I bought the D|Focus along with the marking disc & reference pin already in January 2010 and have used it on every single one of my shoots since I got it. Mine is V2 but there is a newer V3 already out. So I’m sure it’s only gotten better with the update.
To me the advantage of shooting with a follow focus is mainly erconomics and stability. When you are focusing using the follow focus the camera is less prown to move as you have a more stable grip. It’s also more intuitive compared to focusing directly from the barrel of the lens – I still forget which way is infinity and which is close focus!
With D|Focus it’s especially great that you can reverse the gear direction. It now works the way I feel is intuitive, when I turn the focus wheel towards myself (clockwise) the focus moves closer and when I roll it counterclockwise (away from myself) focus goes to infinity. If you do want to change the gear direction make sure the screw is tightening against the flat spot on the shaft! I didn’t realise that there is a flat spot and it kept slipping no matter how much tightened it. I destroyed the plastic threads because of this and had to drill a second hole on the opposite side of the plastic. A bit of DIY worked and it’s been fine ever since.
I’d never used a follow focus before this one so I can’t compare to other products. When you read reviews about follow focus units the reviewers usually focus on one thing especially and that’s how many millimeters of play there is. For practical use I feel that on this unit it’s so little that in real life it’s not going to effect your shooting. You know it’s there and can avoid it by taking it into account. It’s never been an issue to me.
I also later ordered the D|Crank but haven’t used it once. Maybe if you use a focus puller on some shots it might be cool to have. But I don’t think this is a very necessary accessory if you’re shooting alone.
The gears are alright, you can order them separately or in a package, I got three different size as all my Canon FD lenses are different size. For the Canon FD 85mm f1.2 L lens they’re the right size but for smaller lenses they’re quite bulky and big. In practice though this doesn’t really matter at all. It’s actually convinient that when you change the lens you don’t really have to adjust the D|Focus at all as the gear is always the same size. It takes a bit getting used to getting the gears straight but after a while it becomes a five second job to switch lenses.
I feel that for me the D|Focus does the job amazingly well, it should work with most cameras and lenses out there. Also you get fast responses and good info from David who makes them, which to me is the most important thing when buying equipment. The marking disc and reference pin are now standard with the V3 and it’s around 215USD with 3 lens gears included. D|Focus do not sell it directly from their site anymore (they do sell other accessories though) http://www.dfocussystem.com/ but have moved sales over to Jag35.
After a shoulder mount system this is propably the most important and used accessory for me.
– UPDATE 23.3.2015 –
I’ve sold my DFocus unit and purchased a Lanparte Follow Focus. Read my review here.