Photography

Smart Z-Finder adds a pro-level viewfinder to existing smartphones

Smart Z-Finder adds a pro-level viewfinder to existing smartphones
The Zacuto Smart Z-Finder is presently on Kickstarter
The Zacuto Smart Z-Finder is presently on Kickstarter
View 3 Images
The various components of the base Z-Finder setup
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The various components of the base Z-Finder setup
There's a smartphone under there somewhere – a Z-Finder equipped with all the fixings
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There's a smartphone under there somewhere – a Z-Finder equipped with all the fixings
The Zacuto Smart Z-Finder is presently on Kickstarter
3/3
The Zacuto Smart Z-Finder is presently on Kickstarter
View gallery - 3 images

With smartphone cameras getting better and better, it's increasingly difficult to justify buying a standalone video camera … although phones still lack a good eyecup-type viewfinder. Chicago-based film-making equipment company Zacuto is out to change that, with its Smart Z-Finder.

First of all, what's wrong with just looking directly at a smartphone's screen? Well, for one thing, the images on that screen can be very difficult to see under direct sunlight or in other brightly-lit environments. Additionally, farsighted people who aren't wearing their glasses typically have to hold the phone far from their eyes in order to focus on it.

That's where the Z-Finder comes in.

Users start by attaching an included aluminum frame (called the bridge) to their smartphone – that frame can be adjusted to fit virtually any phone with a screen size between 6.1 and 6.7 inches, with or without a case. Magnets within the frame subsequently allow the main viewfinder to be quickly and easily popped on and off.

The various components of the base Z-Finder setup
The various components of the base Z-Finder setup

The viewfinder itself consists of an ambient-light-blocking ABS body, with an anti-fog rubber-cupped eyepiece at the user end. An adjustment ring on the eyepiece is utilized to focus its diopter to each user's vision – optional drop-in diopters are available for people who require a higher degree of vision correction.

Importantly, the bottom of the viewfinder is open, so users can still reach in and access the phone's touchscreen controls. Additionally, a hand strap on the side of the device allows it and the phone to be held more naturally, like a camcorder. It's also worth noting that threaded holes on the bridge can be used to mount the rig on a tripod, or to attach optional extras such as an accessory rail, pistol grip, shoulder stock or lens-flare-blocking flag.

There's a smartphone under there somewhere – a Z-Finder equipped with all the fixings
There's a smartphone under there somewhere – a Z-Finder equipped with all the fixings

Should you be interested, the Smart Z-Finder is currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign. Assuming it reaches production, a pledge of US$299 will get you one – the planned retail price is $499.

It's demonstrated in the following video.

Zacuto Smart Z-Finder

Source: Kickstarter

View gallery - 3 images
3 comments
3 comments
Brian M
There is still a big difference between functionality between high end phones and even mid-range cameras.

The biggest difference is in the optics available, you can add zooms lens, large aperture type lens to a pro or pro-am camera, Best I have on phone camera is a 3x optical zoom. Plus of course all the options available through easy access controls on a dedicated camera, something you need for serious video or still photography,

Phone cameras are great and convenient but are not a replacement for a proper camera, not to mention the hassle of installing this device, what happens if you need to make a call/text with this device on. Guess you will need a second phone :)
TpPa
Nope Phone camera's cannot replace highend camera's at every job, but they can now do many of the things the camera's can, and in many cases that is all a person needs to complete the level of tasks they are doing.
Oh, if you get a call, you wouldn't answer it while you are working for 1, but there is always speaker phone, they invented that quite a few years ago
navmed
At $499, you can buy a mirrorless DSLR with a kit lens, if you're a little patient and look for a sale.