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05-10-2014, 02:30 PM   #1
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Damn these eyes!!!

Need some help, folks. I own a K500 and have really started getting back into photography. I typically like to shoot with my manual lenses and therefore am manually focusing. The problem is my eye-sight is really bad and I wear glasses. I remove my glasses to look through the view finder and have the view finder diopter pretty much maxed in order to see clearly. The problem I'm having is nailing the focus. Not really sure if it is my eyes and I need a stronger magnification for the view finder or if it is the focusing screen, but I just really struggle with getting focus -- especially in low DOF and Macro situations. My old ME Super had a pretty nifty prism focusing screen that really made things easy, but I am having a really hard time with the K500. Any tips or recommendations?


Last edited by ripper2860; 05-10-2014 at 02:54 PM.
05-10-2014, 02:35 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by ripper2860 Quote
Need some help, folks. I own a K500 and have really started getting back into photography. I typically like to shoot with my manual lenses and therefore am manually focusing. The problem is my eye-sight is really bad and I wear glasses. I remove my glasses to look through the view finder and have the view finder diopter pretty much maxed in order to see clearly. The problem I'm having is nailing the focus. Not really sure if it is my eyes and I need a stronger magnification for the view finder of the focusing screen, but I just really struggle with getting focus -- especially in low DOF and Macro situations. My old ME Super had a pretty nifty prism focusing screen that really made thing easy, but I am having a really hard time with the K500. Any tips or recommendations?
I would recommend using live view for when you want to verify the focus. Then you can blow up the image and make sure it's sharp

Also check the viewfinder diopter and make sure your lens is calibrated for front / back focus.

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05-10-2014, 02:49 PM   #3
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I'm with you in the myopia handicap stakes ripper2860!

Yeah, first off, make sure the diopter correction is sufficient for your eyes. The camera has up to -2.5 diopter .... approximately! I need about an extra -1.5, I eventually found a s/h -3 VF diopter correction lens (I'm in the UK where they are unobtainable, I read posts suggesting that pentax in Canada are helpful for this sort of thing in N America.) this clips onto the VF (take off the rubber shade) That helped lot! Might be a bit tricky to tell if you need one: do the composition marks on the orig VF screen look perfectly sharp looking through the VF? if not then definitely yes. Otherwise if its marginal might need to suck and see..

Secondly, with MF, the original VF screen just isn't that good. Until I replaced it I was leaning a lot on Live View (press the info button to magnify). LV is in fact really accurate, but rather clumsy, with lots of button pressing, and lots of clunk click if you take the pics in LV mode.

Once I had replaced the old screen with a split prism one (actually cannibalised from an old ME super*) that was better, in particular the SP gave me more tools to work with. But I have to say focussing was and is still something of an issue, practice and familiarity with individual lenses is important. And there are lenses that I still struggle to focus accurately just through the VF, my 37mm Mir-1 for example.

I have also acquired an original asahi 2x VF magnifier, and a seagull right angle 1x-2x magnifier*, these both have built in diopter adjustment to add to the camera adjustment so can fully compensate for my eyes. I finfd the seagull more usable than the asahi - its brighter with a larger exit pupil and flicking from 1x to 2x means I can see all the VF info and compose without taking my eye away. I particularly use these with TP's.

Best thing I can say: there's no fix, these extras are useful, LIVE VIEW IS YOUR FRIEND.

*see my review
PS my comments pertain to my K-r

Last edited by marcusBMG; 05-10-2014 at 04:14 PM. Reason: camera model
05-10-2014, 03:59 PM   #4
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I have an S-type screen from focusingscreens.com and it made a HUGE difference for manual focus.

Focus peaking in Live View also works pretty well.

05-10-2014, 04:10 PM   #5
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I scored a Magnifier-M eye piece off eBay for $25 lot too long ago. It's a great help. Not as good optically as Refconverter-M at 2x - some distortion at the edges - but it gets the job done. You're looking at the center anyway. More convenient than the refconverter - it flips up and not as awkward in typical shooting angles. I forget what my diopter correction is - something horrible like -10.
05-10-2014, 06:18 PM   #6
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Are you glasses optimized for distance (infinity) vision? If so, you should NOT be taking off your glasses. The optical viewfinder screen is set to focus at infinity - no matter what the actual distance is to the subject. You are not looking at your subject, but a projected image of your subject.

If like me you wear progressive lens glasses, you have to remember to look through the distance portion of your glasses at ALL times when using the optical viewfinder. The best way to then adjust the diopter is to deliberately unfocus the lens, then adjust the diopter so the text at the bottom of the viewfinder is sharp. Now try to match the sharpness of your image with the sharpness of the text below.

If you use Live View and wear progressive lens or bi/tri-focal lens, you need to do exactly the opposite. You need to use the close vision portion of your glasses.
05-10-2014, 06:46 PM   #7
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My first camera was a Retinette view finder (without a range-finder). I soon learned to guess the distance well enough to have confidence of setting the correct focus. Your outstretched arms are close to six feet, and are a good reference.
05-10-2014, 07:28 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by JimJohnson Quote
Are you glasses optimized for distance (infinity) vision? If so, you should NOT be taking off your glasses. The optical viewfinder screen is set to focus at infinity - no matter what the actual distance is to the subject. You are not looking at your subject, but a projected image of your subject.

If like me you wear progressive lens glasses, you have to remember to look through the distance portion of your glasses at ALL times when using the optical viewfinder. The best way to then adjust the diopter is to deliberately unfocus the lens, then adjust the diopter so the text at the bottom of the viewfinder is sharp. Now try to match the sharpness of your image with the sharpness of the text below.

If you use Live View and wear progressive lens or bi/tri-focal lens, you need to do exactly the opposite. You need to use the close vision portion of your glasses.
Thanks for the tips. Yes I do wear progressive lens glasses, but I just do not like wearing them when using the view finder -- the eye piece hits my glasses and causes them to shift. Holding the camera slightly away from my glasses just doesn't feel right and makes it harder to see the text and indicators at the bottom of the view finder. I'm seriously thinking of contact lenses for days when I'm going to go out and take photos.

I have decided to utiIiize Live View with focus peaking for now (I had forgotten about focus peaking), although I really do prefer a view finder (call me old school). In addition, I am,intrigued with the focus screen options (especially the split-prism like my old ME Super) and the viewfinder magnifiers.

05-11-2014, 06:17 AM   #9
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If also like me ripper2860, I have astigmatism in addition to distance correction. The camera's viewfinder adjustments only compensates for the distance portion, so I have to wear glasses (or contacts). For better or worse, the optical viewfinder, while it touches my glasses, does not push them out of position. I anchor the camera against my nose, not my glasses.

I wear contact lenses for scuba diving and have used them with my camera. The diopter has to be adjusted when I switch between glasses and contacts. My issue with contacts is I then have to put on reading glasses that compensate for both the contacts and my normal vision limitations in order to clearly see the camera controls and especially pick out detail on the LCD display. It was simpler to learn how to use the camera with my progressive lens glasses.
05-11-2014, 06:46 AM   #10
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+1 Jim.. I too am burdened with old eyes... I found an older M +3 diopter and it works without my glasses but then my eyes are bad enough that if I use it then I have problems viewing the buttons and the view screen after the shot and had to put my glasses back on for that. So I found it best to adjust the camera diopter and do like Jim suggest and rest the camera on my nose. If I am doing macro while my camera is on a tripod then I rely on live view with the zoom feature mostly. I am contemplating getting one of the cup style eyepieces for glasses. I am not sure if that would do much go though.
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