SmallHD DP4 and Zacuto Z-EVF side by side

First look at the two most popular EVFs on the market side by side. Surprisingly not a 'major' size difference, nor a huge weight difference. The Z-EVF is super lightweight, but when used with the Zacuto Z-Finder it adds on a bit. Note: I have no affiliation nor have I ever received any items from SmallHD or Zacuto. Now that the SmallHD DP4 was available, I purchased both the DP4-EVF and Z-EVF Flip to see which of these would best fit into my workflow. Whichever I choose would be my personal opinion on what works best for my situation. These are just my initial thoughts while I piece these two together for a more thorough review. More to come soon enough..

find-price-button SmallHD DP4-EVF

Zacuto EVF
find-price-button Zacuto EVF

49 thoughts on “SmallHD DP4 and Zacuto Z-EVF side by side

  1. Scott

    Great info - when is the final review coming? You've had these both for a while now right? I am trying to make a decision on one of these two soon but there are not that many comparative reviews on the web yet. Great site!

  2. Darryl Gregory


    "Could you cover how you’re mounting the monitor to 15mm rail systems?"

    I'm using a Articulating Arm I got off ebay
    with a Redrock microMount with spud Micro

    The arms use a 1/4" size threading, endless possibilities
    I.E. Redrock Micro microShoulderMount Rod Clamp

    Cage arms that have 1/4" threaded like Easom

  3. Darryl Gregory

    Yes I knew this already Emm, But thanks for the links,
    But My point was not using an external cap that swings off a thread, but a built in cap that flips in and out from the Diopter.


  4. Paul H

    Emm, any testing on the armor mini yet? Anxiously awaiting to see it in action. Thanks!

  5. Fred

    Hello! When is the real review coming.

    I want to get one of these guys and I am waiting for your review before deciding which to get.

    Come on Emm... we are waiting :))

  6. Pingback:

    SmallHD DP4-EVF Diopter Lens Cap » CheesyCam

  7. Darryl Gregory

    Loving my Dp4 but not the $79.00 strong arm, it sucks,
    I not sure why SmallHD did not make a built in cap to block sunlight from damaging the monitor what a critical error in design, with the size of the diopter it could have easily been built in,unlike Zacutos cap that swings like a monkey in a tree and makes more noise than one too.

    It seems the more HDSLR accessory manufacturers, the worse the designs get, Can any of you get it right the first time?
    If not you can hire me as a Consultant/Designer.

    Okay rant ends here.


  8. Spotbox

    Hey Emm,
    Any luck with attaching a diopter on the VF? I've tried a +1 and +2 CU Filter and it only got worse.

  9. clem

    Thanks for the info!

    I realized i hadn't tested my viewfinder with the Magic Lantern card i have, so i can turn on the focus assist function it has.

    A few more questions comes to my mind then :

    -Whenever you have focus operations in a shot,
    you just leave the focus assist on the screen all the way long ?

    -The definition difference between the two Smallhd models isn't that important to achieve accurate focus as you rely on the focus assist display, right ?

    See you, cheers !

  10. Emm

    Post author

    @clem - Well I actually own both the DP6 and the DP4. I was thinking about getting an EVF, but when SmallHD announced (at NAB2011) they were going to release an EVF I decided to wait. Now that the Z-EVF and DP4 were available, I decided to try both. Judging accurate focus helps with these EVF's or a monitor that has 'focus assist' or 'peaking'. You can turn this on and then you'll see some markings on the screen that tell you what is in focus. Watch 1:12 on this video The DP4 has the same features, but now it's magnified and helps in bright daylight.

    Zacuto has something similar, but they maintain color in the viewfinder. I'll try to show what that looks like, but it's not as overly contrasted like the SmallHD which goes almost to a negative black and white screen.

  11. clem

    Thanks for all the great information on here (i mean thanks a lot Emm),

    i've finally bought a cheap viewfinder...
    but it still is really hard to judge the accuracy of the focus point.

    So as you had the smallhd 6" & now the 4",
    do i really need the dp6 1280x720 display to be sure i have perfect focusing or the dp4 800x600 is fine ?

    In general, what made you prefer the dp4 to the dp6 ?
    It could make a great article or video comparison btw, i think lots of people will hesitate between these two...

    Again, thanks a lot for the site,
    & cheers from France !

  12. entienne01

    Response from SmallHD regarding choppiness of image through the viewfinder: "When using the viewfinder, there is not any actual difference between what you see when using just the monitor, except for magnification.The viewfinder cannot actually change the image, so it's not the viewfinder that's causing the choppiness that you may be experiencing - it's actually visual perception that gets altered. What happens when using a viewfinder is that it lowers the pixel density and the image is less crisp, thus giving the viewer a perception of shuttering. Is this what you could be experiencing? Or is there something wrong with the hardware that the viewfinder itself is loose?"

  13. I've been playing with my SmallHD EVF for several days now with both 5d, 60d,and the Sony NEX FS-100 and it works great on all of them. I was initially worried about the lack of buttons on unit itself for quickly accessing the functions like peaking, 1:1, false color, etc. BUT the menu system is so fast and easy to operate that my worry is gone. My only concern so far after using it is that the unit gets very hot after a couple hours of operation (not in sun or a hot environment either, just inside on a set) an issue I will be asking the manufacturer about.

  14. Emm

    Post author

    @Teemu - I would have to say the Ruige may not be 'future proof' and lacks false color to help with exposure. The SmallHD DP6 or new DP4 would be the way to go. Firmware is upgradeable, and even after releasing the DP6 they now offer to add in an SDI port (just send in your DP6). If there's any monitor out there that would be considered future proof, it would be the SmallHD line.

  15. Emm

    Post author

    @Thomas - You guys have quick eyes for sure. Looking for a quick release strap?

  16. Teemu

    @Emm - You are doing so well these side by sides. Only it's making some trouble for me, because I'm still without a monitor and it's really hard to decide which is best for me.

    I would like to buy a monitor which is future proof to video cameras (not only DSLR, I hope to get some more like a videocamera equipments in the future to shoot with). That's why future proof is one thing I like to think when investing. Money is a concern as well. (Like when it wouldn't? :D)

    On this forum in some topic or comments people posted these Ruige ones:
    I would really like to hear more about those monitors. Have been searching reviews but there isn't many. I only know one quick unboxing look through (which is also linked at coolcd site) made by some vimeo member. Ruige one have version with both HDMI in-out and SDI in-out (even HDMI-SDI converter inside). But the features on monitor might be quite poor compared to zacuto evf or smallHD.

    If just someone could make or find a decent review one of these Ruige models, it would be great! Cheers!

  17. Joel

    @Emm - Great. I will "stay tuned."

    ps -- bidding on a brand new, still in the box t3i on craigslist for 3 bills ... keeping my fingers crossed.

  18. Thomas

    Hi Emm
    Something off-topic: What is the quick release strap on the right camera to the right?


  19. Emm

    Post author

    @Joel - There's nothing on the market (yet), but in a few weeks there might an interesting item... :X

  20. Joel

    @Emm - thanks for the comparison. Definitely flexibility goes to Zacuto for its "double duty" capability, but certainly smallHD has larger monitor which makes big difference when EVF's are off.

    Still believe the way to go - for me - is the 6" smallHD, and then pick up a lower priced EFV down the road.

    Any recommendations for a decent EFV under $300?

    Thanks Joel

  21. Emm

    Post author

    @steve weiss - Thanks for the input Steve, all things i'll be considering. I like the option that the ZFinder can be used on the camera, and also comes with a diopter. The SmallHD has a proprietary view finder, and requires 46mm close up filters as their diopter.

  22. Emm

    Post author

    @Leo - Any LCD View Finder can burn in the sun. I've seen this happen with one on the back of the Camera's LCD. Don't leave it on and under the sun.

  23. jane s

    just gor my small dp4. it looks very nice! My intuition immediately said this was the one to go for. Great concept. Gonna test it tomorrow. πŸ˜‰

  24. leo

    hey emm , can you tell me is the DP4 prone to screen burns from the sun? i saw it had like some extra coating on the EVF

    got a Z-EVF still not 100% sure that using it in direct sunlight is a good idea even with the 16x9 sun mask

  25. NY Guy

    So much competition already with more coming like the redrock and let's not forget about the LCDVF EVF - which is the coolest looking one.

    @lensdude, where did you here that a new firmware for the ZEVF will be released next week?

    BTW - I am very happy with my Zacuto

  26. Olphus

    My 60D gives me a 6-7 second blink when when I hit record while connected to an HDMI screen.
    Do any of these fix that problem?

  27. Just a couple more hours. UPS was already two days ago at my door and now the second attempt is coming up today in max. 2 hours. Can't wait for my DP4-EVF.

  28. Couple of things to mention. Our EVF runs for over 7 hours on one battery where I read that the smallHD runs for 6 hours on two batteries. Make sure when you do that weighing of the two units you do it with the double batteries on the SmallHD and the Zacuto battery on the Zacuto EVF. I look forward to your further review of testing antifog, feature sets, rigging options and actual use of how to rig each of these units. I think its fair to say not many are just going to stick it on the hot shoe. That type of shooting (looking up a people is not very attractive), this is where rigging becomes key.

  29. Lensdude

    It sounds like both companies are coming out with firmware upgrades next week. Be interesting to see what these offer.

    I own the Zacuto ZFinder and love it. Its awesome and has eye diopter adjustment. Its the only Zacuto gear I own though.

    I am interested in real tests with these units though. Competition is good.

    There is a lot to consider. Peaking and focus accuracy feedback in mission critical though. Another issue is color accuracy. It sounds like the SmallHD firmware upgrade will address the yellow cast that some users are complaining about.

  30. Emm

    Post author

    @Paul - Yes you can attach a 15mm clamp block to it so you can build it into a rig or sorts. I'll see if I can show something tomorrow when i'm back in.

  31. Paul

    @Emm - I need something to put on top of my monopod to hold a few accessories like a videomic, zoom, and light for my wedding work. Alot of the cages out there right now are either too expensive or too big, but this armor mini looks just right. And it almost looks like you could attach any 15mm rail clamp onto it and turn it into a shoulder rig.

  32. Emm

    Post author

    @Marcus V Warner - Amazingly the Z-EVF unit itself is actually pretty light. The weight comes more from the Z-Finder.

  33. Emm

    Post author

    @Paul - LOL! Wow you definitely have a sharp eye. Yes that's Varavon's latest armor mini cage. Will have something on that soon. What did you want to know about it?

  34. Paul

    A bit off topic, but what's in that varavon box off screen? I've been waiting for someone to review the armor mini!

  35. Marcus V Warner

    Im suspecting the weight on the Zacuto is going to come down to build quality... If the videos are to be believed on the drop test the Zacuto is built rugged and to last... Im personally leaning toward the Red Rock(if it ever actually materializes because of price as I find it hard at this point to pay nearly what I did for my camera body for a evf. Not because I don't see the advantages of a evf and a in line system but because I'm a "artist" and I live on a "artist" budget.

  36. Lensdude

    I am just amazed at how you can afford to buy all this stuff to do these tests and comparisons!!

  37. Emm

    Post author

    @Lensdude - All good points, I haven't had enough time to test out all the features. I'm sure they both work perfectly as an offset EVF, but there are other things to consider as you've mentioned.

  38. Lensdude

    These are meant to be used as a EVF with your eye pressed against the viewfinder. Having a larger screen at some point gets to the point where you might as well get an external display? The Zacuto EVF comes in three different mounting configurations. The flip screen is mainly useful for showing others who the footage looks whiteout them having to have their eye pressed up against the viewfinder. When you are recording you will be using the viewfinder.

    Being able to use the ZFinder with the EVF and directly on the back of the camera is a huge plus in my book. Especially for users who already own a ZFinder. Its a nice option. The viewfinder on the SmallHD only works with their EVF and not directly on the camera as far as I know.

    But the comparison really needs to get to the nitty gritty: which is better at helping the user keep focus? What happens to the image when focus changes? How detailed is the image? How effective is the zebra striping? How well does the image conform to different camera models? How well does the EVF pass on the HDMI signal to another external display?

    There are a lot of real visual comparisons that need to be considered before anyone jumps on the SmallHD or Zacuto bandwagon here...

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