Less than half the price of Zacuto's Z-Finder, the LCDVF is a well-made alternative, but lacks dioptre control.
With the addition of video capture, the functionality of digital SLRs is evolving rapidly, and yet camera makers have done little to adapt the ergonomics.
Micro Four Thirds models such as the Panasonic Lumix GH1, with its built-in electronic viewfinder, or the Olympus Pen E-P2 and Lumix GF1 with their add-on EVFs, are well-suited to framing video, but the optical path of DSLR finders are interrupted during motion capture, so live viewing can only take place using the rear LCD.
This has given an opportunity for innovative accessory suppliers in the form of clip-on optical viewfinders, such as the Zacuto Z-Finder, reviewed in last month’s issue. As good as it is, with its Schneider Optics-coated lenses in its optical construction, it’s quite pricey, starting at £220.
At just £85 +VAT, a much more affordable alternative is the LCDVF, designed in Estonia. Originally it could only be bought online, but is now available through UK distributor Production Gear, the LCDVF is a reasonably well made and comfortable 2× loupe. It affixes to the screen using an adhesive-backed mounting frame, of which two such frames are included while more can be purchased for just £5 +VAT.
The loupe itself then attaches via four tiny magnets moulded into the body with, it’s claimed, no damage to the sensitive electronics or the screen. The company does, however, recommend removing the loupe over extended periods of time. If you’re a Nikon user, though, I’m sure the frame would easily glue to the screen protectors supplied with new cameras, which would then easily clip on or off and reduce the risk of magnetic damage.
In use, the LCDVF works brilliantly, and not just for video but also for live view composition where manual focus is required. It may not have the magnification of the Zacuto models, but it’s plenty enough for fine focusing control. Indeed, the Zacuto easily reveals each of the 920K dots, but it’s a little harder to see into the corners with the Zacuto.
If I have any objections, it’s the lack of dioptre adjustment. This is an essential requirement for those of us over a certain age with hardening lenses, and means that I have to remove my eye a centimetre or two for it. While that means you lose the steadying effect as well if running and gunning, it’s of little real consequence when using the camera on a tripod.
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