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11-12-2013, 08:37 AM   #1
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Some questions about the K-30 KatzEye split image viewfinder

I've decided to buy the KatzEye split image viewfinder for my future K-30 camera instead of a second lens. The reviews I read about it say that it's the best quality and that's very important to me as I plan to focus manually for all my photos. My questions are about the "extras" I can have added to it. The viewfinder I'm planning to buy is this: Pentax K-5, K-5II, K-7, K-30, K-50 & K-500 KatzEye Focusing Screen

Should I buy any of the extras? Have you ever used a KatzEye split image viewfinder (for any camera)? I don't really have the money to buy a lot of extras, but I'm willing to spend the money if they're considered a necessity. The specific extras I'm considering are the Brightness Enhancement Treatment ($55) and the Rule of Thirds Grid Lines ($45), but these almost double the original purchase price and if they aren't necessary I don't want them. I have never used Rule of Thirds Grid Lines so I don't know how helpful they are vs. not having them. I also have no idea what affect Brightness Enhancement will have. The AF Area Brackets say they come free with any composition markings, but I have no idea what those are used for and I really don't want my screen to be cluttered.

Thanks a bunch!

11-12-2013, 08:42 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lovephotography Quote
for my future
I would wait and have a look at the OVF of the K-30 with it's great pentaprism and focus peaking in LV first, before deciding, you might not need a split screen...
11-12-2013, 10:20 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lovephotography Quote
The specific extras I'm considering are the Brightness Enhancement Treatment ($55) and the Rule of Thirds Grid Lines ($45),
You don't need them.
11-12-2013, 10:43 AM - 1 Like   #4
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Some basics first: A K-mount lens is held wide open when it's on the camera so you can see to focus. That means you are focusing at the lens's maximum rated aperture (the f number in the name) even if you take the photo at f11. The original screen is designed to be brighter for lenses with maximum apertures like f4 or f5.6, typical for ordinary zoom lenses. That brightness is a compromise, because the point of focus is not shown accurately for "faster" lenses, ones with maximum apertures wider than f4. A 50mm f1.4 lens is harder to use with the original screen because you see a broad range of focus in the viewfinder, but if your shot is at f2.0, much less will be in focus in your image.

Alternative focusing screens have different compromises. The split-prism system has two half-circles that line up perfectly in the center when the focus is right. The focus is very precise. They are almost always surrounded by a ring of microprisms, which emphasize out-of-focus areas. The rest of the screen is similar to the stock screen. The system was very popular for film cameras. The prisms can black out when your eye is not aligned with them, or with very slow lenses with maximum apertures like f8 or f11. Better screens perform better with less blackout. The split-prism is in the center so you are often focusing in the center, which may interfere with composition. Some people hate the big thing in the middle of the viewfinder. The split is horizontal so the ideal subject has a vertical line in it, but some subjects are all horizontal lines so you have to tilt the camera to focus. Because the split is in the center, spot metering can be thrown off, while center-weighted and matrix are fine.

The other compromise is called the S type screen, based on the Canon EE-S screen for their 5D camera. It is ground to show accurate depth of field for almost all lenses. I think as wide as f1.7, but anyway close enough to f1.4 so you can estimate the rest. The viewfinder is extremely clean in the basic S type screen. I think you can get ones with composing marks added. You see the same depth of field that your image would have if it was wide open. It isn't quite the same "this point is in focus" accuracy of the split-prism but composing is better because the whole screen shows the depth of field. This screen will be darker than the stock screen for f4 or slower lenses. Really slow lenses like f8 mirror lenses just get darker. Metering is unaffected.

I used the original screen in my K-7 (same viewfinder system as the K-30) for a couple of years. I could focus with it but often had to think about where the point of focus was. I had a basic KatzEye screen in my *ist DS for several years before that. I tried the S type screen briefly but ordered another basic KatzEye for my K-7. I can list a few more negatives for the KatzEye screen (expensive and no shims included) but I just prefer split-prisms.

You should expect to adjust your screen to perfection with shims. I did not have to adjust my *ist DS screen at all, but it seems like most users report removing the original shim and replacing it with a thinner shim. It only has to be done once. The vendors for S type screens include shims. KatzEye didn't last year, but has information on getting Pentax ones which are inexpensive.

11-12-2013, 01:17 PM   #5
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I would refer you to this thread;

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/172-pentax-k-3/242089-replacing-focusing-screen-k-3-a.html

I respect Dave's opinion above, but it's actually pretty rare for someone to prefer a split-screen over an s-screen. Note that Dave also has a number of slower lenses.

There's another older, looong thread here about this subject as well, if you want to search for it.
11-13-2013, 12:58 AM   #6
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Another thing to bear in mind is that modern lenses have a very short focus throw and are hard therefore to focus accurately in manual mode even with a split screen, the old M and some of the A series lenses had a much longer throw as they were designed for split screen film bodies.
11-13-2013, 01:33 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lovephotography Quote
The viewfinder I'm planning to buy is this: Pentax K-5, K-5II, K-7, K-30, K-50 & K-500 KatzEye Focusing Screen

The specific extras I'm considering are the Brightness Enhancement Treatment ($55) and the Rule of Thirds Grid Lines ($45),
There's one for sale on the forum: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/24-photographic-equipment-sale/242176-sal...-k50-k500.html
11-13-2013, 08:19 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by johnyates Quote
You don't need them.
More information please. Why don't I need them?

QuoteOriginally posted by altopiet Quote
I would wait and have a look at the OVF of the K-30 with it's great pentaprism and focus peaking in LV first, before deciding, you might not need a split screen...
Ok, I'll wait -and throughly play with focus peaking- before I buy it.

QuoteOriginally posted by Just1MoreDave Quote
The prisms can black out when your eye is not aligned with them, or with very slow lenses with maximum apertures like f8 or f11. Better screens perform better with less blackout.
Katzeye says that they make the prisms so they don't black out until well after f11 (in the info of the item), so does this mean I don't need the brightness enhancement?

QuoteOriginally posted by Just1MoreDave Quote
Because the split is in the center, spot metering can be thrown off, while center-weighted and matrix are fine.
Katzeye does warn about spot metering, but my understanding is that it can be compensated or I can use other metering methods. Is spot metering important enough for it to be a real concern?

QuoteOriginally posted by Just1MoreDave Quote
You should expect to adjust your screen to perfection with shims. I did not have to adjust my *ist DS screen at all, but it seems like most users report removing the original shim and replacing it with a thinner shim. It only has to be done once. The vendors for S type screens include shims. KatzEye didn't last year, but has information on getting Pentax ones which are inexpensive.
Should I buy shims before or after I buy the viewfinder? How do I know what size to get? If I buy them after the viewfinder, where do I put the two viewfinders until I recieve the shims (the original and the Katzeye)? The Katzeye will come with a case, but will it be large enough for both viewfinders?

QuoteOriginally posted by adwb Quote
Another thing to bear in mind is that modern lenses have a very short focus throw and are hard therefore to focus accurately in manual mode even with a split screen, the old M and some of the A series lenses had a much longer throw as they were designed for split screen film bodies.
What's a focus throw? Is it how much the focus ring will turn?

QuoteOriginally posted by p38arover Quote
Thanks for the link, but when I convert the EUR to USD I'd be paying almost the same price I would if I bought it brand new. Combine that with altopiet's advise and I've decided to pass on that one. It did make the question of "what does AF Markings do?" stronger.

Can anyone tell me what AF Markings do? The only SLR I've had experience with was totally manual, so I've no idea what the markings are for.

11-13-2013, 08:23 AM   #9
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Almost forgot to say that I'm going to research the S-screen. I'd never heard of it until this thread.
11-13-2013, 08:27 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lovephotography Quote
Almost forgot to say that I'm going to research the S-screen. I'd never heard of it until this thread.
I tried a split screen on my K-x, f8 tops, if you're lucky, but it seems as if the S-screen is the way to go if you do decide to do it, according to a lot of folks
11-13-2013, 08:49 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lovephotography Quote
Katzeye says that they make the prisms so they don't black out until well after f11 (in the info of the item), so does this mean I don't need the brightness enhancement?
Under difficult light situations (so when it's getting darker), they will still black out. If your SLR had a split sprism screen, you will have had the same problem. My Katzeye's have optibrite but I can't compare them with ones that don't have it.

QuoteOriginally posted by Lovephotography Quote
Katzeye does warn about spot metering, but my understanding is that it can be compensated or I can use other metering methods. Is spot metering important enough for it to be a real concern?
No, you must just take it into account.

QuoteOriginally posted by Lovephotography Quote
Should I buy shims before or after I buy the viewfinder? How do I know what size to get? If I buy them after the viewfinder, where do I put the two viewfinders until I recieve the shims (the original and the Katzeye)? The Katzeye will come with a case, but will it be large enough for both viewfinders?
You're not buying a viewfinder I would not buy the shims till you know that you have the need; this is when you have focused correctly but the photos are not as sharp as you expected. You need one screen in the camera (without it it will be very difficult to see what you're taking a photo of); so the other one can go in the Katzeye container. You don't know which ones you need; you might be able to figure out if you need thinner or thicker (somebody might be able to advise on this, I can't without researching) but not how much thicker or thinner.

QuoteOriginally posted by Lovephotography Quote
What's a focus throw? Is it how much the focus ring will turn?
Indeed.

QuoteOriginally posted by Lovephotography Quote
It did make the question of "what does AF Markings do?" stron
If you download the K30 manual and look on page 33 (english version), you can see what the markings are (marked with (1) and (2))
11-13-2013, 09:53 AM   #12
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---Quote (Originally by adwb)---
Another thing to bear in mind is that modern lenses have a very short focus throw and are hard therefore to focus accurately in manual mode even with a split screen, the old M and some of the A series lenses had a much longer throw as they were designed for split screen film bodies.
---End Quote---
What's a focus throw? Is it how much the focus ring will turn?

yes
11-13-2013, 11:20 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lovephotography Quote
Katzeye says that they make the prisms so they don't black out until well after f11 (in the info of the item), so does this mean I don't need the brightness enhancement?
Mine work like they say, and they are both the basic KatzEye. The only time I focus at f11 or darker is when I use a long telephoto with a 2X teleconverter. The teleconverter makes my 500mm f8 lens a 1000mm f16 lens. Really any focusing screen is not great at f16, and most people won't have that combination.

QuoteQuote:
Katzeye does warn about spot metering, but my understanding is that it can be compensated or I can use other metering methods. Is spot metering important enough for it to be a real concern?
That's another personal thing. I felt like I was missing something so I bought a dedicated spot meter, got a book on using it from the library, and used it for a while. I learned from it, but never wanted to use the spot meter to shoot with. Some people use it all the time. I read the information on compensating for the split-prism and spot metering, and decided that a meter that was sometimes accurate was not really useful. So I forgot that.

The other metering modes look at the whole scene and suggests an exposure to include everything. Spot metering looks at one point and suggests an exposure for that point, as a mid-tone. To take a shot, you need to think about that reading and the scene, maybe look at several points, then decide what your scene exposure is. It may appeal to your completely manual style, and it is awesome to get it to work. The S-type screen doesn't interfere with spot metering.

QuoteQuote:
Should I buy shims before or after I buy the viewfinder? How do I know what size to get? If I buy them after the viewfinder, where do I put the two viewfinders until I recieve the shims (the original and the Katzeye)? The Katzeye will come with a case, but will it be large enough for both viewfinders?
This post has a diagram showing the shims, and a parts listing for them. My camera had the G shim installed and I replaced it with the A shim. You would get them from Pentax parts in Australia. The whole set is ~$30 in the US.


QuoteQuote:
Thanks for the link, but when I convert the EUR to USD I'd be paying almost the same price I would if I bought it brand new. Combine that with altopiet's advise and I've decided to pass on that one. It did make the question of "what does AF Markings do?" stronger.

Can anyone tell me what AF Markings do? The only SLR I've had experience with was totally manual, so I've no idea what the markings are for.
The camera has 11 AF sensors in a grid, and it can use each one to focus. The markings show where the grid is located. That only works with an autofocus lens. When you put a manual focus lens on the camera, the center point is still active and can aid in focusing, but all the other points shut off.

Some people use the brackets because they want to select a point for the camera to autofocus on. They are crazy really patient.
11-13-2013, 01:15 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Just1MoreDave Quote
Some people use the brackets because they want to select a point for the camera to autofocus on. They are crazy really patient.
Ha!
11-13-2013, 01:51 PM   #15
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The shim set was $30 from Pentax Australia.
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