I've had this unit for about a week, but was delaying the review because I was waiting for a firmware update. Now I have it, and I feel confident it's time to thoroughly review this guy! This review is on their newest system for sale, the Mk3 digital motor and receiver and the Mk2x5 controller with firmware build 1.0.1b. I also received a Pelican case from them.
The first thing that struck me was how well built it was. The motor and receiver are both CNC machined, solid, black finished aluminum. The controller is an extruded aluminum case. Everything feels weighty and without a doubt professional. If this is at all a concern of yours, don't even worry.
With the controller, the first ting that I noticed was the knob. It's a solid piece of machined aluminum and it feels fantastic. I'm not sure what voodoo they've put into it, but honestly it's a joy to use. It glides as you spin and has a sort of dampening when you hit each end stop. They claim 400 meters for range (which is just under a quarter mile!) And while I haven't verified it has that long a range, I have never lost a signal while using it. It has interchagable antennas, so I'd be curious to see if the range increases if you use bigger antennas.
The receiver is *tiny.* It supports three motors at once, and feels tough. Latency on the whole system is very minimal, and while it's there I don't personally feel it's enough to cause any issues. If it does, it has three different smoothing modes ranging from "oh god its butter" to "race car on a fighter jet." You can also fine-tune the response on the fly.
The motor I feel the same as the receiver. While it's a normal size, it feels beefy enough that it can take a beating. It has interchangeable rod clamps which are very easy to use.
What can it do?
The amount of features packed into it is also fantastic. This whole kit is 3d ready, with features like custom lens offset points and 1:1 tracking that you wouldn't expect to find on a unit this price.
Another cool feature are the focus "light helpers." Basically, you can set up to 30 points where the LED lights up when you go over that point, making a sort of "soft mark."
The downside, and why I feel the controller is the weakest part over all is twofold. First, the menu system is entirely based on a single RGB LED. This means you either have to memorize the "light pattern" combinations or use the manual. I used the blank space on the back of mine to make a little "cheat sheet" and luckily there's only about three you really need to know anyway. I would have loved to see an LCD screen, perhaps in later incarnations. Second, the marking disks are currently not interchangeable a (in my opinion) critical oversight. However, they will very soon release a fix for this.
The receiver, as previously mentioned, is small. It fits into the "fillet" under the SSD module on an EPIC or Scarlet (if you're using a bottom space plate) so it takes up essentially no room at all. It also automatically calibrates the lenses, manual calibration is not yet enabled. Yet in that small space it can do three motors, start/stop and power. They sell start/stop and power solutions for just about any camera and more are coming.
The motor I have mixed feelings on. It's very powerful and very quiet. It drove the Red Pro Primes with ease and it did it essentially silently. So on those fronts, the motor is incredible. However, the gears require three screws to change and are not flippable. This can limit your options depending on the setup, E.G. if you're using a DSLR system. For some this won't matter, for others it may. Luckily, they are working on another receiver which can use third party motors so this may not be a concern much longer.
What's great about the system being so low profile is that it almost takes up less room then a regular follow focus! Stedicam ops will love this system as there are so many more options on where to place the receiver that it almost basically becomes a non-issue.
They provide many power options, I have the DTAP and 4pin XLR cables which works great. All their cables are very high quality and flexible. I believe you can also ask for custom lengths.
As I said before, latency is very low and acceptable. It's no more than any other system.
The system also has special software that allows you to hook the receiver and motor up to your PC via USB. This is how you do firmware updates, but it also has a program that allows you to program simple timelines and control motors over time. It's a WIP right now, but it seems very promising for time lapse and motion control. Firmware updating is also super painless, and apparently it uses a "safe, modern bootloader" which means you can lose power in the middle of a flash and it will be totally safe.
At this price point, with these features, I can honestly say this system will make you go "Bartech? What Bartech?"
It's not a Cmotion, but you didn't expect it to be. For the price, you simply can not beat it. Their customer support is amazing, and they're constantly coming out with new toys and upgrades which fits in the RED philosophy of "future proof." I wish they had an LCD screen for the controller and I wish the motor had a couple more features, but this is a very solid system.
I have just one question: Why is it called RT Motion?
Let me know if you guys have any more questions! Pics coming in the next post.