Those of you who know me or follow me online know that I own quite a few Zacuto products. I own their amazing VCT baseplate and grip relocator for my Canon C300 MkII. To add to this, I recently purchased their Zacuto Gratical Eye EVF, which is probably the best EVF I’ve ever owned (or used in general).
The Gratical Eye ($1,950 new, I picked up a demo model for $1,450) is a little odd for a 3rd party EVF. While most 3rd party units have a way to self-power through a battery plate, the Gratical eye needs to have a separate battery solution to power it. When using a professional camera system this is easy enough; just run a P-tap cable from your battery to the unit. However, if you’re a DSLR shooter this is not the EVF for you unless you use a V-mount or gold mount battery solution.
Besides a 2-pin lemo for power, the Gratical eye also only has a single 3G-SDI input. No outputs for loop-through, and no HDMI input (another ding for DSLR shooters). For me, there aren’t drawbacks. Unless I’m using something like a Sony A7S II for a B-cam, the camera systems I use on a daily basis always have an SDI out. Almost all of them have two SDI out, so loop through to have a feed for an AC or Director’s monitor isn’t a requirement for me.
Feature-wise, the Gratical Eye is loaded. Inside, the screen is a 1280×1024 4:3 aspect ratio OLED that gives you the ability to display information around the image feed from your camera. For example, below my image I can always have my waveform and vectorscopes up. Also built in are custom scaling and overlays, zebra, histogram, audio meters, the ability to load custom LUTs, focus peaking, and false color. Those last two are the most important for me when I’m operating. False color is probably the best exposure tool you can use, and having it a quick button away is a lifesaver when checking exposure on the fly.
The focus peaking on this EVF has saved my ass a few times too, and I’m usually not a fan of peaking. I hate seeing funky colored edges on my image! Luckily, Zacuto has edge-sharpening peaking on this device, meaning there’s no colored edges – just hyper sharp ones to know when you’re in focus. When shooting something run-and-gun without an AC, it saves me time so that I don’t have to magnify to check my focus and then pop back out.
All these features can be user mapped to the single joystick/button on the top of the EVF, and it can control on/off for 4 different settings. I have false color, focus peaking, vectorscope/histogram switching, and zebra as my 4 selections.
The Gratical Eye has performed exceptionally well for me in the field, and I really enjoy the way you can move the eye flap away from the diopter with your head hands-free (I know this sounds stupid, but trust me – it’s awesome). The image is sharp and looks great after I went through and did a color calibration on it. The EVF shuts the screen off when the flap is closed, but note that it still draws power – I’ve instructed my ACs to disconnect the power if we have a long time between setups so it doesn’t suck the juice out of bricks. After prolonged periods of use the unit can get a little hot to the touch, but I’ve never had it overheat and shut off.
Durability wise, I’ve dropped it on tile once so far and it’s no worse for wear. The only real issue I’ve had is with overlay burn-in. Zacuto recommends not feeding OSD from your camera and instead using the Gratical Eye’s built-in overlays to combat screen burn in on the OLED. So far, when I’ve started to see burn-in I’ve followed the company’s instructions and left the EVF on while not connected to a camera output, so it just displays the default blue screen. This has been enough to remove any start of burn in, but if the issue is severe it could lead to having to replace the entire OLED screen.
As I said at the beginning, this is my favorite EVF and the one I use on a daily basis. It’s almost perfect in my opinion, with the exception of the power draw when not in use (not a huge deal for me) and the ability of burn-in (comes with the territory with OLED screens). If you’re looking for a professional level EVF, I can’t see a reason to look anywhere else.