Three EVFs - PortKeys, Zacuto, Z CAM

<a href="https://youtu.be/HdDPqCmjx7Q" target="_blank">Watch my review on YouTube</a>
 
I've had the opportunity to spend some time with three of the best electronic view finders in what I consider the mid-tier. While they aren't exactly cheap, they also aren't crazy expensive. They are all quite comparable in features and size.

The Benefits of an EVF

I came across this excellent list of reasons to use an EVF on the Kinifinity Facebook Group. (shared with permission from Jerome GafpaGear)
  1. I am 100% focused on what my frame is and I use my ears to see outside the image.
  2. Every movement I make with my head is linked to the image I'm making.
  3. The third point of connection creates an amazing amount of balance.
  4. The person I shoot cannot have eye contact, I am the machine, I am the camera I approach my subject with empathy, but I'm not a person so we don't see the actual line of sight (pointing to me) of the person I'm shooting.
  5. People around me cannot see what I'm shooting, it's mystery and magic.
  6. My image appears always in the same brightness, I'm in a darkroom, I can judge exposure without the needs of boring waveforms and zebras.
  7. Power consumption is relatively low.
I would add that I never have any problems seeing my image in sunlight and there's no better monitor from which to pull focus. The image is always in focus regardless of how good or bad my vision is. I should note that while the Zacuto claims to have some anti-fog protection, all of these EVFs fog up in cold weather.

PortKeys OEYE 3G

I have the most experience with the PortKeys OEYE 3G. It's my personal EVF that I've owned and used since 2019. It has the widest field of view by a long shot and a robust CNC machined body. I really like this EVF. Menu navigation is accomplished by a rotary dial that is also a button. It's pretty straight-forward, but not the fastest. The buttons are my favorite out of all of these EVFs since they are easy to find and feel great to press. Having only three custom function buttons is a shame. PortKeys could have made the exit button act as a fourth custom function button since it only exits the menu. It comes with a hard shell case, two power cables, a SDI cable, and a USB thumb drive for firmware updates.
Specs
  • 0.71" OLED screen with 1920 x 1080 resolution
  • 390g
  • 10W power consumption
  • DC 7-24V power range
Anamorphic desqueeze
The OEYE 3G offers anamorphic desqueeze, but presents it as viewing ratios rather than desqueeze ratios. It has 16:9, 15:9, 1.33:1, 1.5:1, 1.85:1, 2:1, 2.35:1, and user defined. User defined allows for any horizontal or vertical ratio from 1:1 to 2:1 in fine steps.
Pros
  • HDMI and SDI pass-through
  • lightweight, robust metal body
  • physical ON/OFF power switch
  • rod clamp mount option
  • buttons easy to operate with gloves on
Cons
  • on-screen text shows on waveform 🤦‍♂️
  • only three custom function buttons
  • noisy fan
  • no firmware updates since 2019
  • proprietary power connector
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Zacuto Kameleon Pro

While I do own the Zacuto Kameleon Pro, I haven't spent as much time using it as I have the PortKeys. This EVF is incredibly full featured with a wealth of settings. Multiple zebras, anamorphic desqueeze, freeze frame, markers, and so much more. Practically any of the settings can be assigned to the four custom function buttons. It's the most expensive EVF of this bunch for a reason. I appreciate the minimalist design with a single joystick for control, but I find it a little confusing at times. Navigating the menu is less intuitive than it should be and moving around sometimes feels like the controls are backwards. I'm very frustrated by what Zacuto has done with the rosettes. ARRI rosettes have a M6 thread in the center and that's pretty much the standard for rosette accessories. Zacuto put a 3/8" 16 thread on the right rosette, and a 1/4" 20 thread on the left rosette. While a 3/8" 16 to M6 adapter is included, that's an incredibly rare adapter for something that shouldn't be in the first place. They should have put M6 threads on both rosettes. The same goes for some of their rosette accessories which have 1/4" 20 threads instead of M6. It comes with two additional diopter lenses and a USB thumb drive for firmware updates.
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Zacuto Flush Rosette EVF Mount
<a class="button" href="https://geni.us/gVNyk">Where to purchase</a>
Zacuto Flush Rosette EVF Mount Where to purchase
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Zacuto eye cushion
<a class="button" href="https://geni.us/BvADy">Where to purchase</a>
Zacuto eye cushion Where to purchase
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Specs
  • 0.71" OLED screen with 1920 x 1080 resolution
  • 494g
  • 5W power consumption
  • DC 7-20V power range
Anamorphic desqueeze
The Kameleon Pro has four standard anamorphic desqueeze options: 2x, 1.5x, 1.33x, and 1.25x.
Pros
  • compact shape
  • quite fan
  • lots of settings
  • lots of accessories like eye cushions and support arms
Cons
  • expensive
  • four pin LEMO power connector is not as common as 2 pin
  • noisy fan
  • no HDMI or SDI pass-through
  • non-standard ARRI rosettes
  • joystick navigation can be confusing
  • no ON/OFF power switch

Z CAM EV101

Z CAM is new to the EVF market, but they have burst out of the gate with a nice one. It has a great build quality and has some unique features that set it apart from the others. It's also the most affordable at $999 USD. Two unique features that the other two don't have is a proximity sensor and wireless video. When you have your eye near, the EVF the screen turns on. When you move away it turns off. Brilliant! With the included antennae attached you can turn on the internal wifi and view the image on the Z CAM app on mobile devices. It's basically a free wireless transmitter. The buttons are in a good location on the left side of the unit and are a little easier to navigate than the Zacuto, IMO. While you have five custom function buttons, the menu only offers five features to control. That's very odd considering there are quite a few options in the menu. I'm certain a firmware update could fix this, but Z CAM hasn't released any. Their website doesn't have a convenient link to the EVF page, so here it is. One thing that really holds this EVF back is it's relatively limited resolution. At 1440 x 1440 you have quite a few less pixels and the pixel structure becomes visible. This results in a less detailed image and makes it harder to nail the focus. The square shape does keep the waveform and other information off of the image, but that's not an equivalent exchange for less resolution. It comes with two antennae, a lens cap, a D-tap to 2 pin LEMO cable, and a metal tool for unscrewing the eye cup.
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Specs
  • LCD screen (size calculated as 2.04") with 1440 x 1440 resolution
  • 608g
  • 5.5W power consumption
  • DC 6.5-18V power range
Anamorphic desqueeze
The EV101 allows you to desqueeze in either horizontal or vertical directions in 2x, 1.8x, 1.5x, or 1.33x.
Pros
  • most affordable
  • proximity sensor
  • nothing overlays the video image
  • wireless video transmitter
  • common 2 pin LEMO power connector
Cons
  • low resolution
  • only five menu items can be assigned to the custom function buttons
  • no HDMI or SDI pass-through
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