I'd like to make an instructional video clip of how I shoot weddings.

I want to be able to record what I see in the viewfinder while shooting, so that I can use that footage in the instructional video. Ideally, as I see it when looking through, including the ISO, shutter, aperture and exposure meter, subject and focus points.

This should be done on either a Pro Canon or Nikon FF body.

Any idea how this could be achieved? I've looked at the LCD viewfinders, the Aputure Gigtube and a few others but nothing really makes sense for my situation?

Ideally, I can imagine a recording device that clips over the optical viewfinder, records to memory and has a digital viewfinder behind for me to look into while I shoot, effectively replacing the optical viewfinder with a digital one that has a recording live view feed.

I do not want to use the LCD screen at the back for a viewfinder.

Any suggestions welcome!

  • Have you ever seen this done before in a video? I would suggest asking the author of that content this question. My assumption is that it was faked in post production.
    – dpollitt
    Apr 10, 2013 at 22:16
  • If you were willing to use a camera that already has an electronic viewfinder, HDMI out, and the ability to output to both at the same time...
    – joeforker
    Apr 18, 2013 at 13:54

6 Answers 6


If you are using the viewfinder rather than the LCD, I'm not sure what you could possibly do. A DSLR uses a mirror to redirect light from the lens to the viewfinder and away from the sensor. I guess it might be possible to use a very small macro camera that could be mounted to the viewfinder itself, but I'd think the quality would be marginal compared to showing the LiveView output and working from that.

Many cameras have the ability to show the controls you are talking about on the HDMI output from LiveView (in fact, many lack the ability not to). To use that, it would only take an HDMI record deck like the Black Magic HyperDeck Shuttle. Is there a particular reason you are opposed to using the LiveView output? It's probably going to give the best overall result that you can achieve even if it isn't 100% spot on.

You could also consider using a clean recording from the camera and then adding the interface on virtually in post, though this would take a fair bit of work on your part to emulate the interface.


I know this is an old question, but I just tried using an iPhone to record through my DSLR viewfinder and it seemed to work ok.

  • Could you post an example ?
    – Olivier
    Jun 18, 2016 at 9:48

This may be cumbersome, but may work: By making a customized bracket based on the hole for the tripod mount you may be able to align a "secondary" camera pointing at the viewfinder of your DSLR. The recommended camera is the smallest available that can record video in a suitable format ant that can also be connected to a TV or monitor, OR has an LCD panel itself.

The bracket can be as simple as a properly bent steel or aluminum stripe, with holes in the appropriate locations and a couple of 3/4 thread bolts.

The camera can be a small Point and Shoot, or cameras similar to the GoPro or the ContourHD (I know there are other competitors and some of them allow connecting to a monitor while recording). These king of camera are known as "Action Cameras". Other cameras that MAY be suitable for the task are "Spy Cameras" or "Security cameras", as some of them can be connected to a DVR unit and the DVR to a TV or monitor so you can even perform "live" tutorials.

I'm not sure, but the secondary camera may need to be set in "macro" mode, or maybe an extra lens can do the final trick. Research for "DIY macro lens" or "DIY macro adapter" for some cheap to not-so-cheap ideas.

If you use the P&S approach, the LCD on the secondary camera will be like "Live View" except that you will have the exact same interface of your viewfinder. It may be very interesting but also you may need to take a while to shoot confidently with this arrangement.

  • Believe me I'm definitely goint to try this at home and come back to show my results!
    – Jahaziel
    Apr 10, 2013 at 21:20
  • 4
    If you manage to focus the secondary camera to the viewfinder, remember the +/-4 diopter adjustment, which we tend to forget even exist. It may help with finetuning the focus just so. Apr 10, 2013 at 21:48
  • 1
    I performed the experiment using an Olympus XZ-1 on the viewfinder of a Canon 50D. The Olympus could get an understandable image but it was not wide enough to cover the full viewfinder's image plus the exposure meter and the outer indicators. Also tried with a cell phone's camera, but it had an even narrower angle of view.
    – Jahaziel
    May 28, 2013 at 16:57

I think you'd have a far easier time just straight up shooting in video mode, then mocking up the HUD as an overlay in post.


If your camera is purely optical or lacks an HDMI output, you can get one of those mini cams/webcams and manually focus on the viewfinder , mounting/gaffing into place and then record off of that.

You can also get one of those macro focus assist lcd output units that can mount right on the eyepiece.

If your camera has an HDMI output port, then you can capture off of that fairly easily,


This is something I've wanted to do also.

The website DPReview has numerous videos that appear to be a recording of the view through an optical viewfinder of a DSLR camera (for example). I've not been able to discover how they do this, but it can't be a huge secret.

I've made inquiries at a couple of the large photo equipment retailers that didn't reveal anything useful. One of them did tell me that there was a company named Zigview that made these, but they were no longer in business. That may be true, but there is a website that still sells some Zigview products. Unfortunately, they don't have anything that works with my cameras.

I'd like to find a source for a device that could make hi-quality recordings of the scene through my optical viewfinder. Until then, my best solution is to use my iPhone to record through the optical viewfinder. It's not very good quality (example), but better than nothing I suppose.

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