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10-13-2014, 06:18 PM   #1
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Katzeye or S-type focus screen for concert photography?

Is anyone on PF using one of these focus screens for concert photography? And could you be so kind in helping me choose the right one for me?

I'm looking to replace my stock focus screen on my K-500 as I prefer to use fast manual primes (f/1.7 or 2.8).
I've read that the S-type screen tends to darken rather fast with slower apertures.
Does this also apply to darker situations in general?
And does this mean the Katzeye will outperform the S-Type while shooting gigs in dark venue's? Or does the S-Type, even in this circumstances, simply focuses better than the Katzeye?
If I would choose for the Katzeye, will the OptiBrite option make a big difference?

I'm used to using a split-prism on SLR's so I wouldn't be bothered about seeing it or the recomposing it requires.
As I photograph a lot of thing and also use longer lenses with slower apertures, sometimes combined with a teleconverter, I'd prefer to keep doing this with the replacement screen as well.

10-13-2014, 06:56 PM - 1 Like   #2
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I have a split screen from focusingscreen.com, which I purchased for theatre photography; however, difficulty w/ spot metering makes it much less useful.
10-13-2014, 07:02 PM - 2 Likes   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by PeaceFroggy Quote
I've read that the S-type screen tends to darken rather fast with slower apertures.
Does this also apply to darker situations in general?
No, it is related to the aperture, not the light level

QuoteOriginally posted by PeaceFroggy Quote
And does this mean the Katzeye will outperform the S-Type while shooting gigs in dark venue's? Or does the S-Type, even in this circumstances, simply focuses better than the Katzeye?
The S-type is superior to the KatzEye in the same way that the KatzEye is superior to the S-type. It depends on the subject. In my opinion, I am not sure if either will have an edge for a concert situation. It all depends on the lighting and the subject. The S-type will nicely snap focus, but there has to be some sort of detail to snap. The split image of the KatzEye may be useful or perhaps not. The KatzEye microprism and matte donut may be as useful as the S-type field for many subjects.

Have I been wishy-washy enough? I have shot with the KatzEye for music events, but not rock concerts. The stage was always relatively well-lit and focus was very easy.

QuoteOriginally posted by PeaceFroggy Quote
If I would choose for the Katzeye, will the OptiBrite option make a big difference?
Yes. The KatzEye with OptiBrite is a little brighter than the stock screen. The S-type is somewhat less bright than the stock screen when a f/2 lens is mounted.

I would suggest M-mode and metering the stage in advance if possible to make metering more consistent. Meter for the light incident on the subject, not the average of the stage and (usually very) dark background. Otherwise you will get the all too common faceless ghosts at the mikes.


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10-13-2014, 07:08 PM   #4
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Thanks dms & Stevebrot
And I must admit that I always use M-mode and seldom use spot metering on my K-500. I just dail in the setting I think that are right, take a photo, check the preview and work from there.
And Stevebrot, you have been wishy-washy enough, still not sure. Though the Katzeye being brighter then the stock screen seems to give it and advantage.

10-14-2014, 02:53 AM   #5
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stevebrot had summarized very good.


i have both s-type and katzeye optibrite on different bodies, both with magnified eyepiece, given that the focus screen had been calibrated correctly with the body.

S-type is good for relative light subjects, but dark scenes will cause problem. It can focus faster in most of normal cases - I can see the focus area directly. Personally, I prefer the s-type.

For concert, I think splitt screen katzeye with optibrite is a better choice. There are always something on the scene that can be used as focus point: shiny instruments, lines.

The magnifier eyepiece also contribute to usability.

I also have ebay 45' degree for 20usd, but you got what you paid for.
I use M-mode mostly in concerts. Lighting can be a challenge.
10-15-2014, 05:52 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by dms Quote
I have a split screen from focusingscreen.com, which I purchased for theatre photography; however, difficulty w/ spot metering makes it much less useful.
Which split screen from them did you purchase? Was it perhaps this one?

Also, I'm afraid I should change my question to: would any split-prism focusing screen outperform the stock focusing screen when using fast lensen?

I'm rather short on cash and just found out how much it would be to import the Katzeye screen into Belgium and it would be around 220 ($280), while the split-prism for focusscreens.com I might be interested in is around 98 ($125) to order and import.

Would this fulfill my needs (for now)?
I've noticed one of the local photo shops might sell original Nikon screen even cheaper, would this fit my K-500 without adaptation?
And if I'd buy one from focusingscreens.com for my K-500, should I buy the one for the K-30 or another type as the K-500 ain't listed on their site?
10-15-2014, 07:12 PM - 1 Like   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by PeaceFroggy Quote
would any split-prism focusing screen outperform the stock focusing screen when using fast lensen?
Yes. The stock screen has a focus sensitivity of about f/4 meaning that the ability to detect out-of-focus is the same for a f/4 lens as for a f/1.4 lens.

You own a K-1000 film camera and should be able to evaluate the difference with that camera. The main difference would be the relative brightness.


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10-15-2014, 11:30 PM - 1 Like   #8
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Yes, I believe it was the screen based on Nikon K-3 (from focusingscreen.com); and I believe it is an improvement over the standard screens--but I cannot be very definitive at this point. As I usually don't go wider then f/2.8, and its tough to do evaluate when each lens is very different (I usually use 2 or 3 cameras)--and anyway the difficulty w/ spot metering has dampened my enthusiasm/use of the modified camera. Yes, I do think spending well over $100 is a lot--for me the law of diminishing return on investment would kick in.

But notwithstanding the above, if you get the screen and have the proper shims/can set it up, I believe you will have a significant improvement (setting aside the spot metering difficulty).

10-21-2014, 05:58 PM   #9
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Just an update for those with the same question: I found a Dutch online shop that sells the Katzeye split-prism screen for the same price as the Katzeye site does. As I avoid shipping and import taxes this way, it's around the same price as importing one from focusingscreen.com. Although it's without the OptiBright treatment, I'm going to order the Katzeye screen from them.

Thanks for your help
11-24-2014, 08:34 PM - 1 Like   #10
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Just a follow-up for those interested:

Yesterday was my first concert with the Katzeye, with lots of movement and nearly no light (s1/80 to 1/125 and ISO25600-51200). As around 40% of the pictures came out sharp enough to use, I'm more then happy.
Finally i can use my K-500 in a fully manual style without being irritated by the poor focusing abilities of the stock screen (which was a suprise to find out after only using film camera's for years)
11-26-2014, 05:58 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by PeaceFroggy Quote
Just a follow-up for those interested:

Yesterday was my first concert with the Katzeye, with lots of movement and nearly no light (s1/80 to 1/125 and ISO25600-51200). As around 40% of the pictures came out sharp enough to use, I'm more then happy.
Finally i can use my K-500 in a fully manual style without being irritated by the poor focusing abilities of the stock screen (which was a suprise to find out after only using film camera's for years)
This is interesting news. When I got my first DSLR I was also surprised at the poor manual focusing of the stock screen. The Katzeye does help a lot but it is still not up to the old standards (at least in my fading memory)

Congratulations on your success.
11-26-2014, 07:07 AM   #12
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When out in the full sun I don't have much trouble with the stock screen, if I'm wearing my glasses. When it's not full sun the lack of contrast does make manually focusing much more difficult. I did have a split screen (not premium like Katzeye) in my K10, which made life substantially easier but I've been resisting adding one to the K5.
This conversation does make me think of pursuing it again, though.
11-26-2014, 07:18 AM   #13
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A word of caution. The Pentax focusing screen mount is pretty flimsy and easily bent. If you are a fumble fingers like me you may want to have a service shop install the screen for you. Ask me how I know. Just my $0.02.
11-26-2014, 02:40 PM   #14
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I recently bought a used K5 with the optibrigh Katzeye. It does help with focusing in tough light but it is nothing like the old SLR focusing with the MX. I also think EVF peeking and magnification on mirrorless cameras are much better.
11-26-2014, 03:40 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mikesul Quote
I recently bought a used K5 with the optibrigh Katzeye. It does help with focusing in tough light but it is nothing like the old SLR focusing with the MX. I also think EVF peeking and magnification on mirrorless cameras are much better.

If instead you'd bought a K-50, K-S1 or K-3, Mike, you'd have focus peaking and magnification.
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