TEST REPORT: PINE MOTION CONTROLLER FOR TIME-LAPSE, ASTRO, GIGA-PIXEL, 360º, VIDEO AND MORE
This report was originally written by Laurenc Riese. The text has been translated from German and the content has not been changed.
Some time ago I found the Kickstarter project “Pine Worlds most flexible motion controller”, the idea of a new motion controller for recording time laps was very promising. Behind the project are Patrick Ketterer and Moritz Huber, who have already founded the company Black Forest Motion GmbH based in Germany from the Kickstarter project. The original financing amount of 40.000€ was slightly exceeded by 65 supporters and ended with 54.001€ total.
The project itself and the presentation of what the two wanted to achieve sounded really promising. I have been using various motion controllers myself for a few years now, the NMX from Dynamic Perception and the MDK from David and Sterne. Both controllers serve their purpose and you can successfully create time laps with them. But what bothered me the most was the fact that all controllers use different cables to connect the motors that move the Pan & Tilt or the Slider.
My frustration was at times so great that I started to rebuild the controllers on my own, to uniform plug connections. That cost me a lot of time, nerves and money. The functionality of the controller is not limited by the controller itself, but depends on what the app for the tablet / smartphone offers. The MDK controller and the app offers more possibilities than the app for the NMX controller.
Basically I was satisfied with both but the fact that I often had to take both NMX | MDK controllers with me on my travels was a bit annoying. This partly resulted in the fact that I didn’t take one with me anymore.
The Kickstarter project for the PINE Motion Controller was as promising as the functionality and design of the app, which I had to get a copy right away. Therefore I would like to share my experiences with you about the new PINE Motion Controller and make you a little hungry for this new controller.
The new Nikon Z7 is perfect as a time-lapse camera together with the Pine Motion Controller. The Nikon Z7 with the new automatic AF autofocus, when filming, ensures a smooth focus shift when filming.
But what distinguishes the PINE Motion Controller from the others? First of all, the connectors and the connection options. Only high quality connectors were used, 4 x 6pin Hirose Male for 4 different motors. Do you really need 4 connectors? Here’s an example with three connectors used, the fourth could be used for an AF when filming for manual focus via controller:
Pan motor, tilt motor, slider motor, AF autofocus motor, whereby the AF option for most might probably be rather uninteresting. Personally, I think it’s very well thought out and great that you have the option! Here is a representation between the individual controllers:
Controller connections from left to right: NMX | MDK | PINE
It doesn’t look any different with the connections of the individual slider solutions | motors. They also have different motors depending on the manufacturer. If you now have different slider motors, you will have to take a corresponding number of cables with you, suitable for each controller of course. When you are travelling, you may find a small pocket for cables only.
Dynamic Perception NEMEA stepper motor rebuilt for MDK and NMX controller.
But it’s easier to rebuild the motors than the controllers, I can tell you that much. I’ve done it all myself and I really broke one off while soldering myself! Of course it is better if you can buy the cables or the motors with suitable connections. If you only use one system, like the NMX from Dynamic Perception, you don’t have any problems with the connections, “you think”. They have also temporarily changed their model series to higher quality connections. If you want to assemble your own system, you always had to face the connection problem.
In the Pine Shop you can order all cables suitable to the current manufacturers at the same time, that goes also into the money but I can only recommend it to you, is really easier and better than soldering!
Once you’ve taken care of the hardware, it’s about the controller itself or about the APP which is always delivered with the controller for free, at least something. The essential ease of use and functionality are not to be found in the hardware, but as so often in the software. The guys from Pine seem to have made it their business to finally solve this problem. The APP currently offers the following basic functions, although the IOS version does not yet support two functions. Who works with Android can use everything without restrictions:
from left to right: IOS Pine APP | Android Pine APP
|APP Functions||NMX Controller||MDK Controller||Pine Controller|
|Connectors||NMX Controller||MDK Controller||Pine Controller|
|AUX (Slave Mode)||X||X|
The previous video shows you how easy it is to use the Pine APP to set up and run a tracking shot as a video. You have the same operation in all other functions. The operation is really intuitive and can be learned in minutes. For everyone who doesn’t have any time-lapse equipment yet and wants to try out the operation himself can download the APP here and try it out in DEMO mode, this function offers no other APP that I have seen and tested so far.
If you want more and don’t have any sliders or PAN | TILT motors you can order them directly together with the Pine Motion Controller. All links can be found at the end of this article. I myself prefer to use the PAN | TILT by Nico Engel, I had already posted an article about it > Nic-O-Tilt Pan & Tilt Set – Time-lapse Equipment
I started to design my own controller because of great frustration with all the time-lapse hardware, but never got ahead with the planning status and mockup. Too many projects at the same time, something simply falls by the wayside. By the way, I’m writing a book, but actually finished is the layout phase. So I’m all the more pleased that the original Kickstarter project has made it to the realization stage and can now be ordered by anyone.
My own test showed me that the guys did a great job. I can recommend the Pine Motion Controller to anyone who wants to start or is already in the middle and has the frustration like me. He should get the new Pine. If the current controller with its 4 connectors is not enough for you, you can buy several controllers and connect them with each other, chapo guys!
WHICH I STILL WISH FOR:
Long-term fast motion > the possibility of time intervals with start date and start time – number of pictures within the time intervals
Ramping > a built-in ramping for day to night and night to day time-lapse, like with the qDSLR Dashboard, technically that shouldn’t be a problem, the hardware would have to be extended a bit. Then you could leave out the tablet after the start! Even less cables, batteries etc… Gunther, that shouldn’t be an issue, technically you managed it with qDSLR Dashboard. Just a SD card in the pine, additional USB for camera control and the rest is software, right?!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Laurenc Riese, born in Berlin and now living in Switzerland, is a German photographer. In addition to photography, he is also enthusiastic about time-lapse photography and drone videos. He publishes his experiences in his blog. He uses cameras from Nikon and Sony for his work and also offers photo trips. More information can be found on his website.