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DIY viewfinder for DSLR

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DIY viewfinder for DSLR

Postby Ron Hunter » Sat Jul 19, 2014 6:34 pm

I recently discovered how hard it is to look at my DSLR's viewfinder in bright sunlight. This lead me to a DIY viewfinder originally created by Knoptop and modified by Dave Dugdale. I decided to give it a try.
DIY viewfinder.jpg

DIY viewfinder back.jpg


It doesn't look too great but I am amazed by how well it works!! You can't touch the touchscreen, naturally, but what I'm learning is that you don't have to; the buttons let you do everything you would normally use the touchscreen for. I can zoom into the image for "critical focus" just using the buttons, and everything else can still be adjusted too.

The viewfinder element is a 5x cheapo loupe; I bought a set of different magnifications from Amazon for $14. (Dave Dugdale says you can get them from Harbor Freight for $5, but I used Amazon instead.) The body of the viewfinder is a baby powder plastic container that is almost perfectly sized for the DSLR viewfinder. It is held onto the camera with a couple of womens/girls hair string things.

If you have a DSLR you really should try this out. Just search for Dave Dugdale's video; go to http://www.learningdslrvideo.com, click "My Gear", and scroll down until you see a link to the video. Really simple build, really cheap, and it works great!! :tup:
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Re: DIY viewfinder for DSLR

Postby Steve Grisetti » Sun Jul 20, 2014 8:15 am

Great solution, Ron!

Those little LCD screens really are impossible to see in bright sunlight!
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Re: DIY viewfinder for DSLR

Postby _Paz_ » Sun Jul 20, 2014 8:45 am

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Re: DIY viewfinder for DSLR

Postby Ron Hunter » Sun Jul 20, 2014 9:32 am

Thanks Patrice for posting that link.
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Re: DIY viewfinder for DSLR

Postby sidd finch » Sun Jul 20, 2014 1:13 pm

wow that was a really good inexpensive solution.

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Re: DIY viewfinder for DSLR

Postby _Paz_ » Sun Jul 20, 2014 3:17 pm

:)

Here are the loupes:

http://www.harborfreight.com/5-piece-loupe-set-98722.html

We visit Harbor Freight pretty often. I've not seen the loupes in stock, but I could have overlooked them easily. The place is packed from floor to ceiling.

( I buy cheap, fabric gloves that have been dipped into a rubber coating solution for the palms and fingers that I wear while working in the garden. They are thick enough to protect against most stickers, even mild rose thorns, while allowing much more flexibility than heavy weight construction gloves. Oh, and yes, Ladies' gardening gloves are worthless!)

The size of the viewscreen may differ from one model of camera to another. I haven't taken a close look at a baby power container in a long time, but I think my viewfinder would be larger. It's really nice that the loupe happens to fit the opening of the baby powder container. When I've worked on DIY equipment in the past I've found medicine caps seem to be metric these days and that might have something to do with being able to easily find a fit.
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Re: DIY viewfinder for DSLR

Postby momoffduty » Mon Jul 21, 2014 9:02 am

Thanks Ron for posting your finished DIY. Something like this may be good for tripod work or monopod shots. Walking around shots, don't know if that would work for me. How do you plan on using this setup?
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Re: DIY viewfinder for DSLR

Postby Ron Hunter » Mon Jul 21, 2014 10:49 am

I plan to use it anytime I have the DSLR outdoors for video. (As you know, photos require the use of the pentaprism viewfinder which is inaccessible when this DIY project is attached.) My first test will be next week at the beach. Most of that footage will be on a monopod, but I will also hand-hold too.

If you need to remove it for a photo, just remove the string from the top of the camera and the DIY viewfinder simply falls out of the way. I'm not really sure about the "proper" way to mount the lower string. The upper string wraps around the flash housing, but unless you have a monopod/tripod/rapid strap mount connected to the DSLR's tripod mount, there isn't anything convenient to wrap the lower strap around.

This thing really works well. I'm actually surprised how well it turned out. It looks ugly, but it is very functional and very helpful. Even with my eyeglasses on everything is very crisp through this viewfinder. If you shoot DSLR video outdoors I think this (or something similar) is an absolute must buy. I can see something like this being good for a GoPro with LCD Bacpac too.

Next week I'll also get to test the variable ND filter I bought for the DSLR.
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Re: DIY viewfinder for DSLR

Postby Ron Hunter » Thu Jul 24, 2014 8:05 pm

I made this DIY project because I thought other viewfinders were very expensive. Recently Francesco posted that he bought a LCD viewfinder for < $20, so I visited Amazon and found this:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0084LFED0/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

This thing is great! It connects to the tripod mount and fits my T4i perfectly. Here are the two parts of the viewfinder next to the camera:
viewfinder in pieces.JPG


Here is the viewfinder connected to the camera:
viewfinder on camera bottom view.JPG


There are small magnets inside the viewfinder frame that allow the viewfinder to attach to the metal frame/tripod mount bracket. Here is the camera on a monopod:
viewfinder and camera on monopod.JPG


When you want to remove the viewfinder all you do is pull it off of the metal frame, which stays connected to the camera. This makes it easy to switch from shooting video to taking stills (where you would want to use the camera's eyepiece). Of course, when you have the metal frame mounted on the camera you can't pull out the LCD screen, so that could be a downside in some situations.

It works great on the monopod and that is the main way I'll use it (along with handheld). The only drawback I've seen so far is the tripod mount won't snug up to my actual tripod plate; the plate is loosely connected to the viewfinder mounting bracket so I may have to add a washer to take up that slack.

I wanted to post this because this is a cheaper, faster, and better quality viewfinder than the DIY project I originally posted about. Thanks to Francesco for pointing this out!
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