With the ever-increasing number of users turning to DSLR still cameras for video, more and more accessories are being released to add video camera convenience to them. One factor that annoys many video DSLR users is the need to use the rear screen when in video mode, making viewing the picture difficult in very bright daylight. The need to use this screen for focusing also leaves a lot to be desired, as the use of wide‑aperture lenses (which can place only a small area in focus at one time) with DSLRs is common. In order to solve both of these issues, a few manufacturers have released shading and magnifying devices for DSLR screens.
Estonian company LCDVF produce two versions of their mid‑priced viewfinder (or loupe) for DSLR cameras. The standard version is for most screens up to three inches in size, and the other for is for larger 3:2 ratio screens, such as that on the Canon 550DRebel T2i. As well as serving to shade the screen from excess light, a glass element works to magnify the screen by 200 percent. The loupe itself uses four thin magnets to attach to a metal frame, which in turn is fixed to the camera screen.
The package comes with the loupe, neckstrap, carry bag, instructions and two adhesive metal frames for attaching to the back of the camera. The metal frames use 3M adhesive and attaching one is a delicate process, but once it's in place the bond is solid. Magnification is just right: the 300 percent models I've used magnify a little too much to be comfortable, revealing pixels and cutting off the edges of the picture. The frame is sturdy and the magnets snap on and off with a good amount of pressure, but getting the frame in just the right place was tough, with little room for error. Since there is no diopter adjustment (for near‑ and far‑sighted users) and I am very near sighted, my only option was glasses or contact lenses.
This isn't the cheapest accessory, or indeed the cheapest viewfinder, but it's also far from the most expensive and is well engineered. Zacuto, makers of high‑end and rather more expensive DSLR accessories, have released a 'Junior' version of their Z‑Finder, which is more solidly made but more expensive, and not quite so quick and convenient to attach and remove. The LCDVF sits at a price point all its own, plus for 550DRebel T2i users like myself, the 3:2 version is the only bespoke solution. If you want a good viewfinder but don't want to pay a premium, the LCDVF is a very good choice! J G Harding
£94$179 for 3:2 version, £118$189 for standard. Prices include VAT.