80D Accessory Review: Power Zoom Adapter PZ-E1

Started Oct 25, 2016 | User reviews thread
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Silvex Senior Member • Posts: 1,407
80D Accessory Review: Power Zoom Adapter PZ-E1
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Power Zoom Adapter PZ-E1

The PZ-E1 is a detachable zoom lens servo or zoom lens rocker designed for use with the Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM (Nano) lens and the Canon 80D DSLR. It uses a zoom slider similar camcorders, which makes smooth zooming practical. It can be controlled remotely using smart phones and computers used with an EOS 80D and Canon Camera Connect. It ships with 4 AAA batteries, instructions, storage pouch and warranty card.

Functionality

The servo motor is powered by 4 AAA batteries and operates independently of the camera's battery. It attaches to the EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM with a locking lever and two cleats that lock into sockets on the lens. The lever has a locking button to prevent accidental release of the lever.

The unit covers about 19-134mm of the zoom range. The fast zoom covers the entire range in approximately 3 seconds. The slow zoom takes about 10 seconds. The fast zoom is variable, so if you are good you can adjust the speed of the pull similar to many camcorders. I found the slow zoom to be about perfect for gentle inconspicuous pulls and the fast zoom is good for fast action or anything in-between.

Ergonomics

The wide and telephoto can be controlled comfortably with the right hand on the camera grip using the right thumb to control the video on/off and the aperture of the 80D and the left hand cradling the bottom of the servo with the left thumb on the zoom slider. All of the PZ-E1 controls are on the left side, and with frequent use could easily be manipulated without looking.

The PZ-E1 works nicely with a battery grip on the 80D. However, rotating to portrait with the grip and the PZ-E1 will be a tight squeeze for fat-fingered-photographers. Also, without a battery grip the unit could interfere with some quick release tripod plates (with the grip there is no problem).

Considerations

Because the only compatible lens (EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM) has a variable aperture, you will have to use auto iso to avoid flicker.

The PZ-E1 is beveled near the back of the bottom plate which seems made to be compatible with EF mount EOS cinema cameras.

One of the previews I read erroneously said that the PZ-E1 only works "when the 80D is in video mode. In stills mode the servo zoom shuts powers down completely." It does work with the 80D in stills mode. However, except for remote operation of the camera, I cannot imagine why you would want to use in stills mode. If you want to manually zoom you have to toggle from PZ to MZ, which powers it off. While manually zooming is more of a hassle with the PZ-E1 attached to the lens, it is still more efficient for stills than using the powered zoom.

At $150 retail it is overpriced (like most Canon accessories). When you consider that it only works with one lens (EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM) which is also overpriced (retail $600), it will not make sense for many users. I paid $128 for the PZ-E1 and $375 for the EF-S 18-135 USM, which puts the combined cost over the price of a VIXIA HF R70 or R72. Paying the full retail price is same price range as a VIXIA HF G20. Buying the EF-S 18-135 USM and PZ-E1 can only make sense for those who need to toggle quickly between stills and video, without carrying two devices. Otherwise a separate camcorder is the way to go. In my opinion, because the PZ-E1 only works with the EF-S 18-135 USM, Canon should offer them bundled together at $400. However, if you compare the cost and functionality to third party zoom rockers or dSLR zoom servos the PZ-E1 comes out ahead.

I give the PZ-E1 4 stars for functionality; 4 stars for ergonomics and and 1 star for price.

I could not find many reviews when I was looking at purchasing, so I hope this is helpful.

Silvex's score
3.0
Canon EF-S 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 IS USM Canon EOS 80D
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