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Review: Carry Speed VF-3 Universal LCD View Finder

by Peter Walkowiak on 11/10/2012

I am sitting here with the Carry Speed Viewfinder and I am wondering why didn’t I get one of these sooner? Like many photography or video related products we really don’t know what we are missing until we make the leap. The viewfinder makes precise manual focussing a cinch and now I can’t see myself shooting video without it.

I’ve had the VF-3 for a couple weeks now and I am going to go over it in detail and describe my experience with it.

Video Tour

Build

My first impression with the viewfinder was that it is really well made, solid metal mount, sturdy hard plastic body and comfortable eyepiece. There is a metal rail on each side of the body (left, right and bottom) that allow you to align the viewfinder to the LCD, more on this later.

The main body of the viewfinder is a hard plastic that has the speckle finish  like Nikon DSLRs. Not saying that you should squeeze the viewfinder but when I did it had very little flex, definitely very sturdy.

Towards the bottom center of the viewfinder there is a small clasp that allows you to flip the eyepiece up. Doing so reveals a sun shade for the LCD.

At first I had trouble getting the clasp to open but it just takes the right amount of pressure and the know how of how to do it. By the right amount of pressure I mean that it’s not easy to open and requires a good force, it surely will not open on its own if bumped.

The rubber eyepiece is flexible and large, it really lets you shove your face into it without any discomfort. The eyepiece is also easy to flip for those odd people out there who predominately shoot with their left eye.

There is also a diopter in front of the eyepiece those who have less than stellar vision. I asked Carry Speed why I couldn’t tell the difference when I changed the diopter they let me know that it is only really noticeable for those with worse vision than I. When the diopter isn’t set as default on any camera I can tell but for me it’s very hard to tell a difference. On the top of the eyepiece there is a lever to open and close a small plastic door over the glass on the back of the viewfinder.  This is a nice addition for those of us who really use the products we own.

Usage

All of my usage with the VF-3 it was tested on my trusty Nikon D800. The viewfinder aligned perfectly with the 3.2″ screen. The obvious should be stated that this item doesn’t force you to mount some kind of magnetic strip to your camera. Even though it does not have sealed lightproof attachment to the camera I didn’t a single bit of light leakage even in bright sunlight.  The mount has a plank of metal that protrudes from the from that slips into the included tripod mount. This allows it to be quickly removed to convert from video to photo mode.

The mount has a rubber finish on the top to prevent slipping when attached to the camera as well as three quarter inch holes on the bottom for attaching to a tripod or cage.

The VF-3 is made to fit a camera like mine, the Nikon D800 to a Canon 5D and it can also stretch its legs to fit a Canon T4i with a battery grip. The viewfinder is called universal for this fact that it can fit any of these cameras with displays all in different sizes and locations. There are two screws that aid its height vertically and two that help lock in the screens location horizontally. Each of the screws have a finger grip finish but also have a flat head top for a tight lockdown. Once the unit has been set in place it stays and I didn’t have any issues with it loosening or adjusting out of place.

It may be the fact that I have a glass protector on my glass display but when using the viewfinder focus seems to be confirmed by areas that show aliasing. It is odd to see and use but it makes focussing a breeze. I’m sure there are some D800 aliasing jokes to be had but in real life and in post I hardly ever see signs of it. This is how I have been achieving perfect focus and for the moments when I want to make sure aliasing isn’t an issue I can just flip the viewfinder up to confirm.

Conclusion

I recently shot video along a friend of mine and she uses the Zacuto model exclusively and I gave her a quick tour of the Carry Speed. She loved the look and feel and mostly the fact that when removed there weren’t any scraps left over to get in the way of taking photos. I believe this was part of the reason that I never got one from the start, that and the availability of viewfinders that support 3.2 inch screen were scarce. This viewfinder does the job and does it very well. There isn’t a single feature that I am missing or want missing from the Carry Speed. Focussing is really simple and it has helped me make more creative exact rack focuses without any trouble.

In the end I have no complaints about the viewfinder and I would recommend it to any of my friends. The Viewfinder is made by Swivi but is sold only through Carry Speed under the name VF-3 Universal LCD View Finder. It currently is being sold for the price of $150. You can find the VF-3 and all of their other products on their site here.

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