SnapFocus is a clever camera gadget from Brandon David Cole. It’s a rig made from bike brake levers, cables and cogs, and it allows a single person to both operate a camera to shoot video, and to pull focus at the same time.
You know when you’re watching a movie and it’s focussed on a character’s face as he speaks in the foreground, with everything behind him a blur, and then suddenly the focus jumps to a person or object behind him? That’s pull focus, and it usually takes another person standing by the camera to do it.
There are also electronic versions, but the advantage of Cole’s system is that it is (relatively) cheap and it also gives the user great feedback. It is also dead easy to use: Once you have set the two limits of the pull, you just yank on the levers to switch between them. Squeeze one to focus closer, the other to focus far away. That’s it.
The rig isn’t self contained. It is designed to be used with any standard 15mm rod-mount system which — if you’re serious about shooting video with a DSLR — you will probably own already. If you don’t, Cole will sell you a shoulder mount along with the SnapFocus for $800. If you only need the SnapFocus, it’ll cost you $400.