Friday, October 8, 2010

Sunhood on the cheap!

A few months ago I acquired a 7" Marshall monitor (model V-LCD70XP-HDMI) which has proven invaluable in my wildlife video efforts. As with all quality items, it don't come cheap. To add to the sticker shock one must further purchase a battery (mine is a Sony BP-U60) and a charger for it: cha-ching! By the time the smoke cleared, I was into this thing, tax in, for over $1500 CDN. Ouch!

That said, this 7" LCD has paid for itself in three major ways:

1. Its larger screen is easier to see and, with the proper hotshoe holder (I use a sturdy Manfrotto 482), can be angled in any direction. This saves your back and really helps when shooting at low angles.

2. Its peaking filter is a major help in focusing while recording. Although I usually use the Canon 7D's 5X or 10X liveview feature to prefocus whenever possible, this ability to fine focus is lost during actual recording. The peaking filter overcomes this dilemma.

3. The false colour filter is essential for achieving accurate exposure. Histograms only give an overall exposure profile of the entire frame, the false colour filter shows the exposure level of each individual object and subject within the frame while recording. This was brought home to me while shooting a bright white egret on a sunny day -- its white feathers would have been blown out if not for the false colour filter enabling me to dial in optimal aperture/ISO/ND variofilter settings while actually recording.

But speaking of sunny days......

The 7" Marshall monitor can be turned way up in brightness to combat the overall glare of sunny surroundings. The screen can get washed out in direct sunshine. So, I priced the Hoodman 7" High Def Monitor Hood at Vistek in Mississauga: $119.95

WHOA!! $119.95? Plus tax??? (= 13% "Harmonized" Sales Tax in Ontario). No way!!!!!

On Twitter, I stumbled upon Previously an unknown site to me, it has interesting stuff. Of note was a 7" sunhood at ........ $16.20 Holy smokes! Possibly not the enduring quality of a $120 Hoodman, but that's cheaper than the tax alone on the Hoodman!!

With reckless abandon, I clicked "Add to cart". Going completely hogwild, I noticed they had a HDMI-miniHDMI cable only 0.5 meters in length at $5.90. Whack! "Item 2" got Added to Cart. Choosing DHL as a carrier, the cost of shipping was gonna slam another $20 to the total, but for about $40 I was good to go. I ordered on Thursday night, opting to use PayPal. It got processed on Friday. This shipment was out of China -- apparently they had a holiday weekend, so it didn't leave the China Mainland until Tuesday. It was in my hands Thursday morning -- less than a week from when I ordered it, with a Chinese Holiday thrown in. Not bad.

Here's what I got: (not counting the Marshall 7" monitor, of course)

The top edge had a strip of velcro fastener securely sewn in, plus it came with the narrow velcro straps you can see in the picture. These narrow straps are useless -- I snipped 'em off. Instead, I went to the nearest Fabricland and, for all of $3.48 bought a one-meter length of velcro 3/4" black velcro tape - the kind that you can peel off the white paper backing to stick the velcro onto a hard surface. This stuff:

I snipped off enough to cover the sides and top of the monitor (about 10") -- this is what the velcro edge of the CoolLCD sunhood affixes to. And it works! Take a look:

Here's a closeup of the velcro tape on the monitor:

As you can see, the 3/4" velcro tape fits perfectly without blocking any switches or ports. The sunhood is open at the bottom, giving easy access to the button controls at any time.

As a bonus, here is the small HDMI cable I also purchased at $5.90 (compared to the bigger one-meter HDMI cable on the left that I've been using up 'til now ):

It's actually only about 15" long or so -- but less length to deal with and less weight on the plugs to cause an accidental pullout at the worst possible time! Here's how it looks on the camera:

Compare this to the ungainly longer one (now my "spare" cable):

I was always worried I would accidently tangle or pull on this overly-long cable, and a couple of times I got an "ERR" message on my upper 7D display because one of the HDMI plugs had partially pulled out!

Finally, I have to thank my daughter's visiting kitty, "Daphne" for her unceasing assistance while I was trying to sort out velcro straps for the bench photos taken above:

OK, OK, that last bit was too cute, I know. It's Friday night, what can I say? Hey, any comments or Great Thoughts on the above? Put in the Comments/Great Thoughts section below!

Hope this is useful info for you!


  1. Great explanation of all the ins and outs of your purchase. Must thank your feline model for her help.

  2. Thanks, Karen. Yes, little Daphne was a BIG help with the velcro straps and tape. It's amazing what velcro will stick to -- including fast-moving cats!!!!