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Will an old broadcast SDI viewfinder work with Blackmagic Cinema Camera?


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#1 Vadim Joy

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Posted 18 December 2013 - 06:29 AM

Anybody knows if an old broadcast viewfinder like Sony DXF-701WSCE or Sony DXF-701CE will work with BMCC? 


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#2 Robert Houllahan

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Posted 18 December 2013 - 05:48 PM

If it takes HD-SDI in the framerates output by the bmcc and if you can adapt power and SDi connections to it.


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#3 Vadim Joy

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Posted 19 December 2013 - 06:03 AM

But it looks like it already has an sdi out. Sorry I'm not a expert. I need something under 300 that can be plugged directly into the camera. Any ideas? 


Edited by Vadim Joy, 19 December 2013 - 06:04 AM.

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#4 Vadim Joy

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Posted 19 December 2013 - 03:16 PM

Anyone?


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#5 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 19 December 2013 - 04:27 PM

A quick google indicates that the  DXF-701WSCE was (and to some extent is) the viewfinder typically used on things like the DSR-500 and other DVCAM cameras. As such I doubt it takes SDI input in any case - it's almost certainly designed for a composite (or monochrome video) feed on one of the pins of its camera connector. As such it's a standard-definition viewfinder and you will not be able to rely on it for focus even if you can make it work - although many viewfinder-style TFT monitors, as well as many TFT monitors under 10", are often around 800x480 resolution and actually don't have much more than standard def performance in any case. So, you might make the decision it's worthwhile, just as a framing reference.

 

The Blackmagic Cinema Camera does not have a standard-def composite output, so you'll need to find a suitable box to downconvert to standard def and give you composite (look for one with low latency). Given that, you can probably make this work with a bit of light soldering. It is generally difficult to get the connectors used for viewfinders and when I needed to do something like this (With a Panasonic viewfinder, but the situation is likely to be similar) I ended up opening it up and replacing the entire cable assembly. It was possible to find the little header connector that connects the cable to the PCB, although you properly should have a rather expensive crimp tool to terminate wiring to it. For a one off, I just soldered wires to the pin inserts, taking care not to foul the little retaining lug where they snap into the plastic connector shell.

 

I believe Sony viewfinders have a separate pin on the main connector to illuminate the various indicator and tally lights, so you may be able to make them do something useful. At least some Panasonic viewfinders use a (slightly) more complicated arrangement of digital electronics with a serial-to-parallel shift register, although I was able to reverse-engineer it. This was important because one of the features enabled by the electronics was the 16:9/4:3 aspect ratio switching, which you will need to be correctly set up. I seem to recall that the main viewfinder power was 12V, whereas the data communications were 5V, but you will need to check all this out for your Sony viewfinder.

 

Finally, take care when poking around inside the viewfinder. Any CRT device certainly generates hazardous voltages when in use, and may retain a charge for days or weeks after being used.

 

P


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#6 Robert Houllahan

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Posted 19 December 2013 - 11:32 PM

The only VF at the $300 price is the Chinese knockoff of the Zacuto finder, and neither of those have HD-SDI inputs also any viewfinder for a Sony or Panasonic HD camera will have a proprietary connector and would need reverse engineering. Any "real" new viewfinder with SDI in will run at least $1200.00 or more than 1/2 the cost of the camera, or this is why the camera is cheap.

 

-Rob-


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