The Right To Gadget

on March 01, 2022
We are often told to simplify things and become minimalists. I can't tell you how many complex books I've collected on the subject...The all scold us for involving ourselves with gadgets. Well, if you are into that sort of grey/beige world, good luck to you - for myself I love gadgets, and so do the people at Camera Electronic. That was one of the attractions of working there - you got to play with all the good toys. Some of the wonderful devices explain themselves in a second - you see a Gitzo monopod and know instantly that you want one and that you knew exactly what to do with it. Others - like the video cameras, the monitors, and the mixing desks look great but you know there are going to be days of study to make them perform. Today's product fits somewhere in the middle - the macro focusing rail by NiSi is a classic Camera Electronic product. Actually it is a classic Ron Frank product, because if there was ever anything that Ron loved, it was precision mechanical accessories for photography. He sold more focussing rails than anyone I ever saw. He would have loved this one. It is precise - take that as read to start with. No rattle, no slip, no judder. It does what it says on the tin. Put it on a tripod - on a ball head, perhaps. and mount your camera on it. Turn the end knob to rack the rig closer to a studio tabletop or field macro subject...fraction of a millimetre at a time. Measure the advance or retreat by the scale on the side and use the numbers to calculate depth of field, repro ratios, etc. Become impatient and fold out the handle on the end of the focusing knob and rack it in rapidly. Turn the camera on the quick release plate to whatever precise angle you need. Or get clever, stabilise the rail on a sturdy surface by holding the rubber-tipped feet down, and use the 160mm length of the rail as a sliding rail for mini video shots. You can do it because I put it on the counter and tried it. If I was a scale model maker with a workshop I would even be tempted to put this on a vertical arm and make a mini-drill press out of it. I'll bet Ron would have...