Live From #NAB2014 – Here’s Looking At You – Zacuto Introduces “Radical” Gratical EVF And New Tripod Series
Yes, you can have a great $60,000 digital motion picture camera system but if you can’t see what you’re shooting, what’s the point? In the past, optical viewfinders were the best solution, not only because of their familiarity but because EVFs (Electronic Viewfinders) didn’t have high enough resolution. Also, there was often a slight delay in what you were seeing due to image processing. But that’s the past and in just a few years, EVFs have come a long way. Although some operators still prefer glass, EVFs can give you some powerful advantages, such as histograms, vectorscopes, focus peaking, etc.
Chicago-based Zacuto transformed the DSLR with their optical viewfinder – the Z-Finder – to help kickstart the DSLR revolution. The next logical step for them was the Z-Finder EVF, which was a 3.2″ monitor with a Z-Finder attached. It gave indie filmmakers cool new features like peaking, frame lines, zebras, false colors, and much more.
Now, the Zacuto team looks to transform the professional viewfinder space with a revolutionary new high-def EVF. A year in the making, Zacuto’s Steve Weiss and Jens Bogehegn brought five different engineering companies together to bring their latest professional EVF to market. The Gratical LT 1024×768 (16×9 1024×576 3.3M dots) and Gratical HD 1280×1024 (16×9 1280×720 HD 5.5M dots) are both super high resolution Zacuto electronic viewfinders. The Gratical uses a powerful FPGA dual core processor and the latest micro-OLED displays, giving an operator a much expanded contrast range with true blacks. Razor sharp optics with -1 to +4 diopter range and the latest Zacuto formula anti-fog protection. Key features include HDMI and HD-SDI in/out (HDMI cross convert to SDI), waveform, vectorscope, histogram, and much more. The Gratical even gives you the ability to create your own LUTs and then transfer them to your workstation with a USB flash drive. Custom cables allowing Gratical to get the same on-screen info as the camera’s proprietary EVF. Another cool feature is because the Gratical contains a 4:3 screen instead of 16:9 so they’re able to place the vectorscopes and histograms below the image on a black background instead overlayed on the image. It also uses a 5D battery that will last you all day.
Zacuto was very smart to have a RED camera set up at their booth with an Alphatron EVF (960 x 640) and a RED BOMB EVF (1280 x 784) side-by-side to the Gratical HD. Just by first glance, it was very apparent that the Gratical was a step above the BOMB and miles above the Alphatron. So why not 1080 rather than 720? According to Weiss, it’s because your eye – when viewing an image at the close range of an EVF – cannot resolve anything over 720p.
Zacuto has also announced a new line of professional yet affordable tripod systems. The Z8 is a fluid head with two-stage aluminum tripod, with center spreader and rubber feet. The Z12 & Z18 are larger fluid heads with two-stage carbon fiber tripods, center spreaders and rubber feet. The Z8, Z12, and Z18 models are equipped with graded drag and counterbalance and can carry payloads of 14 lbs, 26 lbs, and 44 lbs respectively. Zacuto accessories allow for mounting a front box and eyepiece leveler using the Zacuto Axis. The tripods will be available for pre-order soon. Pricing TBA.
To steady your camera, Zacuto has updated the VCT Baseplate with built-in shoulder pad, which is familiar to traditional ENG cameras but with a modern twist. The sliding dovetail offers quick balance changes when swapping lenses for any camera set-up and the wide, gel shoulder pad will keep you shooting all day long with no pain. Rods extend from the front of the plate and provide more open accessory rod space than any other VCT-style baseplate. Rods are adjustable up and down to make it universal with most cameras.
If you get a chance, stop by the Zacuto booth ( C10135) on the NAB show floor and say hi to Steve and Jens! For more information, please visit www.zacuto.com.
Check out Steve and Jens giving a demo of the new Gratical HD EVF and tripod system.