Like a talented master artist living the life of a hermit, Chrosziel has been quietly innovating, designing, and building some of the industry’s best professional camera and lens testing equipment. They rarely make a splash, but when they do, professionals in broadcast and cinema always take the time to listen. With the introduction of the Chrosziel Zoomer, a universal zoom servo, this almost half-century-old company aims to bring a different mindset to zoom workflow.
Chrosziel has had great success with their CDM Zoom Servo Drives made for Zeiss, Fujinon, and Angenieux lenses. The Zoomer builds on this success and provides motorized zoom functionality to every lens via a 15mm rod connection. It won’t matter if it’s that newest glass on the market or some dusty vintage zoom you found in your grandad’s attic. At first glance, it would be easy to mistake the Chrosziel Zoomer for a wireless follow focus-style system. But there is more under the hood that makes this unit stand out.
What’s a Zoomer?
Apart from sharing the nickname used for members of Generation Z, Chrosziel’s Zoomer is a well-built unit with a full set of features to support its intended purpose. Powered by a 5-pin Lemo connector, the unit can handle between 10 and 30 volts and provides 0.5Nm of torque. A 2.5mm socket gives control command In and a 3.5mm socket gives you control command In & Out. The only other input is a USB port is used for firmware updates. Chrosziel even provides native support for the camera-specific control protocols built into the Sony FX line, as well as the well-known LANC protocol. The latter also having been developed by Sony.
By using these control protocols, the Zoomer integrates with the handles of the Sony FX line or any LANC compatible handle. Using the zoom rocker controls the zoom function, while the handle itself provides robust support for the camera operators. With this, Chrosziel brings a broadcast and documentary mentality to the everyday shooter. A great fit for a skeleton crew searching for a way to increase efficiency.
Finally, the power supply of the Zoomer has reverse polarity protection to prevent users from frying their electronics when the D-Tap cable is plugged in incorrectly. This is a welcome feature, especially for dyslexic camera operators like myself who have burned a few too many circuit boards. The LANC socket on the servo has also been optically decoupled. This is done to protect the signal line from unwanted voltage transitions to the camera.
Ok, boomer. What else does it do?
The Zoomer calibrates itself automatically when powered on. Which allows the unit to have amazing zoom accuracy and provide protection to the mechanical components of the lens. For Nikon owners like me who like to zoom in the wrong direction, the Zoomer can be placed on the opposite side in order to flip the direction. There are five shooting modes that can be used.
- EB/Documentary Mode: Gives slow zoom travel as well as fast focal length adjustment, perfect for documentary work. Zoom movements are automatically slowed down at the end of the mechanically given zoom range and give the movement a pleasant transition to standstill.
- Silent Mode: Spreads the response of the zoom rocker in the low range and allows continuous slow zoom movements. The maximum zoom speed is reduced.
- Live/Handcut Mode: Allows fast focal length adjustment when working with fixed image angles.
- Direct/Raw Mode: Transfers the operation of the zoom rocker directly to the digital motor without program intervention.
- Photo Mode: Supports the use of manual photo zooms by mitigating the uneven stiffness of the mechanical zoomring and applies a higher minimum speed.
Each shooting mode can be selected by pressing the zoom rocker switch for 10 seconds in the TELE end position. An LED on the servo housing indicates the advancement from one mode to the next. When powering on, the unit starts with the last selected mode.
So, do you need it?
Contrary to the universal nature of the unit, the Chrosziel Zoomer is a very specific piece of kit. It does one thing and it does it well. So well, in fact, it has a price to match. A whopping €1,750! You could probably get away with grabbing a Nucleus-Nano motor from Tilta at a fraction of the price and use it to zoom your lens. But you don’t see Nascar driving along with F1, do you? If you have to ask, you probably don’t need the Chrosziel Zoomer. But if you do need it, you probably already ordered one.
The Chrosziel Zoomer Universal Zoom Servo is currently available from Chrosziel’s website.
What do you think of the new offering from Chrosziel? Do you have their other products? Would buy this zoom servo for your camera kit? Let us know in the comments!