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06-18-2010, 12:52 PM   #1
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To the people who love manual focus...

Manual focus with the stock focus screen is not very easy, so I assume that the people who claim manual focus is fun and quick must be using custom focus screens. Is that a fair assumption?

For my K7, I have a custom screen from focusingscreen.com. (It's the K3 focus screen). It has a split prism in the center and is very bright. But I recently learned that different focus screens can give you different levels of DOF in your viewfinder. A very shallow DOF in the viewfinder makes it very easy to see where the focus plane lies. Apparently, if a screen is very accurate(has a shallow DOF), it's usually at the cost of being significantly darker to look through.

What I want is an accurate focus screen that makes it very easy to see my plane of focus. I don't care how dim the screen is. Apparently, a "precision Matte" screen is ideal. And apparently, many pros recommend screens that do NOT have the split prism in the middle, because it's a distraction, and not nearly as useful as a plain, but precision matte focus screen.

What do you pros have installed? Do you have recommendations?

06-18-2010, 01:11 PM   #2
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there are pro's and cons to each focusing system

When I shot film, i had a diagonal split image in my ricoh XR2-s and a prcision matt screen in my KX. I searched for a KX with this screen because split images darken out in dim light, and I had an F5.6 400mm lens that was not easily used with a split image.

Now lets move to digital, I have an *istD a K10D and a K7,

I do not find focusing too difficult with longer lenses manually, but WA lenses with high DOF are problematic, so I put a split image in my K10D, and use it a lot for manual lenses. Note that most of my manual lenses are a) very fast so they don't darken the split image, and b) because they are fast, wide open they have very shallow dof so focus is relitively easy to nail. But as I said, wide angle lenses give me a problem without the split imace
06-18-2010, 01:13 PM   #3
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Well up until I got my K10 I didn't own an autofocus camera. And I never seem to have a problem with it. But is seems as of late what appears in focus just isn't. It must be the camera. My eyes couldn't be going.

But then again I use to be able to proofread 4pt type. Seems as though they are making the type smaller these days.
06-18-2010, 02:05 PM   #4
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I also installed the Pentax O-ME53. It is a 1.18x magnifying eyepiece. This helps only a very little bit with manual focusing (as I do not yet have an aftermarket focusing screen), but this eyepiece along with a better focusing screen can help a lot.

**Quick question: I heard that a split prism screen can have an affect on spot metering. Does it give a false reading? If so, does it give a false positive or a false negative?

**What about a microprism screen, does that give a false reading?

06-18-2010, 02:18 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by KxBlaze Quote
I also installed the Pentax O-ME53. It is a 1.18x magnifying eyepiece. This helps only a very little bit with manual focusing (as I do not yet have an aftermarket focusing screen), but this eyepiece along with a better focusing screen can help a lot.

**Quick question: I heard that a split prism screen can have an affect on spot metering. Does it give a false reading? If so, does it give a false positive or a false negative?

**What about a microprism screen, does that give a false reading?
the split image can give incorrect spot metering, and this is something to consider, you generally would use matrix or center weighted metering with the split image, BUT, i use the split image on my K10D which has the absolure worst metering there is in a pentax camera when used with manual aperture lenses, and overall, the metering has improved greatly as a result. I have posted it before, but have attached it again here



I am not sure there is a full microprism screen or even a lens with just a microprism dot available, just collars around a split image
06-18-2010, 03:11 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by graphicgr8s Quote
But then again I use to be able to proofread 4pt type. Seems as though they are making the type smaller these days.
No, George. 4 pt type is still 4/72", just like it always was. Getting old is a b____, aint it?
06-18-2010, 03:18 PM   #7
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At 53, I can still read 4pt type with no problem. But I've become nearsighted.

Also, depending on the font, 4pt is not the same. It was never a measure of the actual cap height, but the size of the block the character was engraved on.
06-18-2010, 03:24 PM   #8
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You are, as usual, correct Ira. I was a printer for many years. I go far enough back that I have spent many hours standing in front of California Job Cases hand setting type.

06-18-2010, 04:03 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Dubious Drewski Quote
What I want is an accurate focus screen that makes it very easy to see my plane of focus.
My wife and I both like Katzeye screens.
I've experimented with a host of other screens(a few from focusingscreens.com) but we always end-up settling on the Katzeye when all is said and done. I think it's the optibright treatment that offsets the issue of light loss that makes it stand out the most. And it also seems to do a pretty good job with the DOF queue. Though I don't think I've ever seen a screen that was very accurate with DOF and I think I read this has something to do with the nature of the viewfinder as opposed to what the sensor sees.

As for the split prism, my wife actually owned a film camera that had only the prism collar on it, but it turned out to be not so accurate.

TBH. I really like the split prism option and though I don't always use it, it doesn't seem to get in the way.
06-18-2010, 04:06 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
the split image can give incorrect spot metering, and this is something to consider, you generally would use matrix or center weighted metering with the split image, BUT, i use the split image on my K10D which has the absolure worst metering there is in a pentax camera when used with manual aperture lenses, and overall, the metering has improved greatly as a result. I have posted it before, but have attached it again here



I am not sure there is a full microprism screen or even a lens with just a microprism dot available, just collars around a split image
Thanks, thats good to know. There is a screen with just a microprism dot, its the canon EC-A but I'm thinking about getting the K3 screen for my Kx. I also read a review where the reviewer said that the K3 screen made the viewfinder darker than the original screen, I believe on his K10D, is this also true? I want a screen that would be just as bright as the original or even brighter.
06-18-2010, 04:08 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Dubious Drewski Quote
Manual focus with the stock focus screen is not very easy, so I assume that the people who claim manual focus is fun and quick must be using custom focus screens. Is that a fair assumption?
Some are, but not all. Although I suppose I never say "fun and quick". I've said it's not impossible, I've said in some cases it's more reliable than AF and in some cases also faster, but it's a skill that takes practice and isn't "easy". Bottom line, though, is that I certainly use it a lot, and don't hesitate to recommend it when I feel it's appropriate.

I do use a viewfinder magnifier on the K200D (same viewfinder as K-x and other "entry level" Pentax cameras), making it the same size more or less as the K-7.

However, like the stock screen on virtually all DSLR's, it does lie about DOF at large apertures (beyond f/2.8 or so). Part of what one accomplishes through practice is how not to get thrown too badly by this.
06-18-2010, 04:12 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by KxBlaze Quote
I want a screen that would be just as bright as the original or even brighter.
The only option that would fit such a description is what is called optibright treatment. Read up on it and see if it suits your needs

You can have a look at these also.
06-18-2010, 05:23 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Dubious Drewski Quote
What I want is an accurate focus screen that makes it very easy to see my plane of focus. I don't care how dim the screen is. Apparently, a "precision Matte" screen is ideal. And apparently, many pros recommend screens that do NOT have the split prism in the middle, because it's a distraction, and not nearly as useful as a plain, but precision matte focus screen.

What do you pros have installed? Do you have recommendations?
In the bad old film days I used to have all my LX bodies loaded up with SE-60 bright all matt screens, virtually any fast lens was a joy to focus using those and the lack of distractions was a real plus. However none of the Pentax DSLR finder come remotely close to the quality/view of the LX finder which makes manual focus pretty much hit and blur for me. I really think that a screen with manual focus aids is a must and probably will be so long as Pentax DSLRs remain 24x16mm format.

Pentax screens for LX: review by Rob Studdert (Eng)
06-19-2010, 12:12 AM   #14
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Could someone please explain how much manual focusing is improved by these focusing screens as compared to what you already get by focus confirmation light/beep I have on my K-x? (I am thinking about buying one, but my eyesight is so-so, so I am wondering whether it is worth it.)
06-19-2010, 03:24 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by kkumer Quote
Could someone please explain how much manual focusing is improved by these focusing screens as compared to what you already get by focus confirmation light/beep I have on my K-x? (I am thinking about buying one, but my eyesight is so-so, so I am wondering whether it is worth it.)
I actually use both.. however in many instances the split screen picks-up where the AF confirmation leaves off by truly honing focus within a scene. The AF indicator on the other hand, works with approximation(averages focus lock on approximation) making it less than ideal and often frustrating in a number of ways. And so the split screen resolves that.

On the issue of viewfinder, I have had excellent results with the KPS Viewfinder w/eyecup. It has more magnification than the Pentax version as well as a more powerful diopter adjustment. Which allows most wearers of glasses to use the camera without there glasses(I just slip mine down on my nose).

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