Saturday, November 23, 2013

Poor Man's LCDVF Solution for the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera

I apologize for the long break between posts, but a second trip to Hawaii got in the way (sorry) - this one was all business, though, and I had zero time for shooting, editing or writing blog entries.

But since my most recent return, I've been slowly addressing the challenges that I had on last month's vacation test shoot with the BMPCC.

One of the biggest challenges was glare on the LCD.  As readers of my blog posts and forum entries know, I am a big proponent of cameras with built-in EVFs.  One of the disqualifying weaknesses of DSLRs for me is their lack of a video-capable viewfinder.  This is one of the main reasons I don't buy or recommend DSLRs for video.

But I really wanted to get away from 8 bit 4:2:0 video cameras - and the BMPCC's 10 bit ProRes 422 and 12 bit CinemaDNG RAW were the only affordable option  - so I had to break the "built-in EVF rule".

As I wrote in an earlier post, I bought the Cavision MHE52 (along with an $8 3.5" LCD adapter) from Adorama before my BMPCC came in.  Sadly, there was no easy way to attach this viewfinder to the camera.  I had to place it over the LCD and then physically press the eyecup to my eye during the shot in order to keep it from falling off.  The screen looked great, it gave me another point of support for the camera - and it was the only way I was able to compose and focus my shots, but it slipped or fell off several times at critical moments.

It was nice that the loupe came with straps, so I could hang it around my neck and 'look like a director' - but this was not the optimum solution.

So when I came back, I ordered a $15 Viewfinder Sunhood from LCD4Video via Amazon.  This is a traditional LCD hood - but with the straps in a "V" configuration - designed to go around the lens in front of the BMPCC.   After adjusting the straps and the velcro size adjustment for the hood, it was a workable solution.

But I had lost a point of support.  Without an eyepiece, I could no longer hold the camera up to my eye for critical focus.  And there might be times when the sun was directly behind me that it would still lose the screen to glare.  I was resigned to switching the hood out with the Cavision in those situations.

Then I saw BMCC EF owner Chris Barcellos' post and video over on dvinfo.  He asked his wife to sew some black kitchen towels together, then wrapped them around a cardboard shade and stuck a viewfinder in the back of the contraption - not elegant, but it worked!

So I pulled the Cavision viewfinder out of the camera bag, wrapped the LCD4Video shade around it, and strapped the assembly back on the camera.  It was a perfect fit.  The entire screen was bright and perfectly visible, I was able to use my eye as a third point of support for the camera, and I have complete confidence that it won't fall off or shift during the shot.

This solution doesn't require you to glue a frame on your camera or buy an external EVF.  It also steadies your shots by providing a third point of contact with your body.  Another big plus for me, is that it takes me back 40 years to the Super 8 form factor. If I squint a little, I can see the outlines of my old Sankyo and Chinon Super 8 sound cameras!

If you like this solution, you can get the LCD4Video Sunhood for $15. Unfortunately, the standalone MHE52 is now $79.95 at Adorama, but you can get a $17 EZPhoto viewfinder from Amazon, and it should work just as well.

And if you want to go all the way with the retro Super 8 look - the Photography & Cinema pistol grip is $19 at Amazon.


  1. Hi Oscar,

    I'm using an $8 Mennon DV-s 58 Screw Mount Camcorder Lens Hood in the picture, but it is designed for 4:3 aspect ratios, so it has a tendency to vignette - I recommend against it.

    Instead, you may want ti consider the $17 Mennon 58mm 16:9 Wide Angle Video Camera Screw Mount Lens Hood - or, if you need the ability to slide in filters, a $55 aIR-Matte A2 Matte Box.

    The aIR-Matte A2 is a great lens shade and Cokin P filter mount. It is a very good value for the money. Hope this is helpful!


    1. thanks, my only concern was to purchase a matte because i have 8mm wide angle lens, which you probably know, it cant mount a UV filter