First Impressions
The LCDVF 3/2 is a new version which comes in a 3:2 form factor to snugly fit Canon’s EOS 550d (amongst others) and since we’re currently using the 550d on an almost daily basis, this seemed the perfect time to test-drive the new loupe.

It comes supplied with a pre-attached satin lanyard, 2 metal frames for attaching to the camera body, a cleaning cloth, a neoprene carrying case and user guide including fitting instructions. A very welcome inclusion was a Bluestar micro-fibre eyepiece cushion, which sits snugly over the rubber eyecup and makes the unit infinitely more comfortable to use on long shoots.

Upon first inspection, I was quite disappointed with the LCDVF. The plastic feels brittle and the manufacturing wasn’t to the standard that I expected. On the demo unit we received, there is a small nick in one of the inner edges that is quite visible when looking through the loupe, although not so large as to be distracting. Also, the long edges of the camera-attaching end are not exactly straight which made it a little tricky to align with the camera’s screen.

That said; this is where the disappointment ended.

In Use
Fitting the magnetic frame to the camera was very straightforward with the adhesive strip remaining malleable enough to pop off and realign in the first few seconds yet forming a fast bond once ‘massaged’ into place.

Rested under a couple of light books, the frame was set firmly in place within 15 minutes, but to be safe, we left it sitting under this gentle weight for 3 hours, by which time it seemed all-but immovable.

The loupe snaps on and off the camera effortlessly yet once in position, the magnetic bond is strong enough to cope with a range of movements, remaining firmly and comfortably in place until you need to remove it, at which time it hangs easily from the neck via the lanyard so it’s always within reach.

Once in place, it provides a 200% magnification of the camera’s view screen making focus effortless whilst recording. Prior to shooting, in conjunction with the 5x and 10x magnification, setting up focus is pin-sharp, even with the aperture wide open.

With the LCDVF in position, the camera is now held against the eye during shooting, providing a 3rd point of contact. Micro rotations are massively reduced by the increased length of the body and by the shifting of the focal plane forwards by approximately 2.5 inches. This increased stability means that slow, steady tracking shots through hand-held work become more viable.

Verdict

LCDVF is almost half the price of the Zacuto Z-Finder but even though we’ve not been able to test-drive a Z-Finder yet, we can’t think of any reason how this lesser price could offer any lesser benefits. Once applied to the camera it instantly provides a massive increase in focus-ability and apart from the magnetic frame no ‘setting up’ was required. It just snaps on and instantly provides a clear 200% magnification as promised.

For anyone planning to shoot video seriously with their 550d (or any other DSLR for that matter), we strongly suggest that the first investment you make is in an LCDVF. Since the minute we attached this demo unit to our camera, we all agreed that shooting video without it is not something we’d ever like to do again.

It’s not only useful for video makers though. We enjoy stills photography too and whilst it’s a little cumbersome for every-day use, for macro photography, it is an invaluable tool, allowing for very fine levels of focusing to be achieved.

All in all, a fantastic product which quickly makes itself an essential piece of your filmmaking kit.

Rating
Ease of use: 5/5
Build quality: 3/5
Functionality: 5/5
Sex appeal: 4/5
Value for money: 5/5

Overall rating:

5/5 – Highly recommended.