18/09/2019.

Anyone who tried to take a film with a digital camera by framing with the back screen, in full sunlight, will have noticed: it’s just impossible! We can of course act like cellphone owners: framing at a guess… But I don’t like this.

I thought I would find a viewfinder that attaches to the hot shoe, as there are some high-end compact cameras that don’t have a built-in optical viewfinder. But I came across something else, which I didn’t know: a viewfinder that fits to the back screen of the camera.

There are several models, some of which stick directly on the screen, which doesn’t seem very safe. Others are fixed under the camera, by the tripod socket. This is the case of the Tarion TR-V2.

The Tarion TR-V2 optical viewfinder

I received this device less than 24 hours after ordering!

Box of Tarion viewfinder

Box contents

When unpacking, we find:

There are no instructions for use, other than the three photos on the box. Despite this, the implementation is simple, and we get this.

Overview in the sunlight

Here we see the main purpose of this viewfinder: make the screen visible and usable in direct sunlight. A secondary interest is to help stabilize the camera through the additional fulcrum.

Implementation

First, and most importantly, this viewfinder covers my camera’s entire 3.2 inch screen. All the information is visible, including the “vu meters” for the sound that are at the very edge of the screen, as well as the level scales, the battery charge signal, and so on.

View of the screen through the viewfinder

In this photo, where the actual viewfinder is open to allow direct viewing of the screen, a small part of it is hidden to the right. This is because the viewfinder has slid a little to the left, because of the horizontal locking screw that does not block well. I’ll come back to it.

The view is very clear. There is a pincushion distortion, which is not really a problem for use. There is a dioptric adjustment, which is simply to move the internal magnifying lens. I didn’t need to use it to see clearly all the indications of the screen.

The actual viewfinder part easily separates from the fixing part thanks to a mortise and tenon joint held by a strong enough magnet.

Magnetic holder

Disadvantages

The fixing screw under the camera is not convenient at all: very flat, not knurled, so not manoeuvrable by hand. It lacks wings as on the thumbscrew of my quick-release plate that can be seen below. So, it’s not possible to quickly disassemble the device.

Fixing on the camera

You can buy a more suitable screw, like this one. We need a non-threaded portion of at least 9 mm long so that it can slide along the slot, which is not the case here, where it is only 7 mm. I didn’t find any of convenient length.

1/4” screw with D ring

If, like me, you don’t need the Manfrotto quick-release, you can even choose a more bulky model like this one.

Now, the unthreaded part is a bit too long. It will therefore be necessary to check that it can still be suitable, possibly by stacking washers.

1/4” screw with knurled knob

The base is supposed compatible Manfrotto, but I can’t verify, because my tripod is equipped with a Benro quick-release. However, I am able to mount the plate below (there are two standard threads, 1/4” and 3/8”), provided I first remove the viewfinder: the horizontal locking knurled screw prevents mounting or removing the camera as the plate release lever abuts.

The lever is blocked by the lower screw

Almost all the camera controls remain accessible, except, and this is very awkward, two navigation keys (left and down)…

Keys hampered by the locking screw

… and, above all, the photo-video selector.

Photo-video selector hampered by the viewfinder

This defect could have been avoided seemingly easily by spreading the U-shaped bracket from the camera, as on this competitor of £32 (only!)

Competitor viewfinder

Solutions

To make the photo-video switch accessible, I had to saw the angle at the top of the U-shaped part, carefully to avoid damaging the viewfinder body (which I was unable to separate from the base), and to prevent aluminium particles from getting into the viewfinder.

Zoom on the sawed part

I found in use that the horizontal locking screw loosened easily, and, to a lesser degree, those of the sides (vertical lock). Cause: tightening metal on metal, aluminium on aluminium moreover, making fear to tighten too hard, and without washer to distribute the pressure. So I’ve temporarily prepared polystyrene washers ø 4 × 10. Failing that, you can use steel washers, but it’s best to get nylon washers.

In fact, what’s the use of these knurled knobs? They certainly facilitate the setting, but once it’s done, they are no longer useful unless you want to use the viewfinder on several different cameras. So, I replace them with M4 pan head screws, the least bulky. This type of screw is found in Ikea furniture assemblies. Simply shorten them to about 6 mm, either with special pliers or hacksaw, taking care in this case to place a nut that will reform the thread after cutting.

Use of pan head screws

We can find here this type of screw.

Pan head screw

The use of such screws completely clears the navigation keys…

Pan head screw on right

…and allows the camera to be mounted on the quick-release plate without removing the viewfinder.

Pan head screw below

This time, the screw no longer blocks the release lever on my quick-release receiver.

Screw no longer blocks the lever

To be complete, I also replaced the left screw, which was not really necessary.

Pan head screw on the left

The only remaining problem is the not yet perfect access to the video selector. The aluminium U-shaped part should be cut further.

After these small works, this viewfinder gives me complete satisfaction.

Tarion TR-V2
€56 — price 2019
at Amazon

1/4" threaded screw with 18 mm D-shaped ring,
length 11 mm,
€6,90 at Amazon

SMALLRIG Camera 18mm long screw
€6,00 at Amazon

Universal 3.0X LCD Viewfinder For 3” 3.2”
Screen Canon Nikon Sony Leica Camera
Approx. £32 at Ebay

sourcingmap® M4 x 10mm x 1mm Nylon Flat Washers
Spacers Gaskets Fastener Off White 100PCS
£2.38 at Amazon

M4 (4mm x 20mm) Hex Socket Button
Machine Screw Steel (Pack of 20)
£5.49 at Amazon



€ chez