Quick Take Review: Cineroid, SmallHD and Zacuto EVF Systems.


Here is a Quick Take Review of all of the HDMI EVF’s (Electronic View Finders) currently on the market as of Summer, 2011. We tested the Cineroid EVF, the SmallHD DP4 EVF and the Zacuto Z-Finder EVF Flip. I would liken an EVF system to a ladder. It let’s me get where I need to be, to do my job. I am not very concerned with all of the added features. I only want to be able to live inside that image while I’m shooting. That’s it. Features like, peaking, false color and pixel-pixel are an aded bonus that I rarely use in the field. An EVF will also work well in hand held mode and in bright sunny situations. I have found it to be a very helpful tool in my DSLR arsenal. Here is a breakdown of the three models that we checked out.

The Cineroid HDMI EVF is the least expensive of the three at around seven hundred smackers. It has all of the features of larger on camera monitors and works well as a stand alone EVF. The image quality is excellent and the build quality is quite good. I would not be afraid to drop this sucker. It’s very lightweight and should take a bounce. The menu system was the hardest to navigate of the three. The plastic optics are just OK. The eyepiece is quite comfortable none the less. I would recommend this unit for someone who is only going to try and use it for it’s intended purpose.

Click here for the manufactures specifications and current pricing.

Pros: Cost, Availability, Functionality.

Cons: HDMI-mini inputs, Menu System, Optics.

The SmallHD DP4 EVF is really not an EVF at all. It’s a four inch on-camera monitor with a hinged loupe. This makes it the largest and heaviest of the three we checked out. The four inch monitor has exceptional image quality. It is clear and bright as one would expect from SmallHD. The HDMI inputs are sturdy and the rubberized back is a nice touch. I would not feel comfortable dropping this bad boy. It might survive the fall but it just fells delicate to the touch. The menu system is fairly simple and easy to manipulate. The viewfinder was surprisingly comfortable. The unit we checked out ran fairly hot for some reason. It also requires two Canon LP-E6 batteries.  I would recommend this unit for someone that wants an on-camera monitor that transforms into an EVF system. The SmalHD DP4 is around $525 alone and will set you back $750 with the EVF viewfinder.

Click here for the manufactures specifications and current pricing.

Pros: Image Quality, Size, Functionality

Cons: Size, Requires Two Batteries, Runs Hot
**Update. Only one Canon LP-E6 battery is required to power the SmallHD DP4.

The Zacuto Z-Finder EVF was our favorite of the three tested. It has exceptional image quality and functionality. The menu system is easy to navigate and has custom presets for individual camera systems. The HDMI inputs are the most durable we have seen on any piece of equipment. The HDMI cable is the best on the market, bar none. I would not be afraid to drop this EVF one bit. In fact, I have bounced it a few times already. The viewfinder was familiar and comfortable for long shooting days.  The only fault I could find with the Zacuto EVF would be price. It was the most expensive of the three units tested. I can highly recommend this one as both an EVF and small on-camera monitor. The Z-Finder EVF will set you back around eight hundred bones.

Click here for the manufactures specifications and current pricing.

Pros: Image Quality, Durability, Battery Life

Cons: Price, Availability

Jared Abrams is a cinematographer based in Hollywood, California. After many years as a professional camera assistant he switched over to still photography. About two years ago a new Canon camera changed the way the world sees both motion and still photography. He just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
  • http://ericdiosay.wordpress.com Eric Diosay

     I expected as much. Ultimately, I went with Zacuto’s EVF despite it’s price point. But you do get what you pay for. After seeing how robust the EVF after a fall, it’s functionality and small form factor, the decision was clear.

    The only drawback is it’s power source. I want to power everything on my rig with one battery and Zacuto’s DTAP solution is kinda bulky and clunky. Would have loved a reinforced barrel plug to lemo or DTAP.

  • http://twitter.com/c2camera Chris Collins

    The Zacuto EVF survived harsh, dusty, and sometimes rainy conditions along with an unexpected drop test here in Africa.  I couldn’t be happier with it.  Just make sure to have the fogless Z-finder to go with it.  The menu is incredibly easy to navigate.  The 5D scaling was an absolute dream! As Jared said, try to avoid the hot shoe mount with an Israeli arm or something similar.

  • http://twitter.com/SmallHD SmallHD

    A few things you should know about the DP4 and DP4-EVF that were not mentioned in this brief overview.The DP4-EVF was designed to provide maximum shooting flexibility at the lowest possible cost.  

    These may or may not apply to you.
    1) More inputs supported (HDMI, Component & Composite)
    2) More signal types supported (including 1080p, tested up to 1080p60)
    3) 2x larger screen area for stand alone monitor use.
    4) Brighter display that can be used in sunlight (It was shown at 50% brightness)
    5) Aluminum construction vs all plastic

    The high-powered processor also reduces signal delay (response time) and minimizes image skewing on fast pans.

    Items 1-4 above does cause the DP4 to consume more power and run warmer, but that’s the trade-off for higher performance. As for battery life, you get at least 3hrs on a single LP-E6, 6hrs when using two.  Performance vs battery life will always be a trade-off only you can make.

    With the 2x larger screen, the DP4-EVF is heavier than the Zacuto by 3.8oz (19.2 oz vs 15.4 oz).  However, the DP4 monitor is just 6.6 oz without the optics (Zacuto is 6.4 oz without optics).

    As for toughness, we will have some videos on the topic out soon that I’m sure you will enjoy.  It is bit difficult to judge toughness by feel.

    If you have any questions, please contact our support team at