SmallRig has introduced a couple of new filmmaking tools at an affordable price. In this review, I’m focusing on the 420 Mini Follow Focus. Make sure to check out the $99 Matte Box review coming soon.
An entry-level follow focus is great for using with stills lenses or cinema modified lenses, and that is what I feel is the best use for the new SmallRig Mini Follow Focus. It retails for only $99, making it an affordable accessory for filmmaking and video production when using smaller/lighter setups.
Mini Follow Focus Kit
- Mini Follow Focus
- M0.8-43T Gear
- Φ15mm Rod
- Rod Clamp (with NATO rail)
- Tie-style Focus Gear Ring
- Allen Wrench
For the most part, you get the standard accessories with the SmallRig Mini Follow Focus, but you also get an interesting addition of a SmallRig 15mm Rod Clamp (retail value $19.00) that doubles as a NATO rail. Nice touch. If hardware takes up valuable space, it might as well be used to mount other stuff on top of it.
This piece of kit can be attached to a cage to add a rail for the following focus. Its universal design means you will have to figure out if it’s helpful or now, but I like that you have an option. I found it to work just fine on a Z Cam cage. If you don’t use a riser with rail rails, this little guy can come in handy.
There is a lot of composite plastic on the Mini Follow Focus. This isn’t a bad thing as it keeps the cost down as well as the weight. I think plastic or composites get a bad rap a lot of time for being considered cheap. We have come a long way in these materials, and they are very durable, but with that said, they can vary in strength.
The wheel feels like plastic, and the base is also.
The mounting hardware is metal, including the locking knobs. The gears are also plastic.
For a $99 follow focus SmallRig includes features that you need. One main one is the A and B stops plus the retractable AB hard stop that is affixed on top of the wheel. This allows the wheel to have free movement when the A and B stops are in place. While this is a small thing, it’s necessary to have unrestricted movement of the wheel. It is spring-loaded and stays in place when set for hard stop use.
The AB stops are classic design finger tightening pins. The pins can be removed if they are getting in your way.
The focus wheel is small at 4.57 cm or 1.8″. It has a textured rubber cover with a nice grip and a slight V shape to it that I’m not fond of. I prefer a flat surface as it would feel more comfortable. The wheel can accommodate a standard whip or crank.
The first thing you want in a follow focus is a smooth wheel. The SmallRig Mini Follow Focus has a nice smooth dampened feel. It’s not too little or too much. I’m not too fond of sloppy or loose wheels when using stills lenses as they are hard to make a smooth focus ramp in and out. The dampening on the follow focus sort of makes up for the lack of it on these lenses.
The marking wheel is not removable. It has two indents marking a half turn.
The kit includes one 0.8-43T gear. You can purchase a 0.8 65T and 0.8 38T as well. The gear can be mounted on the front or the back to accommodate positioning. This is helpful for lenses with iris adjustment as you can put the gear in the back as well as switch the side of the camera for better positioning. I didn’t notice any backlash. That’s impressive at this price point. The kit includes one universal lens gear.
The mounting hardware is all metal. It has one main 15mm mount on the base, and an included extension that can be used to articulate to get the gear into the right position. This is handy for an over-the-top setup or when the rod is at an unconventional distance from the lens. One side is a 15mm male, and the other is a female 15mm mount. It ships with the arm attached and can be removed with a simple threaded cap.
Several Accessories Available
SmallRig has a good collection of accessories for the Mini Follow Focus 420.
- 0.8 65T Gear – $13.90
- 0.8 38T Gear – $13.90
- Φ62.5-Φ64.5 Seamless Focus Gear Ring 3291 – $2.00
- Φ66-Φ68 Seamless Focus Gear Ring 3292– $2.00
- Φ72-Φ74 Seamless Focus Gear Ring 3293– $2.00
- Φ75-Φ77 Seamless Focus Gear Ring 3294– $2.00
- Φ78-Φ80 Seamless Focus Gear Ring 3295– $2.00
- Φ81-Φ83 Seamless Focus Gear Ring 3296– $2.00
In the super affordable range, you will find many products available. I reviewed the Tiltaing Mini Follow Focus and found it to be a good product at this $99 mark. Neewer, Yelangu, Opteka, and LanParte are also in this space and, of course, a lot more in the higher end.
It’s great to have affordable tools for smaller rigs or just an entry-level follow focus for occasional use. I like how SmallRig added features that you need in a follow focus, such as the hard stops and retractable stops to have a full rotation with the stop pins in place. The clamps lock down nice and tight, and the knobs can be realigned by pulling up and rotating them.
The gear can be changed to 0.8 65T or 0.8 38T and can be attached on the other side for the iris or if you like to move it to the opposite side of the lens. Options are great to have, especially at this price point.
If you are on a budget or want a lightweight compact, follow focus. The SmallRig 420 Mini Follow Focus ticks a lot of boxes at only $99. For a limited time, B&H has them for $79.00.
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