Ronin-S Focus Motor 1-Line Review: Excellent build quality and concept, in urgent need of a firmware update.
This isn’t the first accessory I’d buy for the Ronin-S. But for those, like me, who love to focus manually for full creative control, DJI’s Focus Motor is a must-have. Unsurprisingly, I ordered it on the first day it was released. Below is a short review of the Ronin-S focus motor.
Focus Motor made for the Ronin-S’s included focus wheel. Works with industry-standard .8mm focus gear strips, making it compatible with many cinema and photography lenses.
In the box:
metal Rod mount
2x metal 15mm rods of varying length
4x Screws (1 is spare)
2x Focus gear strip
Anyone who owns a Ronin-S and wants to control focus, aperture or zoom via the Ronin-S’s thumbwheel.
Build Quality and setup
The metal motor housing has heft and seems well made, inspiring confidence. The rod mount and two included 15mm rods of varying length are also metal. The only item which causes me to pause is the two plastic focus gear strips. Time will tell if they will take professional use.
Hardwire installation was easy, and the extra screw is a nice touch since it doesn’t seem to be a standard size or type you’d find at Home Depot. I also updated my Ronin-S’s firmware which was painless and straightforward via the software download on their website.
The focus motor needs calibration before it can control the full range of rotation. Auto-calibration for lenses with mechanical limits is a breeze: double-click the button on the focus motor or wheel and the motor finds the hard stops at either side. A long press of the focus wheel button quickly changes the direction of
Sadly I hit a brick wall when trying to calibrate my focus-by-wire Sony G-Master lens. Any lens which lacks mechanical limits on its focus ring requires manual calibration. Unfortunately, the firmware at initial release does not work as it should. Major poo poo!
- build quality & materials
- Strong motor – strong enough to control the zoom on the very-sticky Sony G-Master 24-70mm f2.8 lens
- Easy Auto-calibration for lenses and zooms with mechanical limits
- Knob feel – well-dampened knob allows for smooth moves and great control (when you can calibrate it)
- As of the writing of this article, manual calibration does not work for lenses lacking mechanical limits
- Added weight means I need to work out more #doyouevenlift?
TIP FOR BALANCING ZOOM LENSES
When the focus motor is used to control zoom, if your lens is like mine and changes length – and balance – when zoomed, balance the camera mid-way through the zoom range. This will save battery and motor life. Alternatively, balance your zoom lens at the focal length you most often use.
Great for use with cinema lenses with mechanical limits and zoom control. Not great (with firmware at release) for non-cinema lenses which lack mechanical limits.
WRAPPING UP … FOR NOW
So do I regret getting the Ronin-S focus motor at initial release? Surprisingly the answer is no. I was pleasantly surprised by the motor’s strength and feel. I’m strangely glad I couldn’t get it to work as a focus motor on my lens because it pushed me to test it as a zoom ring control. The Sony G-Master 24-70 f2.8 zoom ring is so tight; I was skeptical the focus motor would have enough torque to control it but was thankfully proved wrong.
Though I couldn’t calibrate the Ronin-S focus motor to my focus-by-wire lenses, I am hopeful DJI will release a firmware update rectifying this issue. Hopefully soon :).