The DJI Focus is an advanced and precise follow focus system that can be used both on the ground and in the air for previously unheard levels of precision and accuracy, says DJI. Presented as a prototype at NAB 2015, the DJI Focus has been available for a while, but it is only now that DJI promotes it with a video showing the system at work.
The DJI Focus is already available for purchase, but its price may take this focus puller away from the horizon of many users that would love to have access to such a tool. The DJI Focus appears, also, on the pages dedicated to Ronin gear on DJI’s website, so maybe you did not find if you’re just looking at the drone pages.
This follow focus system works without having you or the focus puller touching the lens, and that’s the magic of it. The system uses DJI’s expertise in brushless motors to achieve its goal. The brushless motor puts just ±0.02° of accuracy in your hands so that turning the remote is just like turning the lens itself. It also features high torque and a fast reaction speed so you can keep your subject in focus no matter how it moves.
The video published by DJI demonstrates how the DJI Focus system works. On the ground, the remote control transmits at distances of up to 100m with just 14ms of lag in open space. Attached to an Inspire carrying either the Zenmuse X5 or Zenmuse X5R, it connects directly to the aircraft remote, giving you seamless camera control across your entire flight range.
DJI seems to have covered all the possibilities with the DJI Focus. They indicate that “while cinema lenses feature built-in hard stops, photography lenses do not. On the Focus you can tune the lens to match the end-points of any lens you want to use. Because it uses a brushless motor, the onboard processor knows exactly which position the motor is in, letting you set up in seconds simply by turning the lens to infinite and marking it, then repeating at the other end.”
The Focus wheel is also customizable, so different users can calibrate it the way they prefer to pull focus. The stiffness or looseness of the focus wheel can be adjusted simply by turning a control knob, so it feels right in the hand. A white marking ring around the focus dial can be swapped out and customized instantly using everything from masking tape to wax pencil for different lenses or projects. A light behind the ring illuminates it from behind ensuring markings are visible even on a dark set.
An OLED display menu on the remote lets you fine-tune how the Focus works for you. You can even set multiple focus points, and the speed the camera racks between them making complex moves simple and repeatable. Full compatibility with the DJI Zenmuse X5 camera series is built in, giving you absolute control of your camera focus when in the air. Once connected to the Inspire remote (you need a dedicated CAN Bus cable for the Inspire 1 remote controller that is not included with the DJI Focus), control of the X5 series is transmitted through Lightbridge providing control up to 5km away. DJI indicates that “you need to connect the Focus Remote Controller and the X5 Adapter using the DJI Focus – Osmo Pro/RAW Adaptor Cable”, which is coming soon.
The DJI Focus was designed with two ports built in, so that as technology develops and improves you can expand your Focus with even more features and capabilities. It is also possible to connect other accessories to the Focus or even connect it to other pieces of your equipment. A built-in rosette mount means it can be fitted wherever you need it securely.