LCDVF viewfinder for DSLRs

23
Nov
2009
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Yes it exists! Finally a production model and it looks good!

It came via DHL a couple of days ago with two magnetic frames, a lanyard, the LCDVF and a soft eye cup.

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First impressions were good. It looks well made, plastic but what do you expect. I put it up to my eye and it looked nice and sharp.

First off you need to stick the frame onto the camera. I used my Canon 500D. It’s a magnetic frame. Now I have to say that I am scared of magnetic frames. Magnets are dangerous around electronics and this has made me nervous but am assured it well within the safe margins.

First frame fell off and I lost it. Luckily I had a spare, so I stuck it on and held it down with a weight for 24 hours to make sure.

The frame on the 500D

The frame on the 500D

The LCDVF simple sticks onto the magnets and is surprisingly secure. The soft eye cup is a lovely touch and it feels lovely against the eye.

It magnifies the image 200%, or 2x meaning you have a nice big image in front of you. It helps you focus and the pressure of putting the LCDVF against your face creates more stability.

I can see the whole LCD screen of the camera easily and it does feel pretty solid.

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I am not sure just how rigid that magnet mount is but it seems ok at the moment and the build quality is good.

If you don’t have perfect eyesight like me you will struggle. There is no diopter and it’s tough to use glasses pushed against the viewfinder. Contacts will of course be fine. They left out the diopter to save money and this is one of it’s biggest selling points. It costs just $159 + $22 shipping. It’s a bit more than the Hoodman Hoodloupe buy SO much better.

Now at this point obviously I need to compare it to the Z-Finder and as I mentioned recently in a personal blog entry I have just this week become an affiliate of Zacuto, am already a RedGiant affiliate, Amazon and more recently B&H Photo Affiliate. It’s a good way to make the site pay for itself. But being a Zacuto affiliate how can I impartially review a direct competitor to the Z-Finder. Easy, it’s important for me to know that my readers know all the options and am not pushing them down one single route. Do I think the Z-Finder is better if I take my affiliate hat off? Yes I do, but it is more expensive. Twice as much to be fare.

Let’s weigh up the pros and cons of the two.

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First off build quality is good on LCDVF but Z-Finder seems stronger and sturdier. I don’t like magnet mount. it scares me and is not as solid as the hard mount of the Zacuto one. Having perfect eye sight means not having a diopter is fine for me. But if your eyesight isn’t perfect you will struggle with the LCDVF, they haven’t catered for people with imperfect eyesight am afraid, and if you look at most viewfinders on camera they all have diopters. A glaring omission but one done simply to maintain this price point.

My biggest gripe is actually the magnification. 2x is not enough. The Zacuto is 3x which is perfect for getting that focus. 2x is doable but I would prefer more magnification. The Hoodloupe has no magnification and therefore sucks! Sorry Hoodman. I bought it and never use it!

The other thing I worry about from the forums is the business backing behind LCDVF. Is it a solid long term company? I know a lot of people are waiting for their LCDVFs who had BETA versions. Also the website says sold out and doesn’t say when they will get any more in. Zacuto will have more in mid next month.

Zacuto also have the best warranty in the world (my affiliate hat is back on but would still be saying this even if it was off!). The Z-Finder will last you forever (or as long as Zacuto are around for).

Let’s us say we have a really bad shoot day. Everything has gone wrong, or say you have just been forced to see “New Moon”. You have much pent up anger and you need to vent it on something. You spy your Z-Finder and take a mallet to it. It shatters. You then microwave it. It melts. You then stick it in liquid nitrogen so it totally freezes. Wearing gloves you then take it out throw it in road then run over in until it shatters into a million pieces. Using your dustpan and brush you sweep it up and put it in an envelope to Zacuto saying it doesn’t work anymore. They will actually replace it for you. How many warranties from manufacturers cover “accidental” damage?? That is what worries me about LCDVF, just not sure how strong their customer service is. They are not a big company in the slightest. I know they have found the demand for this overwhelming hence the big delays.

Also I understand Zacuto will be bringing out the Z-Finder Junior early next year. Cheaper and with extra frames to build out so you can get your poor eyesight to see the screen OK.

So my thoughts. Impressed. A really nice viewfinder (without Z-Hat on I promise, not as good as my Z-Finder for sure, much harder to focus and no good for people without perfect eyesight) but It looks sleek, works very well and is nice and cheap. Customer service is a grey area right now as the forum suggests…but he is a one man operation and that is not easy. I understand you cannot order from their website as it says out of stock even though they are in stock. Emailing appears to be only option.

Tonis, who made this is pretty much a one man band and I have been following his progress on Cinema 5d. It’s incredibly entrepreneurial to go out and make this from scratch AND document it for the community. Tonis I applaud you and that it turned out so well you should be proud.

This is the official website for the LCDVF here.

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Comments

  1. Jon says:

    How do you like your 500D? Do you use it much?

    1. pbloom says:

      just got the 500d. Going to use it to build a real beginners kit to show you don’t need to spend a fortune to make movies with it.

      1. Rob says:

        I was pleasantly surprised to see you had a lowly 500d as most pro’s immediately dismiss it due to the 1080 frame rate. Very much looking forward to seeing your beginners kit plus any other tutorials for enthusiastic amateurs.

      2. MikeCollins says:

        I’m thinking about the 500D as a secondary camera so I am really excited to hear your thoughts on using it for video work.

  2. Steve says:

    When it come to magnets around electronics I am pretty sure all you have to worry about is moving parts.

    Strong magnets could conceivably mess with a tape drive, but not with solid state stuff like this.

    A changing magnetic field around cabling causes current, but since the magnet is fixed it cannot affect the electronics.

    So no need to worry.

    1. pbloom says:

      my necklace keeps sticking to it though!!

      1. Steve says:

        Automatic lanyard!

    2. Adam Kozlowski says:

      Steve, doesn’t it work that way that having a magnet around your LCD affects it in a long run? False colours, etc.?

      1. LCDVF says:

        Magnets do not affect the camera nor flash media at all.

        By the way Z-Finder does not allow for “+” dioptre correction at all so be careful when thinking that it works for everyone.
        Z-Finder diopter range is -4.5 to -1.2

        Essentially our LCDVF lens has also 3X magnification by spec but as we do not start from -4.5 range that would be hard for normal eyes we have just that 200% magnification so you could see the entire screen.

        T

        1. pbloom says:

          Am confused about the magnification factor. Using Z-Finder and LCDVF side by side the Z-Finder is much more magnified and that is 3X. Can you explain how this works?

      2. Steve says:

        I don’t think so, people probably think that the screen will be affected because they know old CRTs were screwed up by magnets, but that was because CRTs used streams of electrons, which could be manipulated by a static electric field.

        LCDs could be damaged by strong magnets, but only if they induce a current in the LCDs circuitry. To do this they have to be moving, they also probably have to be much larger than the one used here.

    3. Steve2 says:

      Well the magnetic field is not changing, but you’re moving the “cables into the magnetic field and out” (actually the other way round, your moving the LCDVF, but that doesn’t matter), so current could still be caused.

  3. The LCDVF does not look that much better than the Hoodman version… for cheapness that is, and the Hoodman is readily available.

    1. pbloom says:

      it’s WAYYYYYYYY better than Hoodman. Like chalk and cheese!!!

      1. But it’s no good if you can’t buy one !

  4. Daniel Weber says:

    Philip,

    Tonis told me via email that the delay right now is with PayPal. He units in stock but is having a hard time doing transactions. He said that you could do a Proforma invoice using your bank. Use the email link on his website.

    I hope to order one in the next day or so for my trip to Africa in early December. I would get the Zacuto, but of course they won’t have them until after I return from Africa.

    Cheers!!

    Daniel Weber

  5. Steve Weiss says:

    Nice review Phil.
    I have been a big fan of Tonis as well. We have talked many times via email and he is a nice upstanding guy. Just wanted to clarify two points.

    First, we are way ahead of schedule and everyone who was promised a Z-Finder before December 18th should be getting that way ahead of schedule, a good batch of those are shipping out tomorrow Nov. 24th & 25 with the balance going out Nov. 30 – Dec. 2nd. which at that point we will have a positive inventory. Just like with Tonis demand exceeds supply.

    Second, we will start showing a series of videos showing you process of the development of our new Z-Finder Jr. The first video will be out next week and show the design & prototyping phase. Video two will show how tooling is done in the creation of the mold for the skirt & eyecup. The final installment will show assembly, fulfillment & packaging. I think you will find these videos interesting and enlightening. The finished Z-Finder Jr. will be out February 1st. It’s a fixed focal length DSLR optical viewfinder with a twist. It has extender frames that allow you add as many as you need to get the unit in focus. Each extender frame adds one diopter allowing you to get close to your prescription. The main difference between the Z-Finder V2 & the Z-Finder Jr. is that the V2 allows you to tune it exactly to your prescription; whereas, the Jr. let’s you get close to your prescription. If you need critical focus the Z-Finder V2 is the way to go. If cost is a factor (which it usaully is, the Jr. may be the way to go) The Z-Finder Jr. is going to be aggressively priced in the sub $200 range.

    1. Andy Taplin says:

      Just wondered if someone is thinking about a 90º angled finder for DSLRs allowing you to shoot from low angles without lying on the floor!

      Well done to Phil and Steve by the way for advancing the industry and inspiring us to get out there and make movies :-)

      1. pbloom says:

        I would LOVe one of those

    2. Ali says:

      what happened to the z-finder jr?? Has it been scrapped??

  6. Harry says:

    Well, actually it IS in stock.

    In fact Tonis has posted a very important clarification at http://www.cinema5d.com (long thread indeed, page 84)

    “We have hundreds in stock just the webshop service and PayPal didn’t work well together but we are accepting orders for those who are in the need.

    This current tracking and shipping confusion is due to PayPal verification system that forces us to ship out randomly and not by “Orders Received” date ”

    When the website officially opened 2 weeks ago, the demand was very big, so it probably overloaded a bit the webshop-Paypal-DHL process…

    They’re working to fix and improve that, so the purchasing process will be much smoother and faster soon.

    1. pbloom says:

      thanks for info Harry. Will correct that. I am going from info on their website saying it’s out of stock. He simply needs to change that otherwise people like myself are just going to read that. All it takes is a simple. Please email xxxxx for orders…

  7. MikeCollins says:

    I’m stuck with a Hoodman secured with gaffer tape on my GH 1 for right now. We needed a solution and couldn’t find a Z Finder anywhere. Glad to see this review as I was thinking the LCDVF might be a good idea but no diopter won’t work for me.

    Surprisingly the Hoodman is working for me just out of necessity but I will happily toss it when I finally get the Z Finder.

  8. Nigel Ellis says:

    Phil,
    I purchased the hooman 3.0 loupe with the EX1 kit. I works great on the EX1 – almost like a EX3 and it is light weight. I asked Steve if the Z-finder would work on the EX1 but it seemed that it was not possible so I went with the hoodman. The hoodman, on the EX1, does wonders for the camera and it fits very securely. I have not really tried it on my 5dm2 as I have not been using it in an application where I need it – but it seems good. I don’t like too much magnification (the EX3 almost has too much imho) as it becomes too pixelated. Is that your main concern with the hoodman? There is a guy who makes a plate to mount the hoodman firmly to the 5D – much better than the elastic band deal or magnets or velcro. And I have to say it is 100 times better than the sockloupe I got for my EX1. That lasted about 2 shoots and then fell apart.
    Nigel

    1. Mike says:

      “How to use the Z-Finder as a viewfinder for the Sony EX-1″
      http://vimeo.com/7582447

  9. Hey Philip great job with the review. I must say I was keen on seeing how you would approach it. It is tough to be in your spot reviewing these products, but as you promised you would in your last Personal Blog entry, you’ve done a fair job and stated the facts.

    I just wanted to add from my own experience with Tonis and the LCDVF. Although the support has been a bit flaky for some people, it has been superb for me. In fact, after accidentally losing the eye cup piece this weekend as I was filming cyclists riding down a mountain from a motorcycle, I contacted Tonis and he kindly got back to me to tell me that he already had sent me a replacement. All in less than 12 hours.

    It might be a case of hit and miss, but as you mention in your review, one can’t take away the brave efforts it’s taken to go out there and build a product like the LCDVF, and then offer it to our community. I’ve seen so many companies over the years vanish before they even got to the launching stage.

    My hat’s off to you Philip for the insightful review and keep up the good work with the site. You’re certainly “doing it right.”

    Thanks Philip,

    -Franklin

    By the way, the LCDVF worked great on a 7D, especially descending at 80km per hour down a mountain from the back of a motorcycle. Footage turned out surprisingly steady, and being able to see the action with my left eye while keeping focus with my right was magic.

  10. john novotny says:

    “Everything has gone wrong, or say you have just been forced to see “New Moon”

    LMAO

      1. John Novotny says:

        WTF! That’s hilarious, better than the real thing no doubt.

  11. Adam Kozlowski says:

    Hi Phil, thanks for the review. It does seem like Z-Finder is the only viable option right now, but i’m particularly curious if/when you can review the Cavision finder for us. That will essentially complete the review list of currently available finders.

    I’m gonna buy the Z-Finder anyway, the moment i get my next monthly salary ;) After trying to shoot without a finder for a longer time and having to focus on the fly because of moving objects, I thought i nailed the focus, but it was totally off when i reviewed the clips back home.

    1. pbloom says:

      i don’t know know much about the Cavision one. Has anyone got one yet?

      1. simon says:

        hi philip
        ive tried the cavision in the store
        in my opinion nothing compared to the lcdvf or the zfinder plus thye frame covers up buttons it was designed for a video camera not the vslr’s
        unless they have changed it since then

  12. Max says:

    I have used my Z-Finder only once yet… but spinning the wheel.. which is supposed to be the diopter.. does not change anything.. the distance between the lcd and the glass changes.. but everything stays in focus…
    HM…

    1. pbloom says:

      it is very subtle. it takes a lot of turns to change the focus

    2. Steve Weiss says:

      Max,
      I’m going to re-post this from my the Zacuto website:

      You are probably young and have perfect vision. When you are young and have perfect vision your eyes are much more tolerant that an older guy like me. If you need glasses or are older, thats when this wheel becomes more critical. Be happy that it’s in focus for you anywhere on the dial, I wish that was the case for me.

      One more thing, try focusing the wheel all the way in without your eye in the viewfinder, then look when all the way in. Then dial it all the way out without keeping you eye in the viewfinder, then look. You may notice a difference. That is because the thread is so fine that your eye adapts as you are dialing it. This may help you find the sweet spot for you.

  13. Alex says:

    I can already see it slipping off the magnets and falling to the ground shattering it…noo bueno. Would never trust magnets for something of that nature.

    1. Harry says:

      These magnets are strong enough to hold it in place, it also has a design to avoid slipping

      One of the good points of the magnetic mount interface (as opposed to plastic clicks/snaps, etc.) is that it does not wear out over time

      You can also use the lanyard that comes with the unit, just in case

    2. Max Faraday says:

      1) Magnets work, and mostly better than plastic/mechanical counterparts.
      2)They provide a lanyard, so it shouldn’t fall unless you neglect to use it.

  14. JackR says:

    It won’t be fine if you are short-sighted with contact lenses….

    The contact lenses in that instance correct for far-away vision….and render your close-up vision shite….I’m living it….

    That’s why short-sighted camera-people are always lifting their glasses to have a close view of the monitor/lcd-flip out….it’s the best compromise…have you specs on to survey the scene…then rest them on your head to look at the monitor/lcd flip-out….

    My close-up vision is great…until I put the glasses on/contacts in…

    2 cents….Four-eyed gimps are camera people too!!

    1. pbloom says:

      apologies. i have no idea how contacts/ glasses work. Am sure my time will come!

  15. Hannes says:

    Hey Philip,
    does it mount to other displays as well? Like the one of the HV20? Would be great if you could verify it!

    1. pbloom says:

      no way of checking. my mount is stuck on my 500d

  16. Randy Noland says:

    I received the LCDVF yesterday. I am very, very impressed. The unit is well crafted, easy to install, comfortable to use, magnets are fantastic. I have found in almost all other apps, that snap on/snap off products wear to the point in being unusable, at least my experience. Also I corresponded several times with the vendor. He was very responsive and did what he said. I see no issues there.

    Now I am not familiar with the Zacuto Zfinder, but honestly, it was just too many dollars for me to allocate for a view finder. Dollars that could be better spent on new Canon lenses or on Phillip’s DVD’s :-)

    I cannot imagine the LCDVF not appealing to the majority of users properly meeting that elusive price/feature/benefit point. I give the product 5 out of 5 stars.

    -Randy Noland

    1. pbloom says:

      thanks for your review/ thoughts. Am sure others will appreciate it!

    2. Szymon says:

      I agree with Randy. Zacuto is way too pricy. Just like Tactical Shooter. What’s so expensive there? Few pipes for $1k? Common! I’m using zfinder few weeks and it’s not so great as Philip described. It’s ok, but….. the frame unglued after few days of using, the image is not so clean, can’t view 100% of screen, etc. As I said, it’s o.k. Can’t wait to test LCDVF.

      1. pbloom says:

        if frame fell off was it held down with weight for 24 hours as instructed?

        I honestly think it’s best I have used and I simply cannot shoot handheld without it.

  17. RandyNoland says:

    LCDVF just arrived!

    I received the LCDVF yesterday. I am very, very impressed. The unit is well crafted, easy to install, comfortable to use, magnets are fantastic. I have found in almost all other apps, that snap on/snap off products wear to the point in being unusable, at least my experience. Also I corresponded several times with the vendor. He was very responsive and did what he said. I see no issues there.

    Now I am not familiar with the Zacuto Zfinder, but honestly, it was just too many dollars for me to allocate for a view finder. Dollars that could be better spent on new Canon lenses or on Phillip’s DVD’s :-)

    I cannot imagine the LCDVF not appealing to the majority of users properly meeting that elusive price/feature/benefit point. I give the product 5 out of 5 stars.

    -Randy Noland

  18. Serge Taveras says:

    This is no more different than the Cavision CIMHE52
    with a higher price tag.

    The Cavision is less than $80 from adorama

    http://www.adorama.com/CIMHE52.html

    Even the Cavision Special kit marketed for the 5D is less than $150.00 with the special tripod bracket adapter.

    http://www.cavision.com/viewfinders/MHE52C2.htm

    I have both the 5D kit and the Zfinder, and I will stick with the zfinder because it feels sturdier and focuses better.

  19. Serge Taveras says:

    Oh and I must add the Cavision is a 6x magnifier.

    Number of lens elements 1
    Lens Magnification 6x
    Lens O.D. 52mm
    Eye-piece material Rubber
    Eye-piece O.D. 63mm
    Dimensions 78mm(W) x 60m(D) x 89mm(L)
    Weight 75g
    Warranty Cavision warranty

  20. Peanut says:

    After spending months reading Phillips posts and saving for a 7D, ZFinder, and the Film Lool DVD I had the unfortuante experience of my first rootcanal which pretty well set me back the entire amount I’d saved. Following Phil’s advice that the most important thing is to get out and shoot I decided to build a beginners kit that could serve as a second camera later. I bought a T1i/500D, 50mm f1.8, Optica remote shutter, Zoom H4n and a Manfrotto hotshoe adapter, and lastly (though it truely broke my heart as a diehard Steve Weiss and PB fan)an LCDVF.

    I ordered the entire kit last week from B&H, Amazon, and Tonis. The H4n and adapter arrived in two days followed by the T1i and lens on Fri. and yesterday my LCDVF arrived. I’ve got to admit I love this setup! it’s not pro 7d or 5DMKII rig with Zacuto fixings, but it kick @ss compared to my previous HF10/JAG35/f1.8 rig and was only about $1,200! The LCDVF works great (although I still have perfect vision) and adds alot more stability and Tonis was great to deal with answering all my questions quickly. I’ll eventually get a ZFinder (or perhaps a Rapid Fire first)but not because the LCDVF is not good enough, only because I feel indebted to Steve for his dedication to our community and helping us all to improve our craft.

    Since I’ve long been a lurker here, on the 5D forums, and on Vimeo and never made a comment anywhere, let me also take this opportunity to thank you Phillip and Steve. You were the inspiration for me to begin this journey last year, and while my bank account has suffered from that inspiration my spirit has not. I look forward to everything you guys put out from videos and blogs to facebook posts and products. I can safely say you are an inspiration to so many of us even when we may not voice it on the forums.

    1. pbloom says:

      thanks for comment Rob. appreciate it. Sorry to make you broke but if it makes you feel better I am too!!

      1. Broke and happy; what else do you want !! :) Doing what you love is priceless !

        1. Josh Heater says:

          We were going to add a second bathroom and remodel the upstairs bath until Phillip Bloom came around the scene. I cringed when I checked out of b&h with the 7d, zfinder, 50mm 1.2 L, lapel mic and raid hard drive, etc. etc. etc. I guess all 5 of us will have to squeeze into the bathroom for another year. By the way…..thanks Phillip. My wife and I are excited about our new found love of making wedding videos. On a side note. what is better? canon xha1s or panasonic AG-HMC150 AVCCAM Camcorder. Tape or tapeless, low light(for receptions), and of course quality shoots for weddings is what we are after. Can you give us recommendations between these two or any other camera? Our budget is around $4000 give our take $500 when including media and battery power. If we can’t get away from lowlight grained video can you recommend a light for the camera. thanks for your help. Your learning the canon 7d video has helped tremendously. We will give you some links of our videos so you can critique us as we consider you our teacher.

  21. Sesa says:

    I am not an expert, but I do not know what can ‘serve to have a magnification so big.
    When you see the large pixels do not have a better way to focus,
    Can ‘be useful, but not in an exaggerated way

    1. pbloom says:

      6x cavision will be way too much

    2. pbloom says:

      yes the 3x is max i would want

  22. mimizone says:

    I’ve never used a z-finder, hoodman or this one. But I feel the need for one to help the focus and the stability of the camera when shooting handled. Can someone tell me what you actually see through the loupe? can you see the whole screen or just the center, especially with 3x?

    I did a quick test looking at my 7D screen though a toilet paper tube (yeah… I know…) first I can’t get the focus right without staying far enough from the screen (about an inch + the tube, I am near sighted with contacts), and second, the FOV I get that close makes me think that with 3x I would see maybe just half or less of the screen.

    PS: thanks for your blogs and videos Philip by the way. Very motivating and inspiring.

    1. pbloom says:

      you see the whole screen with all of them!

  23. Apparently they have some stock of the LCDVF, just the web store was done…. shot an email to them and they’re shipping me one on Monday.

  24. Alsostarring says:

    The LCDVF, is a great choice instead of getting Zacuto Zfinder. You can work fine with it, and it doesn´t fall with normal use. The point here is to get good steady footage and you can with this piece. The best way to get good footage, is concentrating in focus, getting steady shots and playing with the light (iso, shutter and speed)

  25. I have just received my LCDVF, I ordered it just one week ago.
    I didn’t try the Z-finder, so I can’t compare the two, but I think 2X magnification is enough to focus well. The LCDVF is a nice product and simply works, that’s it.
    Some comments about the missing diopter adjustement.
    My wife is nearsighted (-2,75), and she has no problem at all to use the LCDVF, with contact lenses or glasses, but also without, even better!
    So I think, for a nearsighted (at least until -3) don’t having a diopter it’s not a problem.
    According the specifications in the Zacuto website, the z-finder diopter range is from -1,2 to -4,5 (quite curiously others report it is from -1.5 to +0.4), so it’s for just nearsighted people that, apparently, don’t need too much it.
    The really problem is for farsighted people (like me, I’m +2,75), I can’t use the LCDVF without glasses, but also with my reading glasses the image is unfocused! Also with the z-finder the problem would be the same… and the taller frame they suggest I think it’s really disturbing when we use the camera without viewfinder, for that I decided for the LCDVF.
    However to see really well through this viewfinder I’d need a +4,75 correction, 2 more than my normal correction, I don’t no way but that is.
    I think to resolve the problem simply putting a +4,5 diopter lens (not to difficult to find in optician shops) just below the silicon rubber ocular.

  26. Serge Taveras says:

    The Cavision MHE52C2 5D kit is a x3
    the Cavision CIMHE52 is a 6 mag.

    My MHE52c2 works fine The viewfinder eye-piece is as large as those on broadcast cameras like the F900. It does not zoom too much where every pixel is noticeable. its just right you can actually see it quite good even without resting your eye on the cup.

  27. marv says:

    At the risk of sounding like a long-winded heretic, I vote for none of the above. I bought a hoodloupe but the elastic bands slide around and can’t be removed quickly. The Z-finder was backordered. Couldn’t get one right away.

    My 5D MkII was driving me crazy so I sold it. It’s just not a practical video camera for people under pressure. There’s an 11 minute max video clip length. No choice between frame rates or DF vs. non DF. The AGG is horrible, bloody horrible! No headphone jack. No fast forward when playing back a video clip. MP4 video files need to be crosscoded to something else before editing (takes a long, long time even compared to AVCHD injesting).

    Unlike the GH1, and most traditional video cameras, there is no articulating viewfinder on the 5D MkII. So you can’t get high shots or low shots without a stepladder or being willing to lay down on your belly in a snow bank, dog poop or whatever. I loved the picture quality of the 5D MkII, but my day-to-day deadlines are too tight to tolerate the usability factors… and my clients don’t want me to miss a shot because I can’t get the camera high or low. None of these aftermarket viewfinders address that issue.

    I’m keeping my GH1 and in fact, I’m investing in additional lenses. I realize there are shortcomings for the GH1 (some similar to the 5D MkII), and my HMC 150s are still my primary cameras for now. But the viewfinder issue pushed me over the edge.

    At least the GH1 has a viewfinder I can press my eye up against when shooting handheld video because there is no mirror in the micro 4/3 system (it needs a better eyepiece though). Plus the GH1 has an articulating LCD for the high and low shots. The camera even senses which one you’re using and turns the other one off to conserve battery power.

    When the 5D MkII issues are resolved, I’ll consider buying another one. In the meantime, I need practical tools that also have good picture AND sound quality without being slowed down by double system sound and silly viewfinders.

    P.S. Hey Philip, thanks for the mentoring. I value your observations and advice. Cheers from Canada.

    1. pbloom says:

      5dmk2 does have fast forward using the select button, wheel, go to frame advance then hold down select.

      agree it’s not a practical camera but if you can adjust to those problems it’s very rewarding!

  28. Sasha Snow says:

    Having followed the Zacuto vs LCDVF debate over the forums for some time I finally plumbed for the LCDVF. Orderd one Tuesday night and received it Thursday morning. Great communication and a very good product. I’d recommend to anyone. I am a near sighted glasses wearer and have no problems using with or without glasses/contacts.

    It’s a very well designed and neat solution. The mount has a low profile so it looks unobtrusive without the viewfinder. The magnetic grip is strong enough to hold in normal use but weak enough to give easily when you want to take it off. Very clean and well thought out. Furthermore, magnification is such that you can see THE WHOLE of the screen without cramming your eye or glasses into the viewfinder.

    Well done Tonis. A good and sensibly priced product. Remember David and Goliath?

  29. mataikan says:

    just got my lcdvf – got perfect eyesight on my right master eye , left one is fucked.So happy ending for me. LOVE IT. cheap and cheerful

  30. Johnnie says:

    I got both the Z-finder and the LCDVF.
    I suggest people to go with the LCDVF, there in absolutely NO justification buying the Z-finder now that the LCDVF is out.

    Spinning the wheel which supposed to be the diopter does not change anything (unlike in a normal or pro video camera)so everything stays in focus all the time. The bigger problem is the thread. When turning the diopter the thread is out of the Z-finder body exposed for dust or send.

    Next week I am shooting 3 days at the desert with two Canon 7d’s. Each will have a different viewfinder. I will report to the community how both preformed when back.

    Thanks.

    Johnnie

    1. Will Turner says:

      Everything stays in focus all the time because your vision is good.

      Learn some basic biology and you will realise how thick you’re being..

      1. pbloom says:

        Will, no need to insult people…

  31. Anthony L says:

    I love my lcdvf. It’s simple, cheaper than zacuto, works great, and took about 2 and a half weeks to get it in California.

  32. Alex says:

    Awesome stuff!

  33. I have a 7D and am ordering an iKan v5600 HD kit. If I’m using an arm and monitor, is it worth it to have either a Zacuto Z-Finder or LCDVF?? My gut tells me no….

    1. pbloom says:

      the 5600 is quite low resolution on not great…there are better monitors out there. soon to test new Ikan and of course the marshall is great but for handheld work nothing beats z finder

  34. Thomas says:

    I bought the LCDVF and it appears my eyesight is not perfect, so that’s £100 down the plughole. I noticed that if I moved it a short distance away from the screen it was perfect so I’ll have to think of a way to do that but to be honest it isn’t even close to being as good as the Hasselblad waist level finder attached with Velcro, that is very easy on the eyeballs and you can buy one for about 50 notes on eBay. Here’s how it works http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/TWP.COM/5DHasselbladHood#5374947407948173810

    Probably not good for walking as the eyepiece is a bit hard edged but it also folds flat for optical view-finding so you can leave it in place.

  35. ade says:

    thanks for the great info Phil
    Thomas I’ll buy it off you if you still got it & don’t use it

  36. Ron says:

    I took my Canon T2i to Brazil because I wanted a simple-looking travel camera that wouldn’t get the customs people suspicious, as they sometimes do with bigger video cameras. While I’m used to shooting with video cameras, the LCDVF makes it possible to get excellent, in-focus footage from a fairly inexpensive still camera. With the LCDVF, I found that the camera is actually quite manageable as a hand-held video camera in bright conditions.
    The magnets are just the right strength to keep the viewfinder on the camera.

    Plus, I have to say that the customer service, both in Estonia and the US is unbelievably good. When I was in Brazil, I had a question about my installation of the frame onto the camera, and within 10 minutes of sending an email, I had a response from the guy in Estonia who invented it! It doesn’t get much better than that.

  37. Alex B says:

    Well, so much for Zacuto’s Z-Finder Jr being “aggressively priced in the sub $200 range” It’s mounting system is useless in my opinion. LCDVF still offers an overall better deal. The number one complaint with Zacuto is the price point. $120 for a Z-Finder Mounting Frame? Is it gold plated? That’s why so many people are turning to India and Korea for gear. The only real worthy thing about Zacuto products is the warranty.
    But that’s just my opinion.

    1. pbloom says:

      try the z-finder before you make judgement. the lcdvf is very hard to come by

      1. Alex B says:

        Philip, I have both, z-finder v2 and lcdvf. Yes, Zacuto has a great product, but for my needs lcdvf does the job perfectly, and at half the price I can have two lcdvf for my 5D and 7D. For me it’s just the issue of price, that’s all. I got my lcdvf from B&H last week and it took only 3 days for delivery. Must have been my luck :)

  38. pfountain says:

    I bought the hoodman in december, and really regret doing so. The little metal thing that holds it in place does so very badly and light leaks in from the top.
    Also the eyepiece is very uncomfortable.
    I never use it, I prefer squinting to using that piece of junk.

    I’d love it if someone could make a angled viewfinder, but then again max price for me to buy it wouldn’t be more than 300 euro’s.

  39. mario ermitikos says:

    Dearest Philip.
    Thank you for being you!
    I wonder if you could please enlighten me on how to fix the cavision viewfinder to the 7D. I got the spacer 4580 plate. Do both plates mount on each other and then to the 7D?
    I can’t seem to find a way to properly align the viewfinder to the camera.
    Oh Lord!

    :)

    Greetings from Greece

    Mario

    1. pbloom says:

      sorry! never seen it or used it!

  40. enrix says:

    I new Viewfinder is on the market, or soon will be, planning to review it Philip?

    http://letusdslr.com/

  41. imposta says:

    Thanks for the info, I was going to purchase a Zacuto Z-Finder but ended up getting the more affordable option – LCDVF. Got it from company in Australia http://www.dslr.com.au – they ship to UK, USA, Australia and New Zealand!

  42. Dave Therault says:

    I just wanted to mention that the Hoodloupe itself is a diopter (+3 to -3). $80.
    http://hoodmanusa.com/products.asp?dept=1017

    Adding the Houdloupe Mag 3.0 $40 gives you up to 3X magnification (less according to how you dial in the diopter.
    http://hoodmanusa.com/prodinfo.asp?number=HMAG3%2E0

    I have no relationship with them, but I’m guessing that Philip wrote his post before they came out with the Mag 3.0.

    That Letus Hawk looks real good to me. Good optics, good magnification, good construction and design, and +1.5 to -2.5 diopter adjustments.
    http://letusdslr.com/hawk-vf/

  43. Dave Therault says:

    A little more comment on the Hoodloupe Mag 3.0.

    Just pointing out that I think this is the least expensive solution that provides magnification and diopter focus.

    What do you think, Philip? Have you tried this setup? I haven’t been around the more expensive solutions, so I’d love to read a comparison between some of them and the Houdloupe and Mag combination.

    1. Paul Abrahams says:

      @Dave any more news on the Hoodman?

      That Letus Hawk looks really good too.

  44. Paul Abrahams says:

    There’s been a whole raft of knock off VF’s on ebay recently and I bought the Carry Speed VF and have had two issues with it already.

    1) The frame that mounts to the body of the camera is not a snug fit on my 60D an extra washer might fix this but I don’t like how the VF is not actually attached to the body it just hangs off the frame.

    2) It has no diopter which is ok for perfect vision but something I should have researched better as I wear glasses. If I pull the VF away from the LCD about 5mils I get focus. It was cheap and being a beginner I was looking to get started.

    The Z-finder seems to be the best option on the market for people that need a diopter for correct focus. Sure its expensive but I haven’t seen any Z-finders on the 2nd hand market so at least it would hold its value.