Ottobrunn is a suburb half an hour south of Munich and a half hour north of the Bavarian Alps. It is the epicenter of fine motion picture machining: hometown of P+S Technik and Praezisions-Entwicklung Denz.
I’m here to visit Peter Denz, who began his cine equipment work in 1970 and founded the company in 1977. I had always admired, rented and purchased his famous products, but this was the first time to see the facility. Peter made some of the first electric zoom controls, follow focus, video assists, color and pivoting finder video assists–when designers like Erich Kaestner and others said “impossible.” Denz can machine products to 2 micron tolerances–and his portfolio includes titanium satellite parts, carbon fiber grand prix racing car components, jet parts, and space agencies.
Mr. Denz handed me a small, gray, machined piece of incredibly heavy metal. “It’s a custom part I made for BMW to reduce engine vibration,” he said. It is made of Tungsten, with one of the highest melting points (3,422 °C, 6,192 °F), highest tensile strengths, and lowest coefficients of thermal expansion of any pure metal. Few people on earth know how to machine it.
Many of Peter’s cine products include Hirth tooth rosettes that are essential to handheld handles, accessories mounting and comfortable camera carrying. As far as I can remember, rosettes first appeared on the ARRI 16SR in 1976. Hirth tooth rosettes (Hirth couplings) were originally used on bicycle cranksets and crankshafts. They are not proprietary to ARRI: Aaton uses them, and almost every camera since the 16SR has them–until some recent digital designers seem to have forgotten 40+ years of practical use.
Denz has the latest CNC machines, and, the legend is true: the facility is so clean you probably could eat off the floor.
Recent Denz products include (see slideshow, above):
- a lightweight titanium baseplate with left and right rosettes and 15mm lightweight support rods for the Sony F65.
- PL mount for Canon 5D mk III
- Baseplates with rosettes for Sony F3
- Mounting cage for Canon C300 and C500
- Baseplates with rosettes for Sony FS700