Adding follow focus gears to photo lenses can be a bit of a hassle. I’ve certainly experienced that over the years. Until recently I’ve been using various temporary gears that I would swap between my lenses, but like everyone else who has had their hands on cine lenses, I really wanted to invest into more or less permanent 360° gears. Metal ones like those made by TLS in UK and Duclos in US are amazing but pretty expensive, especially if you buy them for a whole set of lenses and although I really like the idea of 3D printed gears, like those made by Helicopterean, I’ve heard that they have to match the lens very closely. Even 1mm out and they won’t hold well, because plastic surface doesn’t create too much friction. Those who have access to a 3D printer or use very common/popular modern lenses (gear sizes tested multiple times) will probably be very happy with 3D printed gears, but for an average vintage lens user like myself they are still not the cheapest and certainly not the most straightforward solutions.
This is where my latest discovery comes in, the LUX-GEAR, made by a US based company COOL-LUX.
Unlike the 3D printed gears, LUX gears have a compression fit, which means that there is much more tolerance for an error on your side when measuring the lens. No need to buy a caliper and hope that your measurements are perfect. A simple PDF ruler (US / UK), which you can print out yourself is everything you need to figure out which gear size will fit your lens. The whole process is pretty effortless. Since LUX gears have a bit of a stretch, they will work with any lens that fits into the chosen range. For example, even though all of my 29mm, 35mm, 50mm, 136mm Carl Zeiss Jena primes have slightly different different sizes, all of them fit into the 60-61 range, so I can use same gear with all of them if I want to, but here is another reason why I like these gears so much: they are the cheapest 360° gears I’ve come across (unless you print them yourself), so buying gears for a whole set of lenses is as affordable as it has ever been. The only downside in pricing (at the time of writing) is a lack of European distributor, which means any order (large or small) from COOL-LUX lands a $75 European shipping fee (US shipping is $8). I’ve inquired about it and I’m being told that there will be European distributors soon (maybe I should become one? 😀 )
I’ve been using LUX-GEARs for just over a month now and so far they work great. It’s hard to say how long they will last, since their rubbery material, (high-durometer silicone to be more precise) is obviously not as though as metal, but they cost accordingly too and if I need to replace one in a few years time it certainly won’t be a big deal.
Overall I’m really liking these gears. They really improves the focusing experience, especially with smaller lenses like Helios 44-2, even when focusing by hand. I can’t wait to get my Zeiss Jena set back from servicing and de-clicking to get them another step closer to “mini-cine primes” with addition of these gears!
Lastly, below is a little list of vintage lenses that I measured out to see what gears they would need. Not all have been checked with the actual gear yet, so please treat it as a reference rather than an official size guide:
Canon FD lenses:
- 17mm F4 (Breach-lock version) – 68-69 (checked)
- 20mm F2.8 (S.S.C. Breach-lock version) – 68-69 (checked)
- 28mm F2.0 (S.S.C Breach-lock version) – 66-67 (checked)
- 28mm F2.8 (nFD Bayonet version) – 62-63 (checked)
- 50mm F1.4 (nFD Bayonet version) – 62-63 (checked)
- 50mm F1.2 (nFD Bayonet version) – 64-65 (checked)
- 55mm F1.3 (FL Breach-lock version) – 68-69 (checked)
- 85mm F1.8 (S.S.C. Breach-lock version) – 66-67 (checked)
- 85mm F1.8 (nFD Bayonet version) – 62-63 (checked)
- 100mm F2.8 (nFD Bayonet version) – 62-63 (checked)
- 100mm F2.8 (S.S.C. Breach-lock version) – 66-67 (checked)
- 135mm F2.5 (S.C. Breach-lock version) – 68-69 (checked)
Carl Zeiss Jena MC (Multicoated) M42 mount:
- 20mm F2.8 Flektogon – 72-73
- 29mm F2.8 – 60-61 (checked)
- 35mm 2.4 Flektogon – 60-61
- 50mm F1.8 Pancolar – 60-61
- 50mm F2.8 Tessar – 62-63 (checked)
- 135mm F3.5 – 60-61
- “Contax” Planar T* 50mm F1.7 (C/Y mount) – 60-61 (checked)
- “Contax” Tele-Tessar T* 200mm F3.5 – 78-79
- Biometar MC 80mm F2.8 (Pentacon Six/P6 mount) – 68-69
Soviet M42 mount lenses:
- MIR-20M 20mm F3.5 (KMZ factory) – 90-91(checked)
- MIR-1 37mm F2.8 (ZOMZ factory) – 60-61 (the lens barrel is too small, would need extra padding to work)
- Helios 44-2 58mm F2.0 (KMZ, VALDAI factories) – 60-61(checked)
- Helios 44-3 MC 58mm F2.0 (MMZ factory) – 62-63 (checked)
- Helios 44m-4 58mm F2.0 (VALDAI factory) – 62-63 (checked)
- Jupiter-9 85mm F2.0 (LZOS/KMZ factory) – 64-65 (checked)
- TAIR-11A 135mm F2.8 (KMZ factory) 68-69 – (checked)
Other popular Vintage Lenses for video:
- ISCORAMA 42 MC 1.5mm Anamorphic Lens – 86-87 (checked)
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Would you like the sizing for the Yashica ML primes? 24, 28, 35, 135? Drop me an email.
Very interested in a set of these especially if they are going to hold up better than the 3D printed versions.
I’d love to give them a try, but the shipping cost to Europe is 75$.
hey im gonna buy some … cuz i have a friend that is gonna bring them ..
Would be nice if you would be the European distributor, especially if it could in anyway help finance your fine site. win-win
[…] It has been a while, but VFLV giveaways are back with something special. I’ve teamed up with COOL-LUX to bring you an opportunity of owning a set of COOL-LUX FOCUS GEARS. If you aren’t familiar with these 360 degree follow focus gears, check out my in-depth review here. […]
[…] Cool-Lux Follow Focus Gears (my review here) […]
Some Canon new FD sizes for your list:
Canon nFD 24mm f2 – 62/63
Canon nFD 35mm f2 – 62/63
Canon nFD 50mm f1.4 – 62/63
Canon nFD 85mm f1.8 – 62/63
Canon nFD 135mm f2 – 72/73
Canon nFD 50mm f3.5 Macro – 60/61
Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 – 78/79
A European stockist would make the difference between me buying a full set of these and not.
you can buy then from B&H, the shipping cost is around 15 USD
Hi, by any chance, would you know the size of gears for Zeiss Contax 28mm f2.8 and Zeiss Contax 100mm f2 lenses?