The C-Cup is a traditionally shaped eyecup designed to fit perfectly to the Canon C100, improving the camera's electronic viewfinder and overall ergonomics. Anyone who has picked up the camera knows that the C100's EVF is not what it could be. In the C-Cup, we've designed a simple and inexpensive solution that makes the C100's viewfinder what it should have been in the first place.
Functionality and Compatibility
The C-Cup is designed to look and feel like an extension of the camera. It can be used with either eye, providing a comfortable, flexible cushion to push against and a solid third point of contact. It wraps around the eye to block out light, and it doesn't disrupt the camera's shape or balance. Simply put, the C-Cup allows you to comfortably use your C100's EVF so you can fully take advantage of the camera's excellent form-factor.
We've designed the C-Cup as simply as possible so that we can make it as cheaply as possible. The C-Cup doesn't add a diopter or lens - or anything for that matter. It simply changes the shape of the EVF's cushion. However simple, the C-Cup dramatically changes your shooting experience for a reasonable price.
To make the C-Cup inexpensively, we had to design it as a single piece. Because it's a single piece that form-fits to the C100's existing EVF, the C-Cup is not compatible with any other camera.
The C-Cup is compatible with standard-sized chamois.
Who Are We?
Two guys, really.
My name is Andrew Miller. I make videos, and I've never once manufactured a product. I decided to take on this project because the C-Cup is something I want, but it isn't available on the market. As a user, I can see that the problem with the C100's EVF is a fairly easy fix, but it requires a custom solution. For a host of reasons, solving this problem isn't a particularly lucrative endeavor. It would appear that it's not worth it for camera accessory manufacturers to address this issue. But with a small team, and with the ability to crowdsource, we - the users - can fix this EVF problem for ourselves. I find that inspiring, and I hope you do too. I think it's cool that we have 3D printers and the ability to create new things out of thin air. That's where I'm coming from.
My partner in this project is a fellow named Tomas Schneider. Though he's currently in NYC working on movies, I met him in Austin, when we were both working in the art department at one of the studios around here. Tomas is a sculptor by trade, and quite talented. Over the years working as a prop fabricator, he's become skilled in making new things out of raw materials - wood, plastic, metal, etc. I was able to rope Tomas into this project for the same reason that motivates me - he is inspired by the new possibilities technology provides. He's also a bit of a conspiracy theorist, so he is mistrustful of large companies and always roots for the little guy. In this case, that's you and me.
I should mention that we wouldn't be as far along as we are without the knowledge, resources, labor and support of our friends Alan Barrett and Ross Randall.
This project began the day I received my C100. I spent much of the prior few years shooting with DSLRs until, in 2012, I got my hands on the C300. I don't know if "love" is too strong a word, but I felt something when I started shooting with the C300. I felt it deep in my loins. The image was spectacular, yes, but after years of DSLR shooting, it was the handling and the experience that really sold me.
Or I would have been sold if I'd have had $16K ready to go. Fortunately, it wasn't long before the C100 showed up, and right on time for a big project that begged for it. I was so jazzed when I ordered that camera! Unfortunately, and perhaps you can relate, that feeling didn't last very long.
Before my camera even arrived I began to see complaints about the EVF online. While people raved about the image, the EVF was a different story. The EVF's screen was not only smaller, but the physical 'eyecup' was poorly designed. More than one user referred to the C100's EVF as "unusable," which was very troubling because the camera's build was one of the most important selling points for me.
Fortunately I discovered that the EVF was quite usable. With the settings dialed in the way I like 'em, the screen is sharp enough that I can stick focus every time. In fact, I find that the LCD screen is significantly less reliable than the EVF, at least for catching focus. Several times I've used the LCD screen to frame a shot but discovered through the EVF that my focus was not tack-sharp. For me, not using the EVF was never an option.
That first week I ordered a generic eye cushion that made the C100's poorly-designed eyecup a bit more comfortable, but it was always falling off and wasn't what a custom solution could have been. I saw that some existing products were being modified to address the issue, but I didn't like those and I surely didn't want to pay hundreds of dollars for an eyecup replacement. I searched the internet for such a custom solution, but all Google could find was other people looking for one.
Sometimes, if you want something done right you've got to do it yourself. And while I'm just a shooter without any manufacturing experience, I did know a guy. I spoke to him, and we decided that this could be a very simple fix. Between the advent of 3D printers and crowdsourcing campaigns, why shouldn't we make it happen? I defined the criteria for success:
- It provides a comfortable third point of contact
- It connects securely to the camera
- It blocks out peripheral light
- It is inexpensive
It turns out that 3D printers really exist, and they work too. Starting off with precise measurements and my wish-list of criteria, we built several models in a computer, printed them into hard, nylon physical models, then molded and cast prototypes in silicon of varying thickness and flexibility (durometer is what they call that). One of the first generation prototypes worked so well that I began using it in the field right away. Nonetheless we made some improvements and refined the product.
With the most current prototype, our handmade silicon castings have perfectly satisfied all my criteria for success. Sincerely, I wouldn't want to use my C100 without it. I've recently sent out a handful of prototypes to C100 users, and already their feedback has helped us to improve the design further. Over the next 30 days, we will be incorporating everything we learn to make this product as good as it can be before we begin manufacturing.
As we approach the manufacturing phase, we are confronted with steep front-end costs. The cost of a high-pressure, high-heat steel mold alone is enough to price me out of this project. It wouldn't be anywhere close to efficient for us to make these by hand, and if we're going to mass produce, we're going to need your help. That's what this Kickstarter campaign is all about.
If we reach our goal, the idea is to make final adjustments based on feedback, and then outsource the creation of a steel mold for mass production. As soon as we receive funding, we can put in an order for the appropriate number C-Cups and soon thereafter ship them off to our backers. Should we reach our goal by mid-March, I'm conservatively estimating that we can ship them out to our backers within 60 days.
If the C-Cup is something you want, make a donation! Every bit as much as that, we need help spreading the word. This is crucial, because the C-Cup only works with the C100, and there are not that many C100's out there. For us to be able to meet the front end manufacturing costs, we're going to need the support of a large percentage of the potential market within 30 days. Because the problem is obvious, and because our solution is so simple, I'm confident that we can do it. Help us make it happen, and we'll handle the rest!
Over the next 30 days you can catch me on Twitter (@raddosilver) making as big a fuss about the #C-Cup as I can. Wish us luck!
Risks and challenges
Normal supply-chain considerations aside, we have only one major challenge:
The market for a C-Cup is incredibly small. Canon does not publish official sales figures, but my informed estimates tell me that we need to reach and appeal to a large percentage of C100 users to pull this off. Fortunately, Kickstarter works in such a way that this risk doesn't apply to our backers. If we don't fund the project, the only fallout for backers is that they don't get a C-Cup. Should we come up short on our goal, my partner and I will swallow some R&D costs, and we are prepared to do that.
But I don't think that's what is about to happen. As a user, I know how much I want this product. Based on my conversations with other C100 users, I think we've created a cost/reward ratio that is very appealing. I've read of others looking for a product like this, and reactions to the prototype from C100 users have been overwhelmingly positive. I think any C100 user would want this - all we have to do is find them. With our backers' support, we will get this done.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)