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09-10-2010, 02:38 PM   #1
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Mikhail_Kriviniouk's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Ekaterinburg
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K-x focusing screen calibration - shims availability outside the US

If you buy a split prism focusing screen to replace the plain matte stock screen that is shipped with the K-x or other DSLRs usually nowadays and want to use manual focus lenses, consider purchasing a set of shims.

My K-x after I installed a screen from Katz Eyes demonstrated a serious front focus when focused manually - I confirmed this on a tripod with focusing chart with many lenses. Confirming what I noticed in my real life shots.

Removing the stock shim resulted in backfocusing when focusing manually.

I needed a thinner shim that the one in the camera - plain and simple.

The Katz Eye screen just has made the problem which was there before, no doubt, clearly visible. I have not noticed it as I relied on AF confirm light when focusing manually.

I checked with the stock screen installed back with original shim and yes, without intentionally compensating and focusing on something behind the subject you get and out of focus shot. Relying on AF confirmation works to an extent but not at f1.4 or even f2.0, and when there is not enough light for AF confirm or the area you need to focus on is much smaller than the AF spot (a quarter of the frame it seems) and has other objects closer and further away - then you can only rely on manual and it was out by about 2 inches at the distance between camera and the subject of 3 foot.

For now I photocopied the original shim onto thin cardboard of various thickness (CD cover, for instance) and cut out the resulting images. Homemade shims. Trial and error approach resulted in the split prism information being in line with the AF confirm light which proved OK when tested. There is a lot info here on AF testing and calibration so I won't talk about that. Now the line which is straight when seen through the split prisms is in sharp focus, lines 5 to 10 mm in front or behind this line will be visibly blurred in the shot taken at f1.4 from two foot distance. Better.

So, now I want a proper metal shim, since knowing there is a cardboard cutout there in the camera bothers me for some reason.... Why? Well - nothing rational, obviously, spot on manual focusing of fast manuals and the 30mm 1.4 SIGMA in bad light in combination with K-x's nice high ISO performance is very nice indeed. Cardboard cut out with a pair of scissors is sitting there enabling me to do what Pentax has failed to help me with!!!!!

Ever helpful Rachael at at Katz Eyes gave me the part numbers for the stock shims for K-x:

76570.M02200A - 0.15mm
76570.M02200B - 0.20mm
76570.M02200C - 0.25mm
76570.M02200D - 0.30mm
76570.M02200E - 0.35mm
76570.M02200F - 0.40mm

As you see the increments are of .05 mm which may be too rough, .20 may be too thin and .25 may be too thick for a particular camera - I saw someone here suggested making these metal shims (they were talking about shimming K7 and K20, but it is all the same for K-x) thicker by less than .05 mm by sticking thin 3M tape on them. I see nothing wrong with that approach. I made a shim out of card and it was just a tiny bit too thin, so I cut the next one out of the same cardboard with some unbranded sticky tape stuck to one then to both sides, which gave me the thickness I wanted.

I am off to buy a micrometer so I'd know how thick my homemade shim is so as to save myself trial and error when choosing and sticky tape fine tuning of a proper metal shim.

If you are outside of the US and buy from Kats Eye - consider asking them to ship shims with your screen (they price shims at $5 each and shipping will be free as they'll come in one parcel with your screen). Shipping abroad may be over $30 which is the same as the price of a complete set of shims. In US they say you can buy them from Pentax US at $3 each, but they would not ship abroad.

In general I found Pentax's attitude in dealing with me, when I am NOT a potential buyer of something worth $700 or $1000, or even $200, rather unsatisfactory. Pentax Russia (the blasted pentar.ru) plain refused to supply me with shims saying they don't have them in stock and would not order them in to just sell to end user, while saying that they would be most happy to assist me in calibrating my camera. The only assistance I wanted from them they refused to provide. I don't need them to calibrate my camera and charge me an arm and a leg for it. Nor do I want to spend time and energy making them fix it under warranty as they are well known to blame this kind of thing on "user technique error". I don't want to send them the camera (they are a 1000 miles away from my city which does not have Pentax service) and then, as they admitted themselves, they don't have the parts necessary for calibrating it, wait for it to come back God only know how many months later.

Pawel Jedrzejczak at Pentax Digital Camera Support Team did not seem interested in my situation and just kept sending me back to my "local dealer" and kept repeating after each message "I hope that your question has been answered to your satisfaction.
Should you have further questions regarding this matter, please do not hesitate to contact us again" which I did twice and did not gain any information of any use.

The UK Pentax repair shop (as I would be happy to have the shims sent to a UK address), I contacted them hoping they would be more helpful than their Russian counterpart), in the person of Joanne Roper, Johnsons Photopia, told me "As we are only the UK repair agent we would not be able to supply but please find to follow link to international repair agents. Please contact your local agent who should be able to help." They have just completely failed to read my letter explaining to them why I approached them having failed to get any joy from the Russian centre....

This is how helpful Pentax was in furnishing me with parts which cost $3 each!!!

My message to Pentax US:

<<the focusing screen in the k-x in question came setup so that it gives frontfocusing all the lime if focused manually. tested with several lenses on the tripod with focusing chart. sharpness on the screen does not coincide with the hexagon confirmation light either (autofocus works fine). my local shop sends pentax cameras 1000 miles away to be serviced/adjusted, waiting time starts at 1 month. i`d rather do it myself since there is nothing difficult in swapping some shims around. so i need a set of focusing screen shims for k-x and the russian dealer is totally ignoring my requests... and the uk repair shop says they can`t deal with me since i am in russia
....
any help would be greatly appreciated. i have heard that in the us pentax sends these shims to customers at $3 each!
if it is possible to get this shipped to me from the us - i would be more than happy to pay in advance and cover the shipping costs (usps with tracking).>> (It did have capitalisation, it was stripped by the Pentax online form

Their reply to me:

<<Dear Mikhail,

Thank you for contacting PENTAX concerning your Kx.

I'm sorry but we dont ship out of the US. I would recommend you contact your local dealer to see if thay can order whatever parts you need, I hope this helps.

If you are in need of further assistance, please respond to this email or call our technical support center at 800-877-0155.

Sincerely,
Monique F.
Pentax Imaging Technical Support>>

I don't think this needs any comment. And Pentax customer care staff with the evident lack of cognitive abilities would not understand anyway.

So - get your focusing screen shims together with your screen from Katz Eyes!

If you are not in the US - beware, as Rachael Katz told me - "The US agent will not ship internationally; we have tried many times and they will not even ship to Canada, our next door neighbor."


Last edited by Mikhail_Kriviniouk; 09-10-2010 at 03:04 PM.
09-12-2010, 02:03 AM   #2
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Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 29
You could use an US mail forwarding service, and trick pentax US into thinking you are in the US :-)

I've ordered a replacement screen from ebay (link-delight) for my k-x, hope I wont need to much shim adjustments.
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