July 1, 2015

Zacuto's New Gratical X EVF Offers The Same High Quality Display at Half the Price

Zacuto Gratical X
At NAB this year, Zacuto showed off a new EVF, a stripped down and more affordable version their popular Gratical HD. That EVF is here, and it's called the Gratical X.

In essence, the Gratical X packs the same optical punch as its bigger brother, as it sports the same high quality micro OLED display with 5.4 million pixels. Plus the Gratical X still has the same connections (HDMI and SDI), as well as the same absurd build quality (watch the Gratical get run over by a car).

Where the two Gratical models differ significantly, however, is in their firmware and software features. Whereas the HD model features every software feature that Zacuto can throw at it, and there are tons of them, the Gratical X comes completely stripped of internal software features, and it allows users to purchase them a la carte from the Zacuto website.

Here's an excellent breakdown of how it all works.

And here are the basic specs of the Gratical X:

  • 0.61" OLED EVF
  • 24-Bit RGB 1280 x 720 Resolution
  • Four Programmable Buttons
  • Built-In -1 to +4 Diopter Adjustment
  • ARRI Rosette & 1/4"-20 Mounting
  • Powers from Included LP-E6 Battery
  • Price: $1650

And here are the extra features that you can purchase from Zacuto and load onto the Gratical X:

Zacuto Gratical X

  • Custom Scaling/User Presets
  • Zebra Stripes - Customize width, color, thresholds
  • Vectorscope
  • Waveform (3D)
  • Histogram (RGB, Luma)
  • Audio Meters
  • LUT import and editing
  • Red Line Peaking (multi-color)
  • False Color
  • Frame Store Feature
  • HDMI output
  • SDI output
  • Cross Conversion - HDMI to HD-SDI, independent LUT on output stream

All of these additional features range in price from $85 to $200, with most falling somewhere in the middle. Like they mentioned in the video, once you purchase a handful of these extra software features, you're in the same price-range as the HD model. At that point, you've spent the same amount of money, but instead of having all of the software features on the HD, you're limited to the ones you've bought. Essentially, this thing is really only cost effective if you don't plan on loading it up with extras.

But that's where the Gratical X really shines. For people who want a top-of-the-line OLED EVF, but don't plan on buying Zacuto's software, either because they don't need it or because they're content to use the features that are built into their camera, the Gratical X is probably the best option out there. Of course, there are still cheaper LED options if you're on a tight budget, but these Gratical OLED screens are really something to behold.

The Gratical X is currently available for pre-order on B&H, and it's expected to begin shipping by the end of July.     

Your Comment

13 Comments

This is a smart move from Zacuto. I'm in the market for a good evf mainly just for critical focus that has hdmi for dslr's and mirrorless cameras, and SDI for RED. I couldn't justify the price of the Gratical HD just fot hat, the X I think is a different story. But will I regret not having the HD down the line???... I figure not if I can buy another lens!

July 1, 2015 at 9:46PM

0
Reply
avatar
Dean Butler
Writer Director Shooter Editor
598

Really what's happening here is that they overpriced their product (like all of their products) and now they're trying to correct that by lowering the price to what it should have been all along, but charging for the software, which at this point costs them $0. They would give us the whole thing for $1650 (which is probably still a bit overpriced) but they can't because they've already sold some for $3000 or whatever (they basically said this in the video). So they want us pay $1650 for something that should probably be closer to $1000, and to pay hundreds of dollars for software that costs them nothing. Thanks but I'll pass.

July 2, 2015 at 1:23AM

4
Reply
avatar
Jonesy Jones
Storymaker
726

I find the business model frustrating too. It seems like since you are offering an a la cart option, they should offer the option to upgrade to the function of the HD for the difference between the HD and the X, or maybe the difference plus 10% (less the money paid towards upgrades thus far). As it stands, making the decision to upgrade later would cost a lot more for the X than the HD, and that feels like punishing your customer.

But....

Where did you get the impression that creating software was free? How exactly do you think they compensate the programmers, are they paid in software? Making a magically free circle?

Absurd.

July 2, 2015 at 3:17AM

0
Reply
Russell Anway
DP, editor, compositor
172

Russell, I was going to say the same exact thing. R&D I'm sure costs considerable time and money, not to mention they still have bugs that they have to work out when users use the EVF on say new cameras that need support and for enhanced, upgraded features. At least in my experience with Zacuto's old EVF, they constantly had firmware updates.

I'm not defending that Zacuto's affordable, they even claim their HD is expensive, but saying something they made should be closer to $1000, it's hard for me to believe unless you're working in the company or you have a great deal of knowledge of manufacturing and R&D costs.

It's like a client telling you your dayrate is too expensive when they don't realize all the other crap that goes into it like prepping or grading or sound mixing...is kind of the same story.

Not to mention something electronic like this will last you several years across several different cameras.
-E

July 2, 2015 at 1:30PM, Edited July 2, 1:31PM

0
Reply
avatar
Erik Lu
Director
78

Dude. The software is already made. The programmers have already been paid. Unlike physical products, like the Gratical itself, it costs $0 to reproduce software and install on your Gratical. And it's not like this software is brand new groundbreaking stuff.

Clearly Zacuto overpriced this from the beginning. And they're trying to fix it with this patronizing strategy. Just admit you screwed up. Drop the price. Give early adopters Zacuto credit. And quit charging double or triple a fair price from now on.

July 2, 2015 at 1:46PM

0
Reply
avatar
Jonesy Jones
Storymaker
726

Interesting article. I've always thought that Zacuto was a little like the Apple of this market. Overpriced (sometimes by a lot), but always impeccable quality. Probably for this reason the only product that I have from them is their Zwing away.

I'm also in the market for an EVF and as far as I know the Zacuto Graticle X, the SmallHD Sidefinder/502 and Blackmagic Ursa Viewfinder are all supposed to be available in July at similar price points and varying feature sets. The Sidefinder/502 has HDMI/SDI, an onscreen OS with extensive LUT support, Waveforms, Focus Peaking, Anamorphic De-squeeze and scaling etc. The Ursa Viewfinder has focus assist of some sort. The Sidefinder/502 seems to be a fantastic combo for about $1500. It's very hi-res, but when using the Sidefinder with the 502 you lose a little bit of resolution as it goes from 1080p down to 1368x720p. The Blackmagic for around $1500 looks like its very well built and gives you full 1080p through the viewfinder, but only gives you focus assist. The Zacuto X starts at $1600 with no software features. Overpriced? Yes, unless you need to run over it with a truck. We'll see at end of July.

July 2, 2015 at 9:05AM

8
Reply
Jim Burnes
DP, Producer, Software Engineer
81

Actually it'd be great to see some comparison reviews of these three evfs. They all do hdmi and sdi yeah. Looking for maximum compatibility

July 3, 2015 at 1:34AM, Edited July 3, 1:34AM

0
Reply
avatar
Dean Butler
Writer Director Shooter Editor
598

For a guy with glasses, out of the three I tried at NAB, the Ursa EVF was the most comfortable. The Gratical followed closely while I did not like the Sidefinder.

I think the Sidefinder and Gratical had the most features and that Sidefinder had an interesting pages interface. The Sidefinder's wireless remote for evf control was interesting.

Overall though, I'm rooting for the Ursa EVF. If the Gratical was $1,500 unlocked I'd get that.

July 3, 2015 at 3:33PM

0
Reply
avatar
Matthew Emmanuel
Camera Operator
564

Thanks for sharing your experience

July 4, 2015 at 4:51AM

0
Reply
avatar
Dean Butler
Writer Director Shooter Editor
598

I have the Gratical HD and I definitely recommend it but be warned

THERE IS NO REC TALLY INDICATOR ON THE SCREEN

The only way to know the camera is recording is to take your eye off the eyecup and look at the camera and I never want to take my eye off a viewfinder at the moment I want to record.

The Shogun knows when the camera starts recording via HDMI, why can't the Gratical do the same. Its getting the same trigger info via the HDMI so it should be able to but so far no...

Apart from that its a pleasure to use and turns a A7s onto a pro rig.

July 3, 2015 at 11:32PM, Edited July 3, 11:32PM

5
Reply

I'd like to see what the real pricing is on this gratical thing, I mean it's an OLED display at just barely HD visibility, with a little computer chip inside, and they charge $3100, (and $1600 for this new sans software option). The highest end smartphone in the world right now, the Samsung Galaxy S6, has a Super AMOLED screen at 2560X1440 resolution, can record 4k with it's internal cameras (front and back) has a much more powerful processor and software, and it costs off contract about $800, and they're still making record profits. (The Playstation Vita had an OLED screen 3 years ago and charged $250 at launch... I understand this is a boutique product... but it's ridiculous how they overcharge for this stuff at least in my opinion. With that extra 3100 I could buy the new A7RII, or like... two gh4s... a great new editing rig, lots of stuff. No wonder why the need to drop the price... it's a ridiculous expense.

July 5, 2015 at 12:57AM

4
Reply
Brennan Martin
Director, DP, Actor
83

For the price, I'll stick with my Alphatron. From what I can tell, the main difference is .3 pounds or something and the resolution. For a DP viewfinder, Alphatron is still fantastic if your going to save over a thousand dollars for the same features.

July 6, 2015 at 8:45PM

8
Reply
Steven Carmona
Dir/DP
166

Whole lots of stuff to address.
1. R&D - A lot of you refer to R&D as it's already been paid for so why charge people for it. Next to the OLED which is a lot more money then you can possibly think. The R&D is your biggest line item. What you do is take this giant R&D number and spread it across what you think will be the total units you will ever sell. You also have to look at the R&D like this. It started a year and a half ago and will continue with updates and new features for the next two years. So we are paying an R&D budget every month for the Gratical’s. Every feature in the Gratical X and HD has a R&D value associated to it. So with the X, you are being charged less R&D then the Gratical HD because it’s mostly hardware R&D, till you start buying features then it becomes the bigger R&D portion which is the software/firmware.

We had always planned on coming out with the Gratical LT, which was going to be $1800 but to be honest, when it was completed we did not love the image as much as the HD (the display was not as large) and it seemed painful to go down in quality after looking at the HD. We always wanted to address both the working professional, TV and film market as well as the indie market. I got lot of emails from people saying they wanted the critical view EVF quality of the of the Gratical HD without all of the bells and whistles but pay less. The thinking behind the X was we tried to figure out how many people might buy features and added that to the purchase price of all X's and we think we can make the numbers work to calculate only it’s portion of the R&D budget. Like someone said this enormous number which is constant for the next two years at least because we will probably have 25 firmware updates with new features and bug fixes planned for the next two years. Already we are on our 4th update since the release and we added a whole new peaking feature that was the idea from a group of professional ENG users in England and we created this intense peaking to their specifications based on the $14,000 Sony EVF and I think we nailed it. Someone talked about our updates on our EVFpro, their were 23 updates in 3 years. BTW, someone said that it should cost $1000, boy if he can make one for that, do it—the hardware is more then that. The display is a sizable portion of that. If you want a critical focus EVF without a lot of bells and whistles (or purchase a few) the Gratical X is for you. If you are a user that needs many of the features in the HD and wants all of the new developed features for free, then the HD unit is for you. Compared to the SONY, EPIC, Panasonic or Alexa dedicated EVF's at around 4-5K each, I think the Gratical's are priced well and universal to all cameras. The BlackMagic unit is really for their camera. I saw it at NAB and it will only ever do a few features because it gets a lot of it's info from their camera, remember you need to add a power system to your rig to use the BM viewfinder. It is not self powered. The Gratical was designed to view the display with no overlay on the image. YOU WILL HAVE OVERLAYED INFO WITH EVERY OTHER EVF ON THE MARKET. Our latest firmware going to be released next week you will be able to have audio meters, Record light, TC, Waveform, Historgram all on the bottom or top of the display with the full 16x9 image in 720p and no overlay. Jens and I wanted a 4:3 display and not 16x9, why would anyone want overlay on the video, it makes it hard to see if something squeaks into the frame and it's just not entertaining not being able to see a clean image. Nobody has done that and we were able to do that because our display is 1024x1280 giving us that workable area on the bottom or top (your choice). One other thing. I made a prototype 1080p unit which was crazy expensive. Not sure how BlackMagic is doing it so cheap (somethings up) because the display would be at least $800 but we opted against it because when viewing it--we saw no difference-- your eye cannot resolve the difference between that increased resolution at a 2" size. But it’s way more then that, the bigger issue is optics and how you are handling the color, gamma curves and it's all in the software of how one unit can look better then the next with the same display specs. It’s also about the pixel diode density, how many sub-pixels make a pixel, it’s not so simple and the numbers don’t mean much unless you know how to decode them. You have to see them side by side. Someone mentioned the Samsung is a super rez AMOLED and $800. Try doing that resolution on a display the size of your pinky nail, it get's a whole lot harder packing 5.4 million pixel diodes that small. Small size costs more to create, make and develop.

2. You will not be able to crack the code and get the features on the internet for free as someone suggested. It's tied to the serial number of your unit. If the code does not read the serial on your unit it will not work. It's constantly checking every time you turn it on and off.

3. We have a running list of new features and are working our way down the list. Unlike other companies, we are listening to your emails and creating the features you want. I've budgeted the R&D to last for another two years so email me steve@zacuto.com with your ideas. If it's something that others want and is possible--We will do it. All HD owners will get these new features for free forever and X users can purchase the features.

4. I wish someone would do a comparison between the Gratical and any other EVF on the market. We've done it with Various ASC members as well as customers at some of our dealers and the Gratical is way sharper then the Alexa, Panasonic, EPIC and the BlackMagic. Please someone do a review. The sidefinder is an LCD viewfinder and not in the same resolution category as OLED technology. I love those boys at SmallHD (they've done a wonderful job with their company and are extremely creative--we're good friends with them) but on their website they explain the difference between OLED and LCD technology with regard to their own LCD and OLED monitors. The contrast range on an LCD is in the 700-1 range vs. the Gratical at 10,000-1. the difference being a OLED diode can be turned off and produce true black whereas an LCD is still pushing light to your eye behind a black dot which turns milky gray.

Feel free to email me about anything.
Steve Weiss
Zacuto, director and product designer

July 14, 2015 at 12:38AM

0
Reply
avatar
Steve Weiss
Producer, Director since 1983. Product Designer at Zacuto
86