As mentioned previously in the monthly contest series post, this month the featured vendor is none other than Hoodman.  Their patented and widely recognized CF cards and loupes are proudly made in the U.S.A. (the only ones I know of that can make this claim), and are virtually indestructible.  They have generously donated one of their Loupes for the contest winner, and allowed me a chance to review it as well.  So, without further ado – here is the latest in the hardware review category for the blog:

Hoodman Loupe

Hoodman Loupe
Hoodman Loupe

The whole purpose of the Hoodman Loupe is to block stray light from hitting your LCD.  In sunlight or hazy scenarios, it can often be challenging to view your screen, and even change settings if you own a newer camera.  Given it’s simple function, the review aspect of this really is a simple matter to determine, does it do the job it claims to do or not.

Not only did it completely block all ambient light with ease, the Hoodman Loupe also seemed to make the on-screen photo much more brilliant and crisp than I had remembered before using it.  That surprise was further mitigated by seeing how compact the Hoodman Loupe actually is – at roughly 2 inches long and an inch deep.  Not only did it perform adequately, but at this compact size, the Hoodman Loupe is an easy addition to your camera bag with the minimal footprint it takes up in space.

Most rubber or manufactured products attempt to make things slick of shiny and in so doing, the product becomes quite slippery and difficult to hold.  Not so with the Hoodman Loupe, as the rugged rubberized exterior was nicely made, and I was pleased to get an easy grip on it.  Although easy to hold when in use, I was not as thrilled with the ease of porting.  The short trap that they provide to carry it around your neck is much too short for me.  Now granted, I am 6’1”, but certainly no giant, and the size was just awkward for me.  While the quick release snap does attenuate it to a certain degree, the idea of keeping it tethered somehow is a little more reassuring (I have a penchant for losing small items when taken away from my body…LOL)  The accompanying carrying case was a nice addition, but did serve to really make it easier to carry…this seems to only serve as a storage container for when not in use so you can differentiate it from other gear in your bag.

I did recall after using this that a DIY solution was suggested by Larry Becker, of NAPP notoriety (he does the weekly NAPP News segments and writes his own blog at Larry’s Cheap Shots), and think his belt clip idea is both innovative and and highly functional.  If the folks at Hoodman made this accessory and slapped their brand on it, I’d be half inclined to purchase the entire kit from them directly.

It’s a fairly simple idea in total, and not much else to say other than – it works!  The sturdy construction, and compact nature of it is perfect for any photographer who wants to utilize their LCD.  For those of us with older cameras where shutter, aperture, ISO, and all other settings done via dials and the top viewer, it may not be as relevant, but for shooters using more recent gear like the Canon 50D, 60D, and 7D, the back screen is used much more to make these adjustments, so a device like the Hoodman Loupe could be a huge aid in making sure you’ve got your settings where you want them.  For $80, you almost can’t go wrong!  This is definitely the accessory you never thought you needed, but you really did!

Remember, this very Loupe is being given away at the end of the month, so for your chance to win this cool accessory, don’t forget to submit your BLOCK themed photo in the Flickr thread here.  Good luck to those who enter, and thanks again to the folks at Hoodman for their sponsorship and contribution!

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