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12-27-2013, 09:33 AM   #1
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Focusing screens?

I am considering replacing the focusing screen on my K-5IIs with something better. My head is lopsided or something (one shoulder is higher than the other...really) and I run into troubles with tilted pictures. If I don't align things carefully, I can be off by as many as 3-5 (yikes!). The electronic level has helped quite a bit, but I still have to be careful, which means candid shots often don't come out so great. I'm getting better, but I'd like to make my life a bit easier, so I am considering a focusing screen with more grid lines.

I'm not sure that alone is worth it, and I've read about other things they do. I read that the provided screen is not effective for determining depth of field below certain f stops. Is that right? Would a new focusing screen help with brightness? My dad has an old film Pentax SLR from the 1970s and I was astonished at how big and bright the image in the viewfinder is. Even in bright light, it's so much dimmer in my K-5 IIs. Would a new screen help with that? I also use a Pentax 50/1.4 (the original K-mount) from time to time. Would I see any benefits focusing manually with a new sceen?

Some feedback on what replacing the focusing screen would actually do for me would be great. Are the ones at focusingscreen.com any good? It seems Adorama and B&H don't stock the Pentax ML-60 anymore; one has it backordered forever and the other says "7-14 days," so I suspect the Pentax ones have been discontinued.

12-27-2013, 09:54 AM   #2
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I am using the Katzeye screens on my K5 and K5-IIs. Not cheap, but do the trick. You start with a basic split screen and pay to have various lines or grids added as you please. Mine have the auto-focus bracket, rule of thirds composition lines and Opti Brite treatment. Since the auto-focus bracket lines are fee with the composition lines they cost me $205 each.

Like you I tent to tilt the camera. I think my head isn't on straight.

Pentax K-3 K-5, K-5II, K-7, K-30, K-50 & K-500 KatzEye Focusing Screen
12-27-2013, 10:03 AM   #3
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A split screen may not really help with brightness, but some will help a lot with manual focus. The problem is the area of the mirror/screen is just smaller, so that much less light is delivered to the viewfinder. The old ones are really nice, though, it's hard to compare with modern ones.
12-27-2013, 10:17 AM   #4
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The stock K-5 screen and all of the official Pentax replacement screens are already optimized to be as bright as possible at the cost of showing more DOF than is really there. The Pentax screens are all the same except for the grid lines.

Check out focusingscreen.com for replacement screens in different styles. Anything with a prism in the center to aid in manual focusing is going to throw off spot metering, but center weighted and matrix will be fine. They offer different grid line options and I think they might do custom orders as well.

My personal favorite is the S-type matte screen from there, it is a cut down Canon Ee-S screen that will show true DOF at large apertures. Mine is plain, but you can get them with different grid lines. These will not negatively affect metering and can actually improve accuracy at small apertures and stopped down metering.

12-27-2013, 10:18 AM   #5
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Straight Focus?

Hello MadMathMind, welcome to the forum!
I also have a Katzeye split-prism, I bought it for my K10D after having trouble focusing accurately with the 'M' and 'A' lenses. It helped a great deal, as has adding an O-ME53 Pentax magnifying eyecup. With those two aids I can now easily focus any of my M/F lenses, even though the K10D doesn't have focus peaking or live view.
I haven't added an upgraded screen to the K-7 or K-5, because they're mainly used with AF lenses and both have peaking and LV.
But in your case, assuming you plan to keep the K-5IIs for some time, a good prism and grid screen would be a very worthwhile investment, as well as the OEM eyecup. All the tricks like focus peaking, CIF and LV help too, but the screen seems to be the single biggest factor. Many users here like the modified Canon screens you mentioned, other (like myself) have good results with the Katzeye.
Good Luck!
Ron
12-27-2013, 10:44 AM   #6
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Just be aware some of the screen's grid lines are essentially invisible when a fast lens is used--unless you close down the aperture. These are laser etched (I believe that is the process). The older NIkon screens (Type E as I recall) are dark lines that stay dark. I don't have my Pentax istD screen with grid lines but as I recall they are somewhat darker even when the lens is wide open.
12-27-2013, 11:56 AM   #7
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Curious.... will these "screen enhancements" really throw off the metering? I haven't had reason to complain that the K-5 viewfinder is too dark... but can see it might prove that way. I guess I'm not clear: Do these change both Live View and the Viewfinder? or just one or the other? Thanks for helping a newby!
12-27-2013, 12:34 PM   #8
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I think the answer may depend on the particular screen,
In going from a stock K20d screen to the (pentax) istd screen (w/ grid) the exposure (metering) got better--but that's a known difference.
My newer split screen w/ grid made a mess of spot metering--although it's usable except there is an f stop dependent adjustment ranging from about +1/3 to -3 e.v.; but doesn't seem to have impacted other exposure modes.

12-27-2013, 12:36 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by jwmster Quote
Curious.... will these "screen enhancements" really throw off the metering? I haven't had reason to complain that the K-5 viewfinder is too dark... but can see it might prove that way. I guess I'm not clear: Do these change both Live View and the Viewfinder? or just one or the other? Thanks for helping a newby!
No screen will affect LV as they are not part of the equation. Only the screens with the center prism will affect spot metering. I'm a strong believer in the s-type from focusingscreens.com. I've had the Katzeye before. It's better than stock, but not as good as the s-type, IMO.
12-27-2013, 12:36 PM   #10
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Live view doesn't involve the screen--so no effect.
12-27-2013, 01:17 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by DogLover Quote
No screen will affect LV as they are not part of the equation. Only the screens with the center prism will affect spot metering. I'm a strong believer in the s-type from focusingscreens.com. I've had the Katzeye before. It's better than stock, but not as good as the s-type, IMO.
So Doglover, thanks! But if I may follow up: S-type will NOT affect exposure, right? Are you using plain S-type, or S-type with Grid, with A-frame, (or both of the latter)?
12-27-2013, 02:55 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by jwmster Quote
So Doglover, thanks! But if I may follow up: S-type will NOT affect exposure, right? Are you using plain S-type, or S-type with Grid, with A-frame, (or both of the latter)?
An S-type screen can actually improve the accuracy of the meter at smaller apertures.

A stock Pentax screen it is actually brighter at smaller apertures than it should be, this isn't really a problem with modern lenses as they meter wide open and there aren't any slower than about f6.3. Where it becomes a problem is with lenses that don't have A contacts, these can't meter wide open unless you are actually wide open. So when you are shooting at f8 or f11 the lens must be at that aperture to actually meter.

The S-type screen is almost perfectly linear, so the meter sees the true amount of light regardless of aperture. This has a downside though, if you shoot M42 lenses at small apertures it can actually be even harder to focus.

The split prism screens like the Katzeye won't affect center weighted or matrix metering that much, just spot metering.
12-27-2013, 04:43 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by jwmster Quote
So Doglover, thanks! But if I may follow up: S-type will NOT affect exposure, right? Are you using plain S-type, or S-type with Grid, with A-frame, (or both of the latter)?
As elliot said, no, the s-type will not affect metering. I've used them on three different bodies now (maybe four). I've had a plain one before, but now have the "grid" on both of the ones I'm currently using. There's no difference as far as the camera operation is concerned, so feel free to just get what you think you'd like best. I like having in-VF reference lines, so the grid works well for me.
12-27-2013, 05:16 PM   #14
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Doglover, if I may ask are the grid lines dark at large apertures, or do they tend to vanish? I have a Nikon with type E screen and they are/stay nice dark lines.
12-27-2013, 08:01 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by dms Quote
Doglover, if I may ask are the grid lines dark at large apertures, or do they tend to vanish? I have a Nikon with type E screen and they are/stay nice dark lines.
The s-type grid lines are actually lighter than the rest of the screen. Almost as if the screen has a coating that is not present where the lines are. I find them less obtrusive this way. They are always very visible, though.

Also, all lenses stay at their widest aperture until the shutter is activated and I don't have anything slower than f/4, so I can't really help you much, though the s-type reportedly darkens somewhat with slow lenses, so it may not be a good choice with them anyway.
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