Zacuto Z-Finder, Switronix DSLR-Pro and Ikan V5600 Review

Any equipment that gives the video producer options and allows greater control over his or her shooting will surely be a welcome asset. Newer DSLRs are shooting some incredible video now, and we’ll explore three items that strive to help the DSLR user that shoots video, too.

Z-Finder Zacuto’s Optical Viewfinder for DSLR Cameras

Zacuto’s new viewfinder for DSLR cameras, the Z-Finder, sports a large, comfortable, eyecup that keeps outside light from leaking in and 3x focusable magnification that brings the image up close and personal. It provides much-improved viewing over stock viewfinders, especially if you only have the LCD monitor to compose shots with. Its 40mm diameter lens allows a great deal more light to come through, resulting in a crisper, clearer, brighter image. Pushing the Z-Finder gently against the eye provides a third point of contact and, therefore, greater stability.

The optional lanyard and hook provide a measure of security against the Z-Finder getting dislodged from the camera and hitting the ground. With the lanyard, you can quickly disconnect the viewfinder from the camera without worrying about where to put it as might be the case when switching back and forth between video and stills.

The Z-Finder mounts to the camera via a flat snap-fit frame. The frame attaches to the camera’s LCD screen with a double-sided adhesive strip. Once you have the frame securely attached, you can snap the Z-Finder on and off it with ease. Zacuto claims that subsequent removal of the frame is possible without any negative effects by squeezing the sides together and gently pulling upward until the adhesive releases and pulls loose.

Tech Specs

Range: 3x magnification

Diopter range: -4.5 to -1.2.

Lens: 40mm diameter for excellent light throughput

Body: Sturdy, lightweight, 6 oz.

Outer dimensions of snap fit frame: 71mm wide x 56mm tall

Inner dimensions of snap fit frame: 62mm wide x 46.7mm tall

Works with: Canon 5d and 7d, Nikon D90, Panasonic GH1 and many others

Strengths

  • Encourages correct form for video
  • Provides a third point of contact for
    better support
  • Image bright, clear and large
  • Greatly improved viewing over stock
    viewfinder

Weaknesses

  • Must be adhered to LCD screen using included adhesive strip

Zacuto

401 West Ontario

Chicago, IL 60610 Ste.250

www.zacuto.com

$395

Switronix DSLR-PRO Camera Shoulder Support

The DSLR-PRO Shoulder Support is one of a line of DSLR Stabilizers created by Switronix for the Canon 5D/7D, Nikon and Panasonic Lumix cameras. It assists in achieving steadier shots and its aluminum construction keeps it light for reduced fatigue.

Its design provides adjustments along three axes to aide in getting the camera in just the right position. The arched shoulder support features ample padding for comfort and has a locking bracket on its front to allow for vertical adjustment of the camera. It also sports a raised mounting platform to bring the viewfinder up to eye level.

Mounted atop the twin vertical adjustment rods is a bracket and locking knob combination that allows the extension piece, which holds the camera, to be adjusted to the left or right. Loosening the locking knob also enables the shooter to get some great, smooth, side-to-side pans. The extension is a slotted piece of aluminum through which the handle extends. Turning the handle clockwise loosens it from the mounting platform and allows the entire assembly to move forward or backward in the slot, placing the camera closer to or further away from the operator’s body. Turning the handle counter clockwise tightens it again and locks the mounting platform in place.

You mount the camera to the stabilizer by attaching the mounting plate to the underside of the camera via the standard mounting screw. The plate slides into the platform base and is locked down with the lock knob located on the side. Essentially the process is the same as mounting a camera to a tripod.

Once mounted and adjusted, the stabilizer is lightweight, comfortable and makes for some very smooth, fluid shooting. When walking, be careful to adjust your stride, or you’ll find the image gliding up and down with each step.

Tech Specs

Range: 3 axis movement for optimal camera positioning to raise the DSLR’s viewfinder to eye level

Sizing: Short slide channel so bracket won’t show in wide shots

Material: Conforming aircraft aluminum shoulder bracket

Strengths

  • Easy to setup and use
  • Lightweight
  • Comfortable
  • Enhances fluidity of shots

Weaknesses

  • Getting the mounting plate to slide into the base and back out again proved very difficult. It appeared to jam partway in. Hopefully this problem was unique to our test unit only.

Switronix, Inc.

265 Sunrise Highway, Ste. 346

Rockville Centre, NY 11570

www.switronix.com

$279

ikan V5600 5.6″ TFT LCD Monitor

The ikan V5600 Deluxe Kit provides you with everything you need to get up and running right away. The 5.6″ HD LCD monitor, a compartmentalized soft carrying case with shoulder strap, AC Adapter, Sony compatible battery pack and charger, an adapter which allows the use of select DV batteries, camera shoe mount, AV and Component breakout cables.

The monitor receives power using either the AC adapter or, for those on the move, a camcorder battery attached to the monitor via the battery adapter. The hardware required for mounting the adapter to the back of the monitor is included. Mounting the battery and powering up the unit takes only a minute or two.

The monitor mounts directly to the camera using the included shoe mount or to a light stand, tripod support or any other such device using a shoe mount adapter or industry standard 1/4-20 thread mount. Turned on and connected to the camera, the V5600 delivers a crisp, clear picture with a resolution of 1024 x 600. Buttons along the bottom front provide power, adjustments for brightness, hue, etc., volume up/down, the ability to switch aspect ratios, input selection (Composite, SD/HD Component, HDMI) and onscreen safe area guides. Headphone out and AV connections are on the side.

Tech Specs

LCD: 5.6″ TFT

Resolution: 1024 x 600

LCD Brightness: 165cd/m2

Contrast Ratio: 200:1

Viewing angles: 80/80(R/L), 55/55(U/L)

Operating Volts: DC 12-24V

Dimension: 5.75″x4.625″x0.82″

Inputs: HDMI, Component and Composite

Weight (lbs): 0.7

Strengths

  • Large, crisp, clear picture
  • Lightweight
  • Very portable

Weaknesses

  • None significant

ikan Corporation

3903 Stoney Brook Dr.

Houston ,TX 77063

www.ikancorp.com

$699; Deluxe Kit – $849

Summary

These three products both promise and deliver greater control over the image acquisition process and will be a welcome addition to the serious DSLR video producer’s toolkit.

Mark Holder is a video producer and trainer.

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