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.
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 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.
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.
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.