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I-Cuff: Professional Eyecup for Film and Video Cameras

By Paulo de Andrade
One of the most annoying things to a camera operator has got to be shooting with a poorly designed eyecup. I know this very well because the rubber eyecup on my last EFP camera was lousy! On bright, sunny days I had to press it very hard against my face to block out the light, and even then it didn't do a great job. Come to think of it, I truly believe that the designers of that eyepiece wanted to irritate me in particular because it was also engineered in such a way that my eyelashes touched the viewfinder's lens all the time. And on more humid days, the viewfinder would completely fog up unless I kept a good half inch away from the eyecup. Should I mention my attempts to shoot while wearing eyeglasses?

It's interesting that cameras costing tens of thousands of dollars can come equipped with such poor accessories. I'm sure that a little piece of rubber is not one of the most exciting features that camera manufacturers would like to sell. But eyecups do play a very important role in a shoot. A well designed one will even keep you from getting tired sooner than you should.

So what should we look for in a good eyecup? Good light blocking, a comfortable distance from the viewfinder's glass, non-fogging characteristics and a comfortable surface to touch your skin for hours and hours. If it can be made to be durable, adjustable, lightweight, easy to install and to work with glasses, then you have a really good product.

I first saw the I-cuff at NAB. In fact, their booth was causing a little traffic jam because there was a small line of people waiting to try their products. I guess that, contrary to what camera manufacturers must think, eyecups can be exciting after all. And judging from the responses from the people who tried it, the I-cuff seemed to be a great little product, indeed.

The I-cuff presently come in two flavors: The I-cuff Pro fits Canon XL1 and Aaton viewfinders as well as those on larger Sony, Panasonic, JVC, Ikegami and Panavision pro cameras. The new I-cuff DV fits viewfinders smaller than Canon XL1's, such as that on the Sony PD-150 and other small DV cameras. Both products share the same features and the main difference is the size. So, if you shoot using a small DV camera, expect the same professional quality that you get with the larger model.

We normally use the Sony PD-150 on location and I had always experienced problems on sunny California days, even with the larger optional rubber eyecup sold by Sony. But with the I-cuff, even during shoots like this on a beach park and a very bright day, I have no problems with glare. The little I-cuff works very much like a miniature monitor hood that you can look into, completely blocking the outside light.

Comfort and finish are outstanding. The I-cuff uses a lightweight, breathable and waterproof hi-tech fabric and the part that contacts your skin is covered with Ultrasuede HP, a very comfortable chamois material. A very strong elastic band holds the I-cuff in place on the viewfinder while a Velcro strap adds a more secure, adjustable fit. The other end of the I-cuff is shaped to follow your face's contour while a stiffer material maintains the hood shape.

These eyecups are also large enough that you can install them over the viewfinder's original rubber ones. I found this to be a nice feature since on some cameras there's not enough room for a good grip and the rubber provides added support. Such is the case with the PD150s. If you completely replace the original eyecup with the I-cuff, there's no place for it to grip and it tends to come off too easily as well as flex quite a bit. Installed over the rubber piece, the I-cuff works great. Installation is very easy and takes just a couple of seconds.

Installing the I-cuff on my new Panasonic DVC-200 camera is a little bit harder because of the massive size of the viewfinder. In this case I really have to stretch the elastic band hard in order to get it on. But my older ENG camera has a smaller diameter viewfinder, which makes installation a snap, and it benefits tremendously from the I-cuff

The I-cuff is probably one of the least expensive upgrades you can make to any camera. It blocks light well, is extremely comfortable and reasonably priced. If you hate your present eyecup as much as I did my old one, I highly recommend that you get it.

I-cuff Pro: $65.00
I-cuff DV: $39.95

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Related Keywords:I-Cuff, professional eyecup

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