Director's viewfinders are the lens-looking things you often see hanging around the neck of big-time directors. What are they? Essentially they are small, lightweight optics that allows the director to frame a shot using the correct focal length, film size, and aspect ratio -- without having to maneuver the whole (heavy, expensive) camera rig into place. Most kinds of VFs won't give you an accurate simulation of the depth-of-field of the image, but you can walk around and find the framing of the shot-to-be. Here's a look from FreshDV's Matt Jeppsen at the benefits of using one:

In the video, Matt is using a Cavision viewfinder, but there are all manner of makes and models out there. As someone who's shot primarily handheld, with smaller DV, HDV, and HDSLR cameras, I haven't had a need for a director's viewfinder to date, but the tool will very likely come in handy on that feature film I'm trying to make with your help.

There are also digital director's viewfinders available for the iPhone/iPad and Android; one popular example is the $30 app Artemis (iOS, Android), which offers this cute video explanation:

Anyone out there using a director's viewfinder on the reg (NSFW language in that link)? Any specific models you'd recommend?

[via FreshDV]

[viewfinder photo by Paulo Wang]