Which EVF Should I Buy? Zacuto Gratical X or SmallHD Sidefinder

August 10, 20156 Comments

Gratical X And SmallHD

I don’t usually if ever do a face-off of two products, but in this case I think it’s interesting because both the Zacuto Gratical X and SmallHD Sidefinder have strengths that may or may not be what you need and I get asked a lot which one should I buy so this should help you decide. I hope. ūüėÄ

Here are a few of of the highlights for each EVF.

Gratical X With glasses

Gratical X Pros

Image Quality

  • It’s a terrific viewfinder. The end. ha! Not really. The image inside the Gratical X is superb. It really is. The sharpness of the image is very good making focus a breeze even without the help of focus assist features.

Simple To Use

  • The Gratical is very easy to use and setup. Having the four presets on the side makes getting to the functions you like fast and easy.

Eyecup and Diopter

  • Both are very good. If you wear glasses you will love using the Gratical while wearing them.

Built to last

  • Solid feeling body that doesn’t weigh much. Well balanced on the EVF mount.

Viewfinder Never Fogs Up

  • This thing is bullet proof to the dreaded viewfinder fog.

Sealed

  • No little dust bits get in. Stays clean since it doesn’t open up like the Sidefinder.

Sidefinder_shooting with remote

Sidefinder 502 Pros

Versatility

  • The Sidefinder matched with the 502 monitor gives you both an EVF and on board 5″ monitor, and wow is the 502 excellent. It’s the best I’ve used in it’s class. Small, lightweight and packed with features and tools plus cross conversion with HDMI and SDI. It keeps getting better too with new free firmware updates. Check out my review here

Tools and Features

  • 502 comes with a ton of features and SmallHD is continuing to add more and improve the product for free.

Battery Life.

  • Last longer with 2 batteries. You get around 4 hours.

The Image is Big

  • But can be scaled down too. Lots of viewing options and now with multiple scaleable tools and savable profiles. Now you can scale the image down and have tools around the smaller image. Pretty neat!

Fast start up time.

  • 3 Second Boot Time. Blink and it’s on.

Remote

  • It’s just cool!

It’s not easy to pick! So this is how I see it.

If you really want the best EVF/viewfinder get the Gratical X or Gratical HD. It’s the best viewfinder on the market. It’s better than pretty much all on board and stock viewfinders available today. You cant go wrong. It has the tools you want and need but it will cost you. Most tools cost $95. LUT’s are $200. Anamorphic $125. These add up so know what you want and try to stay under the cost of the HD or it’s not worth it. Best to move to the Gratical HD model. I could live with the scopes and one or two focus assist features. Basically around $400 more.

If you need to get more for your money and need a monitor too then the SmallHD 502 with Sidefinder is an excellent choice. They work so well together. Mounting is very easy with mounting points on top and bottom and side but I have found the Sidefinder isn’t as good as the 500 series monitor is on it’s own. In other words I think the 502 is fricken awesome! I found some flaws with the Sidefinder. The lid pops off sometimes and it doesn’t close easily. ¬†The issue with a reflection from the mirror that gets on the left side of the screen does bothers me a little. The Sidefinder is better than the most on board EVF’s so it gets the job done.
If you already have the 500 series then it’s a no brainer for $300 to get the Sidefinder. You don’t have to use it. It’s very easy to take off and you have an option in your kit.

What you think? Are you on the fence on which one to buy? Have you decided? Here are my reviews on both the Gratical X and SmallHD Sidefinder.

 

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About the Author ()

I'm a broadcast DP In San Diego. I enjoy sharing what I'm working on and testing new equipment. This blog is also part of giving back. I've learned so much from so many people.

Comments (6)

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  1. Bob D says:

    Hi Erik,

    I love your reviews, and reading your website answered all my questions about the best ways to light interviews outdoors. Your site has made me a better, more confident shooter. Thanks! I’ll be sure to place my next B&H order through it.

    With the viewfinders, my big question is how much sharper is the Gratical than the Sidefinder? I have an FS7 and I’m always fighting to find my focus with the stock EVF. When I have to move quickly, it’s just not sharp enough to nail the focus every single time. Is the Sidefinder good enough to rely on the screen without punching in? Is the 502 bright enough that I can flip it out to get a sharper focus, even in the sunlight? If you were running around shooting news again, which viewfinder would you choose?

    Having a flipout screen is super-important, and so is having critical focus, so this is a really tough call.

  2. Gratical is very nice but I still wonder about the
    Kinotehnik model. SmallHD, lol.

  3. Semenov Alexey says:

    Hi.
    I’m relay like how you wtite. Nice job.
    In the next few month I’m going to get Blackmagic Ursa Mini 4,6k and becouse of my location it’s going to be much cheaper to get it in other coutry. In this case I think i’m goint to be unable to test new Blackmagic EVF in my country. What do you think is the BM EVF is the best choise between Gratical and BM EVF ?
    sorry for my eng.

    • Erik Naso says:

      Thanks Semenov.
      The new URSA EVF is the way to go if you are going with the URSA Mini. It has features built in that work directly with the camera. I too am getting a URAS Mini and will add the EVF to it to make it a complete system. Early reviews from people I trust say it’s the best option for the URSA cameras.

      Cheers!
      Erik

  4. Jason Weiss says:

    Erik,

    Great review. It was a deciding factor in my getting the SmallHD. Quick question regarding mounts. You mention that it works with the Axis Mini so long as you get your own rosette mount for the Sidefinder. It’s my understanding that the Axis has a 1/4 20 screw at the rosette mount, and not the standard M6 that’s typical to Arri rosettes. Did you find that to be the case? Did you in fact mount the Sidefinder to the Mini?

    Just want to make sure I have all my ducks in a row before getting my mount.
    Thanks!

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