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05-09-2016, 10:20 PM   #1
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Focusing screens for K-50 necessary?

Greetings,

I'm considering buying a K-50 body to use with some pre-auto focus lenses. I've heard that manual focusing can be difficult. Are there focusing screens available for the K-50 that would improve the effort?

05-09-2016, 10:35 PM   #2
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You could get a split-screen focusing screen- I'd try my luck with Katzeye. They're going out of business soon, but their screens are great.

Another great tool for manual focusing is live view with focus peaking and magnification. In some situations, these techniques are superior to shooting through the viewfinder.

Adam
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05-09-2016, 11:10 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam Quote
I'd try my luck with Katzeye. They're going out of business soon, but their screens are great.
I will second the recommendation for the KatzEye product. If you are interested in purchase, you should contact them as soon as possible since they are setting up for their final production run.

KatzEye™ Optics - Custom Focusing Screens


Steve

(...no business relationship with KatzEye...satisfied customer since about 2008...)
05-10-2016, 05:01 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by tyuska Quote
I've heard that manual focusing can be difficult.
Depends on the lens. There are numerous factors.
First, modern DSLRs have a relatively small viewfinder, compared to pre-AF cameras, as it is expected you will use AF.
Second, their focusing screen is also optimized for lenses that are relatively slow, as it is expected you will use mostly zoom lenses (f2.8 and slower)
Third, modern lenses have priority with AF, not MF. This means their focusing ring has no Distance scales, no DoF labels, it is uncalibrated, can focus past infinity (for easier AF, but can cause problems with MF, can let you misfocus everything) and have very short focusing throw (for fast AF, but means MF is less precise)

So if you will be using many fast primes with MF only, then you might want to modify your camera. But I think you should wait until you actually have the camera and lenses. You can use the following products to help with focusing:
a) Live view with focus peaking
b) Viewfinder magnification loupe
c) Custom focusing screen (can be found relatively cheap online, but the better ones get expensive). There are numerous styles, from matte, unmarked, to marked and split prism focusing screens. KatzEye, Focusing screens com, jin finance, and others sell focusing screens.

Many people actually run a dual camera system. They have one modern camera for AF lenses, and then they buy a secondary camera (often an older model, second hand), which they modify for MF lens use. Thing is, custom focusing screen can cause trouble with metering with modern lenses and it can also cause viewfinder darkening with slow lenses (like, slow zoom lenses or slow super telephotos)

05-10-2016, 07:29 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
I will second the recommendation for the KatzEye product. If you are interested in purchase, you should contact them as soon as possible since they are setting up for their final production run.

KatzEye™ Optics - Custom Focusing Screens


Steve

(...no business relationship with KatzEye...satisfied customer since about 2008...)
Well, this was an expensive thread to read. I'd given up on getting another KatzEye, but since they are taking "last batch" orders again, I just ordered a screen for a K-7/5/3/30/50/500/S1/S2.
05-10-2016, 07:51 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Na Horuk Quote
Thing is, custom focusing screen can cause trouble with metering with modern lenses and it can also cause viewfinder darkening with slow lenses (like, slow zoom lenses or slow super telephotos)
If there are metering issues, they have probably have little to do with the vintage of the lens in itself. Metering with aftermarket screens may be summarized in a few short points:
  • The meter system on a modern Pentax dSLR is tuned to work best with the stock focus screen and that screen has been designed to optimize brightness even with slower lenses mounted
  • Most aftermarket screens result in little or no differences in metering for matrix and center weighted modes regardless of lens mounted
  • Center split image and/or microprism focus aides will usually affect spot metering, sometimes severely. This is a historic problem dating back several decades to when spot metering was first offered on SLR cameras. If use of the spot meter is part of your anticipated uses, a center focus aide is probably not advisable.
  • Certain matte focus screens (e.g. Canon S-type) are strictly optimized for use with f/2 and faster lenses. Those dim quickly from about f/3.5 and narrower resulting in skewed meter response along with much more difficult manual focus.


Steve
05-10-2016, 10:41 AM   #7
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If you on a budget you can buy canon ee-s screen from amazon for 35 bucks and cut it to size yourself. Tape it over with low tack modelling tape (yellow Tamiya), trace over the tape the size of pentax screen, cut with fine tooth saw (I used one for steel). It won't look like Katz Eye but will do the same job for half the price. But you'll have to calibrate it, mine required removing original shim from my K3 II to make it focusing spot on.

As for metering - all lenses I own are f2.8 or faster and I haven't noticed any issues. Even Tamron 70-200 with 1.4 converter (which makes it f4) meters fine.

Even though it doesn't have split or microprism it's great for manual focusing.

Greg
05-10-2016, 12:36 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by gfurm Quote
If you on a budget you can buy canon ee-s screen from amazon for 35 bucks and cut it to size yourself.
You can do the same with a Nikon K3 from B&H for ~$37 to get appearance similar to a KatzEye.*


Steve

* KatzEye crafts their own screens, but the resemblance to the K3 is obvious. I have never used the K3 and am curious as to whether it has similar resistance to prism blackout.

05-10-2016, 08:50 PM - 1 Like   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
* KatzEye crafts their own screens, but the resemblance to the K3 is obvious. I have never used the K3 and am curious as to whether it has similar resistance to prism blackout.
I have a KatzEye in my K-x, and a focusingscreen.com K3 in my K100D (or vice-versa- it's been so long, I don't remember! I'm pretty sure the KatzEye is in the K-x.). If you hadn't told me they weren't cut from the same K3 blanks, I'd swear they were. My KatzEye has OptiBrite, so it might be a little brighter at smaller apertures, but the prism blackout behavior is very, very similar.
05-12-2016, 09:50 PM   #10
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Thanks to everyone for sharing your experiences and suggestions.

Tom
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