3 years ago1,000+ Views
Above - You will note that whenever you see a famous director in front of a big motion picture camera - there's a white padded circular eyepiece/eyecup on the camera. Regardless of the make of the camera system - they all seem to have these same eyepieces/eyecups.
They are actually eyepiece covers called "eyecup chamios" and they ARE an industry standard. Dozens of styles are made in several colors for nearly EVERY camera system made for professional TV/Cinema cameras.
There are some amazing discrepancies between the logic I see used in the world of cinema as opposed to that of what I see in the photography world.
I am totally guilty of being the guy who looks at the established way of doing things and asks, "why are we still doing things this way?" When it comes to my work as a director of photography (cinematographer is the old term used to describe this vocation), I see that the function and ergonomics of everything designed/built to work with motion picture camera systems is often way ahead of the curve in terms of where the still photography world is.
One MAJOR complaint I have after working as a camera operator on movie sets and then shooting still photos is the total lack of innovation in the eyepieces/eyecups designed for still cameras when compared to those used on motion picture cameras.
ABOVE - Nikon has always been an innovator of advanced/forward thinking camera systems. The Nikon "F-Series" 35mm cameras set THE STANDARD for professional SLR film cameras for nearly 40 years.
The greatest/fastest/best/ F-Series film camera designed by Nikon was the F5. The advanced body design, introduced in 1996, is the platform that ALL Nikon Professional DSLR systems have been developed from. I have owned several through the years and WILL NOT ever be without one. One thing that all of the F-Series cameras share in common with the most current and modern Nikon Professional DSLR cameras such as the D3x and D4s is the
standardized Nikon Round Eyepiece.
The SAME eyepieces that will fit my 16 year old F5 will also fit my new D4s.
ABOVE - Nikon makes a couple of different eyepieces for their ROUND EYEPIECE cameras... the two eyepieces on the left in the photo above are authentic Nikon eyepieces. The one on the right is a design by HOODMAN - a maker of aftermarket parts and accessories for DSLR cameras.
ABOVE - My ARRI 16s and 35 IIC motion picture cameras with Eyecup Chamois - Let's talk about what Chamios are and why they are so important.
A motion picture camera operator typically spends 12 hours a day on set. Depending on the shot lists, needs for multiple takes, etc... they can spend 4 or more hours per day with their face pressed against the camera's eyecup. In the best of situations the mix of human flesh against rubber will cause a mild amount of sweat. In bad conditions such as outdoors in hot and humid weather - you can sweat buckets - soaking the eyecup and creating an environment for bacteria to grow or worse, a place where infections such as pinkeye can easily be spread.
Eyecup Chamois are HYGIENIC devices which also have the added benefits of absorbing sweat and providing a soft, non-sticky surface for you to press your face against. They are incredibly comfortable to have against your skin for hours on end. And because they slip right on and off anyone who has to look through the camera's eyepiece will have their own personal chamois in their pocket for when they need to take a peek at the shot directly. Eyecup Chamois slip right on and off the camera's rubber eye cup so your CamOp will always pull his off and step away when as a DP (Director of Photography) or Director you need to approach the camera to view the frame. You pull yours out, slip it on the eyepiece and know that you are not going to be pressing your face up against a sweaty, soaked, gross rubber eye cup.
Eyecup Chamois can be ordered in numerous eyecup sizes and shapes, even in different materials - from fleece to cotton, from microfiber to actual sheepskin leather - available in numerous colors so you can color code them if you choose. I have worked on sets where each person was assigned a unique color chamois - that way you never get confused if the chamois on the camera belongs to you or someone else.
I PREFER the natural finished/colored actually chamois/leather versions. I prefer the natural yellowish-white color for it shows dirt easily and you know when it gets dirty it's time to toss it and get new one out.
THESE ARE DISPOSABLE ITEMS. You sort of eliminate the purpose of why you'd use it if you allow it to get nasty/dirty and don't change it. They range in price but the average price is around $6 each.
I purchase mine - made by BLUESTAR - from Filmtools in Burbank, CA. Here is the link to buy your own if you want -
ABOVE - Checking the frame - I was the DP (Director of Photography) on a dark comedy called "Smokes" - about a low-life who sold cigarettes to middle-school kids so he could pay a pimp back that he owed money to. Hollywood is SO glamorous sometimes let me tell you. Once you get used to how soft, comfortable, dry, and effective (at keeping out excess light from the sides of the eye cup); the eyecup chamois is the only thing you'll want to use - on a cinema/motion picture camera - OR A STILL CAMERA. Which brings me to the purpose of this card...
ABOVE - HOODMAN makes the HEYENRG model eyecup for Nikon Round Eyepieces. It is an OVERSIZED, CINEMA SIZED oval eyepiece - equivalent to the ARRI Super-Wide Angle Eyepiece and the Sony Betacam Eyepiece (Betacam is a popular News Broadcast camera format).
BELOW - The HOODMAN HEYENRG installed on my Nikon D4s.
The HOODMAN HEYENRG eyecup is VERY large for a DSLR - and it does obstruct the LCD screen on the back of the camera some - but really you should be relying on the data the camera gives you INSIDE your eyepiece to shoot good images... not using the LCD screen to do so.
If you are shooting in video mode you obviously won't want to use an eyecup because the video mode is only accessible in "LIVE VIEW" mode through the LCD screen.
But for still photography where you will have your eye pressed against the eyecup for extended periods of time such as in sporting events - this over-sized eyecup is brilliant for it allows you to place the OVAL SMALL eyecup chamois over it.
The addition of this over-sized HOODMAN eyecup and a cinema eyecup chamois elevates the function of your DSLR's eyepiece - making it more comfortable, hygenic, and effective for it will completely eliminate light leaks from the corners of the eyecup that are common in smaller cups.
Another benefit is if you are sensitive to rubber and find that you get rashes from your camera's eyecup - this will fix that problem completely.
The total cost of this transformation is around $30. The HOODMAN eyecup runs around $20 and the chamois are usually less than $10. The rest of the $ is usually shipping cost.
TRY IT IF YOU HAVE EVER FOUND THAT YOUR NIKON'S EYECUP IS UNCOMFORTABLE OR IF YOU HAVE ISSUES WITH THE EYECUP GETTING SWEATY DURING LONG SHOOTS. Don't forget to subscribe to my Photography & Cinematography 101 collection for more helpful and useful tips from my experience as a cinematographer/photographer.

REMEMBER! If you are doing it - it should be fun. Be nice to each other and keep shooting photos and enjoying EVERY SECOND OF IT!

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