Filmpower Nebula Focus: be your own focus puller

Filmpower have released the Nebula Focus, a clip-on follow focus unit designed for use on gimbals by solo operators. Focus can be incredibly frustrting to get right if you’re trying to use a gimbal on your own. Advances in AF tech have made it easier to get usable results, but can still be a bit hit and miss. The Nebula Focus is designed to make your life a bit easier and allow you to pull focus yourself without having to release your grip on the gimbal.

Sensor plus remote

The first part of the system is a camera-mounted sensor that can be attached via 15mm rods or directly to the hotshoe. It’s a combined receiver, motor and ultrasonic rangefinder that interfaces with standard 0.8pitch lens gears, that Filmpower claim is light enough to sit on top of your camera even when it’s mounted on a gimbal. The motor has a built-in battery, charged via USB, that Filmpower say has a run time of six hours.

The second unit is a remote control, designed to be used one-handed while you’re operating the gimbal (I suspect this could take a little practice) – it’s also possible to mount it to the bottom of a Filmpower Nebula gimbal via a screw-in bracket.

Bluetooth, infrared and ultrasonic

The remote communicates with the motor unit via Bluetooth and has a claimed range of 10m. Motor speed is configurable, and you can set A and B points for smooth automated focus pulls. The ultrasonic sensors built in to the motor report focus distance information back to the remote’s OLED display – this could be useful if you’re trying to focus on marks you’ve been able to measure. These sensors have a range of five metres.

There’s also an integrated infrared trigger that allows you to control record start/stop on Sony and Canon cameras remotely.

Possibility for autofocus coming?

Potentially more exciting is the possibility of the ultrasonic sensor system allowing AF with cine lenses in the future. This isn’t confirmed yet: Filmpower are only saying it “may get updated to achieve autofocus in the future.” Also in development is an app to allow remote control of the motor without needing to use the dedicated remote.

Nebula Focus price and availability

We’ve not had any hands-on time with the system yet but the Nebula Focus is available now for $650 US.

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