Hoodman woes

My second D70 FlipUp LCD cap broke.

Hoodman started by making clever hoods for LCD displays. The most ubiquitous use of a Hoodman is when you see NFL referees peering under them during an instant replay review. In a recent DVD produced by Nikon, I saw Life photographer Joe McNally peering under one for instant outdoor 17″-diagnol image reviews. After the initial, “Gee, I wish I had a six-pack of SB-800s controlled by a Nikon D2X tethered via USB 2.0 to my Powerbook,” I thought, “neat stuff.”

I first heard about Hoodman when they made cloth and velcro shades in the early days of pocket digital photography. LCDs were really the suck back then—they make the Canon 5D’s LCD look exceedingly bright by comparison. People like me were often caught holding our hands up against the screen to review shots. The Hoodman was a great idea, sometimes it even came with a magnifier to make the small LCDs review much bigger.

It was only natural that when the FlipUp cap came out, I bought one:

Hoodman H-D70 Flip Up Cap Review

Basically, this is a $30 replacement for the clear guard that comes with the D70. Canon users will find even more benefit because for some reason, Canon likes to cheap out on including essential parts like lens pounches, lens hoods and LCD protectors. (On the other hand, while Nikon users often get those things bundled, the replacement prices are outrageous—so it cuts both ways.) The guard doubles as a LCD hood which works great even outdoors in the sun. Since I do a lot of outdoor photography, this is really useful.

The hood has a clear plastic back which protects the LCD from scratching even if the hood is deployed.

I am left eye dominant so my LCD often gets smudged by my nose when I photograph. The LCD cap closed prevents my nose from doing that. Another real boon.

Since the D70 has an amazing battery life, I do picture review a lot more nowadays—it would be even more if the D70 had an RGBL histogram. A drawback is that I am often opening and closing the hood. This creates wear on the part and probably contributed to the first failure (the spring return popping out).

Another defect is the cheap construction. The parts are molded from a pretty brittle plastic and then snapped together during assembly. This probably contributed to the second failure (the top hood shattered near the hinge) as well as the breaking of the hood when dropped to the ground. I’d have gladly paid $100 if the thing were built like a tank and made locally—I think any sensible photographer would feel the same because the FlipUp cap, as it stands, is not serviceable in-the-field. The more you take photos the more you don’t mind paying coin to protect your equipment.

The letter

October 16, 2005
Hoodman Returns
20445 Gramercy Place,
Suite #201
Torrance, CA 90501
http://www.hoodmanusa.com/guarantee.htm

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am returning the two H-D70 Flip-Up LCD Caps.

The first one is technically out of the 30 day window. When hiking, the spring return on the left side disappeared under regular use—it and the left door fell into the creek. However, later that day the camera hit the ground which shattered the top of the Hoodman. Because of this, I chalked it up to “my own damn fault” and bought another one.

The second one arrived about a week after the order date. On the first day of use (indoors studio photography), the top door broken in two places near the hinges. My guess is that it was improperly built which caused a structural failure in the plastic.

While I have all the parts to build a single working hood from the remains of these two, the nature of the design precludes this. From my view of things, besides the practical nature of the H-D70, it protects my $900 camera body investment at a lower than average price—I’d have gladly paid double (and did) for a sturdier construction. (Heck I’d pay a lot more if the construction was all-metal.)

I wish to return them for replacement, not refund. While you are in no way obligated to replace the first one since half of its damage was caused by my carelessness, I would be grateful to have a spare.

Sincerely yours,

Terry Chay

Conclusions

I will update this entry based on Hoodman’s response.

If it turns out bad for me, I noticed that Delkin is making some: they have one that looks identical, one that bundles a replacement to the craptaskic rubber gasket eyepiece of the D70, and a sticker version that looks to be a really bad idea. I’ll probably go back to buying a replacement for the LCD Cover that came with my D70. Uncharacteristically, it will only set me back $10.

Update

I forgot to mention that I received two replacement Hoodmans in the mail. They were a slightly different model the—H-D70S instead of the H-D70.

The chrome paint on the back is gone and the plastics have a more texturized feel to them. I think the plastics may also be less brittle but I can’t be sure if I’m not just imagining things. The Hoodman has not broken yet but I have yet to be very demanding on it. There seems to be a little more room on the edges, probably to accommodate the slightly larger LCD of the Nikon D70s.

I’m very pleased with the quick response and the customer support. I’d like to emphasize that there was nothing compelling them to replace both of them, only the second.

Hoodman also provided a catalog with the replacements.

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