NAB 4: New Zacuto products including innovative follow focus on hand grip the “Tornado”

ETHICS STATEMENT: Zacuto have been my longest site sponsor and they make terrific accessories for all sorts of cameras. I have been a loyal customer ever since I bought my first rig from them 5 years ago. They have also become great friends of mine through “Critics” and “Filmfellas”. Please read more on my ethics statement page here. I wouldn’t recommend their gear if I didn’t rate it as the best.

It’s a been almost a week since NAB finished, so sorry for delay with this… I have been hard at work on the 3 day filmmakers masterclasses in Vegas and now prepping for the one in Key west starting Friday. 

I didn’t get a chance to see anywhere near as many new toys at the show as I would have liked. Too many speaking engagements and meetings with not enough time to explore! Of course I did get to see the new Kessler and Zacuto gear. I will be covering the new Kessler gear in a forthcoming post, but here is a little info on the new Zacuto stuff. Most importantly their new recoil kit for cameras like the C300, Red, F3, FS100 etc which can also be used for DSLRs. It’s the lightest shoulder rig I have used and the most comfortable. It needs to be used with the EVF but its positioning of the camera on the shoulder is easily the most natural position for the camera. With their new follow focus attachment, the Tornado, you can mechanically control your lens from the handgrip – using a rig like this suddenly becomes about 10 x easier! No more letting go of the handle to adjust focus.

This cool and innovative idea is covered by my friend Edi Schneider along with other cools bits on his video below. Also below is Matt Allard who made the video with my friend Dan Chung.

The recoil kit is for sale now but the follow focus add on and light are not out yet. Soon….Click here to order and see more.

Zacuto NAB News 2012 from Schneider Productions on Vimeo.

NAB 2012: Zacuto Recoil rigs and Tornado remote mechanical follow focus on Canon C500, C300, Sony FS100 and Red Scarlet from Dan Chung on Vimeo.


    1. If they can make the thunderbolt output HDMI then yes, if not you need to look for a SDI – HDMi solution or wait for Zacuto to come out with a SDI version.

      Technically thunderbolt should be able to output HDMI but if this is the case on the BM cam, someone should ask them.
      Would love it to work because then all I need is the body, have everything else.

      1. If the thundrbolt doesnt work, You could use a SDI – HDMI converter from decklink and plug the evf finder I don’t think it will be that hard.

  1. Really looking forward to the recoil/tornado kit, I think this kind of follow focus unit is what w have all Beenwaiting for.

    On a seperate note, your looking so much more healthier Phil since Xmas time! You should do a post on how to stay in shape as a travelling camera man?

  2. The Tornado should work on any large chip camera with a detachable lens, no? A lot of camera models are mentioned above, but I didn’t hear an AF100 mentioned once. If it will work with the AF100, I’m in!

    1. All you need it rods to mount it and a lens with the right gears to operate it, the focus system is not limited by the camera, I guess the electronic remote control is?

  3. Any word on price?

    This is an operators dream tho, very excited to get my hands on this, myself and others have been talking about this same product for over a year happy to see Zacuto made it!

  4. That’s just the daftest looking thing yet! As soon as you start branching off of the camera like that you start restricting yourself. Good old fashioned shoulder rig is the way forward, keeping it all as compact as possible.

    1. Having the camera right on your shoulder is ideal as this one does. Way lighter. But with any rig how do you operate the lens that isn’t on an ENG camera?

      This is very clever and it works. When I hold a grip I can’t operate the focus or the iris. This is great!

  5. Philip may not have seen all of NAB, but NAB surely saw a whole lot of him. That’s some 70’s porno quantities of chest hair, Playboy! All you need is a gold crucifix nestled down in that thicket to complete the look! 😉

    More apropos however, this rig is pretty clever. Not the whole shoulder mounted thing since the Letus MCS stuff started all of that and it’s hilarious to see them all follow suit, especially Zacuto who has many an attractive model posing with 10 pounds of counterweight on 3′ of 15mm rods behind the operator in their promo material. But hey, whatever works. The Tornado bit is pretty sick though, and I’m curious how it compared to a system like Red Rock’s micro follow focus which by all means is far more flexible in the long run. Knowing Zacuto it’ll be priced pretty steeply but I hope it works on rigs other than their own.

      1. I’m not sure if you’re being fasciitis but I’ll play along as the dim Colonial. 😉 The whole Red Rock system isn’t even out yet and frankly seems as rare as rocking horse sh*t, so yeah I’m sure Zacuto will deliver first. But if you genuinely didn’t see it at the show, the RR system has a little tethered thumb wheel, knurled, that attaches to their grip, and functions in a very similar “focus on the grip” fashion.

        I would think the Tornado would yield better results since it uses both a more direct attachment via cable and large muscles (whole hand) versus small delicate muscles of your fingers to control the RR. That said the RR has a bunch of other methods to control it (iOS device, a fly by wire FF knob, and the standard remote focus AC setup).

        1. Honestly I didn’t know they had one. I will look it up! I didn’t get a chance to see much at the show! But I am still waiting on the 2 years overdue iphone remote follow focus and the EVF! Love their rigs but some products just never seem to come out.

          1. The RR system is a wireless remote with a tether option and full sized follow focus knob or thumb wheel control to put on the right. Works with torque motors and starting price is $1500 up to something like $2900 for full kit with wireless.

            I don’t think you can really compare the two. Zactuo’s solution is more like a whip turned FF control with some clever ergonomics. No electronics, no battery, no problems.

  6. I don’t get this direction in design. It might be great if I only ever shot from above shoulder height. Ever user’s neck is craned to the side to adjust to the unnatural positioning of the contraption; it may be lightish, but how soon will your neck give out? Would it even be possible to transition to a waist or ground level shot? The C300 especially is already a heck of a tall wobbly goblin in full battle dress; why raise its COG higher?

    There are a few rigs I’ve seen that seem to get it right: Aaton (ok, that cam doesn’t even need a rig, and has a slightly different clientele), Westside AV, Zack Zamboni’s F3 rig… Instead of moving the controls to your hands (except the tally of course), get your hands closer to the controls. That’s the direction I went with my $50 AF100 shoulder mount, and it just works. No aches, no craning, less fumbling and compromise.

    1. Honestly it feels great on the shoulder. Having shot a handheld with a traditional rig on the C300 with counterweight this is way nicer. I would only need the focus on the grip if I had no 1st AC though. Otherwise less of an issue.

  7. Glad to see Zacuto is going for more streamlined designs and make stuff specifically build for camera models instead of these mecano puzzles that just add more weight then function. When i trick out my 5D with all the Zacuto stuff I want to use right now, it’s a 15lbs package which is a bit of a bad jokes really. Although it is great to shoot with 😛

  8. The Recoil rig is sweet. This old video shooter tried it out for a while at NAB and, I was impressed with the light weight and balance of the rig. I could wear it all day. It just feels natural.

    Great product. Thanks Steve.

    Philip, thanks again for finding my long lost twin brother…

  9. Did you see the Edelkrone rigs by any chance? They have some really innovative looking, and inexpensive rigs. I was wondering how they stack up with all the other stuff out there. It seems like they aren’t just following the bunch, but doing some innovating. One has a followfocus in the handle as well and their Pocket Rig looks really great for traveling. There’s a good video on Cinema5D:

  10. I’ve been looking for a solution like this, but for tripod use in a live event situation. I’d love to use DSLRs or these new large sensor cameras but there has been no method for control of iris, zoom and focus when the camera is mounted on a tripod out of reach of the operator that I have come across. Do you think that this focus control could be adapted for such an application?

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