3rd Party Remotes

This provided by Mark at Village Voice:

The vivitar 8 button works fine, and actually is one of the best that I have. The loud click of the rocker is fixable : 3 screws in the back, open , locate the switch of the rocker, put a piece of paper on it, then seal with a gaffer tape, close, screws back and voila’: silent rocker and soft too!!! : functions that work on both AX100 and X70 : zoom speed (8 constant speeds plus a variable on pressure via a dial right on top of the remote). Info on screen on/off. Focus +/-, camera on/off , start/stop recording. The Varizoom VZrock should work as well (not tested by me but somebody has it and said that works). So the camera does read all the serial (RS232) commands from the remote. It depends on the remote. The vivitar (or ebenk) is complete (has it all). The vivitar comes with the female 2.5mm to sony av/r cable. What I like about the vivitar is that is cheap, reliable (I use it for more than a year) and the zoom rocker is vertical (which I like way more than the horizontal ones because is more intuitive). Now for what I do having a constant zoom speed selectable on the fly is priceless: a variable rocker on pressure can be a disaster if I push it too much by mistake while panning (I shoot sports , twice a week). So the vivitar stays in glory. No problem whatsoever on AX100 and X70.

more about the vivitar (ebenk) : in studio or posed/staged interviews I use 2 remotes (on a tripod with two handles). A simple adapter /splitter for 2.5mm allows the connection of two lanc remotes in chain: so I have the zoom on my left handle and the focus on my right handle (again using 2 remotes). so I stay on the focus with my right hand all the time and on the zoom rocker with my left. (I am left handed) . As it should be in studio, actually. The cost of a setup like that is ridiculous using two vivitar, considering what it offers.

Hey Mark,Are you sure that someone you know can actually use a Varizoom VZrock with the X70? I asked Varizoom and they told me that the VZrock is not currently compatible and that “they are working on a solution”.

yes I’m sure. And I believe that the problem may be the 2.5mm to av/r cable. well that’s what I’d guess … not like I care since I’m ok with my remotes and I don’t need another remote with just a variable rocker and a start/stop. I’d get the sony for that, at least goes to the usb(ish) port without any patch, no?

Look I don’t have much of… confidence in varizoom (great rocker don’t get me wrong) but their price list is stuck in the old times , when cameras for pro-sumers used to cost an arm and a leg . Today they build remotes for JVC , pricing what? 400 bucks? sure it’s a dedicated production (of a cord and a connector). So for sony usb(ish) how much it will be? 700bucks? look at the prices for panasonic, if you want iris and zoom then you have to spend a fortune, or zoom only for still lots of money. and bebob? and all the others… L O L no no.. I’m fine with two vivitar . anyway the only controller (lanc) with a speed limiter (like the vivitar) is the manfrotto (521 and the new one that I don’t remember). but still no focus. For that there is only one choice: ebenk or vivitar. and they both work right now.

This from Gary Fraiberg (lifted from the comments below):

Success! I ordered the Sony Multi Adapter Cable (SOVMCAVM1) and the Manfrotto Adapter Cable LANC/AV-R for Sony from B&H in New York. I attached the 522 LANC pan arm controller, connected the cables, et voila. It works flawlessly. Power on/off, Record stop/start and zoom. Focus works abysmally slowly, unless there is something deep in the menu that I can adjust. Using the lens barrel focus ring or the push button on the side of the lens barrel is much quicker for focus adjust

30 responses

  1. I know this thread has been been put to rest after a fairly exhaustive discussion. But I didn’t see anyone address the limitation that I find most troubling with these remote controllers: the slowest zoom speed (in my experience anyway with Sony cameras, and many others having read other forums) is simply not available. I shoot with a Z7U and the newer HXR-NX100. A simple test is to use the rocker on the camera and zoom through the entire lens range at the slowest possible speed, and see how long it takes. Then do the same thing using the remote. It’s been a while since I did this, but the difference was something like 65 seconds on the rocker and only 40 using the remote. I use an old Varizoom pistol grip and recently bought the Libec and a Varizoom Stealth which are both nice enough, but offered no improvement whatsoever in the slow zoom department. I brought this to Sony’s attention years ago, and they brushed it off as “well that’s the LANC protocol and it has it’s limitations…”. Whatever. I would love to see this hacked if at all possible to make the full range of speeds available remotely. I’m forced to use the zoom rocker in a job I do every year from a balcony 100 feet away trying to do smooth and subtle moves in the extreme long end of the zoom range, and I can sort of, but it’s nerve-racking and I can’t time it perfectly as the rocker does nothing until enough pressure gets it moving, but then sometimes too fast. I hate that! The lanc controllers make the whole “how much pressure to get a slow speed in motion” question a non-issue, and for a lot of situations they’re great, but for really slow zooms at the long end they’re really unusable, no matter what make and model apparently, as this limitation is in the camera, not the controller.
    Has anybody else here noticed this? You might not if you haven’t needed to shoot under these extreme circumstances. And does anyone know of any potential hacks or other workarounds??

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    • Years ago in the film industry we used a piezo-electric zoom controller that used a red knurled knob instead of a rocker. It worked on pressure applied by the thumb to the knob so it was easier to creep, ramp up and ramp down. I’ve forgotten the name of it, but it quickly became the industry standard. Haven’t been able to find anything similar for DV cams. They talk about ‘pressure sensitive’ rockers, but getting that rocker going is the trick. The red knob I’m talking about seemed to hardly move. It was stiff. But applied pressure translated to the zoom motor. Of course the zoom motors were external to the lens. I guess the internal ones have their limitations and therein lies the problem. These small cameras are not studio cameras and when you press them into studio-type service, you’re going to be disappointed.

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      • Yes, that’s certainly been my experience. The LANC protocol may be inherently limited in this regard. And then the implementation of that protocol in each camera may be even more to blame. With the Sony cameras I mentioned, it’s a deal-breaker–you gotta use the rocker to get the slowest speeds. I will dust off my old XL-1 and do the test to see if the slowest speeds are available with that. I recall having an easier time with the remote and that camera, but I also may not have been at the far reaches of the 16x zoom range. Will report back on that.

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      • Hi Mark,
        Thanks for the suggestion. I have a feeling that no external controller will help in the case of these Sony cameras as the limitation appears to be in the firmware or “LANC codes” or whatever. If you don’t mind, please do that test I mentioned where you zoom through the entire range with zoom rocker and with an external controller and compare the times. I will do that again with my old Canon and see if there’s a difference. One of the things that the popular Magic Lantern hack used for Panasonic (and maybe others) DSLRs is for better zoom performance, but no such firmware hacks exist for Sony cameras, DSLR or video cameras, at least as far as I know.

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      • Steve, I insist. Try the Vivitar! Funny that you mention the XL1 … I had it on that camera first , it was my first lanc controller actually and it worked beautifully on that camera too. I can assure you that on constant speed at level 1 the zoom will be fairly slow. I’m shooting PMW400 now, and I have to settle for that nonsense 8pin Fujinon idiotic interface . Sure I miss that Vivitar!!!!!! Anyway the Vivitar gives 8 speeds (constant) plus 1 Variable on Pressure. Amazing!. 20 bucks and change?. Just to report that I used to set the speed at level 4 because 3,2,1 were way too slow. But you can change it while shooting too!.

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      • Hi Everybody, I have a Sony HXR-NX30, which has the D shape connector instead of a lanc, and use the Vivitar RC800 remote with appropriate adaptor lead, and yes, I confirm it matches the slowest zoom speed of the camera itself if required, and at reliable constant speed without any jumpiness. The other functions also work for focus adjustment etc. Use it at weddings etc if I want a jerk-free slow zoom in or out during speeches or vows etc. Had it for a year now.

        Had to order it from the States but at $20, but fanatastic at that price. As someone else suggested, if the rocker click is annoying, you can open the unit up and get rid of it with a carefully place piece of paper or tape.

        John McKenzie

        >

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      • Steve about the panasonic (GH4) and their power zomm lenses (14-42PZ and 45-175) the Libec 3DV works fine (set as Panasonic of course). It doesn’t work on GH3, only on GH4

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  2. Hello. Thanks for the article. I bought two Vivitar and tried to reduce the clicking noise with paper, but sounds even. I decided to change the switches by other silent.
    I’ll tell you how it goes 😉

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    • Manuel , the paper is needed just to isolate the switch from the glue of the gaffer’s tape , which is the one in charge of reducing the sound of the click, not just the paper.

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      • Manuel, it’s almost silent with my vivitars : ok. try this: after you put the paper seal with gaffer’s tape but put it on the entire switch , in case you could always put one more layer of tape, but honestly 1 layer is enough. Just cover the whole switch with the tape. It should work
        good luck

        Liked by 1 person

  3. The Vivitar RC800 also works fine with my Sony HXR NX30, which has a slightly jumpy zoom control. I live in the UK, but the lanc to AR cable on its own would have cost the same as the Vivitar including the cable, so I ordered one from the States more in hope than expectation, thinking if the remote didn’t work I would at least have the cable to use with maybe a more pricey unit. But the Vivitar works fine with the camera, so I’m a very happy video bunny.

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  4. Have been trying to get into the 8 button remote to fix the clicking zoom button, I can only find one screw to undo but it will not come apart Mark said there were 3 screws but can only see one anyone have an answer to this.
    Thanks Bob

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    • Bob there are two more screws under the label (in front) , so 1 on the back and two in front. You peal off the label and you’ll see’em. .

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  5. Finally some exact info on remotes! But maybe someone can clear something out. Does the Vivitar remote override focus when in AF mode on the X70? Seems like the only thing missing on the Vivitar is the ‘focus mode’ button, like on the VariZoom VZ-STEALTH-LX (assuming that button would work…)

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    • the vivitar focus works only if the camera is already on MF. Plus the focus is very slow. If you get the chance to try the VZLX please check the speed of the focus and kindly report it in here (we’re al guests of Joe here) because I don’t know if it’sd slow because of the controller or because of the lens (but I have the feeling that’s the lens). I had the VZ (without the focus) and the little rocker is brilliant, but I still prefer a solid constant zoom that I can select and most importantly I can see on the remote. For example I start a sport coverage with zoom speed set at level 2 (slow) for the lineup and such, and when the game starts I switch to level 5. If I need a slower zoom again I see where the dial is set and adjust it before start zooming. That’s crucial for me, and the reason why I can’t really use the manfrotto 521 (because the dial is hidden in the back and I never know where the position is, so I have to test it while filming which is a nono for obvious reasons). But if a constant zoom speed is not crucial then the little rocker of the (old style) varizoom is the second best thing after the vivitar (both move vertically!) . Lemme explain how the VZ old style little rocker (they call it a throttle) works: you push it and the speed stays constant, you push it more and accelerate. Like a variable but more controllable. Clever but dangerous for my shooting style because when something happens on the field and I’m panning fast and zooming at the same time I HAVE to have a constant speed (regardless of how hard I push the rocker). That’s why I like the cheap vivitar.

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      • Exactly! This is becoming a standoff between (usable) focus and zoomcontrol. Will test and certainly report here. Unfortunately the VZLX is limited to just a couple of stores (where i can test), but i will gladly contribute to this tread!

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      • great, thanks. once we have a good focus controller then we could use 2 remotes in chain for each arm (manual focus would be mostly done on a tripod anyway). For a good zoom (vertical, constant) the vivitar is fine, and if the VZLX focuses faster then we are in business. so your report is very important!!! (I don’t want to put pressure on you or anything… ) 🙂

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    • ok no problem. I live in NYC and I’ll test it @B&H probably sunday. in the meanwhile you should get a vivitar (since is sold by the pound)… then put gaffer tape on the switch to shut up the click swhich is seriously loud.

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  6. Success! I ordered the Sony Multi Adapter Cable (SOVMCAVM1) and the Manfrotto Adapter Cable LANC/AV-R for Sony from B&H in New York. I attached the 522 LANC pan arm controller, connected the cables, et voila. It works flawlessly. Power on/off, Record stop/start and zoom. Focus works abysmally slowly, unless there is something deep in the menu that I can adjust. Using the lens barrel focus ring or the push button on the side of the lens barrel is much quicker for focus adjust. I’m glad I found your blog post.

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    • great. thanks to Joe and this excellent site! The focus (on lanc) is slow, not goof for (any kind of) action. But slow enough for micro adjustments in studio . But I agree that would be a good thing to have a focus speed setting of course. Like a better landing of the zoom as a matter of fact (like the canons XA10-20 that land the zoom beautifully). The X70 gives a good landing (of the zoom): never “brutal” but the canons are simply perfect. eheh we’re never happy, aren’t we?

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  7. I’ve got a 10 year old Manfrotto 522 LANC pan arm controller, and a six year old Manfrotto 521 (pre variable speed). They’ve served me well with a PD170, which was replaced by a Z5U. It would be great to able to use them with my new X70. On their web site, B&H recommends the Sony VMCAVM1 adapter cable together with the Varizoom VZ-AV/LANC Mini Audio/Video to LANC Converter Cable. I also see a Manfrotto LANC/AV-R adapter cable MA522AV. Any thoughts on the two (Varizoom – Manfrotto)?

    I love the X70, but using the remote control for zoom while trying to pan when tripod mounted is a bit awkward.

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    • The manfrotto 521 works with the X70 but I can only tell about the cable that I have (magnus). You can try the manfrotto or the varizoom avr to female lanc and if it doesn’t work then get the magnus. But I agree trying the manfrotto first. To make the story even more confusing (sorry about that) I have to report that I bought a second X70 and 2 more Vivitar and both work right out of the box with the included avr to lanc cable on both manfrotto 521 and vzrock. My first two patch cables did work with the vivitar but didn’t with those. So I guess that the quality of the cable makes a difference. Try the manfrotto first, absolutely.

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  8. I can confirm that both the Varizoom VZrock Lanc and the Libec 3DV lanc (set to Sony) work with the X70. My previous tests (failed) were done with 2 cables from the Vivitar 8-button (2.5mm female to Sony avr). Seems to me that the cable works only for the vivitar (doesn’t make lots of sense but that’s what happened). A third cable (Magnus lanc to avr bought at B&H) did the magic. The manfrotto 521 works as well , adding a zoom speed limiter -but it’s hidden in the back so you never know the current value, and guessing it while zooming won’t look good to the eye). Manfrotto gives a rotary dial (like the Vivitar) only for the handle-version. Again the setup for the X70 will be : get the USB to AVR cable (sony VMC-AVM1) then the magnus patch (ACM-SAVR) and connect the 2.5mm lanc controller.
    Note about the Libec 3DV : I like the rocker (with a long ramp and a nice landing) but I like to limit the final ramp to prevent the zoom from running too fast (that will look kinda “out of control” on the footage). so I glued a bar (foam) to make the landing of the rocker softer and at the same time limiting the extremes . Now it never gets too fast.
    Here’s a pic http://www.4shared.com/download/gLDPOcxCba/3dvfoam.jpg?lgfp=3000
    I did a mess with the glue (LOL) but the bar must be positioned equally for right and left rocker runs.
    My favorite is the Vivitar 8-button that comes in various packages: cobra crane (with AVR patch included) , ebenk and ProAm USA (without AVR) and of course Vivitar (VIV-RC-800 with avr patch) available at B&H , Focuscamera and ebay/amazon. Prices vary but it’s the same controller

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