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03-10-2009, 09:05 AM   #1
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Viewfinder feature

I have a question about the viewfinder features in today DSLR. Hope to give a good explanation of what I ask... so please forgive me if I use wrong terms.
In the old analog SLR camera of my father (a Pentax, don't remember the model) when I look in the viewfinder I see a circle which is divided in the middle: the image at the top and the bottom part of the circle are aligned when the you have correctly set the focus. I don't know how is called this feature and I would like to know if the current DSLRs have such a feature (if I want to go full manual).... if so, do the k200d have this?
I really like that kind of viewfinder, it's something magic!

Thanks in advance!

Jenner

03-10-2009, 09:10 AM   #2
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What you are describing is a split-image focus screen. They were once the standard for most film SLRs. You can get aftermarket split-image and micro-prism focusing screens that will work with current Pentax dSLRs. The most well-known and also the most expensive is the KatzEye focus screen. Here is a link to their Web site:
Katz Eye™ Optics - Custom Focusing Screens
The next step down price-wise is a place in Taiwan:
Focusing Screen
There are also a variety of Chinese eBay merchants with prices under $30 USD.

Steve
03-10-2009, 09:15 AM   #3
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What you describe is usually referred to a 'split prism' focusing aid. Autofocus cameras usually don't come with these.

It is possible to retrofit them on some cameras (probably easier on cameras that are designed with user-replaceable screens like the K10D/K20D) but sometimes exposure accuracy can suffer. Another issue that makes manual focusing a little tougher on autofocus cameras is that the viewfinder tends to be smaller and darker than on manual-focus film cameras, though this can be partially offset by using a viewfinder magnifier such as O-ME53.

Autofocus SLRs such as K200D do however allow the autofocus sensors to be used while manually focusing lenses however--when focusing manually, a little focus confirmation signal will illuminate in the viewfinder (with a beep) to let you know when you've focussed correctly.

It is probably worth mentioning that the pentaprism equipped models (*ist D/DS/DS2, K10D, and K20D) have larger and brighter viewfinders than the pentamirror-viewfinder models (DL, DL2, K110D, K100D, K200D, K2000, K-m).
03-10-2009, 09:41 AM   #4
ntx
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Men, you're great! Fast and precise!
Thank you for the answers.

Does the split-image focus screen "interfere" with glasses? The last time I used my father camera I remember I got some problem while focusing... but it was great when focusing in low light conditions.

Thanks again!

Bye
Jenner

03-10-2009, 10:28 AM   #5
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Not in particular. The digital bodies all include adjustable viewfinder diopter settings so you may be able to adjust it to work well for you with or without glasses. When wearing glasses it becomes tougher to see the entire viewfinder (including information displayed at the bottom. This is compounded by use of O-ME53...but the exact effect is dependent on your glasses and the camera model.

One thing that does have a little trouble with split-prism focusing is slower lenses like zooms. What can happen is that one half of the split will go black though sometimes if you move your eye a little it will work better.
03-10-2009, 02:16 PM   #6
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The new screen should work...

QuoteOriginally posted by ntx Quote
Men, you're great! Fast and precise!
Thank you for the answers.

Does the split-image focus screen "interfere" with glasses? The last time I used my father camera I remember I got some problem while focusing... but it was great when focusing in low light conditions.

Thanks again!

Bye
Jenner
I have the KatzEye on my K100 and wear glasses and have no problem. Also, note there is a problem with some Pentax bodies and the split-image screens but apparently not the K200:

Katz Eye Optics - Custom Focusing Screens... ...0D-K200D-Focusing-Screen--prod_K100D.html

"The Katz Eye focusing screen for the Pentax K100D/K110D/K200D shows no significant effect on metering. Based on an analysis of the histograms, all AF lenses metered within factory tolerances. Please note that metering tests were conducted on the K100D and while results for the K100D Super, K110D, & K200D are expected to be similar, users should still be sure to take a test shot before beginning any critical work."
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