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09-02-2009, 12:28 PM   #1
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Home made focusing screen in K10

Today was the first time I tried the K10 with my new home made focusing screen. It was a great feeling to finally be able to see the sharpness pop into place as on the good old film days. Sure the screen is darker, but I am only planning to use it for lenses between 1.4 and 2.8, actually I hardly have anything slower anyway.

I have made old style screens by etching glass of the correct thickness. I have also tried the old method of grinding, but found the etched ones as good, and easier to make. I am going to experiment a bit more on the depth of the etchings, but after today I feel I already have a perfectly working solution. The only issue I am expecting is the metering. Since my screen will have a much more linear behaviour than the modern plastic F4 variants, I will expect to have to make some compensations. My screen is also darker, which should cause over exposures.

The surface is completely envenly etched (it took a couple of failures to be successful). You can see the surface of the screen, until suddenly the picture gets sharp.

Today I shot with the M100/2.8 using Av, and that of course worked perfectly. I was actually surprised I only had to compensate -0.5 to get correct exposure from the camera, I thought the focusing screen was darker than that.


Using M setting and a smaller aperture caused more problems with over exposure. I had to manually adjust the time -1.5 when using F5.6. A pity you can't use exposure compensation when using M. Since the 100/2.8 is extremely sharp already on 2.8 it was an easy decision to switch to Av instead.

The plan has been to put this screen in the K20, but after today I was tempted to try it in the K-7 as well. I think I will try to stick with the original plan though.

Picture below was taken using only manual focus, using Av on the K10 with M100/2.8. Focus is spot on. Will increase the challange by using a 1.4 lens next time :-)

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Last edited by quarc; 09-02-2009 at 12:37 PM.
09-02-2009, 12:38 PM   #2
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If you can get hold of a junk ME Super, try that screen. It's easy to cut down to proper size. Nice and bright.
09-02-2009, 12:52 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by wildlifephotog Quote
If you can get hold of a junk ME Super, try that screen. It's easy to cut down to proper size. Nice and bright.
I will stick my neck out and claim my screen is very close to the performance of any other screen. I have compared it with the other cameras I have with old type screen (all medium format), and it is comparable.

My original plan was to buy something. But to pay 100 USD for a Katzeye without having tested one first, or to pay some 30-40 USD for an old MX or ME screen, which I would have to trim anyway did not appeal to me, especially as I am of a habit to use multiple bodies when shooting (primes only). Getting hold of used Pentax materials here in Sweden is very difficult, people sit on their stuff, if you find anything, prices are high. Now I have a process where I can make the screens I want, I even made a medium format screen (5x5) for a collegue yesterday to be used in a pinhole he had built.
09-02-2009, 01:06 PM   #4
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I don't doubt you. I make all my own LF and MF focus screens.
But for manual lenses I wanted a split screen. I'm not up to engraving glass.

09-02-2009, 01:24 PM   #5
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I might be missing the split screen, but so far I have had no issues focusing. Will try the FA50 next, that is soft enough to cause me problems I am sure...

I think engraving is out of the question. If I want split screen I think I will have to glue something to the glass before etching. I haven't thought much on this yet as I am at the moment happy with the screen.
09-02-2009, 02:05 PM   #6
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A simple method to get hold of a good split-screen is to buy a MZ-m split screen (about 6€ at Pentax service)...

They perform quite well, with a pretty good metering right until f/8...
09-03-2009, 03:44 AM   #7
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I have a lovely old Nikon FE2 in a bag just gathering dust - it had a fab focusing screen. Although I'm on the mailing list for the katzeye screen seeing this thread and looking at this video showing how to adapt another focusing screen for the k10D has made me wonder if I couldn't adapt that Nikon one (anyone know if it's the same thickness?)

Cool little vid btw - if it's someone here, you have my thanks
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