by Sebastian Wöber | 15th November 2015
I recently made this video where I showed you how to use the Blackmagic URSA Viewfinder with any camera. It involves a few parts including a 4K recorder for signal processing. In this article I’ll discuss how the same great EVF could be used with the Canon C300 mark II camera. Why the Blackmagic URSA Viewfinder? It’s a great OLED viewfinder that gives you a nice high resolution 1080p image with nice optics and a diopter adjustment and it is kind of affordable for the quality it gives us. Unfortunately it was made specifically for the Blackmagic URSA and Blackmagic URSA Mini cameras. Unlike the Sony FS7, luckily it works pretty well with the Canon C300 mark II. There are a few requirements to use this EVF: The URSA Viewfinder needs an SDI 1080p source. You will need some way to power the URSA Viewfinder with a 12V female 4-pin XLR. Unlike most other cameras, like the original C300, FS7 or a7S that output an interlaced signal, the Canon C300 mark II outputs 1080p. Also the camera has a nice mounting point that can be used for the viewfinder. All we need is a power source. Here is one suggestion how to do it: This is a very basic modification, meant to show you that it’s easy to make the URSA Viewfinder work. I’m sure you’ll find a better way to install that v-mount battery than my quick and dirty one. Mounting To mount the viewfinder we can use the C300 mark II’s top plate. There are several threads and we can simply use two 1/4″ screws and some plastic washers to secure it. This way however this is only limited forward / backward adjustment. If you want to get more play to adjust the viewfinder position you could get the Blackmagic EVF shoe, but it is part of the URSA Mini Shouldermount kit and doesn’t give you the correct mounting holes that match the C300. To use the C300 LCD unit I simply added a cold-shoe to the top of the URSA Viewfinder. That’s it. The SDI cable of the viewfinder needs a small SDI extension, as it is too short by a few centimetres. Parts needed Blackmagic URSA Viewfinder Powering [UPDATE Dec 2015]: Switronix C300 mark II V-Mount Plate – This new accessory will power the camera and the EVF. Lanparte VBP-02 V-Mount Plate – Of course other multi-power battery plates will also work. 12V D-Tap to 4-Pin XLR cable – cable that powers the EVF. (Lanparte 4-Pin Female XLR Adaptor – Converts a 12v miniplug (v-mount plate) to 4-pin XLR.) V-Mount Battery – This is the cheapest one I found, maybe not the best. It can be charged with the Lanparte plate which includes an AC adaptor. Other stuff SDI extension cable Cold Shoe with 3/8″ screw – This mounts on top of the Viewfinder to give you a cold shoe space for the C300 LCD. Cable Ties – to arrange the cables. 1/4-20″ 1-inch (25mm) screws – Two of those screws will attach the Viewfinder to the cage. large nylon washers for 1/4″ screws – Get some nylon washers so that the Viewfinder sits nicely and the Viewfinder isn’t damaged. You’ll also need an allen-key for those as well. Total cost: $2000,00 (including battery) Is this worth it? You will have to decide. As an alternative to other, more expensive EVF’s the Blackmagic Viewfinder surprised me with great quality and it was easy to focus. On the other hand it has almost no internal functions and the new Zacuto Gratical X is another very good option. Together with the practical Zacuto Axis Mini attachment it comes down to the same price exactly. The original C300 & C100 The Lanparte VBP-02 V-Mount Plate includes a cable that powers the C100 / C300 / C500 directly with 8.4V. This of course is very convenient if you own one of those cameras, so you can power the whole system with a single battery. Unfortunately the original C300 outputs an interlaced signal so the modification with the URSA Viewfinder won’t work, just like on the Sony FS7.Read more
by Sebastian Wöber | 21st October 2015
The Blackmagic URSA Viewfinder is the best affordable EVF I know. Since I first tried it at NAB with the new Blackmagic URSA Mini I’m thinking about how to make it work with other cameras. I figured it out and here is my guide how to use it with any camera like the Sony A7S, GH4, C300, FS7 and others. Blackmagic URSA Viewfinder with 1080p OLED screen Note that the URSA Viewfinder was specifically designed for the Blackmagic URSA and Blackmagic URSA Mini cameras. Use this guide at your own risk. We only share what we found and what worked for us. I already discussed all the advantages of the Blackmagic URSA Viewfinder in the video. So here’s the list of accessories that I used to make it work. Of course you can use other combinations and parts as per your needs, but here are the essential points: Essential Points The URSA Viewfinder needs an SDI source. So if your camera outputs SDI you’re probably already half way there. if it doesn’t, you will need an hdmi to SDI converter. The Viewfinder only works with a 1080 progressive signal. Most converters that I tried like this one or this one will NOT work, because they output an interlaced signal with the Sony a7S tested. You will need some way to power the URSA Viewfinder with a 12V female 4-pin XLR. Making it Work on a Camera like the Sony a7S The way I converted the hdmi signal from the Sony a7S to 1080p was to use an Atomos Shogun’s internal 4K –> 1080p downscaling. This way I could record 4K from a Sony a7S while at the same time using the Blackmagic URSA Viewfinder. Of course you can do a setup without the Shogun, but you will have to find a way to get a progressive signal via SDI. I’m waiting for this converter right now to see if it can provide the proper 1080p signal and will update this article very soon. The advantage of using the Shogun (or Odyssey 7Q+) is also the additional preview image whenever the rig is not on the shoulder, or for assistants. I think the way I finally mounted it on top of the Viewfinder is just the most convenient possibility and it seems it is never in the way. The Shogun will start recording through the a7S rec-trigger function, so no need to touch it at all. Furthermore it will enhance the URSA Viewfinder with all the software features included in the Shogun and I get the best of both worlds. Parts needed Blackmagic URSA Viewfinder Powering Lanparte VBP-02 V-Mount Plate – Of course other multi-power battery plates will also work. For my mod you should make sure you get an adaptor cable to power the Shogun. The Lanparte already comes with this cable. Lanparte 4-Pin Female XLR Adaptor – Converts a 12v miniplug (v-mount plate) to 4-pin XLR. You could also get a 12V D-Tap to 4-Pin XLR cable instead. Dummy Battery for Sony a7 cameras – This connects to the red-tip adapter cable which is included in the Lanparte VBP-02 package. This is why the dummy battery needs a male plug at the end. V-Mount Battery – This is the cheapest one I found, maybe not the best. It can be charged with the Lanparte plate which includes an AC adaptor. I have no idea how long it lasts, but I hope someone will do the math on 95WH and tell us in the comments. Conversion & 4K recording Atomos Shogun (Barebones) – This also works (tested) with an Odyssey 7Q+ Good affordable SSD – if you want to record stuff. Micro-HDMI to HDMI cable – to connect the a7S to the Shogun. SDI is connected directly from the URSA Viewfinder to the Shogun. If you need a longer cable get an SDI extension (not needed for my mod). Rigging Varavon a7S Cage – You need a good way to mount the Viewfinder. Of all the cages we tested, this was the one that provided the right threads. If you want to make it work with a different cage you have to experiment. Cold Shoe with 3/8″ screw + Cold Shoe Mount OR 1/4″ to 3/8″ Adapter – This mounts on top of the Viewfinder to give you a cold shoe space there OR a 1/4″ screw. I did the cold shoe version. Mini Ball Head – goes on the 1/4″ to mount the Shogun on top. Cable Ties – to arrange the cables. 1/4-20″ 1-inch (25mm) screws – Two of those screws will attach the Viewfinder to the cage. large nylon washers for 1/4″ screws – Get some nylon washers so that the Viewfinder sits nicely and the Viewfinder isn’t damaged. Get an allen-key for those as well. Handheld Rig (optional) I use and like this, but of course you can use any handheld rig solution. Vocas 15mm Rail Support – includes rails that are 8.4″ Vocas Shoulder Pad Underneath Vocas Handles I usually use the longer 13″ rails on my rigs. Other Small (HDMI) Cameras Panasonic GH4 If you want to do this with a Panasonic GH4 you might want to use the Dummy Battery for Panasonic GH3 & GH4 instead of the Sony one. If you use the DMW-YAGH you will need both the 12V D-Tap to 4-Pin XLR and Lanparte 4-Pin Female XLR cable and of course also an SDI cable to feed the Atomos Shogun. With the SDI you will of course not need the hdmi cable. Also you’d use a lower rail support than the 15mm one recommended above. Canon For Canon cameras that use the LP-E6 batteries you’ll need the Dummy Battery for Canon to make it all run from one V-mount battery. This one is for cameras like the 550D, 600D, 650D,… Also you’d use a mini HDMI cable, not the micro which you use for the a7 & GH4 cameras. Other Cameras I will write about using the Blackmagic URSA Viewfinder on the Canon C100 / C300 / C500 & C300 mark II in the following days. We will of course try this on more cameras, but looks like it’s gonna work on most if you follow the rules pointed out earlier. If you figure out on which cameras it works or doesn’t and which accessories are needed please share it in the comments. The Blackmagic URSA Viewfinder costs $1495 and is shipping now.Read more
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