Canon C100: Viewfinder Workarounds

Canon C100: Viewfinder Workarounds

Well, it’s been two weeks of using the C100 in the real world and so far so good. I’m starting to get used to it and operating is becoming second nature. It is a very easy camera to use from a technical standpoint. It’s also stood up well to most of the situations I’ve thrown at it and I’m quite happy with the images I’ve gotten.

Filming for Vega Sport in California with the Canon C100

Filming for Vega Sport in California with the Canon C100

The first thing I had to do with the C100 is figure out a way to make the flip-out LCD screen and the disappointingly small viewfinder more functional. I needed different solutions for shooting eye-level hand held, low angle while holding the handle, and everything in between.

The first thing I did was go to my favorite local camera shop and look through their box of random parts. I came across a viewfinder eye-cup for an old Sony PD-170 – that’s a blast from the past. I did a little trimming around the opening and low and behold, it slipped around the C100’s eyepiece pretty well. It’s nice and snug and won’t easily come off unless you actually pull it off. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s much more comfortable. It also blocks out almost all of the light. I used it in bright sun on the beach and it got the job done.

The Sony PD-170 rubber eyecup with a red chamois cover. Just because red looks cool.

The Sony PD-170 rubber eyecup with a red chamois cover. Just because red looks cool.

Trim the a little of the rubber into the basic shape of the C100's eyepiece. Cut just a little at a time to ensure it fits nice and snug.

Trim the a little of the rubber into the basic shape of the C100’s eyepiece. Cut just a little at a time to ensure it fits nice and snug.

Eyecup closeup

Still wish the C100 had the C300's eyepiece but at least this makes it usable for handheld work.

Still wish the C100 had the C300’s eyepiece but at least this makes it usable for handheld work.

 

Now onto the LCD screen. There were certain times that using the LCD screen “as is” worked just fine. But in bright lighting situations, it became a bit of a challenge. I think the Zacuto Z-Finder that’s designed to clip over top of the C100’s LCD will be a great solution but it’s availability has been delayed. Not sure why, but I think it may have something to do with the fact that the LCD screen’s mount doesn’t have much tension. Any extra weight means it won’t really stay in position. It works pointed straight up and straight out. Anything in between, it just seems to sag and eventually drop down. Rather frustrating.

In the meantime, I did find the Hoodman EX Kit Pro. It turns the LCD screen into a viewfinder by attaching an eyepiece with a rubber mounting strap. You’ll need to do some minor trimming of the rubber to make it fit around the screen’s knuckle. Again, not a perfect solution, and definitely not the best quality optics, but it saved my bacon a few times. For example, when I was low on the sticks with my 70-200mm to get some long lens stuff, using the LCD made tracking focus much easier. It was also great not having to be on my knees to look through the small eyepiece. For the price, it serves the purpose of a temporary fix.

 

Hoodman EX Kit Pro

Hoodman EX Kit Pro

Hoodman EX Kit Pro

Hoodman EX Kit Pro

Hoodman EX Kit Pro

Hoodman EX Kit Pro

 

For tricky focusing, the EX Kit Pro works as a temporary C100 solution.

For tricky focusing, the EX Kit Pro works as a temporary C100 solution.

 

 

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15 Comments

  1. February 25, 2013, 9:55 am   /  Reply

    Hi Scott,

    Nice to hear about someone else using the C100. I’ve just used one for the first time in anger on an assignment in Zambia, and am going to hire one again for a gig in Cambodia coming up. Exactly the same love / hate issues, the big gripe being the unusable-in-bright-daylight LCD. The hoodman looks like an interesting temp solution – just got a couple of questions if you don’t mind answering.

    1) How quick & easy is it to get the loupe on / off once you’ve modded it for the C100 screen?
    2) Does it provide any magnification or do you see the screen ‘as is’?

    Cheers

    Terry

    • Scot McDonald
      February 28, 2013, 4:27 pm   /  Reply

      Hi Terry,
      The Hoodman loupe takes a bit of futzing to get it on and off – probably takes me 30 seconds or so. I am getting better and faster at it. The only thing that concerns me is putting the extra force on the screen hinge every time I’m taking it on and off. It did save my bacon many times on this shoot but I can’t see it being a long term solution. Yes, it does provide some magnification and it also has a diopter adjustment for your eyesight. The rubber sleeve that wraps around the LCD screen is a bit bulky which means the screen won’t lay flat and straight out – it’s slightly upright. Basically it works great for being above the camera and tilting it up to your eye. If the camera is higher, you can’t tilt it down. But, that’s more of a Canon design issue with the screen itself. In short, I would say it’s better than nothing right now. But, I’ll be keeping my eye out for something better.

      Cheers!
      Scot McDonald

  2. Edward Scott
    February 27, 2013, 4:45 am   /  Reply

    Hi Scot,
    This review of the C100 workarounds is very helpful. I have been looking at similar solutions for my new C100. One question, if you don’t mind. What microphone and wind-sock are you using?
    Thanks,
    Ed

    • Scot McDonald
      February 28, 2013, 4:15 pm   /  Reply

      Hi there Edward,
      I’m using a Sennheiser ME-64 with a Rycote Softie. The 64 is a great camera mic. It’s not too long in its physical size and it also doesn’t have too long of a reach for its pickup pattern. It’s perfect for general b-reel as well as grabbing the occasional sound clip or short interview (if you don’t have a sound person) when you’re in fairly close. Because of its shorter reach, loud background noise will drop off somewhat which is great. I use a 64 on all my cameras and have been very happy with the results.

  3. April 28, 2013, 11:41 am   /  Reply

    getting my c100 next week- will definitely have to try the viewfinder fix

  4. May 9, 2013, 6:25 pm   /  Reply

    Thank you for a great review of the C100, I recently bought one and ordered a Zacuto z-finder eyecup replacement kit, and a large microfiber foam cover, they work perfect! $20 total. The viewfinder is not as bad as many people have written about, I am glad for that! I also have a Hoodman loupe, and bought the extender, it works reasonably well too. Nice to have options compared to my DSLR’s. I do find the viewfinder much more comfortable for hand holding, and the screen better for tripod use, nice to have both.

    Regards,

    Malcolm

  5. Stu
    November 13, 2013, 7:51 am   /  Reply

    Hi, good piece. The Sony PD-170 eye cup … where on earth did you get yours from? Any help? Thank you …

    • Scot McDonald
      November 13, 2013, 8:55 am   /  Reply

      Hi Stu,
      I was fortunate to find one in a box of random old camera parts at my local camera shop. It’s definitely not that easy to find one these days. A more readily available option is an eyecup for a Zacuto Z-Finder. It also does the job and fits pretty well. Although, it’s not quite as snug when you have handle attached.

      Scot

  6. Daniel
    December 19, 2013, 1:12 pm   /  Reply

    Scot,
    Thanks for the write-ups. They have been very helpful, as I’m building a package centered on the C100, for shooting assignments similar to yours. Light travel and one-man operation are requirements. I’m not sure if you’ve mentioned camera support before, but which Manfrotto tripod system are you using? Pros/cons/suggestions?

    Daniel

    • Scot McDonald
      January 6, 2014, 7:21 am   /  Reply

      Hi Daniel,
      Yes, you’re right – light and compact are definitely the key for one-man travel. When I was shooting mostly with Canon 5D’s I could get away with a pretty basic and very compact tripod. I didn’t even really require a proper fluid head – I just needed solid support for wide landscape shots and the occasional long lens stuff.

      The C100 requires support that’s a bit more beefy but something that’s still light to carry and can collapse down small enough to fit in a basic suitcase. I generally don’t travel with a tripod tube any kind of production looking Pelican case as it tends to attract too much attention when entering certain countries. What I ended up choosing is a Manfrotto 504HD fluid head with a set of Gitzo two-stage carbon fiber legs. For me, this provides excellent support and fluid movement while still being light, easy to carry and compact for travel.

      Here’s a link to the Manfrotto 504HD:
      http://www.manfrotto.ca/product/8709.31708.22801.0.0/504HD/_/504HD_Pro_Fluid_Video_Head_75

      Here’s a link to more einfo on the Gitzo tripod:
      http://www.gitzo.com/systematic-series-3-carbon-tripod-long-3-section-for-video-gt3532lsv

      Cheers!
      Scot

  7. L
    May 18, 2014, 12:10 pm   /  Reply

    Hi Scot,

    What is the brand/make of the chamois eye cushion you used to fit your PD170 eyecup?

    Thank you!

    • L
      May 18, 2014, 12:39 pm   /  Reply

      Oops, I forgot to select e-mail notification of follow-up comments. Please respond to this post! Thank you!

    • Scot McDonald
      May 22, 2014, 12:29 pm   /  Reply

      Hi there. Sorry for the late reply, I just got back home from a long trip. The brand I use is called “Bluestar”. The type is “Oval Large”.

      Check out there website at http://www.bluestarproducts.ca

      Cheers!
      Scot

  8. Kevin
    January 10, 2016, 1:30 am   /  Reply

    Just curious if you have any update to this? I see Zacuto now makes a bracket arm specifically to hold the viewfinder. Do you think it is worth it?

    • Scot McDonald
      January 19, 2016, 6:04 am   /  Reply

      Hi Kevin,
      Well, I have since moved on to the C100 MKII so all my viewfinder frustrations with the original C100 have essentially been eliminated. Thank the camera gods! I haven’t seen the bracket arm you’re referring to. I’ll have to check it out. My Zacuto Z-Finder for the C100 was a pretty decent solution for hand-held work, but it always felt like an awkward add-on for me. Not Zacuto’s fault necessarily, they did the best they could to deal with Canon’s design short-comings. The rubber band solution to keep the LCD screen in position was slightly embarrassing!

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