A 150mm-600mm lens, Metabones Speed Booster XL, a viewfinder, juice box and a shotgun mic. Probably too much, right? This is my backyard bird watching rig. Being that I don’t have to travel too far with it, I load it up and play with all my toys. The viewfinder is mandatory equipment for daytime/fast moving wildlife cinematography. It makes me sad to think about how many times over the years, in the gap between my use of ENG cameras(Early 2000’s) and just recently, I didn’t give myself the best chances to capture great footage by using a viewfinder. Besides being able to see the screen better for focusing, there is something about having your head pressed up against the camera and almost making it part of your body. It makes you a better shooter. I always enjoyed handheld ENG shooting and have truly not enjoyed the DSLR years as much, but wasn’t aware of the full extent of my displeasure until I recently started shooting with a viewfinder again. It’s extra gear and power consumption, but it is truly empowering to your craft. It sounds almost comical but being able to see what your shooting, really helps the quality of your shots. We should all stop settling for the dark image on an lcd screen while shooting in daylight. Maybe I’m being dramatic but I really feel like we’re cheating ourselves of a good experience and good results. Rent or borrow a viewfinder if you’ve never shot with one. It’s an overlooked tool for most younger DSLR shooters but it really couldn’t be more valuable.
Here is some footage shot with the Sigma 150mm-600mm but, unfortunately, from before I acquired the viewfinder. It makes a huge difference. And you can see it in the clip below, I am having a hard time holding the birds in frame because I’m using the LCD screen on the camera in the daylight. I really can’t overstate the value that a viewfinder brings to the whole shooting experience.