For those who know Varavon, probably best known for their video sliders and viewfinder products, they are currently running a 20% Holiday Saleuntil Dec. 31st. More about the offer and Varavon products can be found at the company website: http://Vifocam.com.
Varavon 20% Off Holiday Sale - ends Dec. 31st 2012
It's a special bracket combined with the latest Varavon EX-Solo Loupe LCD Viewfinder to work with the GH1/GH2 cameras vari-angle LCD screens. This will allow you to still have full tilt use of your LCD screen for low angle shooting, magnify the image on screen, and provide shade if you're working in bright sunlight. Using a loupe also gives you a nice little stabilizing point of contact if you're shooting hand held or on a small rig. There certainly isn't too many LCD Loupes for the GH1/GH2 cameras, mainly because people have been happy with the mini EVF eyepiece resolution. But if you had to choose one for these M43 cameras, I feel Varavon makes the best. Of course it's also one of the priciest. Find more of Varavon products available at B&H (click here).
Varavon shows it's latest Loupe EX Solo View Finder on a Canon 60D. The Loupe EX Supporter (metal bracket) was designed to work on swivel LCD cameras such as the GH2, 60D, T3i. Without the Supporter bracket, the new Loupe EX can be mounted on cameras using a metal frame at the tripod mount. The Supporter bracket is not yet available through B&H, but the Loupe EX Solo are already available (click here).
Varavon's latest product is a flip up style ViewFinder called the EX-Solo with models available for all the popular Nikon, Canon 5D / 7D / T2i / 60D, and even small Panasonic GH2 cameras. The ViewFinder attaches using the Tripod base adapter (no sticky frame here), and still provides an access port if you want to mount a quick release. The EX-Solo includes a diopter for those with less than perfect vision and flips up a full 180 degrees when the VF is not in use. The view finder stays put with a few magnets when it's in the closed position. Varavon pricing has always been a bit high, but quality has been top notch in it's other product line. At least it's still cheaper than the high end viewfinders. Looks like they are just getting in stock (click here).
At first glance most Varavon products take unusual routes in designing camera gear. One example is how they opted to design their ViewFinder with a pop open door and mirror for low angle shots. Unusually I find myself using this feature quite a bit now. This time they've designed their Armor (cage) to not look so 'cage like' when compared to all the other square or rectangular boxes on the market. Varavon sent over the Armor [Thanks Varavon] and it looked like a weird contorted frame, but that's all designed to make your camera still feel like a camera. We didn't really notice this until mounting the 5D Mark II and using it as we normally would hand held. The frame is very lightweight, but it's far from flimsy. Not exactly sure what's it's made from but it feels more like steel not so much aluminum.
Since most DSLR cameras have the hand grip placed on the right side of the body, I guess Varavon figured you'll be focusing with your left hand and supporting the camera with your right. For this, they provided some 15mm standard stubs only on the right side of the Armor body and include a well crafted wide grip handle for support. Instead we tested different things from Shoulder Pads to Target Shooter style gunstocks mounted on the stud. You can use this 15mm mount for a variety of things, but if you build up too far, you might have a tough time getting on and off a Tripod head.
The Armor comes with a mounting base, which is already designed to accept the Varavon View Finder. I have one for the 5D Mark II, so it fit in place perfectly. The entire package together really works, but it has it's 'cons'. The quick release is still a propriety system. The View Finder I have is only for the Canon 5D Mark II, so this won't mount correctly if i'm using a 7D, 60D, T2i, T3i, GH2, etc. For people who own multiple cameras, expect that you'll only be using it for one. Another thing I found was the many many threaded holes around the cage. It's nice if you're mounting a direct 1/4-20 bolt directly. But I tried mounting a hot shoe adapter and it continuously positioned the wrong way. This is due to the threads not allowing a bolt to spin freely before locking it down. I may have to drill a few of these out to remove the threads. For most people Varavon products haven't been competitive in pricing, but that could be contributed to quality. Also, tools like the Varavon ViewFinder and Cage don't exactly fall under 'Future Proof' designs if someday you choose to change cameras. All in all, in the time i've had a chance to use Varavon products, I've been really impressed. They make excellent quality ViewFinders, Sliders, and now this Armor Cage. More information on the Armor can be found at their website (click here).
The $24.00 dollar shoulder support with Rod mounts are getting a few questions as well as the recent Quick Release adapter posted on this blog. Here's a look at how i'm using these recently purchased items with my gear.
First a quick look at the cheap Quick Release adapter. It's not a standard QR adapter with a 1/4x20 thread already tapped in. Instead I run a beveled screw through the top of the adapter and place a bolt underneath. To keep the quick release adapter from shifting around I also used thin double sided tape between the adapter and the stage of the flycam nano. To prevent the nut from coming loose, I also have a washer + lock washer.
Second common question i've been getting is how to mount rods to the cheap $24 dollar shoulder support. To get the basic foundation setup, you'll need an adapter plate. This type of plate is commonly used under a rod rig so that it can be placed on top of a Tripod of Fluid head. When purchasing a basic set of rods or any rig, find out if one will be provided. If not you can buy one separately here: http://express35.com/tripod-mount/1054/
After mounting the adapter plate to the shoulder support, I can then position any set of handles, build up an offset stage, have support for a follow focus, matte box, etc. You can also find a basic set of rails with DSLR base plate, and Tripod plate here: http://express35.com/rail-system/295/
Gini Rig on $24 Shoulder Support w/ Varavon ViewFinder