Phase 2 Slide Viewer to LCD Shader Mods

WARNING!!! Direct sunlight entering this magnified viewer (or viewers of similar design) could easily ruin the LCD of your camera. It is very possible for this viewer to focus an image of the sun on your LCD and horribly melt it. I strongly suggest that anyone placing a device like this on their camera equip it with a lens cap of some sort.
**08-31-02** - I recently have found that if you cut off the bottom 1/2" or so of a plastic Kodak film cannister that it will make an excellent lens cap for the Pana Vue.
Bolstered by the early success of the first conversion, I went back to Foto Forum and bought three more slide viewers so that I could experiment with some more mods. These modifications are so simple, that I am not going to post much explanation but will post pictures instead.

The pictures above show the viewer the way it appears in the store and how it comes apart into two pieces.

My original modification was to remove the tab that connects the two pieces together. This and the two rubber bands to strap it to the camera are the extent of that original effort. The edge is about 3/32" wide, and it is my intent to locate some black silicon seal and run a thin bead of silicon along the edge to serve like as a cushion.

Mike Chambers on the Coolpix990 Yahoo Group suggested using thin black elastic cord from Walmart to attach the LCD Shade. He suggested drilling four holes for attachment points. Well, I dropped by Walgreens (it was open on a Sunday morning) and was able to find some nice thin hair elastics. So I chained them together as shown. The black is much nicer than the rubber bands. There are no metal fasteners on this brand, so they should be gentle on the camera body. If it weren't for the band going over the top LCD, I would be perfectly happy with this arrangement. As it is, I'll see if I can find some elastic like Mike mentioned and give the four drilled holes idea a whirl.

People on both the Coolpix990 and Coolpix995 Yahoo Groups (I think it would be nice if these two groups could be combined BTW) have discussed using velcro straps or glueing velcro strips to the camera body as methods of attachment. So far, the velcro strap idea seems to suffer from how wide the straps would have to be. They would almost surely partially cover the top LCD. Glued on strips, however, should work well. The LCD Shade is lightweight and should be held easily that way. I, however, simply do not plan to glue anything to the back of my camera.

I am significantly farsighted. I usually wear glasses with a diopter correction of about +3.5. This means that I have a difficult time seeing things up close without my glasses. This LCD Shade works quite well with my glasses except for the usual irritation of the lens from my glasses touching the Shade's eyepiece. So I thought it would be nice if I could use this modified slide viewer without glasses. After all, its a magnifying glass!

Well, it just doesn't quite have enough power, but its close. Effectively, the focal plane is a little further away for a farsighted person like me. But all is not lost. I did a quick test and it looked like the translucent diffuser would space the viewing lens just far back enough so that the LCD would be in focus without my glasses. So I cut out an opening in the diffuser (using a fine jeweler's coping saw). This diffuser is fairly brittle plastic. It is not soft enough to cut with scissors. I think a razor blade approach would be ill advised as well.

Well, this works quite well. I can view through it perfectly without my glasses. There is also slightly less overall effective magnification which is actually a good thing. The biggest problem in use is that I have to get my glasses back on when not looking through the LCD Shader. Also, this does not shade as well in bright sunlight. The diffuser will need to be painted black (or blacked out in some way). It would be good to seal the gaps between the diffuser and the main body with some opaque (preferrably black) silicon seal. Then, of course you'd want to put something on the front of the diffuser to cushion it against the camera body. Black electrical tape may be sufficient to do all of this, but I'm a bit afraid of the adhesive softening when it gets hot (I life in the Phoenix area).

Anyway, thats about it. I used it this morning to take some pictures of hummingbirds with the 3X extender (and my new monopod I picked up while I was at Foto Forum) and it is working out very well. I've got three of those pictures shown below.

These pictures were all taken from the same location but with different lens settings. I estimate that the distance to the bird is about 30 feet. The bird itself is probably less than 3" long from the tip of its beak to the tip of its tail. Its small. (I'm pretty sure its a Costa's Hummingbird.) All of the images were taken with the Nikon TC-T3ED 3X extender and the 4X zoom on the Nikon main lens. The middle pictures also used 2X digital zoom. The end picture used 4X digital zoom. The images are full frame, but I've sized them by half in Photoshop.

I almost never use digital zoom, but I wanted to really put this LCD Shader/Finder to the test. The first picture is equivalent in magnification to a 450mm 35mm lens. The second is equivalent to a 900mm and the third is equivalent to a 1800mm 35mm lens. All were shot while seated and using a monopod. It would have been extremetly difficult to frame these images (especially the digital zoomed ones) in daylight without this finder. A non-magnifying shade would help, but this converted slide viewer made the process very much like what you'd expect with a 35mm SLR camera.

(Click on the pictures to see a full sized image.)

These pictures were taken with a Nikon Coolpix 995 or an Epson 750Z.

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Copyright © 2002 by Jay Turberville