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09-23-2009, 08:16 AM   #1
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Manual Focus Camera

Hello everyone, first off I have problems with my eyes focusing correctly all the time. So most of the time I use auto focus for my pictures. I have a K20D and a ZX-5 camera. I am wanting to find a camera (focusing screen) that would help me focus in manual mode. So I'm looking for a full manual camera that is easy to focus (even for a old blind guy). Does anyone have any suggestions on this?

Thank you
Jim

09-23-2009, 09:20 AM   #2
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You could try some of the old models that sport a huge viewfinder, preferably the MX but also other M models and of course the LX though that is often quite expensive. I have found that a split screen/micro-prism finder is the most versatile, but if you know you will go out with only fast glass like a 50mm 1.4 I would go with a micro-prism only finder, micro-prism + fast glass = easiest to focus, if you ask me.
09-23-2009, 10:03 AM   #3
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Full manual with bright viewfinder? MX all the way

There are also other OEM screens out there since some swap with the LX, if you don't like the stock one.
09-23-2009, 10:06 AM   #4
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Focusing is practice

Jim: I have age-related visual acuity issues (sharpness of vision). Here are my experiences with manual glass (most of my lenses are manual).

My experiences are with the 70's and 80's cameras, as you can see below. SP-F and KX = micro-prism. K2DMD and MESuper = split-image. KX is my favorite camera, closely followed by K2DMD and MESuper.

Focusing is really just practice and learning how the camera works, as well as using a particular camera / focusing screen for its strengths. Match your camera strengths to your intended shooting style (or particular need for an outing - perhaps have more than one camera, each for a purpose - the MF bodies are so inexpensive!!)
  1. Take your time, whether autofocus or MF. I have had to give up most fast-action MF photography - so what?
  2. Split-image reticules help a lot, but at smaller apertures tend to black out - fast lenses black out at larger apertures than slow.
  3. ME/MESuper/MX have bright (brightest?) VF, permitting somewhat slower glass, thus allowing use of the split-image at smaller apertures.
  4. Using smaller apertures and faster film (or slower shutter) allows a larger depth of field and some focusing "cushion." (kind of a zone focusing effect).
    1. Can be an issue for macro if you want wide apertures for bokeh, but you would use spilt-image for this).
  5. Certain lenses have a more pronounced "snap" into focus than others, but with practice you will come to recognize the "snap into focus" as you rotate the focusing ring. Example in my bag is the Tamron AD-2 SP 90/2.5 Tele-Macro #52B - has a very visible "snap"
  6. Using the micro-prism just takes some practice and some note-taking when using film so you can select the keepers (and failures) and refer to what you did - learn to do what works.
One unexpected advantage to K20D is you can practice for "free" with the matte screen - so what if you throw away 100 images? - and use gained skill for film cameras.

09-23-2009, 10:25 AM   #5
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What about medium format? You can get a fully manual 645 camera for relatively cheap, and viewfinders on those are huge! That should at least relieve your eye of a bit strain from looking into an APS-C or 35mm format viewfinder...
09-23-2009, 10:38 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jimfear Quote
You could try some of the old models that sport a huge viewfinder, preferably the MX but also other M models and of course the LX though that is often quite expensive. I have found that a split screen/micro-prism finder is the most versatile, but if you know you will go out with only fast glass like a 50mm 1.4 I would go with a micro-prism only finder, micro-prism + fast glass = easiest to focus, if you ask me.
Spot on. I might still go with the split screen style finder though because of my eyesight. I used a Nikkormat FT2 with its split screen for awhile and the finder was fantastic. I will say the simple screen in my K1000 is of very little help with a slower lens like my M200/4. I won't comment on the finder in my K200D other than I'm glad it offers the rangefinder confirmation.
09-23-2009, 11:03 AM   #7
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+1 on the KX screen - it isn't the largest or brightest, but it has great snap, which makes focusing easier. Split prisms are a mixed blessing, as mentioned above... Even when not blacking out half, I often find them fiddlier to use than a microprism.

That said, my Program Plus isn't bad either, focusing wise.
09-23-2009, 09:42 PM   #8
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Thank you all for your input. I really appreciate it. I do have a old MV1 Pentax film camera that I think I will practice on. I think it has the split screen finder. I also have quite a few older manual lenses that friends have given me that I will practice with also. I will normally be shooting black and white and then developing the film myself and then using a scanner to put them to a digital file. I don't think I am done with this. But for now I will play with what I have to see if I can get better. While I'm doing this I will keep my eyes open for the cameras that were mentioned earlier.

I would love to try a 645 mf camera but I'm worried about spending the money on that camera and lenses then find out that I'm still not able to focus well. I would kick myself for doing that I think.

Thank you all very much for the info.

Thanks
Jim Browning

09-28-2009, 07:53 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by jbrowning Quote
Hello everyone, first off I have problems with my eyes focusing correctly all the time. So most of the time I use auto focus for my pictures. I have a K20D and a ZX-5 camera. I am wanting to find a camera (focusing screen) that would help me focus in manual mode. So I'm looking for a full manual camera that is easy to focus (even for a old blind guy). Does anyone have any suggestions on this?

Thank you
Jim
Jim,

I'm getting to be an "old geezer" with glasses and I take 95% of my shots using "hyperfocal distance" focusing.

This is very easy and the shorter the focal length of your lens, the deeper your depth of field: "focusing", as such, is practically eliminated with a focal length of 28mm or less.
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