Hoodman Accessories review, Phil Askey, March 2001
Hoodman have been around in the digital photography market now for some time, this is the first time we've had a chance to look at their products. They specialise in hoods, sun-screens and protective covers for various devices with displays, these range from digital camera LCD's, notebook screens and even professional video equipment. In this review we'll be taking a closer look at their LCD Viewscreen Hood (for digital cameras), the Hoodcap protective screen for the Nikon D1 and the e-clipse E-2000 laptop computer hood (useful for those photo-downloads in the field).
For more information or to buy any of the products described below please visit the Hoodman USA website.
Hoodman LCD Viewscreen Hood
Digital cameras have an LCD screen, this LCD screen (on most consumer/prosumer digital cameras) can be used to frame the scene, indeed the poor optical viewfinders found on most digital cameras make the LCD screen the best way to frame a shot. The downside of this is that generally these screens aren't easy to see in bright sunlight. Some manufacturers have attempted to address this and we've seen everything from anti-reflective coatings to rear-reflective LCD technology and hybrid displays which use sunlight to "backlight" them.
Hoodman's LCD Viewscreen hood is a simple, inexpensive device which attaches to the digital camera and provides a shaded "viewing tunnel" to the LCD, making LCD screens far easier to see even in bright sunlight. It comes in several sizes to fit different size LCD's (here we're reviewing the H-180):
- H-180 1.5" - 1.8"
- H-200 2"
- H-300 3"
- H-400 3.5" - 4"
Note that the H-300 / H-400 are primarily intended for use on digital video cameras.
The kit consists off a small instruction card, the screen and four self-adhesive velcro pads. To construct the screen simply fold it around and attach a velcro strip to the adjacent leading edge, this should now leave the hood looking like it does in the right hand picture above. There are two options for attachment:
- You can simply pull the attached elastic strap around the front of
the camera and align the hood to the screen. This method is useful if
you don't want to attach the self-adhesive velcro pads to your camera,
we also found it to be the most secure method of the two. Though it
doesn't work for all cameras, on the Nikon Coolpix 950/990 we found
the strap covered several buttons, on other cameras the strap may cover
some important lamp / sensor on the front of the camera.
- Otherwise you can attach the self-adhesive velcro pads carefully around your LCD screen and simply push the LCD viewscreen against them, it's relatively secure and means you won't have the strap wrapped over the front of the camera. (Note that the instructions recommend you cut away the elastic strap if you don't use it).
Overall the Hoodman LCD viewscreen does what it's intended to do, it shades the LCD from direct sunlight and makes it easy to see outdoors, it folds down flat for easy storage and it's pretty inexpensive. Build quality is relatively good for the price ($19.95), although on the sample I had the velcro wrap-around was longer than the leading edge it attached to (UPDATE: it turns out that this is one of the "old design", now updated there is no longer any velcro overhang).
On some digital cameras attaching the LCD viewscreen may block some buttons or sensors (especially if you use the elastic strap). Overall the trade-off is worth it and simply because if its low price and flat storage profile the LCD viewscreen will defintely have a place in my camera bag.
Footnote (from Hoodman): "I wanted to let you know that Nikon loves the way our Hood improves that cameras workability so much that they had us make one with their logo which they prepackage with all Nikon Coolpix 990's sold in the UK."
Hoodman Hoodcap for the Nikon D1
Due to the protrusion of the Nikon D1's LCD screen it is prone to greasy nose smears and occasional knocks. Nikon provide a protective clip-on cover for the LCD screen but Hoodman decided to take this one stage further. Hoodman designed the Hoodcap based loosely on the existing Nikon cover but instead made it of transparent plastic thus allowing you to use the LCD even with the cover attached. LCD protection without giving up the usefulness of the screen.
|Hoodman Hoodcap for the Nikon D1||Hoodcap in place on a Nikon D1, protects the LCD screen while leaving it viewable.|
A simple solution which does its job perfectly, at just $19.95 it's cheap enough to have a couple in your camera bag, sling the D1 over your should and don't worry about scratching the screen. I've not confirmed this but as far as I know the clip fittings on the D1X/D1H are the same as the D1 so the Hoodcap should work just as well with them.
Hoodman e-clipse E-2000 Laptop Computer Hood
If you're like me then you take your notebook / laptop pretty much anywhere you go. On major problem if you've ever tried to use a laptop outdoors is finding enough shade to be able to see the screen properly. Fear not! Hoodman's e-clipse laptop computer hood solves this problem. The e-clipse E-2000 fits notebook / laptop screens from 10" to 15" in size.
It comes in a 28 x 23 cm pouch with a simple instruction sheet, as soon as it is removed from the pouch it springs into shape, just slide over your screen, attach the pouch to the back (via velcro strips) and you now have an easily viewable screen even in the brightest direct sunlight. It does take a little getting used to, and certainly on my notebook (Sony Vaio Z505) it comes close to the function keys at the top of the keyboard, you'd also have to be careful not to cover any cooling outlets on the back corner / rear of the computer.
|e-clipse E-2000 and instruction sheet.||The e-clipse hood removed from the pouch (springs into shape on its own)|
|e-clipse hood on a Sony Vaio Z505||e-clipse hood on a Sony Vaio Z505|
|e-clipse hood on a Sony Vaio Z505||e-clipse hood on a Sony Vaio Z505|
Ok, so it may look a little wacky but I really like the e-clipse, it makes using a notebook / laptop outdoors easy, it packs down into a fairly small pouch. At $39.95 it may not be that cheap but if you regularly use your laptop in the field, especially for image editting / correction before sending it on then the e-clipse becomes indispensable. All you then have to master is how to fold it back up again... that certainly requires a little manual dexterity.
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