05 Dec My thoughts on the Zacuto Z-Finder viewfinder for DSLR cameras
The DSLR videography market is relatively new, with Nikon being the first to include the ability to capture video in a DSLR in its D90, back in 2008.
This means there aren’t many established manufacturers of the various products necessary to allow a DSLR to function effectively in a range of environments and situations. Don’t get me wrong – you can achieve a lot without having to spend a penny, but you will quickly learn the limitations of using a DSLR camera for the purposes of producing professional video content.
A consequence of the DSLR videography market being in its infancy is that everything is really expensive – take the Zacuto Z-Finder for example. It’s a viewfinder (some plastic, rubber and a bit of polished glass essentially) with a metal baseplate – nothing amazing about it at all, and yet it costs £265!! The mark-up on that must be huge!
So why even bother buying a viewfinder? It makes focusing a lot easier, as the lens magnifies your camera’s screen, and with the eyepiece you can work in direct sunlight without issue. Having it up to your eye also ensures a degree of stability – not as much as a shoulder mount, but it still helps reduce camera shake significantly.
So it’s a useful piece of kit – not necessary at all, but it will make your life a whole lot easier in a wide range of shooting situations.
Needing to invest in a viewfinder for a commission, and being one for only wanting to buy a piece of equipment once, I opted to go for the Zacuto Z-Finder – and to be honest I’m glad I did, despite its price tag and the pain this caused me.
It’s a very useful and well-constructed piece of kit, and it’s allowed me to shoot handheld under a much wider range of situations than I otherwise would, as well as focus more easily in dynamic situations and under harsh lighting conditions.
Zacuto is producing high-quality products in an arena where there are few direct competitors, and so they know they can price things high and get away with it. All the cheap alternatives you find on eBay just aren’t comparable in terms of build quality, and at the time of purchasing the Z-Finder, there was no mid-range viewfinder available – and to be honest, had there been, it’s most likely I would have gone for that – simply because of the price-tag for the Zacuto.
So if you want to make your life a whole lot easier when trying to produce professional video footage using a DSLR, then if you only buy one thing, make it a viewfinder. If you’ve got the money, I would suggest you consider the Zacuto Z-Finder – it will hopefully be the only viewfinder you ever need to buy.
Here is some of the content I have produced while using the Zacuto Z-Finder – ‘Participation in Research Trials’ for Imperial Collage Healthcare NHS Trust
Here is where I bought my Zacuto Z-Finder – The Flash Centre, London