The Alphatron EVF-035W-3G weighs in at a bit over one pound and can be powered by an NP-F battery (that’s not included) or an external DC 6-15V source. I used an Anton Bauer HCX Dionic battery to power my whole rig. The EVF screen is super sharp because it uses an iPhone Retina LCD panel with an LED backlight. This combination makes it nice and bright in sunlight, even when the eyepiece is flipped up.
At 3½ inches, the EVF’s 960x640-pixel, 16:9 display has 1000:1 contrast ratio, 24-bit RGB color, and a viewing angle of 160x160 degrees. A manual lens shutter keeps direct sunlight from damaging the EVF LCD monitor (you just twist the eyepiece to open and close it), and I found this to be very handy when shooting in brightly sunlit environments or dusty areas. And, next to the manual lens shutter, there’s a diopter adjustment for those of us with less than perfect vision. The menu button and four preset buttons on the side of the EVF are easy to find without looking, which is important to me. In the real world, who has the extra time to look for buttons whenever you need to use an EVF function?
Like most cameras, the built-in monitor on the BMCC is fairly useless in bright sunlight, so you really need an EVF to find proper framing and focus. You can choose one of four colors to see peaking against your image in color and black/white. I assigned Preset 1 to Focus Assist, and by pushing the F1 button I could cycle through off, color image with color peaking, or black/white image with color peaking. The EVF outlined what was in focus in the red that I had selected, which made it really easy to make corrections as the focus changed. I also found this helpful when determining depth of field for blocking a shot. I just turned on Focus Assist to see what’s outlined in red and adjusted the focus on the Rokinon Cine Prime lens I was using to “see red” in the area of the shot where the actors were working. Now I could direct the actors to stay in that area and in focus. And if the actors needed to walk toward the camera, the Focus Assist really helped me to keep them in focus as the focal plane changed. Using the Focus Assist and my Petroff Follow Focus during a walkthrough, I could see how the focus changed between the beginning and end of the move, and it was easy to keep everyone in focus when it came time to record.
Let’s take a quick look at the EVF menus. When first you hit the menu button, the “Picture” screen lets you set up the EVF with an amazing amount of control. You’ll see adjustments for Brightness, Contrast, Chroma, Aperture, Scan Mode, Aspect, 3G Format and Knob Lock — and while the first three are expected, the Alphatron doesn’t stop there. Aperture offers sharpness control, while Scan Mode lets you do over/under scans as well as pixel-to-pixel to zoom in and see what you’re actually recording. Aspect lets you see 4x3 and 16x9 as well as cine aspects, like 1:85 and 2:35. 3G Format is set to your 3G input to view in 444RGB color space, for example, and the DSLR Camera and DSLR Scale controls are for working with DSLRs, while the Knob Lock locks the side knob. You can view the menu screens and items by rolling the thumbwheel; selections are made by pushing down on the thumbwheel. So just rolling the thumbwheel up will bring you to the next menu screen.
The second screen “Color” lets you set all of your color settings, like adjusting the Color Temperature to match your camera settings. You can even use Color Bars and Pluge to set up the image in your EVF, just like on a broadcast monitor. The next screen is “Marker,” which, as you can imagine, gives options for a Center marker, Safety Areas for different aspect ratios, and Mats that can be colored. There are bunch of other options, like Thickness adjustments and User markers for setting up your own markers to any size. After the “Marker” screen is the “Waveform and Error Check” menu, which lets you set up over/under exposure using False Color, or a setting that makes the properly exposed parts of your image blink — and the blinking is hard to miss, even if you’re dead tired. The Waveform can appear in a small box in the corner of the viewfinder, or the two Wide settings stretch it out along the bottom of the screen. Both still allow you to see enough of your image for proper focus and framing. There’s also a Vectorscope to monitor skin tones. I assigned this function to F2 so I could cycle through the Normal or Wide settings, Waveform settings and Vectorscope by simply re-pushing the F2 button.
Even with all these features, the Alphatron EVF-035W-3G is very user-friendly — it feels like it’s working with you during a shoot rather than fighting against you. For example, the “Audio” menu lets you display 16 tracks of audio in your EVF. You can adjust Size, Peak Decay time, and reference your levels in dB. This is particularly handy because the BMCC has no audio meters, so the Alphatron lets you keep an eye on audio levels right in the EVF. The “Display and Set” menu allows you to set your Backlight, Timecode and other helpful settings, including assigning your F1–F4 Preset buttons.
Overall, I really like the Alphatron EVF-035W-3G electronic viewfinder. It’s small and lightweight yet loaded with top-notch professional features, and it’s easy to use in real-world productions on a variety of cameras. When you consider all of the above, the Alphatron EVF-035W-3G is well worth the money.