Review: Kinotehnik LCDVF

As photographers, we sometimes want to shoot video but our DSLRs are plagued by different issues. For example, they can be ergonomic nightmares when it comes to trying to record steady handheld footage. Part of this is because of the fact that the LCD screen needs to be held at a certain distance away from you. Enter the Kinotehnik LCDVF: a highly recommended viewfinder attachment for HDSLR videography at an affordable price.

But is it for you?

Correction: We originally called this the CowBoy Studios LCDVF. Kinotehnik emailed us to tell us that theirs is a knock off and not related. However, the products are similar but Kinotehnik’s version is superior. It is also easily mistaken. Here’s how to tell the real vs fake.

Gear Used

Tech Specs

Borrowed from B&H Photo’s listing of the product.

Dimensions Outer dimensions of camera to LCDVF interface frame:
2.7 x 1.8″ (68 x 45mm)
Inner dimensions of LCDVF viewable area:
2.4 x 1.8″ (60 x 45mm)
Corner radius of outer perimeter:
0.2″ (4mm)
Aperture diameter:
1.6″ (40mm)
Magnification Approx. 200% (2x)
Materials Body: impact resistant ABS
Eyecup: silicone rubber
Mount Galvanized and powder-coated metal shield
Weight 3.84 oz (110 g)

Ergonomics

The LCDVF is a remarkably simple yet complex attachment to use. Seriously, try making one yourself and you’ll see how much work goes into it. When you take it out of the box, it comes with its own soft case and a microfiber cloth on the bottom of the inside of said case.

Also included is extra padding for around the eyepiece. I’ve never used it.

At one end of the attachment is a glass piece that is meant to magnify your DSLR’s LCD screen. On the other end is an area with magnets. Why magnets? This has to do with the critical part of how the LCDVF works.

Included with the kit are two sticky metal rectangles that are meant to go around your LCD screen. They paste on very easily and non-destructively to the paint of your camera.

Once it’s on, you can affix the LCDVF using the magnetic attraction between the two. For the mot part, it will stay in place the entire time.

Ease of Use

All one needs to do it stick it onto the back of the LCD screen with the metal rectangle attached and you’re ready to go. Granted, you can’t adjust the eyepiece more to work accordingly with your vision. That means that everyone won’t always see the same thing through the eyepiece.

Practicality in Use

I’ve used the LCDVF over a period of one month shooting various videos on the streets and at Photo Plus Expo. Once again, the reason why you need one of these attachments is because of the same reason as to why you’d prefer to use a camera with a viewfinder over a camera that mainly uses the LCD screen: stabilization. When you hold a viewfinder up to your eye, the camera is stabilized against your body/face. I’ve used it for the following videos:

The type of videography that the LCDVF suits best for is the run and gun style. All of these videos were shot handheld and without a tripod or monopod. Without the LCDVF, the footage would have been extremely shaky since the camera would need to be further away from me and my arms would be stretched outward.

I kept wondering while shooting if the LCDVF would ever just snap off since it is only held in place by magnets. However, this never happened. I was pleasantly surprised by its reliability and how easily it allowed me to adjust focus and manage my settings if needed. With that said, you have to make sure that you place the metal rectangle in the right spot so that you don’t block your entire LCD screen or the critical data on it.

What’s even nicer is that even in the darkest of lighting situations, you’ll be able to easily see what’s on the LCD screen. For the best results, you may want to set your camera’s LCD to always be at the brightest setting. Otherwise, your shooting results may vary depending on how the lighting situations changes.

For even better results, an external LCD monitor should be used, but this product was designed for videographers that don’t want to carry one with them.

Conclusion

Ever since Hoodman first came onto the scene with the HoodLoupe, videographers have wanted to have a better way to shoot video in an run and gun style. But the HoodLoupe’s quality wasn’t amazing even though a user could get the job done with it. Zacuto’s options are very expensive and designed more for the serious videographer. However, if you’re just a photographer that wants to shoot videos occassionally but get the best footage you can, the LCDVF is a great option. Mine is always in my camera bag if I need to shoot video because of just how much it steps up the quality of my production due to having steadier footage.

As a note though, using this product is best combined with the usual methods of getting steadier footage: controlling your breathing, tucking your elbows, etc. Additionally, if you’re adjusting a fading ND filter, try to be very careful with how you do so lest the video becomes even shakier.

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