Modern DSLRs can shoot some pretty impressive video footage, but unfortunately their small and often fiddly focus rings aren't quite cut out for creating cinematic masterpieces which require smooth and accurate focus. The Lens/Focus Shifter is a lens mounted follow focus which claims to offer DSLR film-makers and photographers a professional solution to this problem … on a budget.
While the soon-to-be Kickstarter funded Lens/Focus Shifter (makers can't decide on the name yet and are asking backers to help them decide) isn't the first DSLR follow focus solution we've seen (there's been the DSLR Follow Focus and the wire-attached Okii), it appears to strike a nice balance between functionality and cost.
The Lens/Focus Shifter consists of a lever which attaches around the focus ring of your DSLR lens via a toothed rubber gasket strap that can be loosened or tightened by spinning the ball at the end of the shifter. This lever is then moved to give more precise control over your focusing than you would have with your bare hands.
There's also a marker board which attaches to the lens with an elastic band and allows users to mark focus points using a dry-erase marker and then quickly switch between them by moving the shifter. Adding clips to the marker board also means users can add "hard stops" for focus points that they want to move between.
Maker Microfacturing says the Lens/Focus Shifter works with any DSLR lens with diameters from 56mm (2.20 inches) to 98 mm (3.86 inches) - meaning it will be equally usable on a nifty fifty or a 70-200 mm 2.8 lens. It's also said to be of benefit to photographers by improving manual focus speed and accuracy, particularly when using lenses with a shallow depth of field.
The Lens/Focus Shifter is currently heading towards a Kickstarter funding target of US$19,000. A pledge of $45 gets you a shifter, two focus marker boards, a fine tip dry-erase marker, and the ability to cast a vote on whether the product should be called a Lens Shifter or a Focus Shifter.