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BMPC-4K: Cineroid EVF4CSE viewfinder

July 17, 2016

IMG_1542-1080 image

[Click to enlarge photos of the Cineroid EVF4CSE; additional photos below.]

In many situations, especially when a video camera is shoulder-mounted or handheld, or when operating in daylight outdoors or at high or low angles, nothing beats using an electronic viewfinder (EVF). Not only is an EVF immune to glare & reflections, but it also helps steady handheld/shoulder shots since it makes an additional physical point of contact with your head.

This post is primarily about the Cineroid EVF4CSE viewfinder I purchased, but first a brief detour summary of Blackmagic Design’s Ursa Viewfinder.

As I discussed in a previous post, by all reports the Ursa Viewfinder ($1,495 US) is very good (info here and here). The Ursa VF is reportedly tack-sharp due to its full 1920 x 1080 resolution and high OLED contrast, and its mount is custom-tailored for Ursa cameras. The current Ursa VF design may turn off its OLED screen a bit too aggressively to save power & the lifespan of the OLED itself, but a bit of gaf tape placed over the Ursa VF’s light sensor when needed can address that. For Ursa Mini camera users, the Ursa VF requires purchase of Blackmagic’s Ursa Mini Shoulder Mount Kit ($395 US), but the latter is a good deal also, and the price of the Ursa VF is very competitive. Note: Wooden Camera sells a fantastic-looking DIY “universal” case & mounting mod for the Ursa VF, but of course that adds additional cost.

However, although the combined price of an Ursa VF, plus the Ursa Shoulder Mount Kit, is very reasonable compared to close competitors such as from Zacuto and Alphatron, it’s still out of the question for my budget. 🙂

There are lower-cost alternatives. Not surprisingly, lower-priced EVFs sacrifice video image & build quality — and in some cases convenience, too, when you consider mounting, connection and power options. So if you own an Ursa camera, do yourself a favor and get the Ursa VF if you have the budget for it.

I seriously considered buying an Ursa VF for my BMPC-4K camera, but because its mount isn’t intended for use with non-Ursa cameras, and because of its cost, I eventually decided against it.

Instead of buying the Ursa VF solution, I bought a relatively inexpensive EVF, the Cineroid EVF4CSE (the HD-SDI model) for use with my BMPC-4K. It would also be a good EVF for use with a BMCC and other cameras with HD-SDI outputs, too. Cineroid also offers an HDMI version of this EVF (see spec sheet above).

To mount, connect, and power the Cineroid EVF, I also bought an inexpensive Varavon 7″ magic arm and Slik DQ10 QR plate, Wooden Camera 10″ coiled SDI cable, Watson Canon DSLR-type battery & charger, and Cineroid d-tap power cable for us with external Anton-Bauer or V-mount battery plates. Total cost: $578 US from B&H Photo Video in NYC with free shipping within the US. I bought both power solutions (add-on battery & charger, and d-tap cable), but you might only need one or the other.

The Cineroid EVF4CSE doesn’t offer anywhere close to the video & build quality of the Ursa VF or the Ursa cameras’ built-in 10″ or 5″ LCDs. The EVF4CSE screen is 800 x 480 pixel resolution, same as the BMPC-4K and BMCC built-in LCDs. The Cineroid screen isn’t OLED. However, for a $399 EVF it’s a huge improvement compared to attempting to use a BMPC-4K or BMCC LCD in daylight! On the latter point, see my previous post about how to make BMCC and BMPC-4K built-in LCDs semi-visible in bright ambient light.

When properly adjusted, the Cineroid EVF allows accurate focus & exposure using a combination of the EVF’s and camera’s screen-overlay tools.

The Cineroid EVF menu system takes some getting used to, but it’s quite flexible, and I was able to adjust the EVF’s color/contrast for use with both the BMPC-4K’s “video” and “film” monitoring output. Not perfect of course, but quite usable. These settings can be saved into multiple memory banks for recall as needed. See note below for a list of the color-adjust menu settings I use in my Cineroid EVF.

The Cineroid has 4 user-assignable function buttons which I find very useful.

A nice bonus for BMPC-4K & BMCC users: The Cineroid EVF headphone output is less-noisy than the cameras’ built-in headphone signal.

Heads-up/caution: Why the Slik DQ10 QR plate? The Cineroid EVF4CSE has a relatively delicate all-plastic case. The 1/4″-20 thread mount isn’t very robust. Remember: It’s inexpensive! To address this, I’ve glued (!) the small QR plate to bottom of the EVF (screwed it into the thread mount, too). That way there’s a much stronger all-metal point of contact & support for the EVF. Note this covers the EVF’s USB firmware update port, but I don’t think that’s much of a concern. This EVF has been on the market for a few years without any recent FW updates posted on the Cineroid semi-useless website, so I don’t expect to utilize the port anytime soon. Worse case I can remove the QR plate if absolutely necessary.

A final note: I really like the Varavon magic arm! It’s very well made and works great. To make it 100% stable I removed the included cold shoe adapter and instead screwed its 1/4-20 threaded base stud (together with a 1/4″ lock washer) into the small cheese plate mounted on top of my camera. Rock-solid support for a Cineroid EVF, small monitor, LED light, or other small accessory. Refer to the close-up photo below to see this configuration.

Below are the settings I currently use in the Cineroid EVF menus to compensate for my BMPC-4K camera’s “Film” (log), and “Video” (Rec.709), HD-SDI monitoring output modes:

Assigned to Cineroid EVF memory “Bank 0” to compensate for BMPC-4K “Film” (log) video out:

Setting2 | Color Adjust:

Red Gain: 47

Red Offset: 47

Green Gain: 50

Green Offset: 47

Blue Gain: 50

Blue Offset: 50

Setting2 | Screen Adjust:

Bright: 40

Contrast: 50

Chroma: 75

Sharpen: 5

===

Assigned to Cineroid EVF memory “Bank 1” to compensate for BMPC-4K “Video” (rec.709) video out:

Setting2 | Color Adjust:

Red Gain: 47

Red Offset: 47

Green Gain: 50

Green Offset: 46

Blue Gain: 50

Blue Offset: 50

Setting2 | Screen Adjust:

Bright: 40

Contrast: 40

Chroma: 43

Sharpen: 5

===

As noted above, these are the settings I’m currently using. As these are adjusted by eye and are very subjective, you may prefer different settings. I won’t be surprised if I change a few of these settings over time. YMMV.

[Click to enlarge photos of the Cineroid EVF4CSE below.]

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©2016 Peter J. DeCrescenzo. All rights reserved. http://www.peterdv.com

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