Video Assist Setup: Zigview S2 (updated with video)

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 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.

12 responses to “Video Assist Setup: Zigview S2 (updated with video)”

  1. Congrats on the new set-up! Sounds exciting, can’t wait to see more bits and clips 🙂

  2. Wow, great work Grant! How much does one of these little gadgets run? The site says 247 pounds – what’s that, around $300 or so?

    This post is going to become an important source of info in the near future I predict, for the growing legions of DSLR users.

  3. Thanks uba and strider. Look at the link I added in the first paragraph for climaxdigital to get details for pricing in the U.S.

  4. God, that’s a gorgeous picture! Really captures the details of your character well, Grant…from the face down to the intricacies of the hands and costume. Love it!

  5. I can’t see the clip on my Mac but the still shot on the camera seller’s web site looks perfect.

  6. Shelley, you have to control click > Download linked file to see the clip. It’s really excellent! The expressiveness is fantastic.

  7. Thanks Mike, but all I seem to be able to download is a text file from the link above.

  8. Wonderful! I got to view it by deleting the .txt extension that came through during downloading.

    Grant, it really looks fantastic.

  9. Thanks again strider and shelley. My Sony Vegas won’t output MOV files with h264 compression so I had to use MP4 until I can figure it out.

  10. Hi Grant,
    Great to read your comments on this interesting gadget.
    I wonder if you can advise me, I am a still-life photographer using a canon 1dsmk11, shooting tethered from a laptop, which works pretty well, except there is no preview, so we keep banging off shots so the client can see whats happening.
    If I plugged a zigview into a seperate monitor would I get enough detail, for the client to see the layout in front of the camera, which is often in a awkward position to look through.

    Look forward to your comments.

    Best Regards

    Howard Allman
    London UK.

  11. Hi Howard.

    Yes. I plugged my zig into the RCA inputs on a 27″ TV and the image quality was similar to a VHS video tape. Not DVD or hi-res but adequate to see what the camera is seeing.

    The zig does not seem to have enough definition in the video out to show really fine detail and the colors are kind of washed out. The image appears to have some noise as shown in my photos. There are other settings on the zig that I have not explored for functions such as brightness, zoom, and color.

    For working with composition and layout on a large monitor and not having to look through the camera’s viewfinder it works very well. I could see it being very handy for more traditional photography activities instead of stopmotion…especially if the camera was low on the ground or at extreme angles and such.

    I have not looked through the camera viewfinder since I got the zig.

  12. Hi Grant

    Thanks for your response, that is very helpful.
    Looks like a chance to spend more cash!