Is the smallrig magicfiz worth it? Is Magicfiz good enough for professional use? What are the drawbacks of the magicfiz?
Hey filmmakers Chung Dha here, I have used the MagicFIZ on quite a few projects now, to see how well it works in a real world environment and it became my main follow focus that I carry in my 1st AC bag.
I used the MagicFIZ with proper Cine Lenses like the Zeiss CP3, Angenieux ez, DZOFILM, Sigma cine, but also affordable Samyang cine lenses. The focus motors are powerful enough to move the lenses fast enough for me to accurately pull focus and there is no delay when they are powered correctly.
One major plus point of the MagicFIZ remote compared to other brands I have used is the battery life, combining the remote and the grip with an LPE6 battery I could use the remote multiple days without needing to recharge it. It is definitely a focus unit that I can use for professional work as I already have done so.
Operating the remote is pretty straight forward, Hold record button to start up. If you hold the mark button it can remotely calibrate the motors, but there is an odd message before it which I can do without, as for a long time I thought I could not calibrate due to that. Then to access the up down buttons are to switch channels which can happen too easily also on the motors, but there is a lock button you can press on the remote, but I could not find a way to lock the motors as I had a few times the camera operator accidentally change the channel on the focus motors.
First thing you might notice is that my focus knob is different from what is advertised. I 3D printed a more proper marker ring for it, so I can tape it better and mark the distance on it easier, than on the stock angled marker ring. Also it still works with the built in LED,to light up the focus ring. But I do have to say at night, it is quite hard to see the arrow on the body of the remote. But I do hope Smallrig would release a better focus knob as an accessory, the current knob is actually a cover that reveals a smaller knob, so smallrig could release a more pro cover with a better ring.
One upgrade I would want to see with the MagicFIZ is the mark system, as limiting focus is a really bad system when camera and actors dont always move the same. A better system is for me to mark the focus, but when I move focus onto the mark the remote vibrates so I know I am at the focus I have marked but also can focus beyond it when needed. There currently is a vibrate feature in the remote, but it is programmed to vibrate when the motor is locked, which for me a warning on the screen is enough. I rather have a marker vibrate feature like on other more expensive focus remotes.
Also you might have noticed I never used the advertised NPF mount to power the motors, as from my experiences the motors become much weaker and laggy. The best way to power the motors are via the dc or d-tap cables that are not included in the package and are sold separately, as the motors would get a higher voltage and enable focus without lag. I suggest buying both cables as you never know which ports are available on certain camera rigs.
Though there is a record button, this feature isn’t really available for professional cinema cameras,as currently there are no cables to start stop any Arri, REDs , Panavisions and more. This feature seems to be made for mirrorless cameras when looking at the available cables. But I hope this could change in the future making the magicfiz compete with more expensive follow focus. There is also a built in bluetooth to connect to a camera, however it seems it also it quite limited which camera you can connect it too and can’t connect to like a blackmagic pocket which works with bluetooth also while those are more the class of cameras the magicfiz should be orientated too.
Though this is advertised as a FIZ unit it is more. Focus and iris or zoom as you can control only two motors with a single remote with grip. The focus knob for focus and on the grip there is a dial to control the 2nd motor. However this ain’t a major issue as rarely need to use more than one or two motors for most shoots and rarely need to control all 3.
Another thing that is not advertised right is the 100 meters distance. The maximum distance I was able to reach was 35 meters with line of sight and would lose signal further than 35 meters, though there aren’t a lot of situations where you need to be that far away from the camera. But 99% of the time 35 meters is enough.
Also tried focussing in a more extreme situation which is focussing from one chase car to a 2nd car where the camera is filming. Though I don’t know the actual distance, it was really difficult to keep a connection on the remote and also for the video transmitter. The only way I could focus was to sit in the trunk of the car that has the camera.
The reason why I use the MagicFIZ and kept using it for many more projects is that I can trust it, from using it on different projects over several months, I haven’t encountered major issues with it and also have replaced a different brand remotes which had issues with my MagicFIZ.
I can see a starting focus puller start with the basic kit and buy the additional cables and over time upgrade the system with the grip and motor. Which I did that myself.
MagicFIZ – https://amzn.to/3x5N5m3
Hopefully Smallrig would listen to my request as it would definitely level up the Magicfiz.