Hi everybody and a happy new year,
There already was a thread about the focus device I was interested in - but that started a bit biased for my taste, so I made up my mind to start all over with a new one.
If in need for a lightweight and affordable/shoestring budget single channel digital focus system, it seems like there are but 2 options at the moment: The Ikan (PD Movie) and the Cinegears system. As I like the design of the Cinegears better (receiver and motor in one package, 4 programmable stops on the remote) and there was a quite well documented group buy on RedUser.com with no drastically bad experiences I ordered a kit via Amazon.de (atm the only official shop Cinegears have in Germany).
What can I say: The kit arrived, it is reasonably well built and works as advertised. It adds just 370 grams to a camera package and so is a good option for a Pilot system.
Speed and lag: The standard motor does close to 3 revs/sec max and for the sake of smoothness there is a ramp phase with every acceleration of the motor. The lag is there but imo very acceptable. I can imagine that with large diameter lenses (proper cinema) the speed may feel too low, for my smaller diameter samyang glass (with shorter throw) I could even put on the smaller 0.8 gear for more torque.
Noise: The system is audible at fast movements, the tiny amount of play in the gear box does make a soft "click" at hard topspeed back/forth movements. But still okay for the sound department imo.
Precision: The system is precise, it does not drift, it remembers all settings when powered off. Of course the lens has to be fixed to the rig with a support so there is no play. The 4 programmable stops are easy to set. I did not check max range yet.
Handling: With Samyang VDSLR lenses (that are just geared manual photo lenses), there is no proper hard infinity stop. I found it practical to use the systems auto mapping and set infinity with one of the two hard stops on the remote (losing only about 4 mm of way). There is a manual mapping feature that is a bit too complicated (as you can't dial the stops in with the remote) imo.
Nice: Also the remote is quite light and compact, I was able to use it on the Pilot gimbal handle as it comes with a clamp (another reason I preferred the CineGears over the PD). Having 4 soft stop presets at your fingertip or using the remote as a thumb wheel is nice, although it gets a little cramped with the short gimbal handle and can get in the way of the top stage in some setups.
Things I don't like so much:
• Only one of the gears (the large 0.8 that is factory mounted) is made of aluminum, the 4 other gears are plastic. I'll see how long they will last.
• The tiny bit of play in the gearbox is acceptable as it is (it translates to less than 0.5 mm on the lens gear) - but if this changes for the worse, I'll have to contact Cinegears customer service and will only see then how professional they intend to be. At least, communication with them was quite fast. ;-)
Any questions? Fire away.
All the best, Frank