SmallRig is apparently one of the most productive companies in the camera accessory sector. Originally known with their affordable and high quality camera cages and small accessories, they have extended their product catalog with more complicated products such as LED video lights (RC120B Led Light Review) , battery systems ( VB99 battery review) , tripods and video heads (AD-01 Video Tripod Review), stabilizers and recently a new wireless follow focus system this year. You can check their full catalog on their official website.
Recently we reviewed the SmallRig MagicFIZ Wireless Follow Focus Two Motor Kit and will share our experience here in this post. For disclosure, we are not a typical user of Follow Focus systems but we wanted to see how(and if) we can integrate this system into our small productions and think that many of our readers will also be interested as these systems get much more affordable.
What is SmallRig MagicFIZ?
MagicFIZ is a wireless follow FIZ (Focus, Iris, Zoom) system which lets the user adjust one or two of the focus, iris and zoom of a lens simultaneously with included motors and wireless remote controllers.
This is a type of a system that only high budget professional shooters have access to in the past but with the recent introduction of more affordable products from various manufacturers, these systems became available for more shooters.
Do I need a Cinema Lens to use the MagizFIZ?
FIZ systems are originally designed for cinema lenses as they are mostly fully manual but can still be used with most of the regular photography lenses with the help of included snap-on gear rings.
What are the minimum requirement to operate the MagicFIZ follow focus system?
- At minimum, you need a camera cage or a structure to attach the motors to keep them in contact with your lens.
- Sony NP-F type batterries If you want to operate the motors without any cables
- Canon LP-E6 battery in case you want to operate the Wireless handgrip remote controller without a cable
- Extra adapters depending on your rig and accessories you are planning to use
What is in the the bag of the MagicFIZ Two Motor Kit
With the SmallRig MagicFIZ Follow Focus System Two Motor Kit, you get the following items:
- 1 x Wireless Handwheel Controller
- 1 x Wireless Handgrip
- 1 x Electronic Controller Module
- 2 x Wireless Receiver Motor
- 2 x Battery Plate
- 1 x Handgrip Adapter
- 1 x Shoulder Rig Adapter
- 1 x Monitor Adapter
- 1 x Φ15 Rod
- 1 x Rod Clamp with NATO rail
- 1 x Snap-on Follow Focus Gear Ring
- 1 x USB-C to USB-C Cable
- 1 x Follow Focus Marking Disk (Silicone)
- 1 x Spanner
- 1 x User Manual
- 1 x Carrying Bag
For the price point, we found the build quality really well. There is use of plastic parts which is understandable to keep the costs and weight lower, only carrying the heaviest cinema rigs may be of a concern.
The motors are lightweight and can either be powered via a snap-on battery or USB-C power cable. The motors feature a 0.5″ OLED display and has a peak torque of 0.5Nm.
The motor connects with the controllers on the 2.4GHz frequency spectrum, we haven't had any problems with connection during our review. The connection range is rated at 100m / 328′ with line of sight.
Batteries attached directly on the motors via battery plates reduces the cable clutter, good job SmallRig:
Wireless Handwheel Controller
The wireless handwheel controller features an OLED screen and buttons to operate the motor remotely. The buttons are labeled REC,MARK UP, DOWN, SET and LOCK.
There are also two different ports: USB-C port and Contact ports on the controller body for power and coomunications.
Handwheel has a built-in battery which is good up to 20 hours according to SmallRig. It can be charged via USB-C port. There is a battery indicator on the screen which is helpful.
The wireless handgrip can either be used as it is out of the box or by attaching the wireless wheel controller on top the grip:
The wireless handgrip can be powered with a Canon LP-E6 battery which is unfortunately different from the MP-F batteries that are used for powering the motor. The handgrip can also be powered via USB-C port.
Included Adapters and Accessories
Included with the kit are the Handgrip Adapter, Shoulder Rig Adapter, Monitor Adapter, Φ15 Rod and Rod Clamp with NATO rail.
Real World Experience
As we have stated earlier, we are not a FIZ system user and don't have dedicated cinema cameras or lenses so we have tested the MagicFIZ with a Sony Alpha A7 IV, Sony Alpha a6400 and various E-mount lenses. Getting the system to work for the first time wasn't too difficult even for us though as the pairing of the controllers and motor was very simple, it worked right out-of-the-box. Assembly was pretty straight forward although there are probably hundreds of different combinations depending on how you want to assemble and use the system, and all the accessories you will be using such as field monitors, stabilizers, battery systems, microphones, recorders, etc.
We have used the included gears to make the contact with the motors instead of making the contact directly with the lenses. Fine adjustment of the focus was flawless and the lag was minimal. This is where we realized that this follow focus system would work much better than rotating the focus ring by hand or relying on the autofocus system of the camera.
Calibration was not complicated, there are options for auto ir manual calibration but we have used the manual mode. The manual mode works well for the lenses that are fly-by-wire-focus types as these focus rings has no limits on either direction.
We have also tried to use the second motor to zoom in and out but the zoom lens was very stiff so it didn't work as good as the focus ring. System works very quite and didn't introduce any vibrations.
As a first-time follow focus system user, we really enjoyed using the SmallRig MagicFIZ and haven't encountered any major problem while doing so. Now we can think of many use cases where using this system would be much better and precise than focusing by hand or using the AF system.
If you are shooting alone and don't a have a second person assisting you, you don't need the two motor kit that we have reviewed though. We would start with the Basic kit for $300 whihc is quite affordable to be honest considering how much we sometimes spend for even the most minor equipment, and grow from there if you are thinking this is the direction you want to go.
MagicFIZ is available in three different configurations starting from just under $300 for the Basic kit and going upto $700 for the Two motor kit that we are revieving here.
What we liked:
- Motors can be powered by Sony NP-F batteries minimizing the cables
- Easy operation, ready for use in few minutes
- Two motors and two controllers great for focus/zoom, focus/aperture
- Included adapters cover a lot of assembly scenario
- Instant wireless connection
- Very short lag between the controller and motor
- Easy calibration
- Affordable entry point to follow focus systems
Things to improve:
- Two different types of batteries are used (Sony NP-F and Canon Canon LP-E6), would be good to have only one type of battery everywhere
- No built-in battery on the wireless grip
- The labels on the buttons of the wheel controller are hard to read, it would be good to have some kind of illuminated buttons, or at least different color on the labels.