As I mentioned last week, I am in the process of building up an HDSLR rig based around a Nikon D300s (and eventually a D7000). Back in the day, I had a pretty sweet (at the time) Prosumer HD rig with a DOF adapter, matte box and filter setup, remote monitor, etc. It truly was a frankenrig, pieced together with bits of used 35mm gear and hardware store hacks, the thing was a pain to shoot with, but I remember being so happy with it at the time.
Remember, this was before the "HDSLR Revolution" so pretty much the only companies who were selling "affordable" stuff were Letus, Redrock Micro, and Zacuto. Jag35 was offering DIY plans for cheapo DOF adapters, and there were really no components being imported from overseas yet. I think the most affordable (probably only) HD monitor you could get was made by Marshal Electronics. The only viewfinder loop was made by Hoodman.
It is certainly a different world we live in today, people whine about 'overpriced' monitors at just a few hundred dollars, there are several dozen companies making affordable parts for these great little cameras, and several times that number of clones being imported on the cheap.
What you see here is a sort of first iteration of a rig that I am working on. Nothing too extreme yet, but there are a few things worth talking about.
First, I am a Nikon shooter, which means that until recently the motion capabilities in the cameras available to use. The newer entry level dSLRs have better manual controls, and the newly announced Nikon D4 is supposed to catch up on some of the features that Canon cameras have had for a few years now. As it stands, I have a D300s so there are the same limitations that you would have when working with a consumer camera. Come on Nikon, give us a firmware update for manual aperture and shutter control.
Second, the rig pictured here is one of a few different configurations that I have been testing that are made by Gini Rigs. This particular one is a cage that I think may be a prototype of some sort, it is huge. I'm not really a fan of how much extra space there is around the camera body, but this rig has been a great platform to test some of the stuff that I have been working on. One thing that is nice, is that the uprights are far enough out to protect the connectors and ports on the camera body from damage.
I may decide to get rid of this cage once one of the newer compact models arrives and I can test it out, but for the time being it is a convenient base to test other gear.
There are quite a few features that I do like about this cage. I am a fan of the 15mm rods used as uprights, they are on 60mm centers, so any existing lightweight standard gear that you have have will work perfectly with them.
The top and bottom plates are nicely machined and finished black anodized aluminum. There are a ton of mounting holes taped in alternating #10-24 and 1/4-20 threads. There are large slots machined in the top and bottom, presumably to save weight, but I kind of wish they were solid for more mounting options.
Gini doesn't have standard configurations per say, the same rigs are sold with different handles, clamps, knobs, etc. Gini seems to always have products in beta, and certainly doesn't seem shy about making silent upgrades whenever possible.
Everything in these photos except for the EVF and arm came in the same package. Once the rest of my gear arrives I will build this into something a little more practical.
So I guess I got into a little more detail than necessary about the rig, I could go on even further but I will save that for a future post. The real subject of this post was supposed to to be the EVF.
You can look back at the pictures to see what the thing looks like from different angles. This is something I have wanted to build since like 2008. At the time there wasn't really anything like that available, now there are several options, but I still wanted to build something my self.
The unit is based on a 3.5" tft screen with a composite input. Anything commercially available uses HDMI but only a few of the very high end ones actually display a resolution high enough to make use of a 720p signal. The screen that I am using is fairly low resolution, and is only really suitable for framing, this is not as limiting as you would think.
A standard VF loupe is attached to the screen and the whole unit is mounted to a monitor arm via a little brass insert on the back of the unit. The monitor is powered by 12v DC, I have yet to build a 12v system for the rig, so I currently have it powered by an AC adapter. Hopefully this week I will be able to solder up some proper power and signal cables for the thing to tidy up the look a bit.
This is very much still a work in progress and I hope to post some updates about this little project as I make more changes and get things buttoned up.
More to come. -J.H.