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08-21-2014, 04:50 AM   #1
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Who has moved to DSLR with Katzeye to K5 or K3 with live-view?

Hi all,

I use a lot of old, manual lenses and currently use a K200D with a Katzeye screen installed. With this combination I find I can focus well and I prefer to use viewfinders rather than rear screens, even on P&S cameras.

I am thinking about upgrading to a K5II or a K3 in a few months but they are both more expensive cameras and there's no way I will be able to also swing for a new Katzeye. I'd like to hear from people who used to use a Katzeye in a DSLR but have moved to using live-view in a newer DSLR. Do you miss the Katzeye? Do you get better or worse results with live-view? Does focus-peaking (which I understand the K3 has but the K5II doesn't) help a lot?

Many thanks for the input.

08-21-2014, 05:51 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jonathan Mac Quote
Hi all,

I use a lot of old, manual lenses and currently use a K200D with a Katzeye screen installed. With this combination I find I can focus well and I prefer to use viewfinders rather than rear screens, even on P&S cameras.

I am thinking about upgrading to a K5II or a K3 in a few months but they are both more expensive cameras and there's no way I will be able to also swing for a new Katzeye. I'd like to hear from people who used to use a Katzeye in a DSLR but have moved to using live-view in a newer DSLR. Do you miss the Katzeye? Do you get better or worse results with live-view? Does focus-peaking (which I understand the K3 has but the K5II doesn't) help a lot?

Many thanks for the input.
I have a K-7,5,3 and Contax(film) and Canon(film). I was always missing the size and brightness compared to the analog SLRs. Thats why i bought a Katzeye for the K5 as I'm using it as my main macro camera. and i wanted to compare it to the fokus peeking on the K3 i must say non of the two solutions does really substitute the SLR viewfinder..... but I would say i prefer the Katzeye over the focus peeking...as especially for "fast" moving objects (insects)..
08-21-2014, 06:13 AM   #3
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For what it's worth, I have two K-x DSLRs, one of which has a Katzeye and the other has a generic $20 split-prism screen.The Katzeye is somewhat brighter, and better for slow lenses at slower than f:5.6, but otherwise the cheap screen works just as well, and better in a couple of respects: The split on the cheap screen is easier to see, and the microprism "snaps" into focus better.

I'd get the camera you want and try one of the generic split-prism screens. At least it would be a stopgap to get you by 'til you can afford a Katzeye.
08-21-2014, 06:19 AM   #4
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I've tried different screens in my K-5 with some improvement, but they can't overcome the tiny tunnel view, and I find manual focus on the APS dSLRs inadequate. My solution was a Sony A7. I can focus it much easier, even with all the "aids" turned off, just by judging the sharpness on the EVF as if it were groundglass.

08-21-2014, 07:07 AM   #5
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Focus peaking is live view only. It is great, but has its weaknesses. It is not very useful if you are using ultrawide lenses (focus peaking is pretty much useless with my Samyang 14mm, because it shows a huge DoF, which I don't find to be actually acceptably sharp) or very slow lenses (with high minimum f-number). On the other hand, for primes like Pentax M 28mm, M 50mm, Helios 44-2, it is pretty good.
Takes some getting used to, like any new feature.
08-21-2014, 09:19 AM   #6
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The KatzEye for my K-3 will be here in a day or so. I was a confirmed believer with the KatzEye (w/optibrite) on my K10D, but thought that I would consider a few other options (e.g. live view) with the K-3 before spending the money. Here are the bullet points:
  • Stock focus screen: Better than the one on my K10D, but only marginally acceptable for manual focus
  • Live view (general): Nice feature, particularly for macro, but hard to use when things are bright
  • Live view w/ focus peaking (non-magnified): The highlighted regions are pretty "deep" and essentially useless for fine focus
  • Live view (magnified): Now we are getting somewhere. This works well and is easily as good as a S-type screen (see below)
  • Live view w/focus peaking (magnified): If there is a hard contrast edge, this is really useful. I would rate it a small step below a split image, but with the advantage that it does not require a vertical line.
  • S-type screen: I had heard so many good things about the S-type from focusingscreen.com that I figured it made good sense for the type of work I do, particularly since I have the magnified live view as an alternate. I did a full review elsewhere, but to summarize:
    • Really snaps in nicely when used with a fast lens
    • Gets dim quickly as the aperture narrows
    • The uncluttered view in combination with the snappy focus is nice, very nice
    • Cannot recommend the AF area or grid lines (laser-etched bright line) due to severe interference with the K-3 metering system. The non-etched version may be a better choice.
    • Experienced non-existent customer service when attempting to resolve above issue with seller
    • Fine focus with a fast lens is on a par with magnified live view
    I felt (and still feel) bad about giving a low review score to the S-type screen, but the lack of post-sale customer service and documentation on the Web site regarding exposure issues was unacceptable IMO.
So, after four months with the K-3 using a mix of the methods above, the KatzEye w/Optibrite will be in the camera in a few days. I expect that using it will be like spending time with an old friend. Based on my previous experience both with and without Optibrite, I can recommend that feature without reservation.


Steve
08-21-2014, 10:00 AM   #7
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I've never had any trouble focusing with the stock screen. I do on rare occasions focus with live view.
08-21-2014, 10:57 AM   #8
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My solution on the K30 (and previous dSLRs) is a good 1.3x viewfinder attachment. The best of these - not Pentax, KPS, Seagull nor any variable magnifier - is the optically excellent universal type with several mounts including a metal pressure plate option. Most common on ebay, they look like this if you prefer Amazon:
Amazon.com : Neewer.

Focus peaking can be best when using fast lenses and scenes with a consistent pattern. The viewfinder with 1.3x can be better for slower lenses and a subject with distinct edges. My favorite set up when shooting portraits is LV on the K-01 with a quality screen loupe (3x Perfect/GGS is very good, cheap, and folds up to shade the screen when reviewing in bright light, and the mount itself helps shade the screen when the loupe is not in use); I'm not sure it can work well with a dSLR as the viewfinder/eyecup likely makes mounting difficult or impossible.

08-21-2014, 02:30 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
S-type screen: I had heard so many good things about the S-type from focusingscreen.com that I figured it made good sense for the type of work I do, particularly since I have the magnified live view as an alternate. I did a full review elsewhere, but to summarize:

Really snaps in nicely when used with a fast lens
Gets dim quickly as the aperture narrows
The uncluttered view in combination with the snappy focus is nice, very nice
Cannot recommend the AF area or grid lines (laser-etched bright line) due to severe interference with the K-3 metering system. The non-etched version may be a better choice.
Experienced non-existent customer service when attempting to resolve above issue with seller
Fine focus with a fast lens is on a par with magnified live view

I felt (and still feel) bad about giving a low review score to the S-type screen, but the lack of post-sale customer service and documentation on the Web site regarding exposure issues was unacceptable IMO.
Opposite experience here. I had a Katzeye in my K-5 and K-3. I now have the S-Type you mention and find to be as much an improvement over the Katzeye as the Katzeye was over the stock screen. Could not imagine going back now. I can NAIL focus in *very* low light with my k50/1.2 wide open. Before, even with the Katzeye, it was a roll of the dice each time. With the S-Type i lock on probably 90% of the time.
08-21-2014, 04:18 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by chickentender Quote
Before, even with the Katzeye, it was a roll of the dice each time.
That is truly puzzling unless you were ignoring the focus aides. I still had the K10D with KatzEye when I was evaluating the the S-type and was able to compare them side-by-side on the same subjects.

I liked the S-type, I just did not find it to be more accurate for fine focus than magnified live view. I did not, however, use it with any lens faster than f/1.4 I might mention though that at f/4* the KatzEye walked all over the S-type. Still, though I would have continued to use it except for the 2-3 stop meter inaccuracy associated with the laser etched screen.


Steve

* Maximum aperture at 70mm of my walkaround Sigma 17-70/2.8-4
08-21-2014, 09:53 PM   #11
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The biggest problem with screen alternatives is not their quality (Katzeye is a really good product), but the fact that every screen is optimized for a particular f-stop - and you get pretty unpredictable results from even rather minor mismatches. In my case, my shooting is about 25% with an f/1.4, 10% with f/2, 15% with f/2.8-3.5, 35% with f/4, and the remaining 15% with slower lenses. I'm not about to continually change screens given my overall mix - not to mention I'm a bit of a clutz. A good VF magnifier applied to a Pentax pentaprism (they are decently bright) almost reaches the acuity obtained with a middling FF prism such as the Canon 5D.

In any event, the debate in this thread relating to the relative effectiveness of good screens almost certainly is primarily related to the question of whether or not the speed (and to some extent quality) of lens used matches the optimal aperture of the particular screen.
08-21-2014, 11:34 PM   #12
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I suppose another problem, caused by Pentax themselves, is that focusing screen shims are no longer available. I had to shim the Katzeye in my K200D to get good focus so the prospect of spending over $200 on the screen only for it to be useless due to a lack of shims is quite daunting.

Thanks everyone for the info so far.
08-22-2014, 09:38 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by ScooterMaxi Jim Quote
the fact that every screen is optimized for a particular f-stop
This is definitely the case for the Canon S (Super Precision Matte) screens and derivatives. The product description from Canon is quite explicit in that regard with the range f/2.8-f/1.8 recommended. For other screens such as the KatzEye and most manual focus SLRs, the applicable aperture range is pretty broad. The bullet points go something like this:
  • A split-image is the most sensitive* of available focus aids and is usable from max aperture to the point of black-out of one side of the split. The point of black-out depends on design with the better screens (e.g. Nikon K3 and KatzEye) resisting black-out to the realm of f/11 or narrower. The split image found in most vintage film cameras is only good to about f/5.6.
  • A microsprism focus aid (functionally a collection of tiny split image prisms) is less sensitive than a split image but easier to use with many subjects. In the past some camera makers provided screens with the prism angles set for optimum performance with larger/narrower apertures. IIRC, most microprisms have their limit of sensitivity at about f/2.8 and black out at about f/5.6
  • Matte field focus screens are preferred for macro and close-up photography and any other application where focus aids are obtrusive and/or ineffective. As with the above aids, a matte field can be tuned to balance brightness against focus sensitivity within an aperture range. From my personal observation, the stock Pentax screen is tuned for brightness within the Pentax range of lenses and is not particularly sensitive for use at apertures wider than about f/4**. The Canon S screens have superb sensitivity at larger apertures, but are quite dim by f/4.


Steve

* Sensitive in the sense of being able to detect focus point. For a split-image the sensitivity is related to the prism angle with the prism angle also determining the point of prism black-out. Adequate sensitivity for a f/0.95 lens would result in black-out at a much wider aperture than with a prism designed for a f/2.8 lens. The more sophisticated designs employ some sort of hybrid approach that I cannot claim to understand, but which allows for high sensitivity with fast lenses with high resistance to black-out.

** At least one user on this site (digitalis) reports good focus sensitivity from the stock Pentax screen when used with a eyepiece magnifier. I have not tried this approach, though it may be preferable (spot metering is retained) and cheaper than buying a split image screen.
08-22-2014, 01:42 PM   #14
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Yep, I'm pretty sure that the stock Pentax screen is optimal for f/4 or 3.5 possibly. Things don't brighten much beyond that, and critical focusing becomes somewhat more difficult. I'm pretty sure that I have the greatest success with the A 35-105 f/3.5. Obviously a relatively fast, constant aperture 3-to-1 two-touch zoom gives you the advantage of magnification. It doesn't hurt that it is a pretty darn sharp lens - especially in the two-thirds longer end where I use it most and have fewer alternative lens options.
08-23-2014, 09:45 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jonathan Mac Quote
I am thinking about upgrading to a K5II or a K3 in a few months
The biggest advantage of K5II or K5 is AF, so if you plan to use manual lenses mostly, I will suggest get an used K5 and use the saved $$ on a good focus screen for it;
Same for K3, unless you need the extra resolution of the new sensor.
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