Philip Bloom

From PhilipBloom.co.uk

An Essential Add On for Any Viewfinder
Review by Philip Bloom
May 31, 2009

i-cuffI have been using the i-cuff since December 2006, not long after I went freelance and had bought my first big boy camera as well as some smaller ones like the Z1 and the Sony A1. I bought one for each of these cameras.

I hate the rubber hoods of viewfinders and am not a fan of the chamois leather ones either. I wanted something super comfy that I can rest against my eye socket without my eyeball being sucked out if I press too hard against it.

There are three different version out there the DV, the pro and the HD. The DV is for your little cameras, your little Canonís, Sony A1s and apparently for scopes on guns?! Not that I endorse that at all!!! The Pro is for cameras like the HVX, EX1, JVC HM700 and the HD is for the bigger viewfinders like the EX3 and all the big boys. I also use this one for my Zacuto Z-finder on my Canon 5dmk2.

Philip Bloom Review

Philip Bloom Review

Again this is so much better than the rubber you get with it. Ultra comfy, lets in no light, can rotate and for you shooters out there who wear glasses, you can use this much easier with glasses than traditional rubber.

DV
i-cuff DV



Pro
i-cuff Pro



HD
i-cuff HD



I really canít recommend these enough, I recently got the updated versions and they are even better, not that I needed to replace my current ones as they are still going strong 2 and a half years later. They are very well made, make using the viewfinder really comfortable and best of all, they are cheap! The small one is $29.95 and the other two are $45. All available from the i-cuff website.

I seriously cannot recommend them enough. It just makes shooting using a viewfinder that much easier, it can push the VF right up to my eye when handheld adding stability, stops the VF getting fogged up in crappy conditonsÖoh, and it absorbs all my man sweat when working really hard!

Philip Bloom Review

Philip Bloom Review






DVuser

From DVuser Magazine: The Definitive online DV magazine

"I would have to implore every cameraman (or woman, ala Life of Brian movie) on the planet to get online and buy one without delay."
April 24, 2008

i-cuffOk, you would be forgiven for thinking ďwhat can you possibly say about an after-market eyecup?Ē Well, there is plenty actually. Here Iím going to explain what types are available and why the i-Cuff is the best option.

First of all, allow me to explain exactly what an eyecup is supposed to do. It is supposed to prevent stray light from entering the viewfinder so you have a clear high definition glare/ghostfree image, allowing you to focus properly and check for critical exposure; something you canít do with stray light entering in the side of the eyecup. A good eyecup will also go a long way in preventing eye fatigue and providing much needed comfort for the camera operator. Here is a brief run-down of the three types of eyecup available, they are: the standard rubber eyecup that comes with camcorder, the foam/chamois eye-cushion variety, and finally, the i-Cuff.

Option 1. Standard Rubber Eyecup included with camcorder (free):

This is the worse option of them all; sure, it kind of does the job, but it basically sucks in real life shooting situations. The cheap rubber eyecup that comes with most camcorders is adequate at best, but light usually comes spilling in from the edges as you press your eye up against it. This basic rubber eyecup will only give you a minimum of protection from glare and stray ambient light, hence focussing and exposure will be compromised. Also, if you wear glasses, the rubber eyecup can be a real pain in the proverbial, as your glasses push the rubber edges of the eyecup away, allowing stray light to enter into the viewfinder giving horrible glare and ghosting. You will also hate the fact that grease and other nasty deposits get all over your glasses, especially when shooting in hot weather.

If you donít wear glasses, you will be familiar with that uncomfortable feeling you get when shooting in adverse weather conditions such as sweltering summer heat or humid rain. In the summer, beads of sweat and perspiration get all over the rubber eyepiece, making life difficult when focusing and adjusting exposure. In humid rain the eyepiece usually fogs up and it is like looking through a mist filter number 3.

Personally I think the stock rubber eyecups that come with most camcorders are nextdoor to useless, for any serious shooting applications anyway.

Option 2. Chamois Eye-cushion (£3 to £5 each)
This second option helps somewhat, but is still not perfect. These cheap (almost disposable) chamois eye cushions fit directly over the stock rubber eyecup that comes with the camcorder by simply stretching over it. They have a small amount of foam padding and a thin chamois cover. This will give your eye an element of padding, and the chamois will absorb perspiration and sweat from your eye. It will only prevent stray light a little more than the standard rubber eyecup, but not much more, it is designed more for a slight improvement in comfort for the operator than anything else. The Chamois Eye-cushion will get dirty/greasy quite quickly, after just a few days shooting in the summer, so you will need to buy a stock of them, this is a false economy when compare to the i-Cuff; see below.

However, the Chamois Eye-cushion can be good protection from health issues if you regularly use rental equipment as it separates your eye from the rubber eyecup. Fitting a Chamois Eye-cushion to a rental camcorderís rubber eyepiece will prevent you caching something horrible from the previous operator e.g. Conjunctivitis or some nasty tropical eye infection.

Option 3. i-Cuff (i-Cuff DV £20, i-Cuff Pro & i-Cuff HD £30)
The i-Cuff was invented by Ira Raider, who himself is an Emmy award-winning Director of Photography. Ira invented the i-Cuff in an attempt to solve the many problems that most field camera operators come up against when using standard rubber eyecups. And what a great job he has done with the design, combining both a highly efficient light-shield as well as a very comfortable padded chamois.

The i-Cuff comes in three sizes from the smaller i-Cuff DV, to the i-Cuff Pro and the i-Cuff HD. The i-Cuff DV is designed to fit prosumer camcorders such as the Sony PD170 for example. However with certain makes/models, it could be that the viewfinder wonít fold away fully with the i-Cuff attached; no big deal in the grand scheme of things. The i-Cuff Pro is designed to fit camcorders with slightly larger viewfinders such as Panasonicís HVX-200 model or Sonyís Z1 for example.

The i-Cuff HD has been designed to fit full size professional shoulder-mounted camcorders such as Sonyís XDCAM HD and DigiBeta, Panasonicís AJ-HPX3000 and Varicam for example. All i-Cuff models attach to the camcorderís viewfinder by means of elastic and Velcro. Ira sent me two i-Cuff models, the i-Cuff DV and the i-Cuff HD. For my tests, I fitted the i-Cuff HD to my Sony PDW-F350 XDCAM HD camcorder. Fitting the i-Cuff is a simple affair, itís simply a case of stretching the elastic fitting over the F350ís standard viewfinder, then securing home tightly using the built-in Velcro strap system.

Personally I found it better to leave the standard rubber eyecup in place as the i-Cuff protrudes 3 or 4mm beyond this anyway, however, if you wear glasses you might want to fold the inner part of elliptical rubber eyecup forward; (closest to the camera body) getting it out of the way of eyeglasses, and your eye (unlike in my picture as I donít wear glasses). Note: If you remove the rubber eyecup entirely, it will allow the plastic filter that protects the viewfinder from dust to potentially fall out. Once in place (seconds later) I found peering down the viewfinder to be a much more pleasurable and comfortable experience. It does a superb job of totally eliminating stray ambient light from entering the viewfinder. This improves the whole shooting experience 100% as you can focus and adjust critical exposure with a clear viewfinder. Finally, prior to putting on i-cuff, set the diopter on the viewfinder according to the needs of the individual users eye; itís not easy to do once itís on.

You could see the i-Cuff as a kind of Matte Box for your viewfinder. Just as a Matte Box shields the front element of your lens from stray shafts of light, preventing glare and ghosting, so the i-Cuff has the same effect on the viewfinder. In fact, since using the i-Cuff it is almost as if I have upgraded my viewfinder to a superior model, as there is no stray light sending haze and glare into my viewfinder, hence contrast and definition is greatly improved, so focus and exposure can now be executed to finer tolerances resulting in better recorded images.

The i-Cuff is incredibly well built and appears to be very durable. It should last for many years as it can even be washed.

Here is a bit more info on i-Cuff:
i-cuff is made from a breathable, washable and waterproof hi-tech fabric that reduces fogging in the viewfinder; also protects the viewfinder from dirt and scratches.

i-cuff can be sanitized by lightly rubbing with isopropyl alcohol; (camera head cleaner); only on the chamois that comes into contact with the eye and face.

i-cuff can be lightly hand washed with woolite, (or other gentle soap) and hung to dry if it gets dirty.

If you rotate i-cuff 45 degrees counter clockwise, it will act as a shade for shooting under arm down low, or up overhead aiding in seeing into the viewfinder when itís away from the eye.

i-cuff is now being used on telescopes, rifle scopes, spotting scopes, microscopes, bi/ monoculars, thermal imaging devices. For me, the i-Cuff should go down in modern video history as one of the most innovative and useful inventions in 20 years; simple, yet pure genius.

I would have to implore every cameraman (or woman, ala Life of Brian movie) on the planet to get online and buy one without delay. For more info visit: www.i-cuff.com.


 


Astronomy Magazine

From Astronomy.com

Not Seeing the Light
Review by Jeremy McGovern
March 18, 2008

i-cuffOne of the most flattering tribute you can pay to an invention is, ďWhy didnít I think of that?Ē It comes close to a backhanded compliment, but the praise acknowledges the practicality, efficiency, and solution provided.

I recently tested a product that provided that slap-in-the-forehead moment. Manufacturer i-Cuffs has created eyecups specifically for binoculars and telescopes. Eyecups are nothing new to optics, but these stand out.

I took two i-Cuffs and my Oberwerk 10x50 binoculars to an observing location near Lake Michigan. The site provides a wonderful eastern and southern view, but the lighting from the parkís security lights present a few issues.

The i-Cuffs mount to binocular and telescope eyepieces through a sleeve, tightened with a Velcro strap. The eyepieces were easy to attach, the eyecups were sturdy, and did not need tightening. I used the i-Cuffs only twice, so it will take more time to measure Velcro fatigue. The i-Cuffs worked perfectly for blocking nearby nuisance light, so much that it took time to adjust to the unfamiliar darkness in my peripheral vision. These eyecups seemed to make objects pop more, especially clusters like M44. These are quite comfortable, with a chamois lining at the top. The lightweight material means the i-Cuffs donít add much weight to the binoculars. The i-Cuffs are also wind and moisture resistant, so the winter wind whipping near lakeshore didnít ice over my eyelids.

You can buy directly from the i-Cuff site, a binocular set costs $60 (free shipping). If you would like to buy only an eyecup for your telescope, the i-Cuff Pro ($45) fits up to a 9.5-inch circumference.



From 2-pop.com

A Review of Two Alternative Camera Eyecups
By Jerry Jones
March 13, 2002 09:18 AM PST

Product: Ira Raider's i-cuff Viewfinder Camera Eyecup
Company: i-cuff, Inc.
Price:
- i-cuff DV: $39.95 (fits viewfinders smaller than Canon XL1)
- i-cuff Pro: $65.00 (fits Canon XL1/Aaton viewfinders to Sony/Ike/Panavision)
Contact: 800-793-3006

Product: VideoSmith's Ikkup Rubber Eyecup
Company: Videosmith, Inc.
Price: $29.95 (fits Sony VX1000, Canon GL1 and similar sizes)
Contact: 215-238-5070

Summary: Both of these alternatives will be a significant improvement over the standard eyepiece that comes with many cameras. And both will help you shoot better pictures, with or without glasses. But of the two, the i-cuff provides the best overall solution.

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In Search of A Better Camera Eyecup
Help For Camera Operators Shooting With or Without Glasses


As the person who has compiled several issues of 2-pop's "Best of the Boards," I've read literally hundreds of posts at 2-pop about frustrations with the viewfinder eyepiece that comes standard on many cameras. This frustration is especially prevalent among users of the smaller consumer/prosumer cameras. But, as I've learned, it is a frustration of many with the higher end cameras as well.

Since it was also a frustration I shared, I set out to find a solution, something that did not cost an arm and a leg. I've found two solutions, one that is an improvement, but still less than ideal. And one that is a home run.

Ira Raider's i-cuff Viewfinder Camera Eyecup

The Home Run Solution
Being someone who needs glasses to keep my world in focus, few things are more frustrating to me than trying to see what is going on through a camera viewfinder (especially with the pro-sumer/consumer cameras). The smallish viewfinders were simply not made for glasses. And even for those who don't wear glasses, the viewfinder on many cameras simply was not made for comfort. Functional maybe. But comfortable, no.

So it was a cause for celebration when the flip-out LCD cameras came out. They set me free, and made it much easier to see what I was shooting. However, as you know from experience, there are times when the LCD monitor is simply not very helpful, especially in bright sunlight.



ABOVE: The i-cuff on a small consumer DV camera


So along comes Ira Raider and his delightful little invention, the i-cuff (www.i-cuff.com). When you need a way to see what you're shooting through the viewfinder – regardless of the lighting or circumstances (and regardless of whether you wear glasses) – this little add-on is the best I've found.

The I-cuff was born out of many years of real-world experience. (Ira is an Emmy Award winning DP/Cameraman, so he knows just a wee bit about working with cameras.) "For years," says Raider, "It's either been wear a baseball cap, or have someone shield your shooting eye, or throw a large black cloth over the camera and yourself... all less than ideal ways to handle the situation."

The i-cuff solves this age-old problem encountered with those confining, uncomfortable standard eyecups.



ABOVE: The i-cuff on a Canon XL-1

 


In addition to how it helps me see what I'm shooting, some of the things I most like about the i-cuff include:

- Works great with glasses. As I've already alluded to, with the i-cuff, there is no more shoving your glasses up against some small piece of rubber. This alone makes the i-cuff a must have in my camera bag.

- Feels great on my face. You already know how that small, cold, unnatural rubbery eyecup feels. With the i-cuff, get ready for a wonderful new experience in comfort. The i-cuff's contoured wraparound design features a thick, luxurious ultra-suede chamois, ("good for over 100,000 rubs," according to Raider) to cushion your face during those long shoots. It just feels good.

- Blocks out the light. Because of the contour and design of the i-cuff, it does a much more effective job of eliminating extraneous light from entering the viewfinder. When I'm using it, it enables me to focus more effectively on the picture in my viewfinder. In addition, it helps reduce fogging, absorbs sweat and protects the viewfinder from scratches and other abuse.



ABOVE: The i-cuff being used on a ARRI Camera/TS2

- Provides flexibility. You attach the i-cuff to the viewfinder using a Velcro tightening strap. As a result, it is very easy to adjust or reposition for a personalized fit. Or, when you are shooting overhead, under your arm, or down low you can rotate the i-cuff 45 degrees, allowing you to have more options to meet your shooting and viewing needs.

- Low maintenance. Made from waterproof, breathable, washable and lightweight hi-tech fabric, the i-cuff is easily cleaned as needed with soap, water and a drip-dry. And I've taken my i-cuff around the world, often ending up with it getting scrunched in some corner of my camera bag. But it is nearly indestructible, always ready for action.

- Price and value. Of all the "don't-leave-home-without-it" accessories that come along, this is one that I always keep with my camera. As one user from Texas mentioned, "In a world full of gadgets and tricks that make our productions better looking, more efficient, and most importantly: comfortable, the i-cuff stands out. If you're spending big bucks on lens shades, matte boxes and viewfinder hoods, why not spend a couple on your most important asset: you're eyes."

Some Experimenting May Be Required
I've actually found very little to complain about with the i-cuff. My only frustration is that sometimes I wish the fabric sides were stiffer, more rigid. When I push my face up against the I-cuff, it can sometimes have a tendency to move to the side, resulting in an inability to see the full view through my viewfinder. However, this is also generally due to my not having the i-cuff attached properly.

So, depending on your particular camera, some experimenting is required. You may find that pushing it further forward (or backward) will work best for you, allowing you to see the full viewfinder without any vignetting. Furthermore, by fitting the i-cuff just in front of the rubber eyecup, you may totally eliminate any vignetting problems. Just experiment to find the best fit foryour particular camera.

Two Versions Available
Regardless of the camera you use, there is an i-cuff designed to fit. The i-cuff DV ($39.95) is especially designed to fit all consumer/prosumer video and film cameras such as the Sony PD 150, Canon GL/XL1, Digital/Hi 8 Handycams, Sony's DCR-TRV230 or CCD TRV98 or even the retro Bolex H16 film camera!

The i-cuff PRO ($65), used by professional Award-Winning Directors of Photography and Camera people worldwide, is designed to work on most higher end cameras, including Sony, Ikegami, Hitachi, JVC, Panasonic and Canon. Many pro's have discovered the benefits of using the i-cuff, including productions for National Geographic, Professional Baseball, PBS, ABC Network News, Dateline NBC, 60 Minutes and 20/20.


VideoSmith's Ikkup Rubber Eyecup

A Second Alternative
VideoSmith (www.videosmith.com) makes available some great gear. I enjoy going to their web site and seeing some of the helpful accessories that they provide, many of which they create and manufacturer themselves. (You can also purchase Ira Raider's i-cuff at their site.) One of their products is called the Ikkup Rubber Eyecup ($29.95), intended primarily for camera's such as the Sony VX-1000 or Canon GL1. (It also works on the VX-2000/PD-150 but it tends to fit a bit loose on these newer cameras.)

It is clearly an improvement over the standard camera eyecup, adding comfort to shooting, while at the same time blocking extraneous light from the eyepiece. However, it does not provide the comfort or flexibility I found with the i-cuff.



ABOVE: The Ikkup on a Canon GL-1



First, although it provides a larger eyepiece than what comes on the camera, it is still semi-hard rubber and thus, less user-friendly to the face (or to those who wear glasses).

Furthermore, the instructions suggest that you leave the Ikkup on your camera all the time. (It could potentially cause wear and tear damage if you were to repeatedly pull the Ikkup on and off your original viewfinder.) However, in the case of cameras such as the GL-1, you cannot fully close the eyepiece while the Ikkup is mounted, especially with a battery attached. I felt uncomfortable leaving my eyepiece extended – and more vulnerable to damage – when packing or during travel. (Or maybe it's just that I'm anal and always want to put things back where they belong!!)

All Things Considered . . .
As indicated at the beginning, both of these alternatives will be a significant improvement over the standard eyepiece that comes with many cameras. But after using them both, the i-cuff is the clear winner – for both those who need to wear glasses and those who don't.

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Jerry Jones, who lives in the Colorado mountains, is owner of J. David Jones Productions. His video production work is primarily short documentaries for non-profits and humanitarian organizations in various parts of the world. When he can squeeze in the time, he is also writing a historical novel. Jerry has also served as the primary compiler/editor for 2-pop's Best of the Boards.

Copyright © Jerry Jones, 2002


From DV Format.com

I-Cuff: Professional Eyecup for Film and Video Cameras
Review 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.

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