I received my first Canon 7D film-making accessory today, the Zacuto Z-Finder Jr. I knew I needed a viewfinder but I found the original Z-Finder to be quite expensive, and I hated the idea of gluing something to my camera. The LCDVF looked nice, for a good price, but again, I didn’t want to glue a frame to my camera (not to mention they were sold out everywhere I looked.) The Hoodman with a Redrock loupe bracket seemed viable, but it didn’t have magnification.
Then Zacuto announced the Z-finder Jr. A lower cost viewfinder with their lifetime warranty, and Redrock-like baseplate. Cool, no gluing! So I pre-ordered one directly from Zacuto the day after they were announced, and it arrived today. 2 days after I could have been using it at the WalkMS event in Pasadena, but that’s life.
The Jr. is built very well, living up to Zacuto’s name for quality. It comes with the stainless steel mounting frame, two Extender Frames used in lieu of diopter adjustment, Z-finder mounting frame (for those who still prefer the glued on frame method), a lens cap for the magnifier, and a lanyard.
The stainless mounting frame has a a Zacuto “Z” cut into it, and a rubber surface where it mounts to the camera, as well as on the prongs that hold the Jr. in position.
As you can see in the above picture however, the bracket will be completely captured once you screw in your tripod or other mounting plate. While this keeps the bracket on, it also means you have to completely remove the tripod base-plate to remove the Z-finder. This could be a deal breaker for those who need to be able to quickly put the Z-Finder on and off in order to switch to stills mode. For this I would recommend either using the glued on Z-frame or spending the extra on the Pro model with the new mounting baseplate.
Mounting the Jr. was a bit of an adventure. The product does not include any instructions whatsoever.
You have to place the Jr. on the LCD, then slide on the bracket, and then attach the baseplate, while adjusting the Jr. to stay in the correct position, and adjusting the bracket for a tight fit. I found that on my 7D I needed to add one of the extender frames to make the Jr. snug with the camera. Without any frames it was quite loose, even when pushing the bracket to it’s furthest position. Adding the frame did the trick.
The bracket appears to have been designed with a Manfrotto 501PL plate in mind. You can see in the picture below it fits perfectly up to where the “Z” in the plate bows down and back up to the prongs.
Even with 1 extender attached, the prongs have enough play to allow small adjustments to the Jr. after mounting. I also found it can slide left or right a bit off the screen in use, and of course the Jr. doesn’t have the anti-fog coating and I’ve already begun to see issues with that. Zacuto sells a fog eliminator which will probably be smart to have on hand.
Looking into the viewfinder, I have to say the 2.5x magnification is just about perfect. On pure white like the focusing rectangle I could begin to see the edges of the pixels on the screen, but I was able to see edge to edge of the screen clearly with a nice large display that makes focusing easy. Having that extra point of contact also helps with stabilization. I found myself wishing I had it over the weekend, again… ah well.
When not in use the Jr. also comes with a lens cap to protect the magnification lens, with the ever present Zacuto “Z”. (Not counting the lanyard there are 5 “Z’s” on the product!)
The lens cap includes a rubber band to help prevent you from losing it, but the band is so tight that it deforms the rubber eye-cup when in use. Not the end of the world, but could cause wear over time.
So far I’m happy with the Jr. I wish there were a better way to quickly attach and detach without gluing it or spending another $120 on a gorilla plate and frame, but those are the compromises you choose when you buy a product with a Jr. moniker.
- Nice Build
- Perfect magnification
- Easy to focus
- No gluing
- No quick-mount / detach
- Doesn’t stay in place as well as glue mount or gorilla mount
- no anti-fog coating
After a few months of use and much consternation, I’ve abandoned the stainless bracket and glued the frame to my 7D. The bracket is just too inconvenient, and simply not snug enough. The glue on frame fits well and allows quick attachment and detachment without having to line up the Z-finder for every use. So if you do pick up the Z-Finder Jr. (amidst a lot of newer, cheaper, alternatives) I no longer recommend using the bracket for anything more than a back scratcher.