Seagull LCD Viewfinder Review

As many of you know I’ve been upgrading my DSLR kit recently. First came the Jag35 Field Runner shoulder mount, then the Proaim matte box and follow focus and finally, most recently a Seagull LCD Viewfinder for my 550d.

Shooting video with a DSLR camera can produce phenomenal results but it can be a difficult process. Adding a viewfinder gives your camera an extra level of stability by enabling you to hold the unit against your eye, it makes focusing easier by giving you a 3x magnification, and it helps when using the kit in bright conditions which would otherwise make the LCD screen difficult to see.

There are a few viewfinders on the marketplace currently, the most popular being the LCDVF. I went up to BVE this year half expecting to buy an LCDVF but came away with nothing. There were plenty on display but prices were higher than on the internet and after playing around with one I felt it to be a little too cheap feeling and when on the back of the camera it looks like a cheap bolt-on too. The quality of the optics were good though.

At the other end of the market are things such as the Zacuto finder and the Cineroid EVF – a review of which you can find over on Philip Bloom’s site. I’d also seen the Cineroid at BVE and was very impressed with it for the price, particularly with the HDMI loop-through. Having a VF which you can swing around, allowing you to use the camera at any height or angle is just great. However I’d already got a 7″ Lilliput monitor which I use in a similar way so for the time being the Cineroid was ruled out for me.

I did a little more web searching and finally came up with the Seagull but I couldn’t find any reviews of the device, even though there are a lot of people on the forums looking for one – hence finally getting this posted up.

So what is it like? The thing that attracted me to the Seagull was that it looked like a really robust unit, similar to the Zacuto in that respect and when I pulled it out of the box for the first time I could really feel the quality matched the looks.

It attaches to the camera via a square piece of plastic which you peel the backing off and stick squarely around the LCD screen. The instructions aren’t that clear on this (they are roughly translated from Chinese), and it would have been nice to have some photos of a few different cameras just to show the fitting. On my 550d the optical VF sensor is located just above the screen and if you block this in any way the LCD screen will be permanently turned off. I cannot emphasise enough the need to have the LCD screen lit when applying the plastic square as this will show you both exactly where to stick it on and also if you are blocking the sensor.

Once applied it needs to be left for a few hours to set. My concern is that it will never come off again but the instructions do explain a simple way to do it, not that I’ve tried that.

Coupling the Seagull to its housing doesn’t seem that easy either and requires a bit of force to get it onto the back of the camera, but I’m assuming it will get easier before too long. Getting it off again is not a problem at all and it just clicks off like you would hope it to.

Using the Seagull is really very good. The optics are top notch and you get a clear even view of the screen, probably slightly clearer than the LCDVF due to the 3 elements inside. Where it really wins over the LCDVF is with the eye cup. The cup feels really high quality, the kind of quality I’d expect to find on a broadcast camera and this in turn makes it very comfortable to use, and also easy to keep out any extraneous light. Again having this comfortable eyepiece also increases shot stability immeasurably and where once I got a lot of camera shake now I have none.

In short the Seagull looks the part, feels the part and does a fine job of magnifying the LCD image. The only downside is the way it snaps onto the camera and it may have been better to adopt a magnetic technique, however this may improve slightly over time.

Seagull is a Chinese company but you can buy the VF over here in the UK from Keene Retail.

[Update] I’ve just discovered the easy way to snap the VF onto the camera – rest the top edge down first and hinge the VF inwards. This works like a charm and makes it very easy to snap on and off. Why don’t they print this in the manual?

2 Comments

  1. tom
    Posted 2 Jul ’11 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

    hello, with the seagull, do you see the whole of the screen like the LCDVF, or are the edges / corners not visible, like the Z-Finder?

    • shaunef
      Posted 3 Jul ’11 at 12:20 am | Permalink

      Hi Tom, unfortunately you do lose the top and bottom edges slightly. I use the magic lantern firmware and the left channel of the audio meters is a little blocked. I’ve been using it for a few months now and that is the only real downside of this device. Knowing what I know now I would have probably fitted it a little higher, which I could still do if I bought another adhesive frame.

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