Today I am starting a feature on this blog called The Frugal DP, in which I will be doing gear reviews specifically aimed at the filmmaker who is trying to obtain great production value on a shoestring budget. I won't necessarily be looking for the best gear available, but the gear that provides the most bang for the buck.
An affordable follow focus has been a dream of mine for a long time. At one point I thought of trying to build one myself for my old Krasnogorsk K-3 windup Russian 16mm camera, but I never had access to the right tools or the mechanical engineering know-how to do it. Frankly, it would have been wasted on that camera anyway, but it would have looked cool. Now that there are finally some affordable follow focus-worthy cameras out there, equipment manufacturers have responded to the demand for them, and there are lots of follow focus options on the market. Most of them, however, remain extremely expensive (maybe not relative to traditional film equipment prices, but at least relative to a camera like the Canon 7D). Zacuto's follow focus units start at $1300. To me it doesn't make any sense to spend almost as much or more on an accessory like a follow focus than on your camera itself.