Magic ViewFinder

The family of Magic ViewFinder apps are actually a camera for your Android device, which simulates the exact frame for the particular camera and the lens.

Please note that it is a simulator of the device called Director’s Viewfinder that helps the Director see exactly what will be shot, without making the camera man give the place to the Director at the real camera.

Stanley Kubrick using a director’s viewfinder on the set of “The Shining” (1980).

The Magic ViewFinder app is by no means designed to be an external viewfinder for your camera. Don’t try connect your phone to the camera, it won’t work. I warned you 🙂

Cameras

Presently there are Magic ViewFinder apps that support Canon, Nikon, Sony, Panasonic Lumix, ARRI, Red and Black Magic Design cameras. You can browse the full list of supported systems and cameras.

Interface

The main screen of the app is pretty simple: it’s a view that you would see in the specific camera through a specific lens.

User interface ver 2.3.6
User interface ver 2.3.6

You can change the camera through menu. You change the focal length of the lens by rotating the wheel on the right.

Also available are various optical adapters  (tele converters or wide ‘boosters’) frame guides, anamorphic indexes that you  can change through the menu. The on-the-screen controls include exposure lock and auto focus on/off switch. This video (though for an older user interface) demonstrates the operation:

Capturing

If you are planning future shoot on a location, you may want to capture all the important image references as a planning process. You can use ‘Capture’ button to store exact framing with the metadata burnt into the image. All shots will be stored in the folder Pictures > Magic, immediately available from within your Gallery app. The captured image will look like this:

Captured image ver 2.3.6
Captured image ver 2.3.6

 Free / Paid Versions

All Magic ViewFinder apps are free, except for the one called Magic Universal ViewFinder. When you buy the paid version you will get:

– ad-free interface

– all cameras in one app: ARRI, Red, Blackmagic, Sony, Canon, Nikon, Panasonic

– all optical adapters (wide and tele)

– all frame guides (like 1.85:1, 1.66:1, etc)

– all anamorphic indexes, enabling you to preview anamorphic lenses

– all sticky values on the rotating wheel will be kept after you leave the app

– additional settings (like vibration on/off, large/small size of the image, etc).

I also carefully listen to the feedback / suggestions regarding your needs, so your purchase of the app (not huge amount of money) will encourage me to keep improving it.

Please note one potential issue with an Android device. Usually the camera in your Android device is not producing extremely wide views, usually the horizontal view angle is about 60-70 degrees wide. So, when the view must be wider than that of your Android device, you will see pink margins around the image, representing the margins that the Android camera cannot capture:

interface_2_padding

To improve your experience with Magic ViewFinder app on your device, I recommend that you buy a wide lens adapter for your smartphone. It will make the lens significantly wider, and may be one looking like these lenses:

wide-lens
Clip wide lens adapter

When you have bought it and applied to the your phone, you basically changed the focal length of your built-in lens. So now you will need to calibrate your phone / tablet. You also need to calibrate your built-in camera if you feel that your device gives mistaken information to Magic ViewFinder app, making it produce a wrong view. Well, welcome to Calibration process

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