear on and off, I prefer to buy a gear for each one of my lenses and just leave it on. Additional CPM gears are $9.99 each.
At $399, there is no other follow focus on the market that offers these features with this level of build quality and smoothness. I have tested it against more expensive follow foci and the CPM actually feels smoother. This is a testament to the high level of precision in their machining process. My only knock against it is that it’s a bit heavy. However, this is forgivable because like most products, heavy equals good quality.
To cop one for yourself, go to www.cpmcamerarigs.com.