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04-13-2011, 01:40 PM   #1
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Split-prism for K-r

Hi, after taking pictures with my girlfriend in a club with her K-r and 50mm 1.7 M, I had very many improperly focused shots, because of no aid, not even the focus confirmation worked. So a split prism would seem the only way for accurate manual focus. I know of Katz-Eye, also Jinfinance, and I also saw somewhere over here some guys that made focusing screens from defective film cameras. Well because the others are expensive, this last idea is a great one. I'm about ready to buy a "parts" camera, take out the screen and cut it, but will it fit and meter properly? Is the stock screen easily removable as the MX and LX screens are? What exactly are those shims and how important are they for precision? Will I be able to do this all by myself?
Thanks in advance.
Vladimir.

04-13-2011, 02:17 PM - 1 Like   #2
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Two weeks ago I installed a Katz Eye (with ultra-bright coating) into my K-r. I did it to help with low-light focusing. Here's what I learned:

1) Although it seemed intimidating, swapping out the screen was very easy. I largely credit the tweezer tool that came with the screen. It is specialized to un-hook the clasp and grasp the screen by the handling tab. A bent paperclip and normal tweezers would probably do the job, but be careful. These screens are super delicate and even the tiniest scratch will drive you crazy while looking through the viewfinder.

2) The results in low light were disappointing. It did not entirely solve my problem, but it did give me more to work with. The trick to properly focus with a split prism is to align the two halves of the image in the prism. If half of the prism is dark because of insufficient light, you don't have both images to work with and you are back to guessing. The micro-prism ring sometimes helps. However, in low light, the ring sometimes appears slightly more gray than the rest of the area and I have trouble determining if the gray is blurry or not. All the while, my K-r is chirping at me and flashing a red light that I am in focus. I use this as sort of a reverse guide: if the K-r is telling me the focus is fine, I know that it is NOT and will continue to work to dial it in.

3) The results in adequate light are amazing. I absolutely ***LOVE*** the screen for use with manual lenses. I don't mind stop-down metering with my Pentax-M lenses and my Pentax-A lenses literally do everything except autofocus - which is now a breeze with the new screen. It opened up a whole new world for me which I am greatly enjoying. I can finally start benefiting from the less expensive older lenses. Manually focusing with the focus indicator or focus trap never, ever worked well for me with the K-r or my K100DS in the past. I fully acknowledge that the problem was the operator, not the camera, but I also acknowledge that the focusing screen was the tool I needed to get the job done.

The rep at Katz-eye told me that you generally shouldn't require new shims. If your original screen was out of spec then you can expect your new screen to be the same. However, mine was made for the K-r. I don't know if you will need to re-shim with a cut-down screen from a MX or LX due to different thicknesses. Honestly, I don't know how one would cut down the screen without damaging it or get the prism perfectly centered. You can determine that you need different shims after-the-fact by focusing on a subject (like a focus chart) with the new screen. If the resulting image is out of focus even though the viewfinder was perfect, then you need to swap shims.

I hope that helps.
04-13-2011, 03:14 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by abcdave Quote
Two weeks ago I installed a Katz Eye (with ultra-bright coating) ........

3) The results in adequate light are amazing. I absolutely ***LOVE*** the screen for use with manual lenses. I don't mind stop-down metering with my Pentax-M lenses and my Pentax-A lenses literally do everything except autofocus - which is now a breeze with the new screen. It opened up a whole new world for me which I am greatly enjoying. I can finally start benefiting from the less expensive older lenses. Manually focusing with the focus indicator or focus trap never, ever worked well for me with the K-r or my K100DS in the past. I fully acknowledge that the problem was the operator, not the camera, but I also acknowledge that the focusing screen was the tool I needed to get the job done.

.......
I hope that helps.
A very good write up and a very good response to those who turn up their nose at Katz Eye pricing!

You get what you pay for is a good old adage - just like for camera's and especially for lenses.
04-13-2011, 03:15 PM   #4
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Thanks for sharing your experience, I know the Katz eye is supposed to be great, but I can raise that ammount of money in maybe a year. Or.. don't know.. will see.

04-13-2011, 03:18 PM   #5
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Two more questions: does the prism black out any bit with the kit lens?
And 2: will mounting a 3rd party screen void the warranty?

Last edited by kcobain1992; 04-13-2011 at 03:35 PM.
04-14-2011, 07:46 AM   #6
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Hi first post to the forum!

You might want to concider focusingscreen.com as a cheaper yet still valid option.
Iīve been satisfied for a couple of months with their fsb screen that cost about $55 for my k-x .

I took the optional af frame/grid model and the install was quite simple with provided tools! It even came with 2 plastic shims in case youīll need them!

I have three A lenses and itīs been nice ever since to use them with ease. I had to shim the screen many times coz when I got it good on a 50mm it was front focusing on a 24..

The new screen might be a bit darker than original but itīs well worth it.
Havenīt noticed any split prism darkening on any lens.

Last edited by Pen-A; 04-14-2011 at 08:25 AM.
04-19-2011, 11:06 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by kcobain1992 Quote
Two more questions: does the prism black out any bit with the kit lens?
And 2: will mounting a 3rd party screen void the warranty?
When I spoke with the Pentax service folks, the person I talked to said that it would void the warranty (they would call it tampering). I suppose if you could re-install the OEM screen without any evidence of tampering, they wouldn't know the difference.
04-19-2011, 11:58 AM   #8
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I didn't want to really come right out and say it, but yes, replacing the original screen at warranty time (God forbid) is what I intend to do...

Edit: Additional thought: Swapping screens leaves behind no evidence unless you accidentally break something.

Edit2: "does the prism black out any bit with the kit lens"
It blacks out with just about any lens when you stop down far enough and the available light decreases. Ex: Outdoors in the shade @ f16 may start to black Ex2: At dusk @ f11 may start to black Ex3: Indoors at night @ f8 may start to black, Ex4: Candlelight @ f2, etc...


Last edited by abcdave; 04-19-2011 at 12:18 PM.
04-20-2011, 01:08 PM   #9
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I changed the screen to a split image center point on my K2000 (Km) and found it helped. After I got the Kr and shot with my manual lenses I found the results quite good with the stock screen. If you leave the focus mode in auto all in focus indicators (red dot and green hex) work just fine and are quite accurate. I will not be putting a split image screen on my Kr

Hans
04-20-2011, 01:17 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by abcdave Quote
I didn't want to really come right out and say it, but yes, replacing the original screen at warranty time (God forbid) is what I intend to do...

Edit: Additional thought: Swapping screens leaves behind no evidence unless you accidentally break something.

Edit2: "does the prism black out any bit with the kit lens"
It blacks out with just about any lens when you stop down far enough and the available light decreases. Ex: Outdoors in the shade @ f16 may start to black Ex2: At dusk @ f11 may start to black Ex3: Indoors at night @ f8 may start to black, Ex4: Candlelight @ f2, etc...
On the MX, the split prism works well in any lighting conditions, I think, but it starts to black out at f/4 - f/5.6. I was really asking if this would be the case with the Katz-Eye, because the kit lens will only be at its widest aperture, 5.6, while focusing.
04-20-2011, 06:40 PM   #11
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I've been interested in getting one of these for my Pentax-A f1.2. Would installing this require removal of the current viewfinder screen or can I just add it on?

The Katz-Eyes websites isn't take any orders currently.
04-20-2011, 07:40 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by zephyrus17 Quote
Would installing this require removal of the current viewfinder screen or can I just add it on?
Have to swap them completely Zeph,instruction's provided by Katz-eye covers
it well,they include a small fixture with screen to make the change without soiling
screen with fingers.Think theres some info on their web site that covers it too.
Might seem a little intimidating at first,really simple,straight foward install.
Have had mine going on 2 years,quite happy with it.Have opti-brite treatment
on matte and it does help in low light.Have a beattie intenscreen in another
body and that katz-eye seems every bit as brite as the beattie,in spite of the
beattie being about 6 times the surface area.
04-20-2011, 10:11 PM   #13
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So other than Katz-eye, what are some good brands?

There's some shops on eBay that sell them for $25, and some that sell at the Katz-eye price. Are they reliable?

Is a horizontal focus 'marker' (sorry, don't know the term) better or worse than a 45deg marker?
04-21-2011, 02:07 PM   #14
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I installed a focusingscreen.com screen on my Km (K2000) I do like the screen, but like I stated above I don't think it's required on the Kr because of the focus point (red) indicators also work on manual lenses.

Hans
04-21-2011, 02:12 PM   #15
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It is totally imprecise, I can tell you.
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