Viewfinders for Inertial Stabilization

If you don't use a separate viewfinder, you want the camera eyepiece convenient to operate so that you don't have to move your head very much when panning or tilting.

Don't let motion from your body to be transmitted to the camera system by contact of your eye against the eyepiece. We have found camcorder LCD screen adequate if well shaded from stray light, but are poor outside in brighter light. There is an issue of whether you want the monitor attached to the camera rig or supported separately. If your body is moving it has to be attached to the rig or a helmet. Attaching it to the camera system adds weight, which should be avoided if possible. I recommend avoiding adjusting the screen brightness in a bright light situation as it can effect exposure evaluation later.

I made a "sport finder" for the VX 1000 that enlarged the image seen at some distance away from the camera. Sony doesn't make these as far as I have been told, but some underwater blimp people may have made them. I attached a 25mm two-element lens to where the existing viewfinder fits. I turned a piece of PVC pipe to accept the lens and cut the PVC to attach to the top of the viewfinder housing with the factory eyepiece removed. Velcro and electrical tape made the connection. I added a black baffle around the eyepiece to block stray light to the eye when the eye is not against the viewfinder. If you use cameras with a LCD side finder you will have to provide good shading to the finder to see the image in brighter outside light.

If you attach a viewfinder to the camera system, gimbal it about its CG so the CG remains the same when you change the viewing angle. A plastic or thin metal box could hold the monitor, provide shade and provide attachment to a bale like a studio light.

I have tried using consumer LCD TV "virtual reality" glasses with moderate success. The LCD image isn't bright enough to use outside without a large dense ND filter to reduce the outside light to your eyes. The fit to the head of the unit I have is poor and needs help when moving. I highly recommend learning to use both eyes open when operating regular cameras to train your brain to shift your attention back and forth between the image in the viewfinder and what you see with your other eye. Otherwise operating with a head-mounted monitor will be difficult. Some people vomit right away. Operating on boats and aircraft can also present a problem when people look through the eyepiece and their reference to the world is different that what they are used to. Training on remote control cameras may help develop this skill. Also consider Dramamine.

The Citizen LCD monitor is lightweight and just adequate. Tape the supplied shade to the monitor. 4 or 6 "D" cells on a remote cable can power it. The supplied Citizen AA battery pack is heavy to leave on the camera and the AA batteries don't last very long.

For more information read Video Helmet Design Considerations.

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