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What's one of the best parts about being a video professional? All the cool gear! In this weekly series, Rich Harrington and Robbie Carman team up to discuss the latest and greatest equipment for video production and post. They talk about the newest cameras, like the Blackmagic 4K, pocket cinema cameras, and GoPros; accessories and adapters that will make your shoots run smoother; and the great tech being invented every day. And because they keep both cost and quality in mind, you'll never have to worry about blowing your budget or compromising production value. Come back every Friday for a new tip.
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Rich: We wanted to come back in the studio, because there's one particular option on these view finders that you really want to get the hang of, and that's the diopter. Now, it's a strange sounding word. Rob, what's a diopter? Rob: Well, without getting all optical science on you, Rich, essentially it allows you to adjust the focus of what you're viewing based on your eyesight. So, in oth, in other words if it looks soft to you even though you know for sure that the image is supposed to be in focus, and it looks in focus to everybody else. Well, that's your eyes. That's not the focus of the camera. And, so, on a lot of these view finders they have these built in diopters.
And you might have already been familiar with the diopter with your DSLR. A lot of DSLR's just have a small little one. Right here on the side of the viewfinder that allows you to do the same thing. Rich: Yeah. And this is basically a way that if, you're vision isn't that bad, or you have different vision for nearsightedness and farsightedness, to compensate, but it gets a bit tricky. Now this particular viewfinder here. Doesn't have a diopter, there's no dial. This is a early generation, a very basic model, that just snaps on and you saw us use that with the pocket camera, but the one the one that you have in your hand does have a diopter.
Rob: Yeah, and it's this big red ring right here so, as I turn it I can sort of refine sort of the focus to my individual eyesight, which is really nice and, on this particular Zacuto Z-Finder that we have. It's actually a really fine control, so you can just make little minor tweaks to dial in the viewfinder to your preference. Rich: And to be clear folks, this is not focusing the footage. Rob: Right. Rich: This is where it gets tricky. You can have the lens in focus, and the diopter out of focus. And it works against you. And adjusting that does nothing to the lens. Rob: Well, that's my, that's my trick with this Rich.
Is that if I'm you know, guessing whether I'm in focus, here's what I do. I, I flip my camera if it is a still slash video camera. I'll actually flip it over into photomode, and use the photo auto focus, because I find that to be a little bit more accurate than some of the video auto focus modes especially on a DSLR. Or what I'll do is if my camera has auto-focus and video mode I'll try that. But here's a third situation. I ask somebody to come over who has really good eyesight to double check that things are in focus, and if they're still not in focus for me, that's when I go to adjust the diopter.
Rich: Now, I agree with Rob, but I have an easier method. How about you just push the menu button. And bring up the text on the menus,. Rich: And then you focus on the letters, until they look crisp and sharp. It's kind of like e, f, h, Total, indicator test. Rob: Try, try, tried and true method there, because the thing that, the reason that works, the, the reasoning behind that is because, the text is never change distance. It's not going to go in and out of focus, it is what it is on the back of a camera. So that's a, that's a good option. Rich: So yeah you would, I would just adjust that til it's in focus; let me do that real quickly now.
Small little adjustments, looks good to me. But each person's eyes are a little different. Rob: Absolutely and the thing about this is, because these rings are external to the units. They do get bumped around from time to time, so it's something that you want to check. Now Rich there is one more thing I want to mention about diopter, is that they can only get you so far, if you have a serious case of farsightedness. So companies like Zacuto and other manufacturers that make plate mounting systems like this, this little square where the loop can mount on there. They actually make step up plates, so with every successive step-up plate you add to this system.
The viewfinder of the loop itself will get further and further and further away from the camera LCD. In combination with the diopter, this can allow you to sort of adjust the image when you have severe farsightedness. Rich: All right. Well this make a lot of sense. One other thing here is I recommend if it has a strap you use one. If I'm going to hang this off the back here I'll typically take this And attach it somehow to the system and maybe thread this through the camera play here would be good idea. The last thing you want to do is have it fall off and bounce on the ground. Rob: And that will happen.
Rich: It will definitely happen. Rob: Get definitely knocked off for sure. Rich: So yeah, make sure that is safe and secure, so you have a good idea on how to use one of these view finders remember we walked you through the process of which one to pick and some of the options as well as shooting strategies. And we just showed you, diopter, how to use it. Now Rob, how often do you end up using your loupe when you're shooting? Rob: Every day, all the time, yeah, I mean the thing is we said it once, and we'll it again, that everything looks good on the back of a camera LCD screen, if you're not critically looking at the image.
And so these loupes help you sort of, you know, get good focus. They help you you know, sort of, so, analyze your exposure at a closer view and they're an essential tool I think. Rich: And I love that they add one more point of contact for a stable surface. So there you have it. Make sure if you're using a loupe, try some of these tips out, and see if it won't improve your shooting style when using these smaller cameras.
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