Since achieving critical focus on a full-frame sensor is difficult, it goes without saying that having a proper viewing system is important. For DSLR filmmakers, one of the industry-standard accessories was (and still is) the Zacuto Z-Finder (www.zacuto.com), which is an optical viewfinder that fits over the camera's LCD screen. What makes the Z-Finder essential is that it gives 2.5x to 3x magnification to your camera's LCD screen as well as blocks out outside light. Released last year, the Z-Finder EVF has taken the Z-Finder to another level by offering features that optical viewfinders can't provide, such as zebra stripes, focus assist, color bars, Blue-only, etc. They recently released Firmware Update 3.00.01 that offers added color presets, a 5D Mark III and D800 preset, three levels of Underscan, numerous bug fixes, and much more. Although a bit spendy (the Z-Finder EVF Pro runs $1,000), in my opinion, the Z-Finder EVF is the best monitoring solution for DSLR filmmakers, bar none.
But what if you need more real estate because of a pesky producer hovering over your shoulder? Broadcast monitor company TVLogic (www.tvlogicusa.com) offers a great 5.6-inch LCD monitor that's a great solution for DSLRs. The VFM-056W ($1,195) is a solidly built, lightweight monitor made from magnesium-alloy that gives you an impressive 1280x800 resolution. Perhaps the coolest feature on this monitor is the HDMI direct loop out via HD-SDI to view on a professional monitor (1280x800) without the use of a signal converter. Other features include DSLR Scale, in which the monitor will scale the DSLR's output from a lower resolution to the full screen. (When recording with 5D Mark II DSLRs, you're getting a cropped or "windowed" view of the image.) There's also a nice Focus Assist function where sharp edges are highlighted on properly focused subjects, as well as waveform and vector scope options. I also liked the jog wheel on the side of the monitor to make any quick changes to my settings. In terms of power, you can use Panasonic, Sony, Canon batteries with the correct battery bracket, although I used the monitor with AA batteries.
The 5D Mark III and the Nikon D800 take DSLRs to the next level, and with all of these new camera accessories, there's simply no excuse not to make cinematic-looking movies. And soon we'll start to see the implementation of 4K (the Canon EOS-1D C) and RAW motion capture for DSLRs. The revolution continues.