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KATZ EYE Plus split prism with microprism collar Review RSS Feed

KATZ EYE Plus split prism with microprism collar

Reviews Views Date of last review
14 17,830 Tue November 4, 2014
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
93% of reviewers $169.98 8.33

Split focusing screens are not available for the K10D. This item will do a fine job for those requiring finer adjustments.
Available in several set ups: with grid, no grid...
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Add Review of KATZ EYE Plus split prism with microprism collar
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Junior Member

Registered: August, 2014
Posts: 39
Review Date: November 4, 2014 I can recommend this item: Yes | Price: $170.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: good with old mf lenses
Cons: not cheap

i got a katzeye when i bought my first takumar lens i am pretty happy with it
it's installed in a canon 60d. i was a bit hesitant to install it but after reading, watching a couple of utubes and studying it well it just dropped in pretty easily . i had no joy using an ef lens manually when shooting stars and time lapses . i love that it's just like an old film slr in use but that could be just me . i didn't get the optibrite perhaps i should not have been so stingy, no guides either. yes it does get a bit dark at times. still must ok got a couple of taks and a couple of smc's now
Otis Memorial Pentaxian

Registered: March, 2007
Location: Vancouver (USA)
Posts: 34,269

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: January 22, 2014 I can recommend this item: Yes | Price: $150.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Much better than any available Pentax-brand screen, customer service, OptiBrite
Cons: More expensive than competition, focus aids use too much real estate

I have been shooting with the KatzEye since 2008 and consider its purchase one of my best photo investments in recent years. A quality focus screen to replace the stock Pentax screen is essential for use of most manual focus lenses on Pentax dSLRs, particularly with fast lenses. The Katz Eye "Plus" screen has the following features:
  • Center vertical split-image prism with microprism collar
  • Broad ground-glass matte donut surrounding the center focus aid
  • High contrast fine Fresnel field fills the remainder of the screen
  • "Plus" cut to split-image prism to minimize blackout with slower lenses (standard on all screens)
  • OptiBrite treatment to maximize screen brightness (optional)
  • Multiple available laser-etched composition aids (optional)

  • "Plus" feature
  • OptiBrite
  • Customer service
  • Available customizations

  • More expensive than similar competitor's product
  • Focus aids use too much screen real estate

Katz Eye "Plus"
The "Plus" feature truly works as advertised. I was able to compare mirror blackout with the Katz Eye using several slower lenses on my shelf against the same lenses mounted to various film cameras.

The OptiBrite treatment truly works. I have owned both versions of the screen and was able to compare the two directly. The OptiBrite screen is visibly brighter and just simply works and is well-worth the extra money. See "In Use" comments below.

Customer Service
Rachael Katz is a pleasure to work with and very fair in business. I found the need to trade up to OptiBrite and she was willing to accept my untreated screen for full credit against the cost of the replacement. I have no complaints.

Focus Aids
The focus aids (vertical split-image with micro-prism collar) work as well as those on any film-era camera. Usage may be summarized as:
  • Split image is useful for high-contrast subjects having vertical elements
  • Microprism is useful for complex subjects lacking vertical elements
  • Matte field donut is useful for subjects where the main focus aids fail

In Use
First off, there is the matter of screen brightness. The partial-silvered mirror on modern auto-focus SLRs exacts a penalty in the form of viewfinder dimness. The stock Pentax screens are designed to overcome that dimness, but at the cost of viewfinder DOF making them essentially worthless for fine focus. As a result of the low light, most aftermarket screens, basic Katz Eye included, offer a fairly dim viewfinder. "How dim?" I would say about the same as a 60s to mid-70s era film SLR. "Is this a problem?" It might be depending on your style of shooting and the lenses you use. This is where OptiBrite comes into the picture. With OptiBrite the viewfinder image is almost as bright as a 80s era film SLR. In other words, about as good as it gets. Without it, the Katz Eye is good, just not brilliant. The extra $$ is worth it in my opinion.

Using the Katz Eye is a pleasure. Most subjects snap into focus easily with little care. Is the viewfinder experience as good as my film SLRs? Not quite. The screen is real good, but the focus aids take up a huge amount of real estate as compared to similar aids in the viewfinder of a full-frame 35mm camera. For most subjects that is not a problem, but for macro or portraiture the aids get in the way and actually make fine focus more difficult. A full matte field might be a better solution for those subjects.

Split-image blackout has been called out in several of the other reviews. Simply put, it is a fact of life and has been since the invention of the split image rangefinder. All split-image rangefinders will black out to a certain extent at f/5.6 and narrower, but the Katz Eye is better than most. Similarly, manual focus in general with lenses slower than f/4 is a dim experience in much the same way as it is a dim experience with film cameras.

In regards to metering, the center focus aid essentially kills the ability to reliably use spot metering on your camera. This issue is not unique to Katz Eye. Other meter modes work as advertised, though I would caution that my experience is limited to the K10D. YMMV.

The Katz Eye is expensive and that expense is hard to justify since a very similar cut-down Nikon K-3 screen from is about 2/3 the price. Katz Eye claims that they manufacture their own screens and do not use the Nikon product as a base. The main difference in my opinion is the OptiBrite option. If you want the bright viewfinder you are going to pay.

Another factor to note is that Katz Eye does not, to the best of my knowledge, provide shims with their screen. It may be that the thickness of their screen accurately reflects that of the Pentax product making the need for shims unlikely. Katz Eye does offer installation with calibration of the screen at additional cost.
Junior Member

Registered: February, 2012
Posts: 40
Review Date: August 22, 2013 I can recommend this item: Yes | Price: $155.00 | Rating: 7 


This review was written just hours after I acquired the Katzeye Plus & Optibright. I haven't done much real world testing, but for now, I'll put what I know/feel/experienced these past hours.

I also use a Pentax 1.33x magnifying eye cup and that has been considerably helpful, definitely a noticeable increment in the ease of focus. I bought this for my Pentax K-5 expecting a great help in manual focusing.

I hoped that several difficulties of manual focusing would be addressed with the Katzeye product, namely low light and thin DoF.

But the split prism isn't perfect. There must be a degree of contrast, between the split, in order for it to work. Unfortunately, that's not always the case. As I focus on a towel with horizontal lines/pattern, it's almost impossible to exclusively use the split prism to focus. Lack of contrast is the split prism's weakness. Unexpectedly, focusing in low light brought a new problem: it's not particularly easy to FIND the split prism. I know it's on the center, but really, the split prism has no discernible appearance, it doesn't stand out. If there are no lines that are obviously broken by the split prism, the split prism blends in with the frame...

The micro prism collar doesn't complement the split prism. It works much like the split prism wherein it requires contrast in order for it to work. Unlike the split prism though, it can be used to focus on horizontal lines/patterns.

Low light weakens contrast, but the split prism is still better than none at all. There's still a slight advantage, a slight increment in the ease of focusing, you could still utilize the split prism, but sometimes it just barely works.

Thin depth of field, lack of contrast aside, is well handled by the split prism. Thin DoF required precision, and the split prism made it very easy. I personally think the split prism unlocks the ability to do precise focusing with 99% confidence.

To be continued, pretty dazey right now.
Site Supporter

Registered: January, 2008
Location: ON
Posts: 40
Review Date: May 28, 2013 I can recommend this item: Yes | Price: $105.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Accuracy, packaging and instructions

I have had these screens in both my K100D and my K5 and they really help with focusing fast manual lenses (there is a blackout effect for slower lenses). Highly recommended.

The installation is straightforward and well explained, but not for the very clumsy -- I mananged to slightly scratch one screen on installation.

Registered: February, 2009
Location: Cork, Ireland
Posts: 1,337
Review Date: February 8, 2013 I can recommend this item: Yes | Price: $225.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Quality, available options, ease of use, ease of fittings
Cons: Probably cost

Tried a JinFinance FS first on my K20D but the quality was just shoddy. Picked up a 2nd hand one for that camera and as soon as I upgraded to the K-5 ordered one for it.
For me I find it indispensable, I take shots using available light at gigs / pubs etc and also have a A50 f/1.2 and the Katzeye just allows me nail focus. I specified mine with the Optibrite coating with Pentax AF markings and use it in tandem with the O-ME53 magnified viewfinder.
I must have been lucky with shipping because I did not get stung with extra charges. Took roughly a week from ordering to arriving at my desk.
New Member

Registered: May, 2010
Location: South Florida
Posts: 14
Review Date: September 10, 2012 I can recommend this item: Yes | Price: $190.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Manual Focus, Rule of thirds, Easy Installation
Cons: None yet.

I this is great! I love this since I have never really trusted the autofocus on any camera. Also the rule of thirds-lines are helpful also.

New Member

Registered: March, 2011
Location: West Sussex
Posts: 11
Review Date: August 2, 2012 I can recommend this item: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: N/A 

Cons: Far too expensive in the UK

This is not a review about the screen, although that will follow, but it is a warning to UK buyers about the cost. OK, so we know the cost of the screen and the shipping costs, but what gave me a nasty surprise was the amount of duty, VAT and handling charges which added a whopping £39.22 onto the £139.06 dollar equivalent cost of the screen and shipping. That's £178.28! For a focussing screen!!

I had taken the precaution of checking the duty with HMRC before I ordered. Based on the cost of the item, there would be VAT (of course) but no duty. What they didn't tell me was that the cost of the shipping is added to the cost of the item and duty is charged on the total. Import duty on shipping??!

I had checked with Rachel whether there were any agents selling in the EU and I followed those up, but there appeared to be no saving. Had I known how the UK duty was calculated when imported from the US, I would have probably bought from the EU. Or possibly not bought at all!

Had I saved the money and sold my manual K mount lenses, I would have had 75%-85% towards the cost of a very nice 70-200mm autofocus that would be far more saleable than a Katzeye screen. Makes you think, doesn't it?

Veteran Member

Registered: June, 2010
Posts: 737
Review Date: July 23, 2011 I can recommend this item: Yes | Price: $110.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: very bright, composition lines imprinted
Cons: expensive

Good things first: Optibright really makes this screen very bright and you can see difference in viewfinder immediately. Nice feature is also that several paterns could be imprinted if you want them. Works fine with exposure of A, FA and DA lenses (have not tried any F lenses), but metering doesn't work at all with Pentax K and M lenses.
Now bad things: Metering was already mentioned. Another is that even when split prism show objects in focus, they're not and I'm still better of with AF confirmation. Must be something with aligment of focusing screen, maybe there's slight thickness difference between original screen and Katzeye. For reasons above I don't find it worthy of such high price.

EDIT: I was notified, that missfocusing with katzeye is most probably caused by different thickness of shimms. Therefore I need to solve this and review my own review. With solving the shims the screen seemed to be spot on for focusing.
Site Supporter

Registered: January, 2011
Location: The Canadian WetCoast
Posts: 375
Review Date: June 27, 2011 I can recommend this item: Yes | Price: $200.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Works as claimed, good communication, detail instructions,
Cons: Price & would not improve much on MF lenses slower than f/2.8

Since majority of my lenses are MF and I work mostly indoor, so I special ordered the Katzeye with OptiBrite in Laser Matt (no prism), as the prism can blackout easily under dim lighting. The screens can be installed easily following their instructions, and no adjustment was needed on both Kr & K5.

However, the brighter & better contrast focusing image can only be achieve with lens of f/2.8 or faster on my Kr indoor. It does improve the focusing ease marginally with MF lenses that is f/3.5 or slower on my K5 under dim light. IMHO, the original camera viewfinder design is the "weakest link".

Considering it cost ~$200 with shipping per screen, it is not a wise replacement on my Kr as the cost/benefit ratio is simply too low. But with the K5 and my MF legacy lenses, the benefits definitely outweight the cost.
Site Supporter

Registered: March, 2011
Location: Vermont
Posts: 128
Review Date: June 4, 2011 I can recommend this item: Yes | Price: $160.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Clear, crisp, fast, accurate focusing, ease of installation, and easy to follow instructions
Cons: Price

I recently installed the Katz-eye split prism focusing screen into my Pentax K5. What a difference it makes; Like night and day!

I am getting older, and my eyes have changed a lot over the years, and the focus screen in the K5 is just a matte screen, and I have had problems trusting my eyes to confirm focus. The K5 sometimes has some inconsistency with the auto focus, (as any auto thing tends to have) and with my eyes and the factory screen, I just couldnít tell if I had the correct focus, and as a result, missed a few photos.

I remember my film camera days, and loved the split prism. Now I have that functionality again. With the Katz-eye, I can instantly see that what I want to focus on is actually in focus. It makes manual focusing a dream again, and now I can also tell if the auto focus is doing its job correctly.

The installation of the screen was a breeze. Katz-eye provides simple, easy instructions and the tool necessary to do the job. Within 5 minutes, it was installed with no problems.

The blackout issue is there, but having the ability to focus correctly under almost all circumstances is well worth the cost of the blackout issue, since my experience with the stock screen also blacked out under the same circumstances anyway. (Manual lens without the auto aperture)

Focus in low light is also much better than with the factory screen. Before, it was just a real good guess as to whether the subject was in focus or not, and although there is little light, I can now tell if the focus is spot on or not by use of the split image, or the prism. Itís just wonderful for me and my needs and aging eyes.

The price of the Katz-eye is high, ($160.00) especially when compared to the price of the ebay specials, but quality is what you pay for and enjoy, and economy is what you put up with and deal with. I would rather pay now than later, especially if it means missing focus on many images.

I really enjoy manual focus, and the legacy lenses that fit the Pentax mount, and the Katz-eye makes it possible for me to enjoy that again with my K5. I am VERY satisfied with my new Katz-eye focus screen.
Senior Member

Registered: February, 2009
Location: Russia,Moscow
Posts: 207
Review Date: March 30, 2011 I can recommend this item: No | Price: $194.75 | Rating: 5 

Pros: Very bright
Cons: Way to expensive, I did not like split pentaprism and small collar, Delivery time (Russia-20 days)

Well... it does help. It is usable, but with all drawbacks - not for this price!

1. Optibright does help
2. and it will be all..

The split prism is much more convenient in LinkDelight item (I posted review of that), even in old Russian Zenits I find it more reliable. Why? If being close to focusing, everything disappears, I find it difficult to make sharp photo and end almost as shooting with regular focusing screen. On the other hand, maybe I was expecting miracles?

The collar in my opinion is to small, the bigger would be better.
I feel better with 45 degrees split prism.
Forum Member

Registered: October, 2009
Location: Melbourne
Posts: 78
Review Date: September 3, 2010 I can recommend this item: Yes | Price: $200.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: So accurate
Cons: Price, blackout with slower lenses

I originally got this after I got an A50 1.2 because my focusing was way off. The screen wasn't the problem as I found out; it was the width of the shim (needed 0.15mm rather than 0.4mm) behind the focusing screen that was out (I used this users account to figure out the problem: However the Katzeye did allow me to measure with accuracy which shim was the right one and it now lives in my camera.

Once you get used to it I've found it really helps in the speed of focusing using the microprism collar and then the accuracy when you have enough time with the split prism.

It does seem to affect metering slightly with different lenses but you soon get a feel of the compensation needed for each lens if you're using spot metering, matrix and centre weighted are still accurate.

The blackout can be a bit distracting but I don't think I'll be purchasing future lenses any slower than f4 so doesn't really matter.

I got optibrite; I don't have a comparison of non-optibrite so I can't say whether that is worth it, and no guides. In hindsight I think I should have got one of the guides, perhaps the rule of thirds just to give me a bit of perspective in the viewfinder which is quite empty around the edges.
PEG Moderator

Registered: August, 2008
Location: Hielands o' Scootlund
Posts: 42,069
Review Date: July 1, 2010 I can recommend this item: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: N/A 

Pros: Can't live without them
Cons: Effects spot metering (you quickly learn to compensate)

I manually focus all the time, I have old eyes, so really I can't work without them, all my cameras have these fitted.

I use split screen, mirco prism ring and optibrite treatment added as well, but no extra lines or grids.

Some say these are expensive, but when you take into account the cost of the rest of your equipement, bodies and lenses etc. These screens make such a difference to every picture I take, so for me I think it's money well spent.

Registered: February, 2008
Location: Waterloo, Ontario
Posts: 4,462
Review Date: May 23, 2010 I can recommend this item: Yes | Price: $180.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Ease of focusing
Cons: Price, half moon blackout effect

I've had the KatzEye for three years now on my K10 and like it a lot. I consider the KatzEye indispensable if you shoot manually with any frequency. I found it very difficult to focus with the original screen especially with manual telephotos and manual lenses in general from the K, M, and A series. As I have a number of these old lenses this was an important issue for me. I find focusing with this screen to be more accurate and reliable than possible using the red in-focus light. The screen is simple to change out especially if you are an old MX user. The process is exactly the same. I use it as well with my DA70/2.4 and DA* 16~50 and it seems to have little or no effect on the auto focus sensors.

The KatzEye does exhibit a half moon blackout effect with slower lenses and this can be distracting but you can live with it. The old Pentax MX and LX had specific screens for slower and faster lenses and it would be nice if KatzEye had such an offering. This doesnít seem to be the case at the time of writing. Some users have indicated the screen also causes some inaccuracies with metering. The company suggests spot metering ďis not recommendedĒ for this reason. I shoot manually as a rule and I normally check the histogram and adjust the aperture and shutter speed so this hasnít been an issue for me. It may be for you if you seldom shoot in this manner.

Another drawback is the cost. These screens are quite expensive and I didnít get much change from $200 dollars when I bought mine with the additional features I wanted - micro prisim and optibright coating. Some users have opted for much cheaper Chinese products and have found them satisfactory for the most part. In my case I find whenever I opt for the cheaper route I'm seldom satisfied. I typically end up paying more and buying the more expensive item anyway. In this case I bit the bullet and went with the first team from the start. Iím glad I did. Its not perfect but a lot better than the original screen for my purposes.
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