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Old March 23rd, 2011, 08:55 AM   #1
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Carry Speed LCD Viewfinder: Pros and Cons

I just received a Carry Speed LCD Viewfinder after seeing a good review of it on Cheesycam.com, where it was described as one of the best of the "cheap" LCD viewfinders. (For me, "cheap" = "affordable!") Cost for this one was right around $60.



The viewfinder seems very well-made for $60. Though plastic, it seems very solid. The eyecup is large and comfortable, and the optical quality of the lens was more than good enough for me (though some say it does exhibit a bit of distortion around the edges—I'm willing to live with this as it's not bad at all).

The mounting frames for this viewfinder are made of decent-quality, stiff metal—nothing cheesy about those. And perhaps the best point about this viewfinder is that it clicks positively into place on the mounting frame and does not slide around at all.

The downside, of course, is that the viewfinder doesn't have a diopter adjustment. So it was with great sadness that I discovered the focal distance isn't perfect for my eyes. (I don't wear glasses, but I also don't have 20/20 vision.)

It goes without saying that if you can't have a perfect focal distance for your eyes, there isn't much point in having a viewfinder (in my opinion).

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Zacuto solves this problem with their Z-Finder Jr. (which also does not have a diopter adjustment) by offering stackable mounting frames to increase the viewfinder's distance from the LCD.

In my case, I found out that holding the viewfinder a hair under 1/8" away from the LCD gave me perfect sharpness.

Alas, I'm not sure what to do with my Carry Speed viewfinder. I really can't afford a Zacuto now. I've heard rumors that people have used the Zacuto mounts with a cheap viewfinder, but don't know if this really works? I also don't know if any of the other cheap viewfinders have a solution to compensate for focal distance?

If anyone else has the same issue with focal distance and found a solution, please let me know!

I thought of just buying more of the thin metal frames from Carry Speed and stacking them...but the frames are SO thin it might take 3 or 4 to get the right distance (and that could get messy).

I also emailed Carry Speed and asked if they could develop some sort of stackable frame. (I pointed out they would definitely sell more of the viewfinders if there was an option like this.)

I might explore some DIY solutions...but have no idea where to start...

Thanks,
Scott
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Old March 24th, 2011, 07:52 AM   #2
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Re: Carry Speed LCD Viewfinder: Pros and Cons

Wow—104 views and not a comment! I guess either nobody is familiar with this viewfinder and/or nobody has had the issue I've had.

I'll say one thing: given the simplicity of a viewfinder such as this and the relatively simple task it performs, I sincerely believe that paying $300 or more for a DSLR viewfinder is highway robbery. I recognize that this is a generally inflated industry price-wise, and also that there are always people who believe that high prices directly befit their stature as professionals.

On the other hand, if I have to go through a lot of hassle to jury-rig this viewfinder to achieve perfect eye focus...maybe I would have been better off forking out $350 for a Z-Finder?

If anyone else has a recommendation for an inexpensive viewfinder (e.g. $150 or less) that features some means to adjust for eye focus, please let me know! (I'll do some digging around myself too.)

I suspect, though, I could probably jury-rig something for this $60 viewfinder for much less than the cost of a Z-Finder, and it would work just as well.

By the way, my comments are in no way intended to suggest the Z-Finder isn't a great product—I'm sure it is!

I'm just getting frustrated by the fact that now that we have the ability to shoot excellent-quality HD video at a reasonable price (the T2i)...accessory manufacturers like Zacuto are ratcheting up the prices of add-ons to the point where they will eventually be right back up there in "broadcast prices" territory.

Doesn't this defeat the whole purpose of "HD videography for the Everyman?"

Scott
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Old March 24th, 2011, 06:59 PM   #3
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Re: Carry Speed LCD Viewfinder: Pros and Cons

Hoodman Cine Pro Kit ($171.89 at B&H today):

Hoodman Cinema Kit Pro HCKP B&H Photo Video

Includes the loupe, mounting crane (attaches to camera hot shoe), and 3X eyepiece. Has diopter adjustment and once adjusted to good fit over the LCD can be dismounted and remounted in seconds.

I use this on 3 cameras now; 7D, T2i, and 60D. Swapping from camera to camera requires minor readjustment of loupe position on LCD but rarely takes over 20 to 30 seconds. I got mine "piecemeal" before prices dropped so I paid over $220 for mine (still worth every penny to me).

I also have a CAVISION viewfinder setup with 6X eyepiece and "swing away" the the side adapter. Takes about 5 minutes for me to mount it and a Manfrotto quick release plate to the 7D and I do like it and the way I can work with it, but a lot of the time I grab the Hoodman kit. Only seconds to mount or dismount that.
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Old March 25th, 2011, 09:12 AM   #4
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Re: Carry Speed LCD Viewfinder: Pros and Cons

Thanks Bruce. The Hoodman is definitely cheaper than a Zacuto...and looks good. I'm not sure about the shoe-mount crane...because I sometimes mount my Zoom recorder to the hotshoe (so it would be REALLY high with this setup!)...but I might look into it.

In the meantime...I'm probably going to try to make some kind of "spacer frame" to go between the Carry Speed viewfinder and the LCD...I just need to find some good material that I can neatly cut to precise dimensions (I think that's the hard part).

If I come up with a solution I'll post up.

Scott
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Old March 25th, 2011, 02:00 PM   #5
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Re: Carry Speed LCD Viewfinder: Pros and Cons

The increase in height by mounting the Zoom on top of the crane will make no difference in the audio. But I rarely put mine on the camera anyway (I have both the Zoom H2 and H1), mine work best at a constant distance from the "talent" so I usually mount the Zoom on a small ball joint that tops a light stand. I position this about 4 to 5 feet from the talent and compose to keep it out of the frame.

Outdoors wind will be a problem regardless of where you mount the Zoom unit. The H1 is so sensitive to any wind or handling noise, ordering a furry windmuff for it from TheWindCutter.com, Professional Microphone Windscreens resulted in those folks undertaking a several month long prototype development.

It started when I critiqued the performance of the product I had purchased from them, adding suggestions. They implemented those and sent me a prototype to test out. Suggestions and a conferences with the design engineer ultimately resulted in a design that totally encloses the ZoomH1. They then asked to borrow my H2 so they could see how that design could protect it even more than the "Stormchaser" model they've been selling did.

The result is the "WindJacket", a totally enclosed long and dense fur (artificial, of course) with a vinyl "window" for eyeballing the meters and even using a few pushbutton controls. They have this available for ordering now for both the H2 and H1 models and are developing similar designs for other audio recorders. I've tested a prototype for them in up to 30MPH winds and I have the production "WindJacket" for both of my Zoom recorders.

TheWindCutter.com, Professional Microphone Windscreens

They have a $10 off coupon code, enter (10OFFNOW) discount coupon code at checkout, and this is good through the end of April.

I have no financial interest in this company, I just wanted the most effective wind solution I could have.
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Old March 25th, 2011, 02:47 PM   #6
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Re: Carry Speed LCD Viewfinder: Pros and Cons

Interesting Bruce. Yes, if I were shooting with a stationary camera, I agree—mounting the Zoom on a stand (or boom-mounted) would be better.

Funny you mentioned the windscreen—I just received (yesterday) a Redhead Windscreen for my H4...and haven't even tried it yet. Hearing you talk about the totally enclosed version is making me nervous, LOL. I'll have to play around with mine...

Scott
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