I just got the new Zigview S2 (model B) with video out which is intended to help with video assist. I tried it out tonight with my Serlio puppet and here are some photos, info, and some thoughts about the product so far. There is also a thread at the StopMotionAnimation.com forums with another Zigview user’s results so far. The climaxdigital website has more info and pics.
Here is a video clip comparing the frames captured with the Zigview and the final output from the Nikon. It is an MP4 file using the H.264 codec at a resolution of 640×480 and is just under 2MB in size. If you can play it, you can get a sense of the quality I am seeing with the Zigview.
Here is the packaging. It comes with the video out cable, and several eye-piece adaptors for Canon, Nikon, and some other cameras. Since I got this from the UK I had to get a $20 Kensington Travel Plug Adapter for Worldwide AC Power to plug it into the wall. (The plug adaptor is the larger cylindrical object with the yellow sticker on it and does not come with the unit but I put it in the pic.) The unit is battery operated but it looks like the battery may run down after a few hours. Fortunately it can operate and charge the battery when plugged in.
Here is the unit attached to my Nikon D50. The unit is really lightweight and the buttons are plastic. It feels a bit delicate but hopefully it can withstand a lot of handling over time. The unit just slides/snaps down onto the viewfinder of the Nikon. Really easy to attach and remove and it swivels around which makes it a lot easier to see what’s going on in the frame at various camera angles. The viewfinder on the unit allows me to focus pretty and so far it appears to capture the whole field of view so I can compose and focus without removing the unit. The video out cable from the Zigview is plugged into a USB Video Grabber that I got at Compusa. The video grabber installed fairly easily into my USB hub so I didn’t have to buy and install any cards in the computer.
I am currently using Stop MotionMaker Advance and here is a screen shot of the desktop with the Zigview as video assist. This should be the actual size of the application panels since I cropped but did not re-size anything in Photoshop for this image. You should be able to get a sense of what the Zigview looks like at 640×480 this way. The image has some noise but I can see everything in the viewfinder and there is enough detail for me to check movements from frame to frame. Plus I’m usually standing about 3 to 6 feet away when moving things so at that rage the 640×480 window looks pretty good for video assist.
Here are a couple of shots to demonstrate the coverage of the viewfinder with the actual hi-res photo taken with the Nikon. I re-sized the hi-res photo which is twice the resolution for this comparison. Again, the zigview appears to provide almost total coverage of what the camera is seeing which really helps with composition.
So far I think this may work out well. It is definitely a step up from the web cam that I was using which had really poor resolution. I couldn’t see details in the face or hands of the puppets with the web cam which I am now able to see thanks to the Zigview.