Instructables

HOMEMADE DSLR VIEWFINDER - DIY LCD Z-Finder

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DSLR Camera's can shoot amazing video, but being photo camera's first, they typically need some accessories to help shoot video.  LCD Viewfinders are one of the first accessories needed, but they can be VERY expensive!

Here's a simple way to make an LCD viewfinder for your DSLR camera (or any other LCD display)!!
It'll cost about $5 but most of this stuff you probably have around your house, so it'll really cost you nothing!!


 
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Step 1:

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What you'll need:

Baby Powder Container
(or any container with a round hole at one end, and rectangular end on the other side).

Magnifying glass (plastic lens)

Rubber bands (hair ties work great, and add a pro look).

A set of earphones, you'll need the padding from those (just one).

Some hot glue and paint.

That's it!!

Let's get started!

Step 2:

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Remove any stickers from your container, and cut the bottom of the container off, leaving as much of the plastic in tact.  Temporarily place the magnifying lens inside the container using tape.

With the lens in place, put the container on the LCD of your camera and test the focal length.  If it's out of focus, trim a little off the bottom of the container and check again. Continue to do this gradually trimming the bottom of the container so you can get the custom focus for your eye with your viewfinder (container).

Step 3:

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Once you get your focus set with your viewfinder, remove the lens and paint the container.
Be sure to prep the plastic and use paint for plastic.

Step 4:

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After your viewfinder (container) is painted, we're going to hot glue the lens in place.  You want to bead around the lens with hot glue and place it inside the container, and add more glue to secure inside.

Step 5:

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Next cut a hole in the foam earphone padding and stretch it over your container eye piece.

Step 6:

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Take your hair ties (rubber bands) and tie two together using a slip knot so the band forms an 'X' formation.  Make two of these and stretch them over the eyepiece of your viewfinder.

delavanken2 years ago
I wrapped the "cut" edge of the bottle with black electrical tape to protect the camera. Looks great and helps block out the light a little better.
fuelsguy2 years ago
I just stumbled on this little video.
I built a similar eyepiece about 18 months ago, using black foam-core to make the box and a $3 lens.
Works great.
I write to add a caution here.
The lens is focused on the LCD screen, so if you carry the camera in such a way the sun can shine on the lens, you will burn a hot spot on the LCD screen.
I know, I've done it. It only fries a few pixels and doesn't affect the operation of the LCD but you do get permanent little yellow trails on the LCD.
A cap or just a regular effort to keep the lens out of the way of the sun is needed. I ended up taking the hood off the camera until I was ready to shoot.

Ivor
humanvideo2 years ago
Wow! I love it! Thank you so much.
For some reason I barely cut any off and I don't need the glass at all...wonder if I did something wrong... any help?
knoptop (author)  NiceTastyKakes3 years ago
You didn't do anything wrong, your eyes are far enough away that they can focus. The magnifying glass just 'magnifies' the lcd sceen when your eye is positioned closer. If you still want to add the lens, just cut it smaller and have the lens in place so you can see whens it's focused
ducktape1003 years ago
cool I am going to make one
Amazing. This solves the only problem I had with buying a new DSLR with video capabilities. I was privileged enough to try out a 5D Mark II and the first thing I noticed was how it was impossible to shoot video in the sun. I won't be running out to buy a 5D, but I will definitely buy one I can afford now thanks to this awesome instructable.
rdgard3 years ago
Damn! I just spent $ 50 on one of these and I thought I got a good deal. Wish I would have seen this first. Great job!
bob
eltonh10113 years ago
Easy way to remove labels from plastic containers: Pour in hot water or fill with water and heat in microwave. Don't get burnt! Label should peel off much more easily.
strehlow3 years ago
Since the container has a screw-on lid, it might be feasible to incorporated some diopter adjustment. Drill or cut a suitable hole in the cap to mount the lens. Apply a layer of black vinyl tape over the bottle threads to make the cap snug. Then screw the cap on. Then you can adjust the focal length slightly.
Silence3 years ago
Maybe to make a cushioned and shaped eyepiece buy a cheap pair of swim goggles w a silicone eye ring.
http://www.swimoutlet.com/photos/options/22394-30028.jpg
You'll probably want some clear ones unless you wanna cut the plastic lens.
knoptop (author)  Silence3 years ago
That is a great idea!! I may have to look into that! Thanks!
Silence knoptop3 years ago
No prob, I think I'm gonna use this idea when I manage to get my new camera !
T-Hawke3 years ago
Excellent video. Great quality. Very informative. Love it when someone thinks outside the "Box" I intend on making one of these for my camera. Great Job! A real KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid) idea. Thanks for the idea. I have subscribed. so keep the projects coming.
uberklok3 years ago
Nice project! -- I made a similar one, making the box out of black foam board, but I like your plastic bottle idea better!

I used Scotch reclosable fastener strips, sort of a unisex velcro thing, and that worked really well to hold the thing on and take it off easily. Sort of a little nicer than the rubber band solution, I think, if you don't mind sticking em on your camera.

http://vimeo.com/14075508


Awesome video!!! I think I will be making one of these for my camera! Thanks!
rbormann3 years ago
Awesome! You had an idea so simple and practical that can be changed as needed for any camera at all.
As we say KIIG - Keep It Simple Genius
Congrats from Brazil
Nate953 years ago
Could this work with camcorders also like the sanyo cg-10? I think this would really help me with my manual focusing. Thanks!
knoptop (author)  Nate953 years ago
The basic design could work on just about any LCD camera! On the Sanyo cg-10 you'd wanna make sure to keep your design as lightwieght as possible to avoid harming the swingout lcd hinge. Give it a shot tho!
Tututu3 years ago
Awesome project!
The hardest thing is maybe to find the right container
knoptop (author)  Tututu3 years ago
I've made a couple of these finders and so far the baby powder container is the fastest and easiest to work with. The shake pancake container was nice, because i also fit good on my other photo camera's lcd, but having to cut it, is an extra step that is a pain.
mman15063 years ago
you did the painting laser gun thing for indy mogul!
knoptop (author)  mman15063 years ago
Yes! That's mee.
frollard3 years ago
Awesome ible, awesome video, awesome concept!

5 from me:

Question: Do you have to take any steps to prevent light-leaks around the base of the new viewfinder? Some closed cell foam insulation I'm sure would pad the connection point well.

Again, great stuff!
knoptop (author)  frollard3 years ago
I took extra care to cut the plastic as straight as possible (at the connection point), and I haven't noticed light leaks that were enough to be a distraction.
The foam might still be a good addition, thanks for the suggestion!
Fine job! Your offering represents many of the elements of a fine instructable - great presentation, a project made of low-cost and common materials that rivals the expensive retail versions, and it works!

Thanks!
knoptop (author)  nicholas19513 years ago
I was actually surprised myself with how well this viewfinder worked out. So much so, I'm going to sell my expen$ive one that I purchased, and just use this DIY finder! I hope some people can get some use from this tutorial!! And especially, try it out themselves!!

Thanks for the feedback! I appreciate it!

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