Cinematography Mailing List - CML

Zoom Controls & Digital Primo

Don't know whether this is an HD issue or not, but I've have had a continual problem getting very slow, smooth zooms using the microforce control attached to the 8-72mm Digital Primo zoom, my workhouse lens when shooting with the Panavised F900.

At the really slow speed settings I need, the zoom gets "sticky" (sort of like hiccups, it momentarily hesitates now & then during the zoom) and requires an inordinate amount of thumb pressure to keep it continuous. Yet when I slightly increase the zoom speed and push less hard on the thumb control, I can't get the speed slow enough either. It's particularly hard to operate using a fluid head while having to push so hard on the thumb control, but giving the zoom control to the assistant instead hasn't helped either.

I went through four zoom controls on "D.E.B.S." never to solve the problem and now I'm ready to toss this zoom control on "Dot" out the window in frustration. So my questions are: could the problem lie in the zoom motor of the 8-72mm Digital Primo zoom? If not, are there better zoom controls on the market that allow super slow smooth zooms?


David Mullen, ASC
Los Angeles


I've had this exact problem on a couple of occasions...Once with a Microforce and Heden motor on a 25-250, and once with a Fujinon video lens and Fuji zoom control. As it turned out, each problem was traced to the lens and not the zoom motor or zoom control.

The 25-250 needed some pretty significant work done to solve the problem (or so I'm told, it was a rental lens) and the Fuji just needed some minor repairs.

Hope this helps.

Jeff Tanner
Ridgeland, MS

Hi David,

Have you tried the other Panavision zoom control?

It's a thumb-rocker type and is the alternative control supplied with their F900-on-a-ped camera package. As I recall it's fairly smooth, adjustable and may be less hiccup prone.

Randy Miller, DP in LA

I too went through this with the last Panavised F900's I shot (including the Primo Zooms). We went through 4 cables, two zoom motors, and three zoom controls with various problems in all of them.

I had a fully functioning and 'smooth at slow speeds' zoom only for the last 4 days of the shoot.

Good luck.

Roderick E. Stevens II
Director -o- Photography

The problem is definitely the zoom motor and not the control. I have had the same problem every time I've used the Panavision digital zooms.

My solution is to use a Preston FIZ unit which I almost always use anyway.

Steve Peterson 35 yrs. 600 1st AC.

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