Today we are testing a very affordable new offering by Accsoon in the follow focus category – the Accsoon F-C01 Wireless Follow Focus. Besides the review itself, we want to share some general issues that we have been facing with working with this category of devices mostly on cages with a run-and-gun mentality.
Accsoon is a Chinese video equipment company founded in 2014 by a group of engineers and videographers. The company is known for producing several generations of wireless video systems and with the Accsoon F-C01 also wireless follow focus.
Follow focus concept
Before we start, a disclaimer: before we get into the actual review, we have to preface some issues that we’ve run into with all of the follow focus systems we’ve worked with in a number of situations. With all of the innovations and technology being incorporated into these follow focus systems, the actual usability comes down to the cage and the way you rig your camera.
We have yet to find a cage that could be easily and minimally set up with a follow focus system and, more importantly, hold it tightly enough for the whole thing to work smoothly [yes, rails are the answer, but I’m talking about smaller hand-held setups].
There are a number of issues with cages, but the biggest is no camera quick release, and not enough points of contact to keep the camera from wiggling around.
The whole concept of having a follow focus is to provide smooth focus, but it all depends on the cage that it’s on.
The Accsoon F-C01 follow focus provides wireless control of a small motor with plenty of torque to smoothly pull focus from up to 300 ft away with very low latency.
In the box
Accsoon ships this kit in a semi-hard carrying case that includes the controller, the motor, a short rail and rail holder, an adjustable gear ring, and power cables. There is also a battery kit with two NP-F50 batteries and a charger.
Design and Build
From the first look, the motor impresses with its aluminum jog wheel. The rest of the control unit and the motor housing are made of plastic.
The controller comes with a quick release to easily place it on the camera cage or hand it to a focus puller. Another interesting design choice is the magnetic battery door for quick access.
The controller, motor, and clamp
Both the controller and the motor come equipped with small screens that show battery status, connection, and calibration info.
The controller screen shows the jog wheel tracking percentage, which is useful since the hard stops on the metal jog wheel are not dampened.
The controller also features a pairing button, a CW/CCW toggle button, an AB point selector button, and a calibration button. There is also a record button to trigger the camera remotely, but we couldn’t test this feature, since the system requires a special camera control cable.
To power the motor, the control unit comes equipped with a USB-c port, which means that this isn’t a truly wireless system. You can also power the motor through the provided D-Tap or DC cable, which will give you remote focusing control.
The small but informative screen on the controller
To set up this system, you’ll need a cage. The problem is, there is really no way to set it up comfortably without extra cage accessories. If you set up the controller on the left side, then the rail will be in the way of your camera grip. Placing the controller on the right means you can’t reach the camera grip at all.
In our setup, we opted for an extra handle on the left and placed the controller horizontally on top of the handle. To free up the camera grip, we placed the rail on top of the cage.
This also presented a couple of problems. Not every cage has additional points of contact to keep the camera tight inside the cage. If it wiggles around, because the motor has plenty of torque, it will not stay in place and will eventually lose grip. Even with the second point of contact, there is a little wiggle room.
Another thing you have to watch out for is that the handle on the left doesn’t get in the way of the flip-out screen.
Then you need to figure out where to place the battery. If you need to pull focus remotely, your setup will require a battery. We tried powering the motor with a power bank, but it wouldn’t stay on. Accsoon advised that we use a power supply with more constant delivery.
We had to look at the different top handles we have in the studio for the best way to place a V-mount battery. A regular handle with just one row of mounting holes can hold the V-mount plate, but it will be off balance.
Once you finally set it up, the system is plug and play. There is no need to pair the parts, but calibration needs to be performed every time you power on the unit. Hold down the calibration button, and the motor will turn until it finds the lens’s hard stops. For a lens with no hard stops, you need to manually rotate the ring to one end and then the next, and click the calibration button to set the stops.
The AB points function limits the focus travel between point A and B. To indicate the stops, rotate the controller to point A and press the AB button. Rotate to the B stop and press the AB button again. The screen will show the AB indicator and show the stops on a track. To cancel, press the AB button again.
There is also a feature to control the motor from the Accsoon Go app, but we had trouble connecting to the unit [the app didn’t list it in the options]. We’re waiting for Accsoon to help us with this feature.
In our tests in wired mode, the controller battery powered both units for over 3 hours, which is plenty of runtime for such a small battery. When powering the motor separately, the controller had more than enough juice for a full day of work.
We also did some tests with pulling focus remotely. The motor was very responsive even with no line of sight from more than 10 meters away through two metal doors.
Our solution to the lens wiggle problem (this won’t work with a single rod cage only setup)
In conclusion, the Accsoon F-C01 is well-built and easy to use. The cable situation is a bit of a hurdle, but its remote capabilities are pretty powerful. We would really like to see this system include an internal battery in the motor and a redesigned rail holder for better placement.
The Accsoon F-C01 Wireless Follow Focus
As for pricing, the Accsoon F-C01 sells for $280 on B&H.
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