ETHICS STATEMENT: Zacuto are long-term site affiliates and the co-owner, Steve Weiss, has been a dear friend for years. We have also co-hosted the show “Critics” together for about 4 years or so too.
Whilst I still would like to call this a “review” of their new EVF, for 100% disclosure reasons please do take into account our relationship. Although, I do hope I have managed to put aside any personal bias I may have. I don’t use Zacuto support gear exclusively at all. I use Vocas, Movcam and many others as well as my Zacuto stuff. I always use what works for me, regardless of the brand.
If after watching the review you want to buy a Gratical, then doing so through my affiliate link helps enormously with the running of this site and I am very grateful.
I wish all cameras came with exceptional electronic view finders. Sadly, few do. Back in the old days I used B&W view finders for my Betacams. You can feel a bit nostalgic about them in a way. They were in the right place and they worked. Although they were B&W and actually very low resolution, which wasn’t a massive deal as this was in the old standard definition days.
With the advent of HD and especially large sensor camcorders, we need our viewfinders to be good, really good. After all, how are you supposed to get focus if your viewfinder sucks?? LCD screens are great to have, but have issues. You aren’t “part” of the image (unless you’re using a loop on them like a z-finder).
The C300 EVF is OK…the original C100 is very poor, the Mk 2 better. The FS100/ 700 screen/ loops not great at all. Ironically, the best EVFs that come with cameras are on the cheaper cameras….the stills ones like the A7s etc.
Monitors are great for tripod work but not for handheld, for me. I don’t want a big screen in front of my face in this situation, nor can I actually focus on anything that close. Viewfinders are essential for me when shooting handheld.
When using my “proper” video cameras like my F55 or FS7, I almost always use my Small HD DP-7 Pro High-Bright on the tripod. This monitor is exceptional as it can be used in bright sunlight outside. Most monitors cannot, and that’s also where a good viewfinder become invaluable. The ability to see what you are shooting in strong lighting conditions. For me I love to use both. The only time I take my monitor off is when I am exclusively shooting handheld, as it gets in the way.
Zacuto brought out their EVF about 3 and a half years ago which worked with their Z-Finder. This is whole new beast. A dedicated OLED panel with very high-end features. When Steve told me they were developing a high-end EVF I wasn’t sure this was a great idea. I have bought two very expensive EVFs in the past few years. The Bomb EVF for my RED Epic and the Sony OLED for the F5/ F55. The Bomb costs $3,200 and the Sony one almost $5,000! OUCH! This is an expensive and quite a niche market really.
The most frustrating thing about those two EVFs is that they only work on those cameras. They aren’t portable. The Sony one doesn’t even work on the new FS7.
So with that knowledge, the idea of having a high-end EVF that is not camera-specific is a pretty good one, especially if it’s a really good EVF, as both the Bomb EVF and Sony OLED are not exactly great. If I am going to spend this sort of cash on an EVF, I want it to be portable. The whole “not being able to use my F55 EVF on my FS7” really rammed this home for me.
I have done a video review covering my thoughts. I absolutely believe I am objective here, despite my relationship with Steve and Zacuto (please read my opening ethics paragraph for more on this.) I only did this video review because the EVF was so good. Otherwise I wouldn’t have put the time and effort into something I didn’t rate.
I used it solidly for 10 days with my FS7 in the Florida Everglades filming the last episode of CNN’s “The Wonder List”…easily the best way to test it, in a real world use situation, and it I was very impressed indeed.
This is an exceptional EVF, but it’s obviously not for everyone. I am going to sell my Sony OLED one, as this makes it utterly redundant, being so much better. I understand that Zacuto will be bringing out a cheaper, lower resolution version later this year. For me, the exceptional image quality is the key feature of this, and it would be quite a loss feature-wise although I haven’t seen this lower rez cheaper one.
If after watching my review you want to order the Gratical right now for the discounted price of $2900 until the end of January only, any purchase through my link below helps support my site and any future reviews without costing you anymore and is gratefully appreciated!
This chat was recorded when I visiting Zacuto last week. I took advantage of their facilities to record my review of the Gratical there, without any interference I promise!