By site editor Dan Chung:
Once upon a time, focus servo motors were strictly limited to the high end of cinema shooting; they were prohibitively expensive and never seen on lower budget shoots. Each motor allows control of focus, iris or zoom via either a wired, or more commonly wireless, controller.
However, the arrival of lower cost large sensor cameras, brushless gimbals and innovative motion control devices has created a greater need to maintain precise focus when the camera is moving. The cost of wireless focus has also come down massively in the past few years. There are now several very cheap systems that use servo motors designed for radio controlled cars – but these are often noisy and don’t have the torque required to smoothly move stiffer lenses, especially cinema ones. Established manufacturers of professional systems have tried to tempt users into getting a ‘serious’ system by creating less expensive versions of their high end digital systems. C-motion, Heden, ARRI, Hocus Products, DVInside and RedrockMicro all sell wireless controllers, receivers and motors kits designed for mid level users.
Even so, these pro systems still cost thousands of dollars and a large part of that cost is the digital servo motor. With the higher end units you can usually use the motor of your choice with the popular Heden M26VE Digital Servo Motor, which costs around $2600 US. RedrockMicro have the reasonably priced microRemote Wireless Bundle starting at just under $2500. Chinese company Tilta have been working on a three motor remote system for some time that is supposed to be aggressively priced.
Viewfactor are the latest company to enter this market with their DLCM-1 lens motor. Recognising the need for small and lighter motors for use on drones and stabilisers, they are developing a new motor that weighs a mere 159g. They claim it can be easily mounted on practically any camera rig. The DLCM-1 uses a “custom high-resolution 10-bit optical encoder as well as a high-torque worm gear reduction to ensure accurate and responsive positioning” and Viewfactor claim it will work with nearly all third party wireless controllers.
The best thing about the DLCM-1 motor is its price: at $1245 US it costs considerably less than some rivals. Of course you still need to add an expensive controller and cables to that cost to make a complete system – but for brushless gimbal and Steadicam professionals, a motor at this price which is so small and light could be just the ticket.
The DLCM-1 is still in the production phase and Viewfactor is taking the opportunity to give prospective owners an insight into how the product is brought to life, keeping them regularly updated on progress via their blog. Delivery is expected in around 7 to 9 weeks.
Here are the official specs:
1- DLCM-1 Motor
1- 15mm Mounting Bracket
1- 0.8 pitch gear
Maximum Peak Torque 0.5 Nm (4.4 in-lb)
Maximum Speed 3.3 rev/second (180 rpm)
Encoder Resolution 10-bit (0.35 degrees)
Output Resolution 0.006 degrees
Output Gear 0.8 Mod
Weight (Includes Motor, Output Gear, and 15mm Bracket) 159 g
Power Consumption 3.4 Watts
Voltage 24 Volts Max
Operating Temperature 0°C to + 40°C (-32°F to 104°F)