Sometimes I think external monitors are more trouble than they’re worth for DSLR shooting. You’ve got to mess around with magic arms, the HDMI cable is always temperamental, and whenever the shutter flips down (not talking about EVIL cameras here) and you flip it back up again there’s that extra second of delay where the monitor figures out what image dimensions you’re sending it.
Don’t get me wrong — most of the time, I want an external monitor — for sure. When you need to share what you’re shooting with a director or focus puller, it’s a necessity on DSLR shoots — the LCD on the back won’t cut it. But there are other times, for me at least, where I’m shooting solo, there’s no need to share with anyone, and every shot is handheld. In these cases I find it lighter, faster, simpler, better to use a loupe.
And this is where the “Perfect” GGS 3x LCD viewfinder comes in. I went to my favourite site: http://www.cinegearpro.com (I’m only half-joking) and took a gamble on their 2nd most expensive (also 2nd cheapest) LCD loupe they stocked. As usual with a lot of these non-Zacuto, non-Redrock products, there’s very little unbiased information out there about them. Google them and you’ll find all manner of sites selling them, and maybe a glowing video “review” by someone affiliated with the product.. but nothing all that honest. Anyway. I figured it was only 55 pounds, the shipping was cheap, and I needed a quick fix. I’d read horror stories about various other viewfinders with terrible vignetting, or terrible optical quality.. But the “Perfect” viewfinder wasn’t mentioned anywhere, so I gave it a shot.
All I can say is that so far, after a couple of months of use, this viewfinder *has* worked perfectly. There’s no vignetting, the optics seem sufficiently clear to me, and the build quality is reasonably solid. I’ve been using it over the summer, so as temperatures drop I might find there’s more of a problem with the eyepiece fogging up (there’s no mention of anti-fog coating, which doesn’t surprise me at this price) due to body heat and condensation. Still, on frosty morning shoots, I’ve found that even a Zacuto Z-finder, which is theoretically coated with anti-fog, fogs like a bitch. Go figure.
So why is this viewfinder so cheap? Well, there is one catch to the “Perfect” viewfinder. You’ve got to stick a chunk of thick, clear plastic (included with the viewfinder) over your DSLR’s LCD screen so that the loupe will snap onto the back of your camera. It’s not the most elegant solution. Especially when you read the installation instructions: “Stick the screen protector on the frame of the LCD screen and make sure it is align correctly. Then stick it firmly by pressing the four sides of the LCD screen. … Put one plane object of 1kg on the screen protector about 24 hours so that the LCD window can stick with the screen protector completely.”
Wordsmiths of the highest quality down at the “Perfect” GGS factory. Oh yes.
Jokes aside, it felt a bit ghetto sticking my 7D underneath two large dictionaries overnight and waiting for the adhesive to fix in place. But it works. Maybe it’s a shocking thing to do to a DSLR, maybe I should’ve spent more money on a Z-finder with its own support bracket (a baseplate system, no sticky stuff required). Truth be told, it doesn’t bother me. It might, if I ever decide to remove the plastic from the back of my 7D, but I know I won’t. I’ll go so far as to say that although it’s messy, it’s *better* than Zacuto’s support bracket system because the viewfinder is 100% sealed. On shoots where I’ve rented a Zacuto rig, I’d often get light leaking through slim gaps between the support bracket and the camera body. Not an issue with the Perfect’s adhesive plastic block. Absolutely no extraneous light enters.
One thing I’ll flag: despite following the instructions and trapping my 7D under dictionaries for 24 hours, it’s still possible for the clear plastic block to come loose — you can’t leave the loupe permanently attached to the back of the DSLR, as the continual weight (not that it’s at all heavy) slowly wrenches the adhesive away from the camera body.. not great. After panicking slightly and applying pressure to the plastic block for a few minutes, I got it firmly attached again. And now that I detach the loupe from the back of the camera when it’s not in use, I haven’t had any problems with it coming loose again.
Can I recommend this viewfinder? Yes indeed. It’s cheap, messy and ghetto, but it does exactly what you need it to do.