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07-21-2017, 11:06 AM   #1
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Bill Maxwell Focusing Screens for Pentax 67?

Hi, Gang,

I just heard about Bill Maxwell Precision Optics, a company that makes replacement focusing screens for large and medium format cameras that are allegedly up to 5 stops brighter than stock focusing screens.

This really caught my attention since the Pentax 67 has a notoriously dim focusing screen.

I just bought the waist level viewfinder and the chimney viewfinder to assist with focusing for street photography and portraiture. I love them - but brighter is always better.

I just called Bill and left a message but he has not gotten back to me. Does anyone know if he makes replacement screens for Pentax 67s, how much they are, and how well they work? Or are there other aftermarket screens you prefer? I'm just exploring options right now.

Thanks!

07-21-2017, 10:10 PM   #2
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You might be better of getting one of the Pentax 67ii bright screens and using it. You will have to remove the plastic frame for it to fit in the 67 or 6x7. I know one of the PF members has done this.

Eric could also do it for you I'm sure.

Phil.
07-26-2017, 08:07 AM   #3
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Update:

Bill got back to me and quoted me at $395 for a Bill Maxwell Precision Optics Pentax 67 focusing screen. They come in two formats: one matte screen with no focusing aid in the center, and one split screen rangefinder center version. Any of his screens can also be etched with grid lines or rule-of-thirds lines for an extra $10.

If I bought one of these (not sure I will since its kinda steep) I would probably opt for the split screen and maybe get the rule of thirds lines etched in.

He also has replacement Pentax 67II screens that he sells, which I presume he's kept from various replacement jobs he's done. He's going to quote me a price for a replacement screen. It won't be as good as a custom Maxwell screen, but it would be better than my stock P67 screen. I just wonder how much extra brightness, clarity, and contrast I would get from a P67II replacement.

Can anyone tell me how they compare?

Bill is a physicist by training, apparently. He told me that some of his replacement screens for old TLRs can improve the brightness by 500x on the far corners. Apparently the transmission rates of some old ground glass is a pitiful 3%, whereas his best replacements are up to 90%.

I wonder just how much more quality I would get from one of his screens in my P67, and if its worth the $400 price tag.

Thoughts?
07-26-2017, 08:41 AM - 1 Like   #4
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Bill made a custom 67II screen for me. I think it cost $275.00 several years ago. He reuses the original frame and puts in a new screen. I wanted a split screen with grid line. It works great. I can't say if it's brighter than the original screen. My issue was the lack of a split screen in the original screen. Hope this helps.

07-26-2017, 04:23 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Femto1969 Quote
Bill got back to me and quoted me at $395 for a Bill Maxwell Precision Optics Pentax 67 focusing screen.

Wwwhaaat!!!?
Seriously.I have never allowed the 67 focusing screen to dictate, restrict or annoy me in any of my work and I don't quite understand the preoccupation with the focusing screen here, especially a screen costing as much as a lens! The viewfinder is not really dark with an unfiltered f4 lens, and not at all in the slightest bit dark with an f2.4 or f2.8 lens — I do have several to choose.

A brighter screen may also introduce exposure errors; a number of cameras with matrix/evaluative/3D metering can account for this, but the P67 meter is very rudimentary in its nature and the only leeway for under- or over-exposure adjustment is by judicious positioning of the meter needle somewhere within its 5-stop range. So you would need to carry out a number of experiments with slide film and normal and over- under-exposure and critically examine the results with the new screen in place. The reason I mentioned slide film is because of its tighter latitude and lower tolerance for exposure error: something as much as 0.6 stop error either way will be very noticeable, but could very well pass unnoticed on the wide latitude negative films. So there is a trade-off and no, I do not consider it worthwhile to throw out $400 on a perception of a dark screen. The reality is the screens fitted are quite useable in a wide variety of actual situations — I know that from working with f4 lenses fitted with polarisers in rainforests where ambient light is quite low at the best of times (and in which situation focusing is accomplished on spectrals rather than fixed elements). Consider what else you could invest in for $400 ... a handheld meter perhaps? A CF tripod? Another lens? Or a cache of film...?
07-28-2017, 08:04 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Silent Street Quote
Wwwhaaat!!!?
Seriously.I have never allowed the 67 focusing screen to dictate, restrict or annoy me in any of my work and I don't quite understand the preoccupation with the focusing screen here, especially a screen costing as much as a lens! The viewfinder is not really dark with an unfiltered f4 lens, and not at all in the slightest bit dark with an f2.4 or f2.8 lens I do have several to choose.

A brighter screen may also introduce exposure errors; a number of cameras with matrix/evaluative/3D metering can account for this, but the P67 meter is very rudimentary in its nature and the only leeway for under- or over-exposure adjustment is by judicious positioning of the meter needle somewhere within its 5-stop range. So you would need to carry out a number of experiments with slide film and normal and over- under-exposure and critically examine the results with the new screen in place. The reason I mentioned slide film is because of its tighter latitude and lower tolerance for exposure error: something as much as 0.6 stop error either way will be very noticeable, but could very well pass unnoticed on the wide latitude negative films. So there is a trade-off and no, I do not consider it worthwhile to throw out $400 on a perception of a dark screen. The reality is the screens fitted are quite useable in a wide variety of actual situations I know that from working with f4 lenses fitted with polarisers in rainforests where ambient light is quite low at the best of times (and in which situation focusing is accomplished on spectrals rather than fixed elements). Consider what else you could invest in for $400 ... a handheld meter perhaps? A CF tripod? Another lens? Or a cache of film...?
I think you're right. $400 is way too much to spend on a replacement screen - unless the screen is outrageously good and completely changes my productivity.

I might get a replacement screen for $200 if I was sure that it would dramatically improve my focusing ability - especially handholding with the waist finder. Right now its very difficult to handhold indoors. In fact the 75mm lens never looks in focus. I know it can be, because it bright light it does snap. But in dim light the whole image is blurry. I can get accurate focus by focusing where it looks the least blurry.

I'm starting to experiment with Ilford Delta 3200 for low-light shoots and indoor portraits. Right now the best way is with a tripod, mirror up, and shutter release cable, and very very careful focusing (and still models). I bet one of Bill's screens would help make this process a lot easier. Alas.

Your point for the TTL metering is well-taken, however I do have a handheld meter and I use it for most of my shots (or Sunny 16). Besides, I'm starting to use the waist finder more and more, and with the new 105 I've cut a lot of weight off the rig, which is very important. You nailed it about the CF tripod, though. My Manfrotto weighs as much as a truck, and I really paid for it marching up Mt. Sy a few weeks ago. I think the $400 would be much better spent on something like that. After all, $400 is more than halfway to a 300mm ED!
07-28-2017, 10:32 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Femto1969 Quote
very very careful focusing (and still models).

Given a "still life" situation or a cooperative model, couldn't you use a small flashlight to illuminate the scene while you focus, then of course turn it off to get exposure and trip the shutter?


At any rate, I'll definitely be tuned-in once you get your CF tripod--I'm very much interested in how light you can go and still tame that trebuchet shutter.

07-28-2017, 10:57 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by CreationBear Quote
Given a "still life" situation or a cooperative model, couldn't you use a small flashlight to illuminate the scene while you focus, then of course turn it off to get exposure and trip the shutter?


At any rate, I'll definitely be tuned-in once you get your CF tripod--I'm very much interested in how light you can go and still tame that trebuchet shutter.
The flashlight idea is a great one. It would be really nice just to be able to handhold and focus without extra steps, though.

I am a bit concerned about going to light with a tripod for that very reason. Maybe if I get one with a hook on it to hang my bag filled with p67 lenses it will provide me with enough inertia to tame the shutter. But I use mirror up and a shutter release whenever I can.
07-28-2017, 11:29 AM   #9
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You know, if there was ever a doubt if a "packable" tripod would handle the P67 plus head, I think I would just throw one of these in the pack and call it done:
RRS - TP-243
No doubt you'd lose a few shots, but it would be better to have entire rolls of 120 filled with "soft" exposures--besides, you could always use it to self-arrest if your glissade gets a little gnarly.


FWIW, I'm currently using a Ries wooden tripod that's made in your neck of the woods--not the best option for a multiday trek of course, but banging around for 10, 15, miles it's actually not that bad.
07-28-2017, 02:00 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by CreationBear Quote
You know, if there was ever a doubt if a "packable" tripod would handle the P67 plus head, I think I would just throw one of these in the pack and call it done:
RRS - TP-243
No doubt you'd lose a few shots, but it would be better to have entire rolls of 120 filled with "soft" exposures--besides, you could always use it to self-arrest if your glissade gets a little gnarly.


FWIW, I'm currently using a Ries wooden tripod that's made in your neck of the woods--not the best option for a multiday trek of course, but banging around for 10, 15, miles it's actually not that bad.
I'll look into it. My Manfrotto is a beast combined with the 67, the 200mm and 55mm, and many rolls of film.
07-28-2017, 05:32 PM   #11
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Off topic, but Adorama has a couple of E, E- 45/4's up for sale--about a hundred dollars lower than what they're bringing at KEH recently.
07-28-2017, 05:47 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Femto1969 Quote
I'm starting to experiment with Ilford Delta 3200 for low-light shoots and indoor portraits. Right now the best way is with a tripod, mirror up, and shutter release cable, and very very careful focusing (and still models). I bet one of Bill's screens would help make this process a lot easier. Alas.
I often run through a roll of Delta P3200 in my ZeroImage 6x9 pinhole (@ EI 12,500/10 min exposure f22 interpolated f235 + Microphen) getting looooong exposures in low-light scenes [photo] with the intention of emboldening contrast to the point of abstractionism (for want of a better /more arty-farty word!). I have too much work with RVP50 in the 67 which is holding up use of P3200 in that camera. This is a crappy representative scan; the original is 'uuuuge and bigly!!

Yes, get a CF tripod we're spoilt for choice with Gitzo and Manfrotto neck-to-neck (I have old models of each).

Just a quick word about Manfrotto: If you get one with clip-lock legs, get rid of the cheap and nasty steel screws and nuts that secure the leg lock clamps; they corrode very quickly. Replace them with marine-grade stainless steel allen head bolds and friction-lock nuts. Make sure you understand how the legs reassemble relative to the internal washers that align them correctly! After that small but extremely worthwhile upgrade, you're set for years and years.

Last edited by Silent Street; 04-21-2018 at 09:16 PM.
07-29-2017, 09:34 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Silent Street Quote
the original is 'uuuuge and bigly!!

Very cool--I can imagine a crowd of young Diggers listening to "Waltzing Matilda" before shipping out to the Dardanelles.


At any rate, if you've got any foolproof approaches to metering for Velvia in a rainforest setting, feel free to chime in--for myself, there always seems to be one leaf with its cutin layer turned just the wrong way...
07-29-2017, 04:24 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by CreationBear Quote
Very cool--I can imagine a crowd of young Diggers listening to "Waltzing Matilda" before shipping out to the Dardanelles.
That's going way, way back — beyond my time. Though I often sing Waltzing Matilda when camping! Or The Man from Snowy River or
Clancy of The Overflow. If you really want to get into toe-tapping, get going with Click Go The Shears.
QuoteOriginally posted by CreationBear Quote
At any rate, if you've got any foolproof approaches to metering for Velvia in a rainforest setting, feel free to chime in--for myself, there always seems to be one leaf with its cutin layer turned just the wrong way...

There is still a lot of myth and misconception about the use of Velvia and how it seemingly "Disneychromes" scenes. Yes, it will misbehave if it is used in conditions outside its performance brief! It has emphasis in each of its RGB channels, and can be either enhanced or moderated depending on prevailing lighting conditions. Sometimes I like to make it look like Reala.

In a rainforest (a lot of them are very dry around here this side of what is essentially a very dry winter):

• Nature is not always particularly 'just so' with arrangement. if there is an annoying litter like a fallen branch, move it.
Shoot, then replace it where you found it.
With MF RVP, meter at its native speed (50, not 40, which is better for smaller formats, like 35mm)
• Avoid areas in large shadow or extremely bright areas (bright sun on water, for instance, creates out-of-range spectrals; big shadow areas encourage overexposure)
• Small scenes with a strong central focal point work best.
• Use a polariser (in a rainforest, this enriches the foliage, but can also lead to reciprocity issues if the exposure is extended); and
• Meter methodically, not willy-nilly: taking into account the polariser's filter factor (either +1.5 [bright light] or +2.0 [flat, diffuse light]) with a spot meter (not incident), read a bright area (but not the brightest e.g. spectrals) of the scene, and lock in; next, read a darker area (but not total black - Zone 0) and lock that in. At this point you are free to select a mid-tone (Zone IV to VI) within the scene (e.g. a wet rock face) or get a known mid-tone by filling the spot-meter's viewfinder* with a grey card (this part can also be done first if desired). Lock that in. When the scene has been scoped correctly, the scale should so an even distribution of marks after averaging, and using judgement you can either accept that as final or tweak the ranging (left or right) for slight under or over-exposure (with slide film destined for printing, slight overexposure is preferred to compensate for printer loss). The method outlined means consistent and repeatable metering (taking into account the full range of luminances of the subject, unlike an incident meter, which assumes there is only one value) under like and dissimilar scenes with only adjustments at the end required.

______________________________________________________________________
* Sekonic spot meters e.g. the L758D/DR read 12.6% incident, 16.2% spot/reflected
07-29-2017, 05:08 PM   #15
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Excellent! That's very helpful, though it means I'll have to finally shell out for a spot meter (I'm currently using a Sekonic 318 incident meter which gets me in the ballpark if I'm careful not to tackle too challenging of a scene.)


At any rate, I actually saw The Man from Snowy River here in the States when it came out--at a drive-in, no less. (It's perhaps no coincidence that the future Mrs. Bear bore more than a passing resemblance to a young Sigrid Thornton.)
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