Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cyclops: One-Eyed Monster

Mounting Cinevate's new Cyclops viewfinder has a lot in common with mounting a full exhaust system on a Harley Softail. I've done both, and the Cyclops is easier. And you don't need shims.

To back up a little, I ordered the Cyclops from Cinevate and it came via Fedex in about 3 business days.

My assistant, Daphne, performing a parts inspection. The Cyclops was well-packed and came complete with unit, mounting hardware, two Allen keys, and even a cleaning cloth.

The viewfinder body and optics are quite large, and the body is made from what feels like lightweight high-impact plastic. The overall feel is quite sturdy, although I would personally prefer a more rubberlike body and eyecup.

Speaking of eyecup ---- it's HUGE! I found that with the equally HUGE optics, a practical standoff distance was 3 - 4 feet. This enables two or more people to view the image simultaneously and even read the data normally found on Liveview. The eyecup acts as a very effective sunshade -- these outdoor photos were taken during bright midday sunshine.

I find the Cyclops ideal for tripod use with my big telephoto (400ml + extenders + crop = 1792mm focal length!) on my 7D where I want standoff distance to avoid the slightest vibration -- otherwise unavoidable if my eye is contacting the eyecup. I love my Marshall 7" HDMI monitor for this (plus its peaking & false colour filters), but the Cyclops is handy and quick.

So, what's this all to do with mounting a Harley exhaust? Well, the principle is the same: at first it feels awkward to get it all fitted up properly, but I quickly learned, just like my Softail's pipes, you first loosen all 6 mounting screws giving you fore, aft, side-to-side, and up & down motion, then wiggle the Cyclops to fit the LCD screen and with your third hand gently snug up all six screws. I found a bit of tweaking here and there got me a pretty decent fit to the LCD screen. Once all the screws are firmly tightened, it's easy to remove the Cyclops from the camera by the single mounting screw into the camera body bottom.

As you can see, the Cyclops fit into my 7D with battery grip, and my wife's 7D (right) without a grip. One note: my 5D Mark 2 has a Zacuto Z-Finder frame glued to the back of the body and the Cyclops WON'T fit to it.......the frame projects backwards too far and the Cyclops cannot be backed off far enough from the camera body to compensate.

Which brings me to the final point: how is the Cyclops as a third point-of-contact for handheld shooting? It's do-able to be sure, the optics are fine. I don't find the rigid eyecup very comfortable for longterm handheld shooting, especially compared to my Z-Finder's soft rubber eyecup (now that it's anti-fogged - thank you Zacuto!).

My final take: I prefer the Cyclops for tripod use vs the Zacuto Z-finder due to the super-long eye relief (ie. stand off distance). It's optics are bright and clear....I'll be fighting my wife for this one! (Yeah, yeah, just buy her another one. Heh). For handheld - I find the Z-Finder better "in my eye" as a third point of contact/stabilization - especially for extended sessions.

For my nature/wildlife work in the field, I'll be packing the Cyclops for telephoto shooting.

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