Review: Hoodman Custom Finder Kit for DSLR Video Capture

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When it comes to shooting video with an HDSLR, I am dependent on using the camera’s LCD screen rather than the optical viewfinder. The LiveView mode results in my having to use the 3.2-inch screen. This screen provides some great advantages when capturing motion, but one of its key challenges is getting a clear view when shooting under bright lighting conditions.

The glare not only makes it difficult for me to compose a shot, but also to view the displayed information regarding exposure, white balance or more. Getting a clear view of the screen while recording or playback becomes essential and this is where Hoodman promises a solution with their Custom Finder Kit for DSLR capture.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Provides a clear view of the LCD screen under bright light
  • Includes an adjustable diopter
  • Easy mounted with or without battery grip
  • Compact and easily stored in a camera bag.

Cons

  • Unable to shoot from the hip

Gear Used

For this review, I used the 5D Mark III with the BG-E11 Battery Grip and Canon 24-105mm f/4 and Sigma 24mm f1.8 EX DG.

Technical Specifications

  • Fits all DSLR bodies
  • Fits all DSLR with battery grips
  • All in one Focusing and Diopter capability
  • Adjustable Anti-Twist Bars
  • Two ¼ – 20 tripod mount holes
  • Includes a Hand Strap Slot
  • Sling Strap Attachment points
  • 3X magnification
  • Black Anodized Aluminum Construction
  • Hex Tool, Lanyard and Bag Included

Ergonomics

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The Hoodman Custom Finder Kit revolves around the HoodLoupe, which features a rigid body with a nice, feeling rubber-like exterior. The flexible eyecup blocks stray light and works well for those of us wearing eyeglasses. The eyecup can be rotated to adjust for a right or left eye shooter. The +/- 3 diopter ring allows you to adjust for your eyesight.

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The baseplate connects to the camera’s tripod socket using a D-ring camera mount. The bottom features two 1/3-20-tripod head mounts, which allowed me to attach the kit to a tripod head. A quick-release spar provided quick removal of the HoodLoupe, without having to take off the baseplate.

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The aperture of the HoodLoupe provided for a clear view of the 3.2-inch LCD. It fit fairly flush with the screen and reduced glare, providing a clear view.

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A vertical adjustment bar accommodated the use of the HoodLoupe with or without the battery grip.

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Anti-twist bars maintained a fixed position for the baseplate preventing undesired twisting and misalignment.

Build Quality

The anodized aluminum material offers solid construction for the base and the adjustable components, while maintaining compactness and relatively low weight. The HoodLoupe delivers a sharp, clear view of the LCD with no visible distortion. The eyecup is made of a non-allergic material providing comfort for extended periods of shooting.

Ease of Use

The adjustments needed to position the Custom Finder Kit on my 5D Mark III were very simple. The base was easily secured to the camera’s tripod socket using a D-ring, while the horizontal and vertical adjustment were loosened and tightened using the on-board hex tool, which is stored conveniently on the frame.

I used it with and without the BG-E11 battery grip and it worked well in both cases. I had worried that the by positioning the HoodLoupe to the highest vertical height might lead to stability issues, but it securely maintained its position.

Once adjusted, I could shoot and enjoy the full brightness of the screen even under very bright light. Though there was a slight gap between the HoodLoupe and the back of the body, it didn’t result any loss of clarity or contrast.

The inclusion of the quick-release spar made it easy to remove the HoodLoupe, allowing me to produce stills using the optical viewfinder.

Conclusions

I found that the Hoodman Custom Finder Kit become a really effective tool when I used my 5D Mark III. It provided me a clear view of the image, which helped me to more carefully build my compositions. It was especially helpful when I was manually focusing my lens.

Because I was pressing the camera HoodLoupe against my eye, I was able to create a third point of contact besides my two hands. This created better stability when handholding the camera and reduced any tendency for camera shake.

I was no longer able to shoot from the hip as I was want to do on occasion, which required me to have to physically move down in order to achieve those lower perspectives. However, this likely helped to improve my overall stability.  The inclusion of the two tripod mounts made it easy to use it on a tripod.

I particularly like that I can use the HoodLoupe in a traditional way when I’m not recording video. The small size of the entire kit makes it easy to carry it with me everywhere.

If you occasionally capture video, you might be fine with just using the bare LCD. However, I prefer working with a finder. It provides a better view of the screen, increases stability when handholding and helps makes precision focusing that much easier.  The Hoodman Custom Finder kit is a convenient alternative for those of us who don’t want to invest and carry large camera rigs, which are bulky, heavy and expensive.

The kit is available for both Canon and Nikon bodies. If you already own a HoodLoupe, you can purchase the kit as a stand-alone accessory.

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