Sony PMW-350K Viewfinder Bracket Kit

Note: This article was originally published by Patrick McLoad
and is reprinted here with his kind permission.

I finally made the leap from an old Beta SP rig (Sony BVP-550) with Canon lens to the new-fangled world of High Definition and SxS cards. That last camera cost 35 thousand dollars, and I wasn’t about to spend that kind of money again, especially in this economy. For the money, the PMW-350 and its stock lens was a good fit, especially considering that I generally only shoot corporate stuff anyway. For the most part, I’ve been very happy with the image quality of the 350. It sure beats what I’ve been looking at for the past decade. I’ve already done two paid shows with the camera and two freebies just for practice.

The only real problem I’ve experienced with my 350 and stock Fuji lens is the lack of space between the lens and the big-honking color viewfinder. I always had plenty of room with my old Canon lens and the BetaCam’s B&W viewfinder, and operating the lens rings and zoom rocker was a snap. But with this new Sony 350, it was almost a deal breaker. I still find the switch for auto/manual iris on the lens to be too far forward to reach with my right hand while on shoulder.

But on sticks, the only way to operate the zoom control is with your left hand through the space between lens and VF, and you need to do so without accidentally bumping the iris or focus rings. Maybe I’m just a big guy with big hands, but this was serious. After studying a dealer’s demo camera for awhile, I determined I could make a bracket that raised the VF up by one inch. So with that in mind, I bought the camera. And the one-inch bracket has made all the difference in the world — I can now operate my lens at speed without taking my eye away from the eye-piece.

Here’s how I overcame that frustrating design oversight on the Sony PMW-350K video camera. It seems that although Sony made a great camera in the 350K, they failed to address the cramped working space between the color viewfinder and the lens. Below, the problem as shown on my personal camera:

It seems you will rarely see a publicity photo of the PMW-350K with the viewfinder tilted at 45 degrees, but even with it straight ahead while on your shoulder, it’s a challenge to reach and operate the zoom rocker with your left hand through the gap. It is very difficult to reach and operate the zoom with your right hand while in the hand strap (at least for me anyway), and impossible while on sticks.

To solve this problem, I designed a simple yet sturdy bracket that raises the viewfinder by one inch, allowing plenty of room for your left hand to operate lens controls or the zoom-control rocker. It’s amazing how much just one inch can make.

I have assembled an all-inclusive kit consisting of a black-anodized aluminum bracket with hardware, tools, and assembly instructions. Adjusting the height of your viewfinder couldn’t be any easier, and you’ll have it done in five minutes.

The bracket looks so good, you would think that its a Sony part. The horizontal adjustment tubes retract fully, and neither the bracket nor the VF post hits the top handle… and it doesn’t get in the way of the hot shoe either.

There is an optional Sony viewfinder attachment that allows a person to tilt the EVF nearly vertical for walking purposes, but I do not know how that bracket impacts the mounting of this special attachment. Since the placement of the holes are the same, it should probably still work — but I’m not sure.

I have some extra bracket kits made up in case any other Sony PMW-350 shooters want to get one for their own camera. Until I get some sort of website up that accepts PayPal, this will have to be a check / money order transaction. If you are not happy with the bracket, just send it back in resell-able condition (no scratches) along with hardware, and I will refund your money 100%.

Each kit is $50, and includes shipping and handling in the USA. All kits will be sent US Priority Mail, unless overnight delivery is requested. For quicker delivery, please enclose an additional $50 for FedEx.

For international shipping, I will be using the US Postal Service “small box” which is a flat rate of $15. Please send an international money order from your bank for $63 US. Shipping will be immediate upon receipt of payment! My contact information can be obtained by clicking this link, which goes directly to my blog.

So overall, I am absolutely elated with my PMW-350. After having used the big broadcast rigs all of my thirty years of shooting, I could not bring myself to getting the smaller-style cameras with 1/3rd-inch imagers… though the quality of those cameras is remarkable as well. In fact, I’d like to get one for a back-up. Are there better cameras out there? Absolutely! But for the foreseeable future, this rig will suit my purposes just fine.

Note: This article was originally published by Patrick McLoad
and is reprinted here with his kind permission.

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